As Clippers Lose Again, Talk Turns to Coaches

Times Staff Writer

Is there a V in the Clippers' future?

A victory should come, sometime, but it didn't Thursday night as Clyde Drexler scored 31 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 119-113 victory before 10,213 in the Sports Arena. It was the Clippers' 11th consecutive defeat.

The loss was overshadowed by owner Donald T. Sterling's confirmation that the Clippers have held discussions with Jim Valvano--the North Carolina State coach--about taking over the team next season. Don Casey has coached on an interim basis since Gene Shue was fired Jan. 19.

Sterling said that "there's been some communication" with Valvano and that "there is some interest on both sides."

Sterling also said it is too early to determine Casey's chances of being named permanent coach.

"We're in the process of compiling a list of possible candidates," he said. "We are also watching the present interim-coach situation. Valvano has to be on the top of anyone's list."

He would not say how serious the Valvano talks have been. But when asked about an unconfirmed report that Valvano and Clipper representatives had two discussions earlier in the year and agreed to talk again at the end of North Carolina State's season, Sterling said: "That's only half right." He would not elaborate.

Valvano was unavailable for comment Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Light reported Thursday that --according to Spur Coach Larry Brown--Spur owner B.J. (Red) McCombs and Sterling have discussed Brown's availability after the season.

Sterling denied the report. McCombs, although expressing disappointment over Brown's first coaching season at San Antonio, where the Spurs are 13-43, said, ". . . I don't see any changes."

Joe Glass, one of Brown's closest friends and his financial adviser, has said that Clipper president Alan Rothenberg inquired twice last season about Brown, who was coaching the University of Kansas.

Brown, after coming close to returning to UCLA, signed a five-year, $3.5-million contract to coach at San Antonio. He has said he does not want to leave the Spurs.

Casey, meanwhile, would like to remain with the Clippers.

The loss to the Trail Blazers Thursday night dropped his record to 1-19 in his first try as a National Basketball Assn. Seven of the losses have been by seven or fewer points.

Most Clippers say they are comfortable with Casey, and some say he should be retained.

"I'm an optimist," Casey said. "But I'm also a realist."

Clipper Notes

Charles Smith, who averaged 18.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in February, despite playing the last four games of the month with a dislocated left index finger, was named the NBA rookie of the month. He beat out Golden State's Mitch Richmond. "It's something positive with all the other stuff going on," said Smith, who went into Thursday's game averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds overall. "It makes me feel good that something good is happening around us." . . . Reggie Williams missed his second straight game with a hip pointer and will not play Saturday at Phoenix.

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