EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New Jersey Nets assistant coach Eddie Jordan is believed to be one of the candidates the Washington Wizards are considering as coach. However, the Nets are not permitting any of their assistants to interview for jobs until the NBA Finals are over.
The best-of-7 series between the Nets and San Antonio Spurs is tied 2-2 and will end no later than Wednesday, when Game 7 is scheduled. And there is no shortage of Jordan endorsers here.
“Eddie Jordan is a great guy,” said New Jersey center Dikembe Mutombo. “He is a wonderful teacher. Wherever he goes, the players will love him. He is good at talking to the players and teaching.”
Besides Jordan, the Wizards have also expressed an interest in former Detroit coach Rick Carlisle, with whom they are expected to meet soon, and Mike Dunleavy. Carlisle is also said to be considering the Los Angeles Clippers, and Dunleavy is believed to be an option for Atlanta. The Wizards have already been spurned by Larry Brown and Jeff Van Gundy.
Jordan was not available yesterday at New Jersey’s practice, opting to seek shelter in the Nets’ offices at their practice facility.
The Wizards also are looking for someone to run the organization since Michael Jordan was told last month by owner Abe Pollin that he would not return as president of basketball operations. Thus far, the Wizards are known to have interviewed just one candidate for that job, former Maryland star Len Elmore.
The Wizards are also reported to have contacted Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier concerning the job. Lanier, 54, is an assistant to NBA commissioner David Stern and heads the league’s community service program. Lanier has never worked as an NBA general manager or head of basketball personnel, but he has served as president of the players’ union and as an NBA coach and assistant with the Golden State Warriors in the mid-1990s. Lanier played 14 seasons for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.
Calls to Lanier’s New York office were not returned.
There are a number of people at the Finals who think the Wizards would be doing themselves a big favor by trying to work out a package deal that would include Jordan, who is also said to be coveted by Philadelphia, and New Jersey chief of scouting Eddie Stefanski. However, a source with knowledge of the situation said the Wizards’ interests in the duo to this points had only been “lukewarm at best.”
One league source here said the Wizards “probably haven’t pursued the two” openly because they are allowing the Nets to “make their push for the championship.”
Philadelphia has already interviewed two assistants, Mike Woodson and Randy Ayers, as possible Brown replacements.
Meanwhile, New Jersey coach Byron Scott knows his top aide is going to be coveted once the season ends. It was the same way last season, when the Denver Nuggets almost whisked Jordan away before settling on Jeff Bzdelik.
“I know he was up for jobs last year,” Scott said. “And I’m sure he’ll be getting some calls this summer also.”