Tom Izzo wants to be an NBA coach.
That much has never been in question. If he didn’t have interest, this saga would’ve ended a long time ago.
But Izzo also wants to coach Michigan State. He’s been in East Lansing since 1983, and he obviously isn’t in a rush to flee.
On the surface, Izzo waiting to announce his decision allows two things to happen:
- The Michigan State community has more time to hold rallies and declare his greatness.
- Izzo can take more time to gauge LeBron James’ intentions, which obviously determine whether Izzo is taking a great job or a bad one.
But I think there’s a third reason for his delay:
By taking his time, even if he returns to Michigan State, Izzo is sending a message to NBA teams that he’s serious about coaching in the Association.
If Izzo decides this isn’t the right job, this method makes it more likely he’ll get another shot in the future. If he shoots down Cleveland immediately, NBA teams won’t be knocking down his door next time.
I don’t think this is necessarily a completely calculated move. I believe Izzo is truly undecided. But I think there’s a good chance he knows taking his time will help him in the long run, so there’s no pressure to make a quick decision.
What this means for the Pistons
I’ve said from the beginning, in addition to the Cavaliers offering a better chance at a title than most teams hiring, the job has a clear advantage for Izzo: it’s in the Midwest. The culture in Cleveland is similar to Michigan, and I think Izzo wants, ideally, to stay in his comfort zone and jump to the NBA.
Detroit would obviously offer the best opportunity to do that.
The Pistons could have an opening as soon as next summer, and Izzo could end up on Joe Dumars’ radar whenever the job needs to be filled.
I still think Izzo to the Pistons is an extreme long shot. Besides concerns about the poor track records of recent college-to-pro coaches, it will be a long time until Detroit is willing to spend the five years, $30 million necessary to make Izzo consider leaving East Lansing.
But because he’s waiting to decide, the Pistons will likely consider him.
Or maybe he’ll go to Cleveland in a couple days and this will all be moot. As a Pistons and Michigan fan, I can only hope.