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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hawks plan to hire Drew

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Hawks were poised to hire Larry Drew as their next head coach, a person familiar with the situation said on Friday.

News photo
Hang on a minute: Lakers coach Phil Jackson speaks at a news conference Friday in Boston during an off day in the NBA Finals. AP PHOTO

Drew was picked after a search that also included interviews with former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team was still working out details of the contract. Casey was thought to have the inside track because of his ties to Hawks general manager Rick Sund.

Instead, the Hawks went with the lead assistant under former coach Mike Woodson, who was let go last month after six seasons in Atlanta.

Woodson had guided the team to an improved record each of the last five seasons, as well as three straight playoff appearances after a nearly decade-long postseason drought. But the Hawks were blown out in the second round by the Orlando Magic, who won four straight by an average of 25.3 points for the most lopsided sweep in NBA history.

The front office felt new leadership was needed on the bench after the Hawks' season ended for the second year in a row with a second-round sweep. They decided on someone who was familiar to the players by sticking with Drew, whose choice was first reported by Yahoo.com.

The team held talks with Casey, who coached the Timberwolves for 1 1/2 seasons before he was fired in 2007. The decision fell into place quickly after another person thought to be on the Hawks' wish list, ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson, reached an agreement with the New Jersey Nets.

The official announcement of the Hawks' new coach is expected be made early next week.

The 52-year-old Drew is a former point guard who played in the NBA for 10 seasons. He was an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit, Washington and New Jersey before he joined Woodson in Atlanta.

The Hawks went 13-69 in Woodson's first season, but they steadily improved through free-agent signings (Joe Johnson), the draft (Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams) and trades (Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford).

This past season, the Hawks finished 53-29 — their most wins since 1996-97 — and claimed the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they were no match for the Magic in the playoffs, and Sund decided to head in a different direction.

Izzo mulls next move

CLEVELAND (AP) One of college basketball's brightest minds, Tom Izzo is wrestling with a career- and life-changing decision.

Michigan State or the Cavaliers?

On Campus or in Cleveland?

Big Ten or Big Bucks?

LeBron or LeGone?

Izzo still doesn't know.

One day after he and his family visited Cleveland to get a taste of the NBA, Izzo remained undecided about his next move.

He sent a text message Friday to The Associated Press, saying he had not made a decision. Izzo later told the Spartans the same thing and didn't give them a timetable for the decision when they came to the basketball offices to get their Big Ten championship rings sized, according to a person who was there in East Lansing, Mich. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the meeting was supposed to remain confidential.

Izzo is believed to have been offered a five-year, $30 million contract by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, a Michigan State alum who may be looking to make a big splash with his coaching hire to convince soon-to-be free agent LeBron James to re-sign with Cleveland.

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