LeBron James can pick his next team. If it's the Cleveland Cavaliers, he won't be selecting their coach.
That was the powerful message from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who refused to comment yesterday on reports he has offered a massive contract to Michigan State's Tom Izzo and adamantly denied that James, the two-time MVP now on free agency's doorstep, has been running Cleveland's franchise.
Gilbert added that James will not be consulted during the team's coaching search.
Speaking at a news conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts to introduce new general manager Chris Grant, Gilbert refuted reports that James has had input on past hires and trades, the firing of coach Mike Brown and GM Danny Ferry's recent departure.
"The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way, shape or form with firing our head coach, involved in the transition to general manager Chris Grant and will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally, 100 percent and patently false," Gilbert said.
Grant confirmed the club has had contact with Izzo and "a number" of other coaching candidates but would not provide any details. The team is believed to have contacted former New Orleans coach Byron Scott and Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson.
A person familiar with Cleveland's pursuit of Izzo told the Associated Press yesterday that Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, and Izzo have discussed terms of a possible contract that would pay the coach up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons.
In another twist, ESPN.com reported that a source has confirmed a New York Post report that entertainment mogul David Geffen wants to purchase a majority share of the Los Angeles Clippers and attempt to sign James once he becomes a free agent.
Current Clippers owner Donald Sterling has said he has no intention of selling the team. However, the Post reported that Geffen told Sterling at a meeting last Friday and that "he can deliver LeBron as long as he's calling the shots."