|Tuesday, April 2
Updated: April 4, 10:33 AM ET
Report says Van Gundy headed to WNBA
ESPN.com news services
Is Jeff Van Gundy ready to return to coaching? And will it be in the WNBA?
The Washington Mystics strongly deny a report which said Van Gundy, who resigned as Knicks coach in December, is expected to be named head coach of the team. The Orlando Sentinal, which reported the story, cited sources in both leagues.
"Although Jeff Van Gundy is an excellent coach, the article written by the Orlando Sentinel is unfounded and the information reported within is untrue," said Susan O'Malley, the president of Washington Sports and Entertainment. "Unfortunately, the reporter's source was not the proper one, the Mystics. We have taken this time to find a coach we believe is the perfect fit for this team and we expect to make an announcement within the next few days."
Dyani Gordon, a Mystics assistant director for public relations, told ESPN that the Mystics are not in talks with Van Gundy about a coaching position or about any other position within the organization.
Van Gundy said on WFAN radio today that he learned of the report by seeing his name appear on ESPN's bottom line and that he called the Orlando reporter Tim Povtak about the story. Van Gundy said Povtak told him he went with the story because he had two sources and that it was too late in the night to bother Van Gundy. Hearing that, Van Gundy told Povtak he had two sources but not the right source.
Knicks spokesman Joe Favorito told the New York Post that general manager Scott Layden was unaware of any negotiations Van Gundy has had with the Mystics.
The Knicks have to give permission for Van Gundy to coach another NBA team because he still had a year left on his contract. It's unknown exactly how that works with a WNBA team -- a league's that's run by the NBA.
Van Gundy compiled a 248-172 record in just more than six seasons with the Knicks, taking them to the NBA Finals in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, when they lost to the San Antonio Spurs.
Since leaving the Knicks, Van Gundy has done some television commentary -- he is scheduled to work Wednesday's Lakers-Nets game on TNT as a color analyst. He also had been rumored as a possible replacement for Lenny Wilkens in Toronto.
"Maybe he decided it was time to coach some players who would listen to him," one NBA source was quoted as saying in the Sentinel story.
The Mystics, who have two of the top five picks in the upcoming WNBA draft, have led the league in attendance the past three seasons, but they have struggled on the court, which is why a high-profile coach has been a priority for them. They also talked with Pat Summit, the legendary women's coach at the University of Tennessee.