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Published: Tuesday, 6/8/2010

Cavaliers courting Michigan State's Izzo

BY BRIAN WINDHORST
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER

CLEVELAND - Fitting his reputation, Dan Gilbert has gotten aggressive and serious in search for a new coach.

Last week, perhaps within hours of agreeing to part ways with general manager Danny Ferry, the Cavaliers owner swung a plan into action to attempt to lure highly successful Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to Cleveland.

According to multiple sources, Gilbert met with Izzo and laid out the framework of a massive contract aimed to convince the Spartan legend to jump to the NBA after saying no many times before.

Sources said Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate who has known Izzo for years, informally offered a five-year contract potentially worth more than $30 million. The pitch also includes bonuses and perks, including free use of one of Gilbert's private jets.

Izzo is believed to be mulling the offer and over the weekend contacted several people he's close with to seek input. Several people close to Izzo told the Plain Dealer they didn't think Izzo would take the job but had not yet turned Gilbert down.

Conventional wisdom within the NBA is that no established coach could accept the offer to replace Mike Brown without knowing LeBron James' future plans. Gilbert appears to have tried to get around that uncertainty by offering big money and long-term security.

James has said he does not plan to pick his next coach and is not believed to be directly involved with the Cavs' coaching search. It is clear that James wants to keep his options open and not make any promises before deciding where he's going to sign after July 1.

However, it would be likely that Izzo would at least speak to James to feel him out before making a decision. James would likely entertain such a conversation.

James planned to attend Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night in Los Angeles but canceled. Friend and Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony told reporters that James decided not to attend the game because something "important" had come up. It is not clear whether that had anything to do with Izzo's weekend and the Cavs' offer.

Yesterday, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Associated Press that Izzo had not been offered a contract by the Cavs.

Izzo's salary at Michigan State is $2.99 million, including media and shoe contract bonuses that was part of an extension he signed last year. After leading the Spartans to their sixth Final Four in the last 12 years in April, Izzo hit bonuses that boosted his package to more than $3 million. Gilbert, it seems, has offered to double that.



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