PHOENIX -- Phoenix Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni shot down a report on Friday that he had been offered the head coaching job of the Portland Trail Blazers, but acknowledged that he remains an interested candidate.
"I don't know what the process is," Iavaroni said after the Suns' coaching staff watched a group of potential draft picks work out at America West Arena. "I just know that they told us that they'd get back to us when they're ready to do something further."
The Oregonian, in its Friday editions, quoted an anonymous
source close to the talks as saying Iavaroni had been offered the
position and would accept it as early as Friday. The Trail Blazers
denied the report.
"We have not extended an offer to Marc Iavaroni or anyone
else," Blazers spokesman Mike Hanson said.
Sources have told ESPN that the Blazers were waiting to see
whether Nate McMillan would remain as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. McMillan's contract with the Sonics expires on June
30, and the two sides are talking daily on a new deal.
If McMillan is out of the picture, Portland would turn to
Iavaroni, coach Mike D'Antoni's lead assistant and a major factor
in the Suns' remarkable turnaround. Phoenix went from 29 victories
in 2003-04 to an NBA-best 62 wins this season. The Suns were
eliminated by San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.
"He's been invaluable," D'Antoni said. "He does everything.
He prepares every game. He's been really great with Amare
[Stoudemire] and the big guys but he's not just limited to that.
Somebody said he's a big man's coach. He's a 'coach' coach. He just
does a great job of preparing a basketball team to get ready to
play in all areas, and he'll do that as a head coach."
Iavaroni said he was interviewed by Blazers president Steve
Patterson and general manager John Nash.
"I was impressed with the plan that they have, the personnel
they're talking about and the core of players that they have there
now," Iavaroni said. "Without getting into specifics, I'm still
interested in the job."
The Blazers' string of 21 consecutive playoff appearances ended
in 2003-04, and the team won just 27 games this season, leading to
the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks. The fans are restless in a city
where the Trail Blazers are the only major professional team.
"They're like any other town," Iavaroni said. "They want
their sports teams to do well, and we'll see if I have something to
do with that."
Iavaroni played seven seasons in the NBA for Philadelphia, San
Antonio and Utah. He started as a rookie for the 76ers team that
won the league title in 1983. A Virginia graduate, Iavaroni went to
Italy and played for the D'Antoni-coached team in Milan, but
retired after a knee injury.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.