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Source: Wizards Will Fire Heard

By Steve Wyche
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 30, 2000; Page D01

The Washington Wizards will fire Coach Gar Heard today and replace him, on an interim basis, with Golden State Warriors assistant coach Rod Higgins, a league source confirmed last night.

An official announcement is not expected until Monday.

Heard is a little more than halfway through his first season with the Wizards, who hired him June 19, 1999, and gave him a three-year, $3.6 million contract. Last night, the Wizards (13-30) played the Cleveland Cavaliers at MCI Center.

Though Heard's firing comes 10 days after the hiring of Michael Jordan as the Wizards' president of basketball operations, Jordan did not make the final decision, the source said, although he did have input.

Jordan was in Atlanta last night and could not be reached to comment. He said Friday night he "was evaluating" Heard. General Manager Wes Unseld declined to comment.

Heard's dismissal is the first major move in Jordan's tenure and could trigger several other moves with the front office and coaching staff. It is not known whether assistant coaches Butch Beard, Tree Rollins and Mike Bratz will be retained.

Higgins is a former teammate of Jordan's and is one of his good friends. He played with Jordan in Chicago during Jordan's rookie season with the Bulls and returned to the Bulls in 1985-86. Higgins is in his sixth season as an assistant with the Warriors--who have the NBA's second-worst record (9-32)--and specializes in defensive strategy.

One source said Higgins likely will coach the Wizards for the remainder of this season but could move into the front office after the season. Should that happen, the Wizards, in last place in the Atlantic Division, would have to hire their fourth full-time coach in the past 10 years.

Heard was hired after an extensive search last summer, in which the Wizards bypassed Isiah Thomas, Glenn "Doc" Rivers--now with Orlando--St. John's University Coach Mike Jarvis and Dave Cowens, among others.

This was Heard's first full-time head coaching job, though he served as interim coach of the Dallas Mavericks in 1993, posting a 9-44 record.

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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