- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

Washington native Eddie Jordan will be introduced as coach of the Washington Wizards in a news conference this afternoon at MCI Center, several sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

Jordan, the New Jersey Nets assistant credited with building the Eastern Conference champions’ fast-break offense, takes over for Doug Collins, fired last month. Although details of the contract are not known, Jordan is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal.

Jordan, a graduate of Carroll High School, had one interview with Wizards owner Abe Pollin, a day after he had his second interview with officials of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia is believed to have also targeted Jordan as its coach but failed to make an offer, leaving the door open for the Wizards. Philadelphia needs to replace Larry Brown, who departed for Detroit last month.

Jordan was a five-year assistant with the Sacramento Kings and coached the team to a 33-64 record after replacing Garry St. Jean in the final weeks of the 1996-97 season. In his only full season (1997-98) the Kings finished 27-55.

As a player, Jordan was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1977 and retired in 1984.

Although Pollin was unavailable for comment, one source speaking under the condition of anonymity said, “Pollin had done extensive homework on the available coaches. And the one name that consistently came up was Eddie Jordan’s.”

Pollin originally said he wanted to hire the president of basketball operations before hiring the coach. However, as top coaches such as Brown, Paul Silas and Jeff Van Gundy made deals with other teams, Pollin deviated from his plan.

“He has done his research on Eddie Jordan,” the source said, “and he felt completely comfortable with the decision to revise his plan. Everybody seemed to love Eddie.”

The Wizards reportedly made offers to both Brown and Van Gundy, who took the Houston Rockets job. However, these offers have never been confirmed.

Jordan also appears to love the Wizards’ situation more than that of the Sixers, although the Sixers have made the playoffs the last five seasons and went to the finals in 2001. The feud between Allen Iverson and Brown has been one of the longest running player-coach battles in recent years and Iverson’s presence makes the job less attractive to coaches.

The Wizards have not been to the playoffs since 1997, haven’t won a playoff game since 1988, and have not won a series since 1982.

The Wizards could have as much as $10million to spend on free agents this summer if Jerry Stackhouse opts out of the final two years of his contract, which is unlikely. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is over the salary cap, the team is older, and it is not expected to be below the cap until the summer of 2005.

“I’m sure the Wizards’ eventual ability to operate as a player in free agency influenced him,” a league source confirmed. “That and the desire to coach probably outweighed whatever they had to offer in Philadelphia.”

In the four years that Jordan served as New Jersey’s lead assistant coach, he was given credit for implementing the Princeton-style offense created by Sacramento assistant and former Princeton coach Pete Carril.

He is also credited to a large degree for reining in combustible power forward Kenyon Martin — known for wild outbursts early in his career — and helping to make him a quality power forward.

Because he is known for working well with younger players, a source said the Wizards hope that Jordan will also have success in developing forward Kwame Brown, the top pick in the 2001 draft.

Next task for the Wizards is to fill the job of president of basketball operations, the position that became available when Michael Jordan was not brought back to the front office by Pollin.

Len Elmore has been interviewed but has not been called back. The Wizards have contacted NBA executive Bob Lanier, but Lanier is in Africa on business and has not interviewed with the team.

Until a hire is made, Wes Unseld, who is stepping down as the team’s general manager to have both knees replaced after next Thursday’s draft, is in charge of basketball operations.

In other news, the Wizards took a look at 6-foot-7 Georgia shooting guard-small forward Jarvis Hayes. He is considered a lottery pick and should be available when the Wizards make the 10th selection next week. Hayes worked out with combination guard Willie Taylor. Taylor played at Georgetown and then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth after John Thompson retired.



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