Two-man race to be Sonics' coach?
What began as three-man derby in the Sonics' coaching search appears to be narrowing to a two-man race as one-time front-runner Rick Carlisle...
Seattle Times staff reporter
What began as three-man derby in the Sonics' coaching search appears to be narrowing to a two-man race as one-time front-runner Rick Carlisle continues to deny interest in the position while San Antonio assistant P.J. Carlesimo and former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey are privately staking claims for the job.
Casey and Carlesimo were finalists in Minnesota two years ago when the Timberwolves gave Casey his first head-coaching job.
This time, however, Carlesimo appears to have the advantage because of his ties to San Antonio, where new Sonics general manager Sam Presti had been an assistant GM. Owner Clay Bennett, a part-owner with the Spurs in the mid-1990s, is also a fan of San Antonio, which won its fourth NBA title last week.
During the NBA Finals, Carlesimo, who coached in Portland and Golden State, said he wanted another head-coaching opportunity but that he'd only return if the situation was right.
"The match will either be right or it won't," he said. "If not, I've got a great job here. If it works out, then it will be great and I'll be happy."
Presti said Monday he has begun interviewing candidates but declined to identify who has expressed interest in the job.
It is believed that he flew to San Antonio on Tuesday to meet with Carlesimo, but a team spokesman would not confirm that. Presti is expected to interview Casey this week in Seattle. It is unclear if Carlisle, the former Indiana coach, will visit with the Sonics.
Contacted last week after he severed ties with the Pacers, Carlisle said he was not a candidate for the Sonics' job despite speculation from league sources. He did not return messages Tuesday.
Casey, a former Sonics assistant, expressed interest in returning to Seattle after the Sonics fired Bob Hill on April 24, but Casey has been unavailable for comment recently.
Ohio State center Greg Oden will meet with the Sonics on Friday and Texas forward Kevin Durant is scheduled to begin interviews Sunday, according to league sources.
During the three-day meetings, the players who likely will be chosen first and second, respectively, in the June 28 draft, are expected to perform drills in a light workout and interview with team officials.
It's possible the Sonics will have them undergo medical tests, but the team's trainers and physicians were in Orlando two weeks ago and conducted tests that were made available to every team at the league's predraft camp.
The Seattle visit completes a Northwest tour for Oden, who flew to Portland on Tuesday to meet with the Trail Blazers, owners of the No. 1 pick. Durant, who has spent the past week in Seattle working out, will travel to Portland on Thursday.
Unlike the low-key Sonics, the Blazers have turned the visits into a celebrity spectacle. When Oden arrived, guard Brandon Roy and forward LaMarcus Aldridge met him at the airport with a horde of media. The Blazers duo also will pick up Durant.
The Sonics felt the need to refute a story in Tuesday's editions of the New York Post by Peter Vecsey, who wrote that forward Rashard Lewis missed a contractual deadline to file for free agency.
"It's clearly understood by the Sonics and Rashard Lewis that he is a free agent," team spokesman Tom Savage said. "Nothing has changed in the past 24 hours. I don't know where that came from."
Lewis voided the final two years of his contract in hopes of securing a five- or six-year deal as a free agent.
• Seattle is not a suitor for Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who reportedly met owner Jerry Buss in Spain days ago and reiterated trade demands. A Sonics official said this week that Seattle won't shop its No. 2 pick for Bryant.
• Oregon guard Aaron Brooks, who starred at Franklin High School, highlighted players who auditioned for the Sonics on Monday. Others included Florida guard Taurean Green, Florida center Chris Richard and Massachusetts forward Stephane Lasme.
• Sunday, the team had workouts for Boise State guard Coby Karl, the son of former Sonics coach George Karl, Notre Dame guard Russell Carter, Boston College forward Jared Dudley and guard Rodrigue Beaubois of France.
Saturday's workouts included: Wisconsin forward Alando Tucker, Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry, Loyola-Chicago forward Blake Schib and Carter. Friday's drills saw Louisiana State forward Glen Davis, Wake Forest center Kyle Visser, Syracuse forward Demetris Nichols, Iowa guard Adam Haluska, Fresno State guard Quinton Hosley and Ukrainian center Kyrylo Fesenko.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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