Bernie Bickerstaff, assistant coach of the Washington Bullets, met for an hour Thursday in Washington with Barry Ackerley, the owner of the Seattle SuperSonics, to discuss the Pacific Division team's vacant head coaching position, according to NBA sources.
Ackerley, owner of an advertising company, was in town on other business but wanted to talk with Bickerstaff as well. According to league sources, the interview was a formality, as it appears that Bickerstaff will be given the opportunity to coach the Seattle team after 12 seasons as an assistant with the Bullets.
Lenny Wilkens, Seattle's general manager and the team's previous coach, has recommended that Bickerstaff be hired over the only other candidate for the job, Mike Schuler, an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks. It also was learned that Ackerley had met with Schuler. Sources feel that Wilkens will make the decision, but that Ackerley wanted to meet with the candidates, too.
Bickerstaff says he doesn't think of himself as the favorite for the job, stating only that he is "a strong candidate for the job. Until I hear differently, that's all I can say." When asked when that might be, he replied: "I don't know. I do know that you can't push time, though."
He said last week that he felt that the SuperSonics would announce their choice of a coach by the end of this week. But the team now may choose to wait until after the conclusion of the NBA draft on Tuesday. When contacted on Thursday, a team spokesman said that was the most likely course of action.
"As of now, we really don't know," he said. "It could be anytime but the general thinking here is that Lenny won't announce his choice until after Tuesday."
In other NBA coaching news, New Jersey Nets Coach Stan Albeck said he has "agreed in principle" to become the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls, according to the New York Times. Jerry Krause, the Bulls' general manager, said, "there are some details to work out" before the move becomes official.
According to the Times, neither Albeck nor Krause would reveal the details of the contract, but it was believed to be for three years and worth $900,000.
And, as expected, Matt Guokas signed a reported two-year contract worth $300,000-$350,000 as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.