- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

NEW YORK — One by one, potential coaches and general managers are disappearing from the market, sucked up by teams seen as more desirable destinations than Washington.

Not long after Michael Jordan was told by the Wizards he would not regain his job as president of basketball operations, nine NBA franchises, including the Wizards, were looking for coaches.

Since then, Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans and Houston have hired Larry Brown, Paul Silas, Tim Floyd and Jeff Van Gundy, respectively. Of those four, Brown and Van Gundy were reported to have been in talks with the Wizards for the coaching job. And in Brown’s case, it was reported that the president of basketball operations job could be his.

However, both Van Gundy and Brown ultimately opted for financial packages that were reportedly smaller than what Washington was offering, which brings into question whether the Wizards were truly being considered or simply being used as leverage.

On the night of last month’s draft lottery, Wizards owner Abe Pollin said, “We are looking to find the best [president of basketball operations] out there, and we will find the best brain to turn this franchise around.”

Brown was seen almost unequivocally as that person, which partially explains why Detroit fired 2002 NBA coach of the year Rick Carlisle, whose Pistons won 100 games in the last two seasons compared with the Wizards 93 victories in the last three.

The Wizards are expected to interview Carlisle for the coaching job, but he is not being considered as president of basketball operations, according to a league source.

Pollin and Susan O’Malley, president of Washington Sports & Entertainment, failed to return phone calls and e-mails concerning the status of the search.

Some NBA observers feel the Wizards are making a big mistake by not aggressively pursuing New Jersey Nets chief scout Eddie Stefanski for the president’s job and assistant coach Eddie Jordan for the coaching job. One league source said Jordan and Stefanski may have had some contact with the Wizards concerning the openings but will refrain from anything until the NBA Finals are over. The Nets trail San Antonio 2-1 going into tonight’s Game 4.

Earlier, Pollin said the Wizards would like to have both positions filled by the June26 draft. However, he since has backed off that. If he intends, as some believe, to pursue Stefanski and Jordan — the latter is also believed to be on Philadelphia’s shopping list — Pollin would have to make a serious push following the finals, which could end as early as Friday.

Pollin said he wants the club’s new president to pick the Wizards’ seventh head coach since 1999. Some of the names still out there include Atlanta Hawks director of basketball operations Billy Knight, Detroit Pistons assistant GM John Hammond, outgoing Golden State Warriors assistant GM Gary Fitzsimmons, San Antonio assistant GM R.C. Buford and former Hawks GM Pete Babcock. Former Cleveland GM Wayne Embry also is a possibility, as is former Maryland star Len Elmore, who interviewed for the job last week.

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