Tom Izzo has dealt with rumors about his desire to leave the friendly confines of East Lansing for the NBA for the majority of his tenure at Michigan State, which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his name springs up again this summer.
This time around, the rumors are being fueled by the fact that Izzo is close friends with Flip Saunders, the President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They just so happen to have an opening at head coach. It’s not a difficult connection to make, and plenty of people have made it.
Izzo made clear to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz on a podcast released on Wednesday afternoon that he planned on returning to Michigan State next season. But he also avoided speaking in certainties.
“First of all, I’m gonna be at Michigan State, but even you can’t trick me into that anymore,” Izzo said, mentioning how he still hears Nick Saban getting criticized for saying that he would never leave the Miami Dolphins to take the Alabama job. “Nobody knows where any of us are going to be. You have to look at your track record and, over all these years, is this what he’s done?”
“If somebody made me an offer, the Los Angeles Lakers, that was so good that it would impress everybody, does that mean I would never say never? I’m not doing that anymore because I’ve seen too many people get stung that way. But put it this way: I’ve got a big-time recruit coming in right now, in about an hour. If I was leaving, I wouldn’t be recruiting.”
This is the right way for Izzo to play it.
Essentially, he’s saying that if the right offer came along, he’d consider a move to the NBA the same way any other person in any other profession would consider a job change if the right job was available.
But he’s been in the rumor mill for NBA jobs for 13 years, and he still hasn’t left.