Don Nelson took over as general manager of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and immediately got rid of a player, overweight and unhappy center Oliver Miller.
Nelson, the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, has feuded publicly with such players as Chris Webber and Patrick Ewing. As his first act, he put Miller on waivers.
“I read where Miller said he doesn’t care anymore, and I don’t want people like that around,” Nelson said. “I don’t want anybody on my basketball team who doesn’t care.”
Miller, a 6-foot-9 center, signed a one-year contract on Oct. 17 and averaged 4.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 42 games. The Mavericks will pay the rest of his $225,000 salary.
Nelson, living in Hawaii after the New York Knicks fired him last March, said he surprised himself by taking a general manager’s job.
“I thought I would be coming back to the NBA as a coach,” he said. “Not many of these [general manager] jobs open up. I’m as surprised as anyone here.”
Nelson, who brings 35 years of NBA experience as a player, coach and general manager, said he didn’t come to Dallas to eventually replace Coach Jim Cleamons.
“I have no plans in my future to coach; there’s plenty to do right here,” Nelson said. “I’m excited with the job.”
Nelson reportedly received a five-year contract worth about $7.5 million. He credited owners Ross Perot Jr. and Frank Zaccanelli with convincing him to come to a team that has a 16-28 record.
“I never dreamed a month ago I’d be here or be back in the league,” he said. “This is quite a challenge but I’m up to it. There’s nothing more rewarding than to take a team that’s down and build it into a contender. I have done it twice before and I can do it again.”
Nelson, who was the general manager for Golden State from 1988-1995, has 19 years’ experience as an NBA coach.