Krzyzewski confirms NBA interest


Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said yesterday that he is exploring the possibility of leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference school after 14 years for an NBA job.

In confirming a report in yesterday's Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun, Krzyzewski said his decision to consider another coaching job has nothing to do with his team's recent academic problems.

In a brief statement released by the school's sports information office, Krzyzewski said: "I am looking at other coaching opportunities; however, this activity is not based on any poor performances by my players academically."

The Herald-Sun, quoting a source close to the coach's family, said that the chances of Krzyzewski's leaving were 50-50. Krzyzewski reportedly will meet with his attorney over the weekend to discuss his options.

In another development that might be related, Duke assistant coach Mike Bray yesterday withdrew his name from consideration for the head coaching job at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Bray, who also turned down head coaching jobs at Marshall and Auburn two months ago, might be considered a successor to Krzyzewski at Duke, or might follow ** his boss to the NBA as an assistant coach.

This marks the second time in the past four years that Krzyzewski has been courted by the NBA. The last time was when the Boston Celtics were looking for a head coach in spring 1990. Krzyzewski turned down the offer, stayed at Duke and proceeded to win back-to-back national championships.

This time, the 47-year-old coach apparently is being pursued by the league. NBA commissioner David Stern reportedly met with Krzyzewski and his wife, Mickie, last weekend in Miami to try to sell them on moving to the professional ranks. However, an NBA spokesman denied that Stern met with the Krzyzewskis.

There are three NBA vacancies: the Los Angeles Clippers, who fired Bob Weiss after the regular season; the Portland Trail Blazers, who fired longtime coach Rick Adelman after the team lost to the Houston Rockets in the opening round of the playoffs; and the New Jersey Nets, who watched Chuck Daly announce his retirement Thursday.

Portland could make more sense than either New Jersey or Los Angeles -- it's a one-sport town and the community has been much like a college town in its support of the team. But if Stern is involved, there's a possibility that Krzyzewski could have his pick of several jobs, including a couple where the coaches are on shaky ground, such as Boston and Miami.

Brad Greenberg, Trail Blazers vice president for personnel, who is directing the team's search for a new coach, declined to comment on the speculation surrounding Krzyzewski. "We're trying to be aggressive and ambitious in securing the best coach available," said Greenberg.

Krzyzewski is widely considered as the John Wooden of his generation. Since going to Duke from Army in 1981, Krzyzewski has a 349-124 record, and his teams have won 20 games or more every season since 1983-84.

Last season, the Blue Devils lost in the NCAA championship game to Arkansas. It was their fourth appearance in the final in five years and their sixth trip to the Final Four in the past seven years. Krzyzewski was the first college coach since Wooden to win back-to-back championships.

His team's recent academic struggles, which forced Krzyzewski cancel a summer exhibition trip to Australia, might have been what pushed him into more serious consideration of the NBA.

At least two players, including starting point guard Jeff Capel, reportedly are going to sit out all or part of next season because of academics.

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