Izzo continues to struggle with decision

Updated: June 15, 2010, 7:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo continues to struggle with the decision to stick with the Spartans or leave the program to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A source close to Izzo, who returned to his basketball camp for a second day, told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that the coach is pondering whether this is his last opportunity to coach an NBA team, among other issues.

When he left his office just after 6:30 p.m. ET, he still hadn't announced his plans. A source told the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst that there was a Michigan State players meeting called for 6:45 p.m. ET.

Izzo, 55, also is contemplating whether, unlike the unsuccessful college-to-NBA transitions of Rick Pitino, Mike Montgomery and Tim Floyd in recent years, he can be the one college coach who can be successful in the NBA.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press early Monday night that free agent-to-be LeBron James had not spoken to Izzo about the Cavaliers' coaching vacancy and didn't plan to get involved in the team's search.

The Cavs job could be a good fit for Izzo even without James, who is unlikely to comment on his future before free agency begins July 1.

Izzo, who has taken Michigan State to six Final Fours and won a national championship, is familiar with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, a Michigan State alumnus. Kentucky coach John Calipari, a former coach of the New Jersey Nets, has advised Izzo that if he leaves Michigan State for the pros, he should do so if he feels comfortable with a team's owner.

Izzo also could make $6 million -- doubling his Michigan State salary -- by going to the Cavaliers.

"The question is, how much of a leap of faith does Coach want to take?" the source close to Izzo told Katz. "Does he go for seven or more years at Michigan State, or does he do the pro thing? He's not going to know about LeBron."

The source said that Izzo's decision, if it continues to drag, could affect recruiting for not just Izzo but also the coaches who would be candidates to replace him in East Lansing.

It appears Gilbert, Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis aren't putting any pressure on Izzo with an imminent timetable.

The media also seemed to give Izzo some space Tuesday, a day after some reporters staked out his office hoping to get the scoop or even a clue nine days after the first of many reports linked him to the Cavs.

Reporters who were waiting for Izzo to arrive at the Breslin Center on Monday morning and were there when he left that night didn't get a comment from him.

In between, Izzo told a bold boy at his camp who asked for an answer about his future that he asked a "bad question," adding "those guys up there want to know that," gesturing toward about a dozen reporters, six TV cameras and two photographers who were given limited access.

On Tuesday, people driving past the on-campus arena didn't see reporters standing on the sidewalk outside his office and saw fewer TV satellite trucks parked at a distance waiting for a glimpse of him.

Phoenix Suns guard Jason Richardson, who played for Michigan State's 2000 national championship team, has talked to him recently and doesn't know what Izzo will do.

"It's a tough decision," Richardson said in a telephone interview with the AP on Tuesday. "I can understand why he's trying to take his time with it."

While the Cavs wait for Izzo, they're working on what seems to be Plan B.

Cavs general manager Chris Grant spoke by phone last week to Byron Scott, a former New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets coach. Scott, a three-time NBA champion guard for the Lakers, could be waiting to see if Phil Jackson leaves Los Angeles.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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