Hornets tab Floyd next bench boss

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2003

NEW ORLEANS The New Orleans Hornets decided to give Tim Floyd a chance to prove he is a better coach than his disastrous NBA debut with the Chicago Bulls.

Floyd, whose 49-190 record with Chicago in just over three seasons left him with one of the lowest winning percentages in NBA history, reached an agreement with the Hornets on Monday.

Floyd said he will earn about $4.8 million in base salary over three years, plus incentives tied to playoff victories, but added, ''I didn't get back into this for the money.''

Hornets vice president Bob Bass has long said it would be unfair to judge Floyd a successful college coach by his experience in Chicago, where he had a young and often changing roster in the Bulls' post-Michael Jordan era.

Floyd ''never made one excuse. He had patience and understanding in a very difficult situation,'' Bass said. ''I sincerely believe he'll develop our young players, and at the same time let our veteran players use their talents let them play. That's what was important to me.''

Floyd also contrasted his new job with his last one, saying that personnel decisions in Chicago constantly put him back at ''square-one.'' The Hornets, who have made the playoffs four straight seasons, have the type of roster any coach would want, he said.

''It's a team comprised of very skilled veteran players and talented kids,'' Floyd said. ''This is a team and organization that has not only won, but one I believe will win at a higher level.''

Floyd's immediate challenge could be establishing a good rapport with players who were outspoken in their support of former coach Paul Silas before the Hornets decided on May 4 the day after the Philadelphia eliminated New Orleans from the first round of the playoffs not to renew his contract.

''Those guys being behind Paul Silas I love it,'' Floyd said. ''I know what players are about, and that's player-coach loyalty.''

He said his first priority will be to talk to his new players.

Source: Johnson to call Charlotte NBA team 'Bobcats'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Charlotte's NBA expansion team will be called the ''Bobcats,'' a nod to the owner who spent $300 million for the franchise, The Associated Press has learned.

Bob Johnson selected Bobcats over ''Flight'' and ''Dragons,'' a source familiar with the process told the AP on Monday on condition of anonymity.

The dominant color in uniforms and logos will be orange and official team apparel will be in stores Wednesday afternoon, the source said.

An official announcement is planned for Wednesday, when city leaders plan to join Johnson and NBA commissioner David Stern in a downtown street festival to unveil the name and logos.

Chris Weiller, a spokesman for the new NBA team, would not comment on the team's nickname.

In picking Bobcats, Johnson gets to see his own name used and continues the feline theme established by Charlotte's other pro team, the NFL's Panthers.

Bobcats was one of three finalists for the team name, whittled down from a list of nearly 1,200 suggestions the team received from the community. Johnson's group used several focus groups and spent nearly $100,000 researching the names and their trademark status and designing possible logos.

Van Gundy, Rockets working on deal

HOUSTON Jeff Van Gundy was in contract negotiations Monday with the Houston Rockets to become their coach two seasons after abruptly leaving the New York Knicks.

Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said Van Gundy told him he wants the job Rudy Tomjanovich left last month.

''I was jumping up and down,'' Dawson said, describing his reaction after getting the telephone call. ''My wife thought I was crazy. You're looking at a happy guy.''

Contract talks were expected to be complete within the next few days, he said.

Dawson wouldn't disclose possible terms but said the Rockets have been in touch with the Knicks, who have Van Gundy under contract through July 31. The Rockets have agreed to give New York compensation, the general manager said without elaborating.

Van Gundy, who has been working as a game analyst for TNT, also had been considering coaching the Washington Wizards.

''Jeff has been very successful. His defensive philosophy is very good. We decided he was the best fit for this team,'' Dawson said. ''We're very excited about this. I think we got a very good coach. I think it is going to be a good marriage.''

Van Gundy spent two days in Houston last week, touring team facilities and the city. He and former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy emerged as the top two candidates.

Tomjanovich stepped down after 12 years as coach. He won two NBA championships, one of them against the Knicks in 1994 when Van Gundy was an assistant under Pat Riley.

Van Gundy replaced Don Nelson as Knicks coach in the 1995-96 season and went 248-172. He led New York to the 1999 NBA Finals, losing to San Antonio.

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