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Bulls Are Set to Hire Floyd

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tim Floyd is coming! Tim Floyd is coming!

But in what capacity?

The Chicago Bulls have called a news conference for today to announce the hiring of the former Iowa State coach, but just what job he gets remains to be seen.

ESPN and the Associated Press reported Wednesday he’ll be the Bulls’ coach, succeeding Phil Jackson. Later in the day, other Chicago news organizations began reporting Floyd would get another job. WMAQ radio said he’ll be named director of basketball operations, with the coach to be determined later.

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The Bulls, who are resigned to waiting for months to find out if Michael Jordan will return, may be finessing the situation.

Making Floyd the coach would antagonize Jordan, who recently said that would be “just like starting all over again. They [Bulls] may want to do that, but I don’t.”

However, they can give Floyd a front-office job, with the understanding he could be kept out of the way for a year if Jordan decides to come back.

However, if Jordan retires, the Bulls would be free to make Floyd their coach immediately.

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Iowa State Athletic Director Gene Smith told the Associated Press that Floyd was leaving “to pursue another opportunity with the Chicago Bulls.” Asked if Floyd would be the coach, Smith said: “You’re going to have to ask the Chicago Bulls about that.”

Jordan was playing golf at a country club in suburban Chicago on Wednesday and did not comment on reports of Floyd’s hiring. Last weekend, however, with reports that Floyd would be the new coach, Jordan said he was leaning toward retirement, adding:

“I don’t condemn them for hiring him [Floyd]. But I don’t feel like I want to start over with somebody who really doesn’t know me and the way I play the game.”

Jordan’s agent, David Falk, said Wednesday: “Michael needs to take his time to see how all of the pieces fall into place. We only have one piece of the picture. It may be that piece is of sufficient weight to outweigh everything else. Only time will tell.”

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A fishing buddy of General Manager Jerry Krause, Floyd has been enshrined as the heir apparent for two years, even as Jackson coached the team to its last two titles, fencing with Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf as he went.

Jordan, who constantly defended Jackson and has a strained relationship with the general manager, used to call Floyd “Pink,” after the rock group.

“I think he [Jordan] needs to step back from all the events of the season and all the political events surrounding the team and decide what he wants to do,” Falk said. “He’s earned the right after what he’s brought to the team and the city and the game of basketball to do whatever brings him joy and satisfaction.”

Floyd has no NBA experience but has excelled at turning around downtrodden college programs. Iowa State’s 12-18 record last year was his first losing season in 12 years as a head coach.

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“Everyone knows the story of the toad that got the princess to kiss him,” said Bill Wennington, one of nine free agents on the Bulls’ playoff roster, “so hopefully it will work out.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Tim Floyd at a Glance

* Age--44.

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* Born--Feb. 25, 1954, Hattiesburg, Miss.

* Career coaching record--243-130, .651 winning average.

* Coaching background--Hired in May 1994 as Iowa State’s 15th basketball coach and team went 81-47 in four seasons. First to coach Cyclones to three consecutive first-round victories in the NCAA tournament. Runner-up to Purdue’s Gene Keady for Associated Press coach of the year in 1997.

He went 127-58 in six seasons at New Orleans. Team reached NCAA tournament in 1991 and 1993.

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First head coaching job was at Idaho, where he worked two seasons with a 35-25 record. He spent nine seasons as an assistant under Don Haskins at Texas El Paso.

* Family--wife Beverly and daughter Shannon, 16. His late father, Lee Floyd, coached Southern Mississippi for 14 years.

* Education--B.S. in health and physical education at Louisiana Tech, 1977.


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