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
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
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
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
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
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.