Bill Blair, an assistant coach with the Washington Bullets the past seven seasons, accepted a similar position with Indiana yesterday, becoming part of the staff hired by new Pacers head coach Larry Brown.
This will mark the second time that Blair, 50, a native of Whitesburg, Ky., has worked with Brown, who coached the Los Angeles Clippers last season and is starting in his fifth NBA city.
They worked together in the 1981-82 season, when Brown coached the New Jersey Nets.
Brown quit just before the playoffs to accept the job at the University of Kansas. Blair became the interim head coach the final four games of the season and in the playoffs when the Nets were eliminated in a mini-series by the New York Knicks.
Regarded as an excellent defensive coach and strategist, Blair cited "security" as the main reason for ending his five-year association with Wes Unseld. He reportedly signed a three-year pact with the Pacers.
Unseld has not hired a replacement. Jeff Bzdelik remains his only assistant.
"Bill is a close friend and did a fine job while he was here," Unseld said. "I hope that one day he gets a chance to become a head coach."
* CLIPPERS: Danny Manning and Los Angeles came close to agreeing to a five-year, $25-million contract before a late snag drove thesides apart again.
Manning's agent, Ron Grinker, declined to say why talks broke off.