INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — 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 Tuesday 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. "It's unfair to him. It's unfair to the franchise.

"He is a basketball player and a great one and his interests are aligned with our interests, but this concept that this franchise has been handed to a player who is running it and making the decisions is just completely and totally false. He'll tell you that and Chris will tell you that and I'll tell you that. The truth is the truth."

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.

Grant said there is no timetable to hire a new coach.

"I want to find the right guy, and I want to find the right fit," said Grant, promoted after Ferry resigned last Friday, ending a wildly successful five-year run. "That could be in a week and that could be in a month and a half. We're going to make the decisions based on who that right person is and the best fit for our team."

As for Izzo, Gilbert and Grant did all they could to sidestep repeated questions about their interest in the Spartans coach, who has been approached by NBA teams in the past — but perhaps not this tenaciously.

"At the appropriate time, we'll have an announcement," Grant said, "and we'll have the next guy that's going to lead us out there on the court."

A person familiar with Cleveland's pursuit of Izzo told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, and the coach have discussed terms of a possible contract that would pay Izzo up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons. Use of one of Gilbert's jets has not been discussed.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were supposed to be confidential.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer first reported Monday that Gilbert and Izzo talked about the framework of a long-term deal, worth about $6 million a season for up to five years. Izzo makes more than $3 million a season and is under contract through 2016.

The Cavaliers fired Brown less than two weeks following their second-round loss to the Boston Celtics. Brown, named the NBA's coach of the year in 2009, led the Cavs to 127 regular-season wins the past two seasons but couldn't get James and the team back to the NBA finals.

Brown's firing was quickly followed by Ferry's decision not to return. The upheaval has given the impression the Cavs are in chaos just as James enters free agency. Gilbert, though, said all the decisions were based on his desire to bring a championship to Cleveland, and that while the moves may be risky, they were not done without deep consideration and analysis.

"If you took the other approach that you do nothing and nothing happened, I think the criticism would be just as loud," Gilbert said. "It was our view that the benefit outweighed the risk of making some significant changes here to get us over the hump and get us to where we need to be.

"This is not about franchise value. This is not about the payroll we spent or didn't spend. This is driven solely on the motivational factor of delivering a championship to this city. Period. We believe this is LeBron's goal, it's Chris Grant's goal, it'll be our head coach's goal. We're just going to keep going until we get there."

Grant said the team intends to stay in close contact with James, but would not reveal specifics about plans to land the superstar or any free agents.

While not revealing potential coaching names, Grant said the uncertainty of James' future with Cleveland has not been viewed negatively by candidates. He said the lure of coaching one of the league's top franchises — with or without James — is enticing.

"People look at this organization and have seen what it's done over the last five years and they're really impressed," he said. "They see games on TV, they see what the business side has done, they see the sellouts. People look at this and say, 'Wow, it's a desirable place and I'd like to be there.'"

Izzo has had little to say about the Cavs' courtship. During a radio interview on Monday night, he described some of the reports as "far-fetched."

"I'm the Michigan State coach, and that's what I'm going to do right now," he said. "Who knows what the future brings? But it sure isn't at all like it's maybe being speculated."

According to the latest version of Izzo's deal, he has to pay the school $500,000 within 30 days of terminating his employment if he takes another job.

A message was left Tuesday by the AP for Izzo, who led the Spartans to the Final Four this year for the sixth time in 12 seasons.


AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.