If anybody has experience with how tough it can be to go from college basketball to the NBA, it's Rick Pitino. He left Kentucky for the Boston Celtics after lots of success in the college game and ended up struggling big time during his short-lived NBA career. Pitino's struggles eventually resulted in him going back to the college ranks to coach Louisville, where he has once again has been successful.
Not every coach is the same obviously, but based on his experience, Pitino believes Tom Izzo, who he considers to be a good friend, should stay where he's at right now.
"My advice to him would be, if you're really happy where you are, then it doesn't make any sense to mess with happiness," Pitino said. "Happiness is more important than money. Happiness is more important than a new challenge. Also, you're on the threshold of making the Hall of Fame. If he called me, I'd tell him, 'Tom, put yourself in a seat belt and stay at Michigan State.'"
When this process reaches a conclusion, my guess is that Izzo decides to stay at Michigan State for exactly the reason Pitino mentioned: happiness. Yes, the NBA would pay more and provide an interesting and new challenge, but Izzo just seems like he is too committed to MSU and his players to leave. I could see Izzo leaving if he was facing a rebuilding year (which really means something less than a Final Four run for him), but the reality of the situation is that the Spartans are one of the favorites to win next year's national title. Their roster is loaded with talent, and as Izzo has said before, he is "obsessed" with winning another national championship. In the end, I think that will be more important of a challenge to him than coaching in the NBA.
Whatever ends up happening, Izzo will surely make an educated decision. Although Pitino hasn't heard from Izzo yet, chances are he will sometime soon, as Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel reports that Izzo is "canvassing opinions" of college and NBA coaches about the Cavaliers opening. Wetzel mentions that the decision is up in the air, so I'm sure Izzo will continue to reach out to his friends in the basketball world to help weigh the pros and cons of taking the job in Cleveland.