Gene Shue, who coached the Bullets while they were in Baltimore, from 1966 until they moved to Washington in 1973, said last night that he has had discussions with the Bullets about the possibility of replacing Dick Motta as coach.
Motta, who has coached the Bullets for the past four seasons, confirmed late Saturday night that it was time for him "to move on," and that he had been in San Antonio Friday and Saturday talking with the Spurs about their head coaching job.
Shue originally left the Bullets to coach the Philadelphia 76ers. He was fired six games into the 1977-78 season after taking the 76ers to the NBA finals the previous year.
He went to San Diego in the 1978-79 season when the Clippers moved there from Buffalo and remained until his two-year contract expired at the end of this season. When he and owner Irv Levin couldn't agree on a new contract, they parted company Thursday by mutual agreement.
"Of course I'm interested in coming to Washington," Shue said, "and I've had some recent conversations with Bob (Bullet General Manager Ferry) about it. I'd like to say more, but I just can't right now."
Ferry was unavailable yesterday and owner Abe Pollin said that he preferred not to talk about the situation yet.
When he left the Clippers Thursday, Shue said he was positive he would have a job in the league next season, but he declined to say where.
Even if Shue is the man the Bullets have picked to replace Motta, they aren't at liberty to say so until Motta resigns or is fired by the Bullets. He is still coach.
Motta has one year remaining on his contract, which reportedly pays him about $100,000 a year.
When he came to the Bullets from the Chicago Bulls in 1976, Motta signed a three-year contract. It was extended through the next season after the Bullets won the NBA title in 1978.
Motta said he didn't have much fun coaching last season, largely because he didn't like the makeup of his team. When he learned that Pollin and Ferry planned to keep the team intact next season, Motta decided it was time to move on.
In a meeting with Ferry two weeks ago, Motta told the general manager he wasn't interested in signing a new contract. Motta offered to fulfill the final year of his contract if Ferry wanted him to stay. Motta told Ferry he preferred to move on, though.
"There was a time to leave Grace (Idaho), a time to leave Chicago and now it's time to leave the Bullets," Motta said. "My stay here was a chapter in my life, but now it's time to turn the page.
"There has to be some fun in life and the memories of those first three years in Washington -- the fat lady, winning the title and all of that -- are too important for me to defile. I want to leave the Bullets with those good memories.
"My instincts just tell me it's time to move," Motta said. "I just hope I can get a job."
Besides Shue, other possible candidaes to replace Motta are Philadelphia 76er Assistant Coach Chuck Daly, New Jersey Net Coach Kevin Loughery and Seattle Supersonic Assistant Coach Les Habegger.
The Bullets could also have a shot at landing either Paul Westhead or Jack McKinney of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westhead started the season as McKinney's assistant, but when McKinney was seriously injured in a bicycle accident in November, Westhead took over and led the Lakers into the championship round.
If McKinney is able to return to full-time coaching next season, the Lakers will have two of the best coaches in the league. If McKinney comes back as the head man, Westhead could be much sought after.
There is little chance the Bullets will pick a coach from within the organization. Possibilities are Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff or a player such as Wes Unseld.
Bickerstaff said that he didn't want the Bullet head coaching job, for the same reasons Motta doesn't want it anymore.
Unseld, who said yesterday that he still hasn't decided if he will return as a player next season, said he is not interested in coaching.
"I'm just not a coach," he said.
Motta said he had a "nice" visit with Spur owner Angelo Drossos and General Manager Bob Bass Friday and Saturday and that he is very interested in that job. He said he hasn't been offered the job yet.
The Spurs fired Doug Moe late last season and Bass took over. Bass said he wants to remain as general manager and be an assistant coach next season.
Motta said he wants to go to a Western Conference city, preferably a warm-weather, West Coach city.
"I want to make sure that if I move again, it's to someplace I want to go and I did like San Antonio," he said.
There are five job openings -- Washington, San Diego, San Antonio, Detroit and Dallas.
"Dallas apparently doesn't want me and I don't think I want to go to Detroit," Motta said.
Motta said he hasn't talked with anyone about the San Diego job, but he is hesitant about pursuing it because Bob Weiss, Shue's assistant and a former player of Motta's, is apparently in the running for the job.
"We're going to explore the availability of every possible candidate," Levin said. "I haven't heard from Dick Motta and unless I do, I can't comment on him. I don't know him that well, but I do know he has the reputation of being a good coach. If he is available, he'll be considered.
The 48-year-old Motta ranks second among active coaches in victories in the NBA behind New York's Red Holzman. Motta has a 541-444 record in 12 seasons, eight in Chicago and four in washington.
Shue, who has been an NBA coach 14 seasons, is third in that category with 526 career victories.
Motta teams are forward-oriented, physical teams, while Shue's teams are wide open, run-and-gun outfits.