EAST LANSING, Mich. — It wouldn't be a typical off-season if Tom Izzo's name didn't appear on the list of possible NBA coaching candidates.
Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland put Izzo's name on a list of three "dream choices" for the Cleveland Cavaliers' job that opened up when the organization fired Mike Brown on Monday. Windhorst said the list comes from sources close to the team.
"Like (Duke coach Mike) Krzyzewski, the Michigan State coach has been a target of NBA teams numerous times in the past," he wrote. "Well-respected for his work ethic and ability to teach defense and rebounding, Izzo has established a reputation as a blue-collar coach who routinely gets the most out of his teams. His persona would fit in well with the Cavs' desires to have a coach who establishes a system and a culture with his team."
Krzyzewski and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson are the other two on the "dream choices" list. Windhorst also cited the Cavs' Spartan connection — owner Dan Gilbert is an MSU graduate.
"Gilbert has a relationship with Izzo and is believed to like him," he wrote. "Coming off another Final Four appearance, Izzo would have little motive to leave the Spartans. He's turned down chances to make more money in the past. He did, however, recruit (LeBron) James for awhile."
When reached on Monday, Izzo laughed when he heard his name was mentioned, and he said jokingly that Gilbert "wasn't burning up his phone line."
"As I always say in these situations, I'm sticking with my usual (response)," Izzo said. "So I won't comment any more on this one."
The last time Izzo's name surfaced for a job — the one at Oregon — he said the following:
"When you have some success — and thank God I've had some — your name pops up for different things. I'm happy with the job I have ... and there isn't a better time of year than March, so I'm looking forward to this Final Four."