- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Mike Dunleavy interviewed with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling over the weekend, league sources told ESPN.com, to underline Dunleavy's status as the Clippers' top coaching candidate.
Friday's meeting was Dunleavy's second interview with the Clippers, and made Dunleavy the first coach to meet face-to-face with Sterling. Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who conducted Dunleavy's first interview, previously interviewed ex-Detroit coach Rick Carlisle at the recent pre-draft camp in Chicago. Clippers interim coach Dennis Johnson has also re-interviewed with the club in hopes of retaining the job.
The Clippers declined comment Monday. Dunleavy could not be reached.
It remains to be seen how much Sterling would be willing to pay Dunleavy. Alvin Gentry was making one of the league's lowest coaching salaries, at $1.5 million, when he was fired March 3 and replaced by Johnson. Finances are one factor that made a Clippers/Carlisle pairing a long shot from the start and the factor that gives Johnson a decent shot to be hired full-time.
Dunleavy, according to sources, has nonetheless expressed strong interest in the Clippers' job after missing out on the Houston job he wanted so badly. Dunleavy, an ex-Rocket, was beaten out by Jeff Van Gundy.
Dunleavy is said to be excited by the Clippers' young talent and the possibility of moving back to Los Angeles, where he coached the Los Angeles Lakers for two seasons from 1990-92. Finances aside, L.A.'s chances of landing Dunleavy have potentially received a boost with the news that the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to Texas businessman David McDavid might not be finalized until July. Dunleavy has long been considered the favorite to be hired as McDavid's first coach -- they are already well-acquainted as Fort Worth residents -- but the delay in the ownership transfer gives the Clippers a window to negotiate with Dunleavy unopposed.
Dunleavy has a 398-390 career record in 10 seasons coaching the Lakers, Milwaukee and Portland. He took the Lakers to the NBA Finals as a coaching rookie in 1990-91 and made the Western Conference finals twice with the Blazers. Dunleavy, however, was fired after the 2000-01 season, which saw the volatile Blazers -- still reeling from their Game 7 meltdown against the Lakers in the previous season -- swept by L.A. in the first round.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.
12hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
13hMatt Walks, ESPN.com