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Spurs Release Lucas; Will He Coach Clippers? : Pro basketball: He asks out at San Antonio with two years remaining on his contract.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Lucas resigned as coach of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday amid speculation that he will become a candidate for the vacant Clipper job and a report that he would coach the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Clippers have long been interested in Lucas and announced that they had planned to ask permission to speak to him last year.

“If you said that the Clippers should have interest in me, that would be nice,” Lucas said from Houston, where television KPRC reported that he would coach the 76ers.

“I haven’t talked to anyone. If (the Clippers) are (interested), I’d be willing to sit down and talk. Is that fair enough?

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“Right now, today, I just got my release. I’ve had no contact from anybody, so I’d just have to wait and see what there (is available). My drug and alcohol clinic is still foremost for me. I’m out here on a leap of faith right now.”

Said Joe Safety, Clipper vice president: “John Lucas is certainly a successful and respected coach, that’s for sure. However, it would be inappropriate--even counter-productive--for us to comment step by step on our search. Our goal is to hire the best coach, and that is precisely the goal we are working toward.”

When asked about the report that he is going to Philadelphia to replace Fred Carter as coach of the 76ers, Lucas said, “That’s not true.”

But the 76ers’ owner, Harold Katz, said he will probably interview Lucas early next week.

Lucas was hired to replace Jerry Tarkanian by then-Spur owner Red McCombs 21 games into the 1992-93 season. He compiled a 39-22 record, then went 57-25 this season. However, the Spurs were knocked out by Utah in the first round of the playoffs, and a new ownership group fired club president Bob Coleman and general manager Bob Bass and had briefly considered firing Lucas, too.

Lucas had two years remaining on his San Antonio contract.

The Clippers fired coach Bob Weiss after finishing with the NBA’s seventh-worst record last season.

Times staff writers Mark Heisler and Scott Howard-Cooper in Houston contributed to this report, which also contains information from the Associated Press.


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