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Report: Pistons expected to pursue Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

Mar 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Tom Izzo

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo turned down a chance to coach the Atlanta Hawks in 2000. For many college coaches, even successful ones, one shot at an NBA job is the maximum. But Izzo has kept plugging away in East Lansing, reaching four Final Fours since 2000 with a chance for a fifth this season.

It doesn’t hurt to have a couple Spartans owning NBA teams, either.

Michigan State graduate Dan Gilbert pursued, but ultimately didn’t land, Izzo for the Cleveland Cavaliers job in 2010. Now, it’s expected another MSU alum chases Izzo.

Sam Amick of USA Today on Pistons owner Tom Gores:

One name he’s expected to go after is Tom Izzo at Michigan State.

Having already fired Maurice Cheeks and not getting a bump with interim coach John Loyer, the Pistons will need a coach this offseason. Considering they might also need a new general manager, Gores could have a big say in the coaching search.

Would Izzo finally jump? Maybe.

He put a lot of time and energy into recruiting Jabari Parker, who ultimately went to Duke. That left Michigan State’s recent recruiting classes thin relative to college basketball’s other powers. A good coach like Izzo could probably mold these recruits into good players by the time they’re upperclassmen, but would he want to endure that rebuild – and the lean years that could come between – if an NBA job is available?

Izzo, who made more than $3.7 million last season, would definitely require a raise to leave Michigan State. And increasing his salary would likely place him among the NBA’s top half of coaches.

Considering how rarely college coaches translate to the NBA, that does not seem like the best use of Gores’ money.

Izzo instills a strong competitiveness in his players and he knows how to navigate the arc of a season in order to have his team peaking in March, two skills that make him a great college coach. He also possesses a bright basketball mind, which could make him a great NBA coach.

Hiring Izzo would be a big risk for the Pistons, albeit one that could pay off in a big way. Is it worth the cost? Only if Gores wants to pay it.

If I were owner, though, I’d spend that much only to get one of the many proven NBA head coaches – George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy, Lionel Hollins – who are possibly available.

  1. romestar82 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Izzo and Coach K need to make a jump ,they’ve reached the ceiling in College hoops

    • kb2408 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Reached the ceiling? What ceiling has Izzo reached? Coach K? Yes, he has won multiple titles. Izzo has won one and that was almost a decade and a half ago. Izzo over coaches. There is a reason why the majority of his best players do not improve at MSU. I’d take Billy D over him anytime.

    • southsidegroovin281 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      They’ve reached their ceiling? Why cause you said so??

    • stayhigh_247 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      The make up of this team has coach Hollins written all over it, he’s proven he can win with bigs and coach defense. George Karl (although I like him) is not the guy for this current Pistons squad.

  2. kb2408 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Just my opinion, but Izzo would be an unmitigated disaster in the NBA. Especially for the Pistons. If he took over a team ready to contend for a title he would probably be successful. MSU fans put him on a pedestal but 2000 was a long time ago. Izzo is still living off that one NCAA title.

  3. rajbais - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Again???? He turned them down in 2000 and 2001.

    Izzo has also talked about how the older you get the more responsibilities you have and thus there’s misery. Why gain more?

  4. billtetley53 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    KB, per usual, your opinion is idiotic.

    Sweet 16 in 03,05,08,09,10,12,13,14

    Elite 8 in 05,09,10

    NC runner up in 09.

    His 2014 team has a good chance of winning it all again this year.
    .715 winning %
    graduates 82% of his players

    You’d think you’d stick to just pro hoops to make a fool of yourself.

    You know nothing. Please, just read and fight the urge to comment. It will be better for your self esteem.

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM


      KB is good at making a fool of himself.

      I’m an IU grad and I root for all Big Ten teams in the tourney, especially this yr and Crean and the boys didn’t come close to making the big dance…

      I’m rooting hard for Mich State to at least make the Final Four as since Izzo has coached them, they’ve appeared in at least one Final Four every four yrs. No senior class has not had at least one trip to the Final Four while he’s coached at State.

      I think that is a cool streak and it will be broken if this group does not make the Final Four this yr.

      There isn’t another program with this kind of streak so that in and of itself shows what kind of program Izzo has created… one that is good consistently…

    • kb2408 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Forgive me for expecting my coaches to graduate players AND win titles. Coach K does it. My point is we just lump Izzo in with the elite coaches but elite coaches are elite because they win titles, dolt.

      • flashdelirium22 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        KB is awful. Izzo would be a bad NBA coach but not because he “only has 1 title”. He has 6 Final 4’s, once you get there it is just about how the ball bounces. It’s not a 7 game series.

      • ryanrockzzz - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Yea he does it, but no one else wins as consistently. Coach K is a great coach, but honestly it’s stupid comparison since Izzo is on par with nearly every other coach, K is an anomoly.

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        Well, put it this way… there’s only 4 coaches with multiple titles currently coaching (Coach K, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams and Billy Donovan)… winning multiple titles is hard.

    • kb2408 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      And one more point, @billbitely53, isn’t ironic that the two owners that have both gone hard after Izzo have ties to MSU (Gores) or to the state of Michigan (Dan Gilbert)? I don’t owners really care about Izzo’s graduation rate or how many Final 4’s he’s reached. How many times has he cut down the nets on Monday night is all that should be important to an NBA owner. Billy Donovan has 2 titles already with less talent than Izzo gets and he has a good chance to get a third this year. How many McDonalds All Americans does he get, compared to Izzo?

      • mintberrycrunch1 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        2 titles with less talent than Izzo gets? This just shows how ignorant you are.

        Players from back-to-back championship Florida teams:
        Taurean Green – Played in the NBA
        Chris Richards – Played in the NBA
        Marreese Speights – Decent NBA Player
        Corey Brewer – Good NBA player
        Al Horford – NBA Allstar
        Joakim Noah – NBA Allstar

        The main reason Donovan won 2 titles is because he put together a college team full of NBA talent that stayed together for multiple years.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    To be a fly on the wall during those meetings. I bet it will get to Tyrone Wiggins level of shameless.

    Mr. Izzo, come be the Piston coach…no you said? Come on *scratches neck* I’ll s*** your d***!

  6. billtetley53 - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Coach K hasn’t won since 2010 and his team was ousted by a 3,seed this year….”dolt”.

    Is explain how the 1 and done recruits are changing the basketball landscape in college, but you wouldn’t understand.

    You are the worst of people. You’re a know nothing incapable of learning anything. You shoot your mouth off and get proven to be an idiot 98% of the time.

    Just read and don’t comment.

    July. North Hollywood. Let me know, coward.

    • unxpexted1 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      lol hasn’t won since 2010. you make it seem like it was 20 years ago. had to laugh at that.

      Either way, i don’t think either one would be good pro coaches honestly.

  7. chichi78 - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Coach K gets more McD’s All-Americans in one year than Izzo got in the last decade, yet Izzo seems to field a contender every year. Izzo teams always play hard and his players seem to love him.

    I could totally see Izzo being a Tom Thibadeau type in the NBA. If given the time, he can coach up guys to be solid role players and maybe even stars. If he were to get a Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, forget about it, he can make them a superstar.

    • unxpexted1 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Well i think what makes Izzo so good is that he has a cohesive team. The reason why he does is because he DOESN”T get Mcdonalds all americans. He gets quality teams and all of his team are flooded with Juniors and Seniors. The reason why i don’t like him as a pro because he does not have much experience coaching elite talent. Who are the best players to come out of Michigan state in his tenor, Mateen Cleaves, Draymond Green. I may be missing some people but the only really big name player that i can remember coming out of MSU was Zach Randolph

  8. billtetley53 - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Well, that cinches it. KB either won’t be back, or he will come back with something REALLY inane.

    He usually just disappears when he’s proven wrong…

  9. coltzfan166 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Stay at a national championship contending team or leave for a team that has no chance at a championship in the next 10 years………..tough choices to be made.

  10. unxpexted1 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    To me John Calipari is the best big name coach suited for the NBA. He kind of reminds me of Pete Carroll. Had an awful stint as an NBA coach, goes back to college and builds super teams. The one thing you know about Cal is that he can coach elite talent and manage egos. Thats what the NBA is about. Players seem to love him as well. And at least he has some previous NBA head coaching experience to fall back on.

  11. senorpapino - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    As both a Pistons and MSU fan, this move makes no sense. He wouldn’t make more money, he wouldn’t have a contending team in Detroit, and he wouldn’t have any job security relative to MSU.

  12. haaaaasoooooo - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Guys! guys! Did you hear? Shaka smart to Marquette???? It’s a DONE DEAL! Hahahahahahahahah(I can’t stop laughing!!!!!!!!!)

  13. spursareold - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    College coaches usually stiff in the NBA because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that they no longer hold the reins of power on a team. It’s a player’s league and very few can adapt to that.

  14. billtetley53 - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I brought up 2010 because sphincter boy acts like Duke wins every year, which is not the case.

    If they happen to win next year, its 5 years since his last title, get it?!

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