Report: Spurs assistant Carlesimo to be named Sonics coach
The Sonics have scheduled a Thursday news conference amid reports that the team has hired P.J. Carlesimo as its new head coach. Team officials refused to comment Tuesday on a report that first appeared on the San Antonio Express-News Web site, which said Carlesimo had been chosen by Sonics' ownership.
Carlesimo and former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey have been considered front-runners for the Seattle job. Casey told The Associated Press on Tuesday evening that he was informed by the Sonics they were going with another candidate. Casey said he was not told who the choice was.
"They said they were going in a different direction and that I made it a tough decision," said Casey, a former assistant in Seattle. "I'm disappointed."
Seattle general manager Sam Presti, who spent the last seven years working in the Spurs' organization before becoming Seattle's GM on June 7, was traveling and unavailable for comment.
Carlesimo, 58, has been an assistant the last five seasons in San Antonio and before that was a head coach in Portland and Golden State. The position in Seattle has been vacant since the Sonics fired Bob Hill on April 24 after the team went 31-51 last season.
When the 30-year-old Presti was hired, finding a new coach seemed to be the top priority for the youngest GM in basketball, who was given authority over the coaching search.
But the process dragged, in part because Carlesimo couldn't interview until after the Spurs won their third NBA title since 2003.
Sonics' owner Clay Bennett, a former member of the Spurs' board of governors in the 1990s, has repeatedly said he wants to model the Sonics after the San Antonio organization. He seems on his way there, having plucked Presti and now, apparently, Carlesimo from the Spurs.
Carlesimo has played a supporting role in San Antonio, far different from his last stop as a head coach in Golden State, where he clashed with players and had an infamous run-in with Latrell Sprewell.
Carlesimo's intense, in-your-face approach in Golden State almost immediately became an issue when tensions developed between him and Sprewell, his star player.
The emotions boiled over at a practice Dec. 1, 1997, when Sprewell responded to Carlesimo's terse command of "put a little mustard" on a pass by choking his coach. It took several players and team officials to break up the attack, which an angry Sprewell renewed 15 minutes later.
Sprewell initially had his contract terminated by the Warriors and was suspended a year by the NBA, but the sanctions were reduced by an arbitrator to a 68-game suspension that still cost the All-Star guard $6 million in wages.
Following his reinstatement, the Warriors traded Sprewell to the New York Knicks. Carlesimo was fired by Golden State early in the 1999 season after a 6-21 start.
Carlesimo took Portland to the playoffs each of his three seasons with the Trail Blazers, but never advanced out of the first round.
Seattle has seen its two star players leave in the last week. Seven-time All-Star Ray Allen was traded to Boston on draft night for the rights to No. 5 pick Jeff Green, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak.
One positive for Carlesimo would be the opportunity to work with Texas star Kevin Durant, selected by Seattle with the No. 2 pick in last week's draft. Durant and Green will both be part of Seattle's summer league team that begins play Friday in Las Vegas.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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