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Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Bruce Pearl linked to second D-League team

By Eamonn Brennan

Back in May, as it became clear that Bruce Pearl's next job wouldn't be at an NCAA program -- Pearl may or may not receive a show-cause penalty from the NCAA Committee on Infractions; either way, no athletic director will be taking that chance anytime soon -- Yahoo! Sports reported that an NBA Developmental League franchise, the Maine Red Claws, was making a push to hire Pearl as its next head coach.

That unlikely connection never materialized. Pearl is reportedly interested in one of two things: a spot on an NBA bench or a spot in a television chair. But according to a report from ESPN's Marc Stein, that hasn't stopped another D-League franchise from giving Pearl another hard sell. From Marc:
The Texas Legends are making a hard push to hire former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to replace Nancy Lieberman as coach of the D-League franchise, according to NBA coaching sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Pearl will be in Dallas on Wednesday for a formal sitdown with Legends officials after ongoing negotiations between the parties.

Said one source: "The job is [Pearl's] if he wants it."

The idea of a formal sit down makes this slightly more serious than the dalliance with the Red Claws; things in Maine never seemed to progress to this point. And it is an interesting prospect. Pearl may prefer to land a job on TV -- he almost certainly does -- but would a TV network have reservations about his credibility in the wake of a massive NCAA scandal? What about an NBA assistant's position? Pearl seems to prefer that route, too, and you'd assume he has a few connections in the league that could land him a Kelvin Sampson-esque career parachute in the next few years.

But if those options are exhausted, or if NBA franchises would prefer Pearl spend a year in the D-League before jumping to the pros, the Texas Legends might be the best option after all. It's a quality D-League outfit. It plays in the same market as the Dallas Mavericks, whom you may have heard of on occasion this summer. And, hey, it's a gig. A gig's a gig, right?

However you try to sell it, though, it remains remarkable that Pearl finds himself in this position at all. A year ago, he was the most successful coach in the history of Tennessee men's hoops. He coached in a sparkling arena in front of thousands of fans. He recruited some of the best players in the country. He occasionally took photographs like this. Now he's meeting with D-League officials for a "formal sit down," and I'm here seriously debating the merits of the move. What a year, huh?

Update: Pearl spoke with ESPN's Andy Katz on Tuesday, and he confirmed he will interview Thursday in Dallas.

"When the world champions call you have to listen," Pearl said. "Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been great and I'm looking forward to talking to them."

Pearl said he was told that the D-league would still be held even with the lockout.

"Right now college is not an option for me," Pearl said as he awaits his NCAA fate. "I've always enjoyed working with players and coaching them during their development."