Heat names Loughery, but Hawks balk Atlanta won't release assistant before draft


MIAMI -- Getting an NBA coaching job never has been a problem for Kevin Loughery. He has had enough to suggest that he's simply being recycled.

But never did Loughery hold two jobs -- until now.

In one of the most bizarre scenarios involving coaching transitions in NBA history, Loughery landed the Miami Heat coaching job yesterday while retaining his position as the Atlanta Hawks' top assistant coach.

The Hawks refuse to release Loughery from his contract until after the June 26 draft, saying his input is vital to their draft. Their grip on Loughery couldn't be pried loose by angry Heat partners Lewis Schaffel and Billy Cunningham, nor by NBA officials, who intervened at the Heat's request.

"It's a question of manpower," Hawks vice president Pete Babcock said. "We don't have the time to hire a new assistant. We're busy with the draft, and Kevin is important to us in that regard. Kevin will be here working on the draft until it's over."

Loughery, 51, spent yesterday afternoon breaking down film of draft prospects for the Hawks, who select 15th. Meanwhile, inside a Miami Arena locker room during a news conference, the Heat could only offer an empty chair.

"In a symbolic way," Schaffel noted.

The Heat waited 48 days after the May 1 resignation of Ron Rothstein to fill its vacancy, and therefore must delay an actual contract signing (expected length: three years) an additional eight days. For Miami, it's just an inconvenient formality, because Loughery isn't needed for the draft; Cunningham and player personnel director Stu Inman handle those duties.

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