The Texas Legends are making a hard push to hire former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to replace Nancy Lieberman as coach of the D-League franchise, according to NBA coaching sources.
Pearl told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz that he will interview with the team Thursday in Dallas.
“When the world champions call you have to listen,” Pearl said. “Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been great and I’m looking forward to talking to them.”
Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson heads the management team as Legends co-owner.
Sources told ESPN.com that there have been ongoing negotiations between the parties.
Said one source: “The job is [Pearl’s] if he wants it.”
Mark Stein calls it “a logical step for Pearl in his quest to break into the NBA,” while acknowledging Pearl’s viability as a college basketball analyst.
At age fifty-one, the disgraced former University of Tennessee coach (whose team color is unintentionally represented in this site’s hyperlinks) is too young to retire, and he admits, “right now, college is not an option for me.” Pearl is known as a player motivator, so maybe he’ll find the D-Leaguers possessed of fertile souls he can shape and, well, develop.
Pearl probably fancies himself too much of a winner (“Some of his career highlights include posting a 145-61 record while coaching the Volunteers to six NCAA tournament appearances. He also won the 2008 Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year award.“) to take this path to the NBA bench, if that really is his goal and the D-League really is a viable path to the NBA bench.
The lines between news, opinion, and business at ESPN probably are as blurred as Jon Stewart thinks they are at Fox News, so it’s hard to know what to make of Stein’s reference to Pearl’s potential as an analyst, but that seems like the obvious approach for someone who loves the spotlight and needs to be in the minds of those he ultimately wants to hire him. Even if the NBA loses its entire season next year, nobody’s going to watch the D-League, and Mark Cuban isn’t going to pay Pearl enough to compensate Pearl for that exposure gap.