Thibodeau Won't Join Jordan's Staff

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tom Thibodeau, who agreed to join the Washington Wizards as an assistant coach on Wednesday, has changed his mind and will not be a part of Coach Eddie Jordan's staff for the upcoming season.

Thibodeau informed Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld of his decision Friday night, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation, and told Jordan before yesterday's workout with the Wizards' summer league team.

Jordan said he would interview other assistant coaching candidates this week, when the Wizards participate in the Las Vegas summer league. Thibodeau had yet to finalize a deal with the Wizards, so he is free of any contractual obligations.

"He decided to have a change of heart," Jordan said. "He is going back to Houston and he's going to pursue other options. He was here for a few days, we came to some agreements and then we had a meeting with him this morning. We thought he was terrific here going through some things but he decided to go in another direction."

Thibodeau has been an assistant coach in the NBA for 17 seasons with several teams, including the New York Knicks, where Grunfeld was the general manager, and most recently the Houston Rockets, where he was Jeff Van Gundy's top assistant.

Thibodeau has long been respected for his ability to coach defensive schemes, and the Wizards hoped his input would improve a defense that allowed 104.9 points per game last season.

According to a league source, Thibodeau had entertained several offers before choosing the Wizards but had reservations about his decision throughout the week.

Jordan's staff consists of Mike O'Koren, Phil Hubbard and Wes Unseld Jr., all of whom signed one-year contract extensions on Friday. Two assistants from last season will not be back. Tom Young retired and Bill Berry was not retained.

"Well, we have other guys here, signed under contracts," Jordan said. "We're going to move further along with this [open] position when we go to Vegas. We already have some guys we spoke with along with Tom and we've got some guys that we like and they are under consideration."

Summertime Dues

Rookie shooting guard Nick Young, who was drafted with the 16th pick in the June 28 draft, and forward Dominic McGuire, who was taken in the second round, took the floor for yesterday's practice along with last year's first-round pick, forward Oleksiy Pecherov.

Workouts will continue today and tomorrow in preparation for Tuesday's summer league opener against the Sacramento Kings.

The roster also includes former George Washington stars Mike Hall and J.R. Pinnock, former Georgetown forward Jameel Watkins, former Virginia Tech guard Brian Chase and Lee Humphrey, a guard who played on Florida's national championship teams.

McGuire, who was selected with the 47th pick, already has gained Jordan's attention during workouts this week with the all-around skills that allowed him to post a pair of triple-doubles as a junior at Fresno State last season.

"He's just real aggressive everywhere," Jordan said. "He was probably in every play when we went five-on-five. He stood out, he really stood out. He's not a guy who you think is a second-round pick who was struggling a little bit. No. He looked experienced already. He's good. I like him."

Pot Is Sweetened

The Wizards have increased their offer to unrestricted free agent shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson to four years with a total salary of around $15 million, but Stevenson has not accepted that offer, according to team and league sources. Wednesday is the first day free agents can formally sign contracts, and a source close to Stevenson said the team and player are "moving closer" to an agreement.

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