Trail Blazers focus search on Porter, McMillan, Iavaroni
Porter, according to NBA coaching sources, was thus officially added to a Blazer search believed to favor Seattle coach Nate McMillan, with Phoenix assistant Marc Iavaroni also a strong contender.
The Blazers appeared close to offering the job to Iavaroni in late June, with the caveat that they first wanted a shot at luring McMillan away from the SuperSonics. McMillan's previous contract with the Sonics expired Thursday, and the Blazers have since begun their pursuit. The New York Times reported Sunday that Portland is offering McMillan an annual salary of $6 million.
McMillan has a four-year offer on the table from Seattle worth an estimated $18 million, and the Tacoma News Tribune reported Saturday that the lifelong Sonic has been told he has to notify the club by "the middle of next week" if he wants to take the offer or coach elsewhere next season.
Porter became available June 22 after his firing in Milwaukee and figures to battle Iavaroni for the job if McMillan elects to stay with the Sonics. Porter had two up-and-down seasons with the Bucks, coaching them to a 71-93 record and one playoff appearance. But he remains very popular in Portland, which could give Porter an edge as the Blazers try to reconnect with their frustrated fan base.
Porter helped Portland to two NBA Finals appearances in his 10 seasons with the Blazers, who drafted him 24th overall in 1985 out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
"Obviously, with my history there, I would be very interested in trying to help them bring back the glory days," Porter told ESPN.com on June 23.
Iavaroni is a highly regarded assistant who has been considered future head-coach material since working with Pat Riley in Miami. He has worked extensively in Phoenix with Suns star Amare Stoudemire.
The Blazers fired coach Maurice Cheeks on March 2 and replaced him with interim coach Kevin Pritchard, the team's director of player personnel. The team went on to finish with a 27-55 record, tying their franchise-worst season of 1973-74.