Friday, June 11, 2010

Making the right decision

The Cavaliers, in their 40th year of existence, are teetering on the brink of a major development. And the future direction the NBA team takes depends on the decision of a veteran college basketball coach.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has put enormous pressure on Tom Izzo to leave Michigan State and become Mike Brown's successor in Cleveland. Izzo's final answer will determine the course of the franchise in the near future.

If he says yes, the guess here is that LeBron James will use that as an excuse to leave the Cavaliers as he seeks to become a world icon. Why opt to play for a college coach who has never graced an NBA bench? Why decide to stay and play for a man whose neophyte approach to the pro game would be detrimental to the club's progress?

Gilbert is blinded by Izzo's wonderful college coaching record and the fact Gilbert is a Michigan State alumnus. He'd be much better off concentrating on Byron Scott, a man who knows what it's like to win championships; a man who knows how to handle star player; a man who knows the ins and outs of running an NBA team.

This is not a learning-on-the-job situation. The Cavs, their window to the NBA championship still wide open (pending, of course, LeBron's decision), need someone to take them to a higher level. Izzo can't do that. Players will stop listening to him quicker because he hasn't traveled down the same road with them.

Now if Izzo says no and stays in East Lansing, then the odds on LeBron staying (especially if Scott is the choice) rise significantly.

This is a time when clear heads should prevail. The lure of coaching in the NBA no doubt has to be intoxicating to Izzo. Doubling his salary is another enticement. But pulling down $3 million at MSU ain't too shabby.

If Izzo's answer is yes, fans can look at this as the beginning of the end for the Cavaliers. LeBron will bolt, the franchise will take a decided turn for the worse and the Gilbert will eventually sell the team or move it to another city.

Count on it.

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