- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Many questions remain about Leonard Hamilton being named the new coach of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost is when the official announcement will be made.

Nothing was forthcoming yesterday from the Wizards or the University of Miami, where Hamilton has coached the last 10 years. A Wizards spokesperson acknowledged rumors of an afternoon news conference for yesterday, but nothing had been planned, and nothing is scheduled for today.

Hamilton finalized his decision to take the Wizards job Sunday following an agreement with the university on a $1 million buyout. As of yesterday afternoon, Miami athletic director Paul Dee said Hamilton had not contacted him.

"Presently, Leonard is our basketball coach, and if it doesn't work out, we'd be extremely happy to have him still with us," Dee told reporters in Miami.

Referring to the buyout Hamilton agreed to pay the school, Dee said, "Where we are right now in this process… . is that we have completed one of the phases between the university and the coach, which, having been successfully completed, releases him to conduct his negotiations with the Wizards. What's going on now will take its own course."

The Hamilton situation is now in "Part 2, in which I'm not a relevant player," Dee said. "I'd have to say when [the Wizards] are able to complete their transaction, then we'll know."

However, a source familiar with the situation said Miami is probably aware Hamilton will leave but is waiting until the Wizards make the announcement.

Once again, Hamilton remained unavailable for comment yesterday, as did Michael Jordan, the Wizards' director of basketball operations.

Hamilton has agreed to a five-year deal with the Wizards worth an estimated $2 million a year. The final year of the contract would not be guaranteed. In April, Hamilton signed a seven-year contract extension at Miami worth in excess of $750,000 a year.

Among the interesting rumors flying around in connection with the Hamilton hiring is that the Wizards, i.e. Jordan, already have picked an assistant coach. ESPN is reporting that former Golden State Warriors coach and Chicago Bulls assistant John Bach will be added to Hamilton's staff.

This was news to Bach, who said he has heard from assorted friends and family members about the story but not from Jordan, Hamilton or anyone else involved. In fact, Bach said, he has never met Leonard Hamilton. But he said he would love the job if it was offered.

"I'll be on a plane if [Jordan] wants me," Bach said yesterday from his home in Chicago.

Bach, who is 75, was an assistant with the Bulls under Doug Collins and Phil Jackson from 1986 to 1994 the period during which Jordan blossomed into the game's most famous and perhaps best player ever.

"We had a good relationship," said Bach, who has been a consultant to a couple of NBA teams the last few years. "We got along well… . He was a genuine pleasure to be associated with."

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