Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Sources: Theus, Carlesimo on radar
By Andy Katz ESPN.com
USC's search to replace Tim Floyd has moved beyond Pitt's Jamie Dixon and for the time being is focused on coaches who have professional ties, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
Multiple sources confirmed that the Trojans made an attempt to woo Dixon, a native of Los Angeles, but the discussion was perfunctory in nature because Dixon wasn't going to move from Pitt. The Trojans were willing to make Dixon a strong offer to go West, but Dixon's comfort at Pitt made it a moot point.
Dixon has been at Pitt since 1999, the past six years as head coach, winning 163 games with the Panthers during that stretch and taking them to six NCAA tournaments, one Elite Eight, three Sweet 16s, one Big East regular-season title and one Big East tournament championship.
Dixon is currently in Colorado Springs coaching the U.S. under-19 team, which is preparing for the July 2-12 FIBA world championships in New Zealand.
Many searches no longer are conducted directly between athletic director and coaching candidate with formal permission being requested for an interview. Intermediaries such as search firms and coaching representatives allow discussions to go on while giving athletic director and coach plausible deniability about any contact.
Multiple sources told ESPN.com that USC athletic director Mike Garrett is now looking at coaches who have an NBA affiliation in their background, much like when he hired Henry Bibby, Rick Majerus and Tim Floyd, or more recently with women's basketball coach Michael Cooper.
Multiple sources said that through an intermediary, USC made an inquiry about current ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy, but was rebuffed. According to sources, the Trojans are doing background checks on Reggie Theus, a former Sacramento Kings and New Mexico State coach; P.J. Carlesimo, a former Seattle SuperSonics head coach, San Antonio assistant and Seton Hall coach; and Jim Boylen, the Utah Utes head coach who has served as an assistant with Houston, Golden State and Milwaukee.
Boylen was a part of Rudy Tomjanovich's championship staffs with the Rockets. He led the Utes to a share of the Mountain West conference title and the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament this past season, his second at Utah.
The Utes signed Boylen to a new five-year contract last month, but prior to that deal, he was considered, according to sources, the next candidate in line had Xavier's Sean Miller turned down Arizona.
Los Angeles Lakers assistant Brian Shaw also remains in the mix, according to sources. Current UNLV coach Lon Kruger fits the criteria of a coach with pro ties because he was the coach of the Atlanta Hawks, but Kruger has maintained he is quite happy with his current situation in Las Vegas.
Multiple sources said the Trojans are looking to act within the next two weeks to fill the position. Cal State-Northridge coach Bobby Braswell remains a possible fallback candidate, despite his lack of pro ties, if the Trojans decide not to or are unable to get a coach with NBA experience.
Braswell coached USC assistant athletic director Brandon Martin at Cleveland High (Calif.), but more importantly has turned around one of the more maligned programs in California the past 13 seasons. He led the Matadors from irrelevance out of the Big Sky to become Big West tournament champ last March.
But sources said if the Trojans want to land Theus, they can get him. Theus is out of coaching but well-connected within the Los Angeles AAU and high school circuits.
According to multiple sources, the ongoing NCAA investigation would not keep Theus, Boylen, Shaw or Braswell from taking the job. It's unclear where Carlesimo stands on the matter.
Sources confirmed that the current staff at USC -- assistants Phil Johnson, Gib Arnold and Bob Cantu -- was told to continue handling the day-to-day operations of the program, dealing mostly with the parents of the current players, as recruits continue to get their conditional releases from national letters of intent.
Their contracts end this summer, but no July recruiting trips have been canceled yet.
Floyd, according to sources, hasn't been back at his office since he resigned, a departure that continues to befuddle the staff because he had been adamant about fighting former O.J. Mayo insider Louis Johnson's allegation that Floyd paid $1,000 to Mayo's adviser, Rodney Guillory, on a street corner in Beverly Hills in February 2007.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.