The Michigan State Spartans 2013 basketball season was a roller coaster of emotions for Spartan fans. A top preseason ranking followed by injuries followed by a upbrupt end to an NCAA tournament run in the elite eight.
Tom Izzo cited a lack of chemistry and injury caused by the numerous injuries as a reason the Spartans failed to make the final four last season. But behind the scenes there may have been other distractions that played a role in the Spartans tournament exit.
Shortly after it was leaked the Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars was stepping down at the end of the season, reports began to circulate that Tom Izzo was in discussion about the opening with the organization.
Tom Izzo strongly denied the reports in a radio interview with WDFN’s Matt Sheppard on “Shep in the Morning” on the eve of MSU’s match up with Virginia in the NCAA tournament. But despite his strong denial the reality was that Izzo was in discussions with multiple NBA teams about coaching vacancies including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons.
A report from the Minneapolis Start Tribune released late Saturday night indicates that Tom Izzo was offered full control of the Detroit Pistons before Stan Van Gundy, but turned it down.
Izzo was offered the same five-year, $35 million offer to coach and run the Pistons that Van Gundy eventually accepted last week.
Tom Izzo’s radio interview with Matt Sheppard was on March 26th. If Izzo was being truthful in his denial, that means Izzo could have had conversations with the Detroit Pistons while preparing for their game against UConn.
Tom Izzo has proven he can handle the pressures that go with running an elite and high-profile NCAA basketball program. But did the added pressure of a possible $35 million deal with the Detroit Pistons caused him to take his eye off the ball? Fair question considering the inexplicable and uninspired performance by his Spartans against UConn.
Whether or not it was a distraction this time is unknown. What is known is the successful Michigan State Head Coach will never be free of NBA rumors. No matter how much he tries to deny them. It might be time for Tom Izzo to consider the best interest of his school’s basketball program and take one of those offers. Especially if it is becoming too difficult to fend off the rumors while leading the Spartans.