INDEPENDENCE, Ohio - LeBron James can pick his next team. If it's the Cleveland Cavaliers, he won't be selecting their coach.
That was the powerful message from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who refused to comment yesterday on reports he has offered a massive contract to Michigan State's Tom Izzo and adamantly denied that James, the two-time MVP now on free agency's doorstep, has been running Cleveland's franchise.
Gilbert added that James will not be consulted during the team's coaching search.
Speaking at a news conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts to introduce new general manager Chris Grant, Gilbert refuted reports that James has had input on past hires and trades, the firing of coach Mike Brown, and GM Danny Ferry's recent departure.
"The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way, shape, or form with firing our head coach, involved in the transition to general manager Chris Grant, and will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally, 100 percent and patently false," Gilbert said. "It's unfair to him. It's unfair to the franchise.
"He is a basketball player and a great one, and his interests are aligned with our interests, but this concept that this franchise has been handed to a player who is running it and making the decisions is just completely and totally false. He'll tell you that and Chris will tell you that and I'll tell you that. The truth is the truth."
Grant confirmed the club has had contact with Izzo and "a number" of other coaching candidates but would not provide any details. The team is believed to have contacted former New Orleans coach Byron Scott and Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson.
A person familiar with Cleveland's pursuit of Izzo told the Associated Press that Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, and the coach have discussed terms of a possible contract that would pay Izzo up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons. Use of one of Gilbert's jets has not been discussed.41.3764 -81.64001
LeBron James can pick his next team. If it's the Cleveland Cavaliers, he won't be selecting their coach.