Clipper Coach Search Goes On : Basketball: Former Laker Pfund has been interviewed, but spokesman says: "There is no leading candidate."


The Clippers, who have been without a head coach for 66 days since firing Bob Weiss on May 16, have talked to former Laker Coach Randy Pfund and former Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Bill Musselman, and veteran coach Bill Fitch expects that he'll be interviewed for the job.

"There is no leading candidate," Clipper spokesman Joe Safety said. "And if there was, I think it would be inappropriate to designate somebody as that. It's premature to call anyone a leading candidate."

Pfund, who was replaced by Magic Johnson in March, was interviewed by Clipper General Manager Elgin Baylor on Thursday.

Pfund didn't return phone calls Friday.

An assistant to Pat Riley and Mike Dunleavy for seven seasons, Pfund succeeded Dunleavy in 1992 and led the Lakers to a 39-43 regular-season record. There was speculation that he would be fired at the end of his first season, but he saved his job after the Lakers nearly upset the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, losing in overtime in the fifth game of the series.

Pfund was replaced by Johnson after compiling a record of 66-80.

Musselman said he spoke with Baylor about the job last month at the NBA predraft camp in Chicago but hasn't been asked to come to Los Angeles for an interview. He was interviewed by the Clippers last year before they hired Weiss.

"I don't know at this point what they're doing," Musselman said. "I wish I did."

Musselman, who coached the Minnesota Timberwolves during their first two seasons in the NBA, has coached in the Continental Basketball Assn. for the last three seasons after being fired by Minnesota, where he compiled a 51-113 record.

The Clippers haven't interviewed Fitch, and a team source indicated that he's not a legitimate candidate.

"I haven't talked to anybody from the Clippers," Fitch said. "I've had people tell me that I was going to be contacted, but I haven't talked to anybody.

Fitch, who has coached in Cleveland, Boston, Houston and New Jersey, said he would be interested in coaching the Clippers.

"I'm always interested in a challenge. . . . That's how I've made my living (rebuilding teams)," Fitch said. "It's hard work. You've got to have a plan and you've got to follow it. If they do that, nothing's impossible. I've seen too many teams rise from the ashes."

Fitch, who led the Boston Celtics to the 1981 NBA title and guided the Houston Rockets to the 1986 finals, hasn't coached for the last two years after being fired by the New Jersey Nets. He's the fifth-winningest coach in NBA history with a record of 845-877 over 21 seasons.

" I've had other (teams) talk to me and up until now I said I wasn't going back," Fitch said. "But I'm done playing golf. You can only do that so long."

The Clippers denied that they have contacted Georgetown Coach John Thompson.

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