Cavs' coaching search continues
CLEVELAND -- Tom Izzo's rejection has left the Cleveland Cavaliers feeling unwanted.
And LeBron James, without saying or doing anything, isn't helping.
Izzo, who spurned up to $30 million from Cleveland to stay at Michigan State, was owner Dan Gilbert's No. 1 choice to replace Mike Brown as the Cavs' coach. The position might stay vacant until James, the superstar and free agent-on-deck signs in Cleveland -- or elsewhere.
Izzo's decision Tuesday to remain with the Spartans has further muddled a complex situation for the Cavs, who are preparing for next week's NBA draft and the July 1 opening of free agency without a coach or a front-running candidate, and they have no idea of James' plans.
Last week, Cavs general manager Chris Grant said the club's mantra is patience during a search that is showing no signs of ending any time soon.
"We'll wait as long as we have to wait," he said.
It was assumed that if Izzo turned them down, the Cavs would initiate a possible fallback plan: Byron Scott.
"We've had some informal conversations obviously and we're looking to take it a little bit further," the former New Orleans and New Jersey coach told ESPN's Hannah Storm on Thursday at the NBA Finals. "So we're gonna probably sit down sometime next week and start talking a little bit more."
Scott's agent, Brian McInerney, deferred all comments to the team about its interest.
Scott likely would talk to Gilbert, but it's doubtful he'll commit to anyone before seeing how things progress between Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers after the season. Jackson, who will be 65 years old in September, may retire or may not want to come back if owner Jerry Buss forces him to take a pay cut.
Scott won three championships as Magic Johnson's backcourt partner on L.A.'s "Showtime" teams and has dreamed of coaching on Hollywood's stage. Scott has a strong relationship with Kobe Bryant, whose endorsement could mean everything to Buss.
Gilbert has shown a willingness to go beyond his comfort zone to land his man, and an offer like the one he discussed with Izzo, a coach with no NBA experience, certainly would pique Scott's interest.
It's also possible the Cavs could make another run at Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and former New York and Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy. But Krzyzewski recently said he'll never leave the college game, and Van Gundy has made it known that he enjoys the TV broadcast booth and isn't ready to rush back into coaching at the sake of family stability.
"I miss a lot of parts of coaching, not all parts, but a lot of them," Van Gundy said during the NBA Finals. "But that doesn't mean it's right timing when there are kids involved. So when people say that [he should be coaching], I think they forget that if you were single the decision might be one way, but if you have children involved it might be a different way."
There are candidates to choose from. The bigger issue for the Cavs, though, remains James.
They can't promise a potential coach that the two-time MVP will be on their roster after July 1, so it's possible Gilbert will wait for a decision from James before hiring his next coach. It's not ideal, but it may be Cleveland's best and only option at this point.
Cleveland has had informal discussions with Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson and former Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, both of whom could get interviews. But the Cavs spoke with them only as a safety net in case the whirlwind courtship with Izzo dissolved.
It did, and Izzo admitted that the uncertainty about James' future was a major factor.
Izzo didn't speak directly with James but got some needed information from people close to the All-Star.
"I felt comfortable with the things I needed to know," Izzo said. "If LeBron would've stayed, that doesn't mean that I would have been there. It was not the only factor. Was it a big factor? Sure it was."
And for any other prospective Cavs coach, it still is.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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