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Clippers May Soon Decide Chaney’s Fate

Times Staff Writer

A decision on the status of Clipper Coach Don Chaney, whose contract will run out when the National Basketball Assn. regular season ends Sunday night, could be made as soon as next week but not before then, General Manager Carl Scheer said Thursday.

Chaney, whose team was eliminated from Western Conference playoff contention Wednesday night, has asked management to decide within a few days after the season whether he will be rehired so that, if he is not, he will have time to seek another job. Last season, the Clippers waited six weeks before signing Chaney to a one-year contract for $90,000.

Chaney’s record since replacing Jim Lynam on March 6, 1985, is 40-60. The Clippers, who have two games left, have not qualified for the playoffs in 10 seasons.

“We haven’t thought about that yet,” Scheer said Thursday. “I think a decision will be made as soon as the season is over. Nothing will be decided before Monday. I haven’t talked to (owner Donald) Sterling or Alan (Rothenberg, team president) about it. There are a lot of things unsettled.”

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Besides deciding on a coach, the Clippers have several other personnel decisions to make. The Clippers have four free agents, including guard Derek Smith. Also, Scheer’s contract will expire in July, and there has been speculation that Sterling is searching for a replacement.

Friday, Scheer hinted that he might resign.

“I haven’t talked (to Sterling) about myself, either,” Scheer said. “I’m evaluating myself, being analytical about what I want to do and where I want to be.”

Chaney, who said he definitely wants to be rehired, has not enjoyed much security this season. He reportedly came close to being fired twice. Shortly before the Clippers won 5 of 6 games to make a run at the playoffs, Clipper management had drafted a list of prospective candidates to replace Chaney. Loyola Marymount Coach Paul Westhead is on the list.

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Scheer acknowledged that such a list exists but added that it should not be construed as an obituary for Chaney.

“That is just to review (other coaches),” Scheer said. “That has no bearing on whether or not Chaney will be rehired. . . . Lately, I think the team has responded, but I wish they had responded earlier in the season. I think playing well at the end of the year certainly helps (Chaney). Everything should be considered, including his rapport with the players.”

Clipper players have been supportive of Chaney.

“Don has learned a lot this year,” forward Cedric Maxwell said. “He made a lot of mistakes early, like all rookie coaches. He didn’t always know when to substitute, when to holler at us, when not to.

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“But he’s learned all that now. He’s deserving of another year. To make another coaching change, would be to start again at A. Right now, we’ve made it up to letter H, and you want to get to Z. We’ll go back to the start of the alphabet with a new coach.”


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