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Bullets’ Unseld Pulls Trigger, Fires Lynam

Associated Press

Jim Lynam was fired Wednesday as coach of the Washington Bullets.

General Manager Wes Unseld flew to Denver and met with Lynam at a hotel before announcing the firing.

Assistant Bob Staak was named as the interim coach.

Unseld told the team of his decision before the morning practice, meeting with every starter and most of the reserves individually.

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Unseld also fired assistant Buzz Braman.

After a 19-15 start, the Bullets lost nine of 12 games and were coming off a 30-point loss against the Lakers and a 22-point defeat in Utah.

The Bullets, who have the fifth-highest payroll in the league, arguably are the league’s most disappointing team.

Although Unseld said he had been considering the move for some time, the final straw was the lopsided losses to the Lakers and Jazz.

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“It wasn’t so much that we lost, it was how we played that I think brought it more to a head,” Unseld said. “I didn’t like the effort that I saw in the last two games.”

Lynam made no excuses.

“I’m very disappointed at not having the opportunity to see this through,” the former coach, who was 82-128 in 2 1/2 seasons with the Bullets, said in a statement.

Unseld said he had a “short list” of possible replacements, including assistants elsewhere in the NBA.

He wouldn’t name any candidate because the team must first receive permission from other teams to talk to those coaches.

Washington’s string of eight consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance is the longest current run in the NBA.

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Kevin Garnett of Minnesota, Chris Gatling of Dallas and Chris Webber of Washington were picked by Commissioner David Stern to replace three injured players in the NBA All-Star game Sunday at Cleveland.

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They will replace injured Western Conference stars Clyde Drexler of Houston and Shaquille O’Neal of the Lakers and Eastern Conference center Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks.

Earlier, Seattle’s Detlef Schrempf had been added to the Western team to replace Charles Barkley of Houston, who has an injured ankle.

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City Council members prepared Wednesday to cast their votes on a proposed $70 million loan intended to give owners of the Sacramento Kings the financial leverage they need to keep the team in town.

Mayor Joe Serna Jr. and the seven council members were to vote Wednesday evening.

Thomas came to the city last year, seeking to refinance his debt on Arco Arena, the Kings’ nine-year-old home court.

Thomas said the nature of the Sacramento market, compounded by the debt on the arena, had left the team in serious financial trouble. He said he hoped to keep the franchise in Sacramento, but warned that he had a “lucrative” offer from another city and said he would move the team if he didn’t get the help he sought.

Thomas opened his franchise books to a team of auditors selected by the city and they confirmed that the team was in dire need, noting that Thomas and the other owners had taken no profits out of the team in the past five years.

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City officials, fearful the Houston Rockets might try to leave town, went to court to keep the team from wrestling out of its lease at The Summit sports arena.

It’s the latest volley in the tussle between Rocket owner Les Alexander and Chuck Watson, whose Arena Operating Co., manages The Summit.

The city of Houston insists in papers filed Wednesday that Alexander’s Rocket Ball Ltd. be forced to stay at The Summit until Nov. 30, 2003, when the company’s lease expires. Rocket Ball is the limited partnership that owns the NBA franchise.

The city of Houston owns The Summit, built with $18 million in taxpayer supported bonds, and receives an annual fee from AOC.

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Indiana forward Derrick McKey will be lost for several weeks because of a stress fracture of the fourth metacarpal of his left foot.

McKey, the only Pacer to start and play in every game, is averaging 8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 45 games.

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A shoulder injury has forced Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson to withdraw from Saturday’s Slam Dunk contest, part of the NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland, but the No. 1 overall pick of last year’s draft will still compete in the Rookie Game.

The 76ers also activated center Scott Williams from the injured list. Williams had been out since Jan. 13 because of a fractured toe and a cut on his left foot.

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Don Nelson, the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, interviewed again with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday for the general manager’s job.

Nelson is the leading candidate to replace a vacancy created on Oct. 17 by the resignation of Keith Grant, a team source said.

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This season’s eventual NBA champions will be among four teams competing in the McDonald’s Championships, which are scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in Paris.

The NBA winner will join the French champion, the EuroLeague champion and runner-up, the South American champion, and another team to be determined.


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