Presti: Finding New Sonics Coach Will Wait Until After Draft

Tuesday, June 26th 2007, 7:28 pm
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Seattle SuperSonics are the only team in the NBA without a coach, and have already stretched their search for two months.

So, what's a couple more days? At least, that's general manager Sam Presti's approach.

The Sonics have put their coaching search on hold for this week and are focusing their attention on the draft where Seattle has the No. 2 pick and two early second-round selections, Presti said Tuesday.

``We've got to the point now where we've had to take a window of time to focus solely on the draft,'' Presti said. ``Post draft, we're going to jump right back in, and jump-start it and move closer to making a decision, a philosophical decision, as to who we're going to have in place as a coach.''

When Presti was hired on June 7 after spending seven years with San Antonio, 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 has dragged, in part because one of the top candidates, San Antonio assistant P.J. Carlesimo, couldn't interview until after the Spurs won their third title since 2003.

There's also been significant turnover within the Sonics scouting department, where director of player personnel David Pendergraft and head scout Steve Rosenberry were fired last week, replaced by former Detroit director of player personnel Scott Perry.

``We've had a lot of different things we're doing,'' Presti said.

Presti wouldn't divulge the candidates he has interviewed _ a list that reportedly includes Carlesimo, former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey and Sacramento assistant Scott Brooks. He also didn't put a timeline on how soon after the draft a replacement to Bob Hill would be named. Hill was fired April 24 after the Sonics' went 31-51 last season.

Casey declined to comment on Tuesday.

``I'm really pleased with who we've spoken to and the depth of our conversations,'' Presti said. ``And I think we're on pace to make a good decision.''

Carlesimo would appear to be the front-runner because of his connection with Presti the last five years. The former Portland and Golden State coach hasn't been a head man since the Warriors fired him in 1999.

Casey, a former longtime Sonics assistant fired in the middle of last season by Minnesota, has expressed strong interest. He is known for having a mind for defense, which fits the vision Presti outlined for the Sonics.

Brooks was a candidate for the head job in Sacramento, before the Kings chose New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus.

Whoever Presti recommends will have to get approval from owner Clay Bennett.

``Ultimately Clay will have to have a comfort level with the person that we select,'' Presti said. ``But right now, the basketball operations staff is focused on the candidates and getting to a point where we are comfortable.''