Quinn Buckner, accused by the club owner of fostering widespread discontent on the team, was fired Tuesday after coaching the Dallas Mavericks to the worst record in the NBA this season.
Buckner had four years left on his contract. His team went 13-69 in a season marked by a chorus of complaints from his best players--rookie Jamal Mashburn, Jim Jackson and Derek Harper, later traded to the New York Knicks.
“It wasn’t just the young players,” Maverick owner Donald Carter said. “Let’s face it, it was young and old. The bridges that were burned weren’t just over young players.”
Carter said Buckner tried to change but couldn’t.
“I think I saw changes in his personality, but there weren’t enough timbers there that we could get the bridges built,” Carter said.
Said Buckner: “We had a great run. It was fun and I’m sorry it didn’t work out. It was a great experience. I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about people. I wish the Mavericks the best of luck in their quest for a championship.”
Dick Motta, who coached the Mavericks from 1980-87, is considered the top candidate to replace Buckner.
Buckner, 39, brought a history of winning to the Mavericks. He played on an NCAA championship team at Indiana and spent 10 years in the NBA, winning a championship with the 1983-84 Boston Celtics. He also earned a gold medal on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team.
Buckner had left NBC-TV as an NBA analyst to coach the team.
Carter said the remainder of Buckner’s contract will be honored. Asked if Buckner would take another job on the club, Carter said, “He has not applied for any.”