Here Comes The Predictable Tom Izzo Phoenix Suns Speculation
The body of the Phoenix Suns' season — their first with MSU alum and billionaire benefactor Mat Ishbia as owner — is barely cold, and yet the Tom Izzo rumors already abound.
The Suns were blown out in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, emphatically eliminated from the playoffs. Ishbia fired coach Monty Williams on Saturday.
By Sunday, the media was already predictably connecting the green and white dots between the Suns' enthusiastic new owner and Izzo. One example was CBS Sports:
Tom Izzo has been pursued by NBA teams before. He's even been pursued by Michigan State boosters before, as Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert tried to hire him in 2010. But he's never been chased by one of his own former players at Michigan State. Mat Ishbia, a walk-on for Izzo's 2000 championship team, could appeal to him on a level that his persistent enemy, Gilbert, likely could not.
Izzo has given no indication that he is interested in coaching in the NBA, although we could reach here and note that he has attended a couple of Suns games this spring. (But let's just say that's a coach supporting a former player.) That said, Michigan State has been remarkably average by Izzo's standards over the past several years, and the college game is changing with the proliferation of NIL money and the transfer portal. Many of Izzo's old rivals have retired in recent years while expressing discomfort with the new world the sport occupies. If ever there was a time to chase Izzo, it's now. The odds of luring him away from the Spartans are still probably quite low, but Ishbia would surely pay whatever price it takes to get him. If nothing else, he could hold it over Gilbert's head forever.
Are things different this time around that could actually get Izzo to leave MSU? Perhaps.
The person who would be courting him here isn't just an MSU alum and donor but one of his former players.
The timing could be right given Izzo's obvious disdain for the state of college basketball brought on by NIL and the transfer portal.
There's also Izzo's age. He'll be 69 this coming season, so if he wants to try his luck in the association this could be his last chance.
But there are so many other factors at play here that make the odds of this happening practically nonexistent.
Izzo still has one year left coaching his son as MSU.
His incoming class in 2023-2024 will give Izzo a chance at the elusive second national championship he's been chasing for damn near a quarter-century.
Money is no object, either. At nearly $6 million last season, Izzo is already one of the highest-paid college basketball coaches. His deal with MSU is a rolling contract that gives him practically infinite security and opportunity for more salary.
But most of all, doesn't it just feel like the NBA ship has sailed for Izzo? If another MSU alumnus and billionaire benefactor couldn't lure him away from East Lansing when he was 13 years younger with the prospect of coaching LeBron James, why would we expect an overture to work at this point?
Plus, if Izzo thinks the college game is in disrepair thanks to the ill effects of NIL money, can you imagine the grief NBA players would give him? Izzo's hard-ass, my-way-or-the-highway approach has never seemed like a fit for the NBA, and it certainly doesn't feel like it would translate nowadays, either.