Could Michigan State HC Tom Izzo be headed to the NBA?

You knew it was coming. When Mat Ishbia, who previously played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, purchased the Phoenix Suns, it was just a matter of time before the speculation would begin. Now that the Suns are in need of a new head coach, Izzo is being mentioned as a long-shot candidate to get the gig. On a list recently released by CBS Sports, Izzo is suggested as one of six candidates for the Suns' head coaching position.

Tom Izzo Michigan State Michigan Iowa NBA

Key Points

  • Mat Ishbia, the owner of the Phoenix Suns and former player for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, has sparked speculation that Izzo could be a candidate for the Suns' head coaching position.
  • While Izzo has been pursued by NBA teams and even Michigan State boosters in the past, Ishbia's connection to Izzo as a former player could make the opportunity more appealing.
  • Although Izzo has not shown explicit interest in coaching in the NBA, the changing landscape of college basketball, including the rise of NIL money and the transfer portal, may influence his decision. However, it is still highly unlikely that Izzo would leave Michigan State, a place where he is beloved and deeply connected. Expect Izzo to retire as a Spartan despite the potential interest from the Suns.

Could Michigan State HC Tom Izzo be headed to the NBA?

Here is what Sam Quinn of CBS Sports about Izzo being a potential candidate for the Suns' job.

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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.

Bottom Line: Izzo is not going anywhere

Crazy things happen in sports all the time, but Izzo leaving Michigan State for the NBA will never be one of those things. Though Izzo seems fed up with the way college basketball has gone, it seems like an extremely long shot that he would make the decision to leave a place that loves him so much. Expect the Suns to kick the tires, but for Izzo to retire as a Spartan.

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