Somewhere Danny Ferry might just be saying I told him not to do that. But whether he is or not, Dan Gilbert did do just that by going “all in” on Tom Izzo and it appears he came up snake-eyes. So what’s a risk-taking NBA owner to do now you ask? Well, I can’t imagine he knows, but I have a guess. No more guessing on Izzo though for now, it won’t be him to replace Mike Brown next season. Per the Detroit Free Press Tuesday evening:
“The weeklong saga of Tom Izzo and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended with the Michigan State coach announcing he would stay in East Lansing and pass on an opportunity to coach in the NBA. In a statement released by the school Izzo said: ‘I’m pleased to say I am here for life at Michigan State.’”
So what role did LeBron James play in this decision? None, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard who said this on Sportscenter Tuesday night:
“The fact is that LeBron James was not going to tip his hand to Tom Izzo. Izzo couldn’t get a hold of LeBron, but even if he had LeBron would not have told him I’m staying, or I’m leaving so that changes the whole scenario and I think that is the main reason Tom Izzo is staying put at Michigan State.”
Now we can speculate all day long as to what this means in the ‘will he stay or will he go’ debate, but I really don’t want to weigh in on that. Like most of you, I’m tired of it already and it’s not even July yet. But what I will say, prior to moving on, is that it does appear to me that what seems to be the most important thing to LeBron right now is that he enters this ‘free agency, media-frenzy-tour’ appearing as genuinely ‘free’ and ‘available’ as possible to anybody who wants to watch, woo, or openly wish he plays for their team next season. Everything else, like losing the opportunity to play for a coach he may or may not have wanted to play for on a team he may or may not want to resign with comes second. So do what you want with that.
But back to Gilbert, what he can do - and probably has to do - now is the same thing we’re doing. Wait and see what LeBron James does.
He went after Izzo to make a splash. He fired a coach that won over a 120 games in the last two seasons and went to the Finals a few years ago, and he also let the GM who finished second in the NBA Executive of the Year Award race twice in the last two seasons walk with him. A big swing to be sure, but a home-run only if you land a guy like Izzo. Now, would Izzo have been the best fit for the Cavaliers over the long-haul? You can debate that too, I think he would have translated, but I can understand how you think he might not have. But what’s not debatable, within that, is the fact that Izzo would’ve been a big name get that would’ve provided that splash Gilbert was trying to make. After hiring a Tom Izzo, Dan Gilbert could’ve said to LeBron in July, you see what I did for you while you were away? And while I don’t know that’s the best thing, I know if he hired a Byron Scott, Jeff Van Gundy, and whoever else you want to find out there they would not come equipped with that same impact. Now, could those guys and others like them out there still coach? Sure, there’s still a lot of good candidates out there. But Mike Brown was a good candidate too. And the chances of every good candidate who’s currently available being still available in August are pretty good. So you might as well wait, and go for big swing plan number two: attempt to trade for that big name player. Forget the coaching thing for a bit. You just offered to double a guy who had no NBA experience’s salary and he said, nah, I’ll stay put. Time now to see who you could possibly get for Delonte West and whoever else you want to attempt to package in a deal over the next few weeks. Because the truth is, after he offers Phil Jackson $20 mil per year and his first born son only to see him stay in LA, all those other coaches will still be available. And maybe if he waits, those guys just might have a better idea of who they’ll actually have the chance to coach next season by that time.