Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NBA [Print without images]

Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Updated: July 7, 12:55 PM ET
Talks never got serious

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak talked to North Carolina coach Roy Williams about the team's vacant coaching job on June 19, but the discussions never got serious.

"I love Mitch. I love the Lakers organization and I love Los Angeles, but I just got here," Williams said on Tuesday. "I got enough work to do here [at North Carolina]."

Williams
Williams

According to Williams, Kupchak called him on Father's Day and asked, "Do you want to come out here and join us?"

Williams said he responded that, "I couldn't tell Coach [Dean] Smith that after one year I'm leaving."

Williams said he spoke to Kupchak one other time on the phone before telling the Lakers that he couldn't pursue the job, which opened up when Phil Jackson stepped down on June 18. Williams said they never talked salary or contract details. Kupchak, a former Tar Heel, told Williams that the final decision would be made by Lakers' owner Jerry Buss.

This is the third time Williams has talked to the Lakers about their coaching opening, he said. The most serious occurred in 1992 when Williams was at Kansas. The Lakers ended up hiring to Randy Pfund.

Williams said he didn't want this to become public, but once it did he had to respond. After calling Williams, the Lakers entered into discussions with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who rejected a reported five-year, $40 million offer on Monday. The team is close to finalizing a deal with former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"The Lakers wanted to see if I was interested, but I wasn't," he said. "The talks never got that far, not as far as they did with Mike."

Williams said he wasn't surprised Coach K remained at Duke and said that it will be good for their rivalry.

Williams is serving as an assistant coach to Larry Brown on the U.S. Olympic team next month in Athens.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.