Bulls tab Floyd job TBA

Team hopes to gauge Jordan compatibility

July 23, 1998|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO -- One of the most prevalent rumors in Chicago sports history moved a step closer to reality yesterday when Tim Floyd resigned as Iowa State's basketball coach, paving the way for him to join the Bulls.

This doesn't necessarily mean Floyd, 44, will be the Bulls' next coach -- at least not yet. The Bulls will name him to a front-office position, director of basketball operations, at a news conference today, the Tribune has learned, in the hope that he will grow on Michael Jordan, who mentioned Floyd by name last week in stating he had no desire to play for "a college coach."

With NBA business shut down by a labor dispute, the Bulls are in no hurry to name Phil Jackson's successor, and they're prohibited from negotiating with Jordan, Scottie Pippen and their other free agents while the lockout is in effect.

Jordan last week said he'd wait until the lockout ends to make a decision on his future, so by bringing Floyd in now, the Bulls may be trying to use the down time to allow Jordan to determine if he and Floyd are compatible.

If they aren't, and Jordan decides he wants to continue playing, the Bulls presumably would be back in the market for a coach. If they aren't and Jordan retires, the Tim Floyd Era would begin, ushering in a massive rebuilding effort for the six-time NBA champions.

Floyd called a team meeting at Iowa State at 7 a.m. yesterday and told his players he would no longer be their coach. But he didn't say he was leaving for another coaching job, or that his next place of employment would be Chicago.

"He just said he was resigning and taking a job somewhere else. He didn't specify," center Tony Rampton said.

Rampton said he assumed Floyd would be coaching in Chicago "just because of all the rumors," but that no one at the meeting had asked Floyd what job he had accepted.

Later, at a news conference announcing Floyd's resignation, Iowa State athletic director Gene Smith acknowledged Floyd was joining the Bulls but wouldn't elaborate.

The Bulls declined to comment, and there was no mention of the word "coach" in a news release announcing today's news conference.

Jordan avoided reporters before and after playing golf at an Oak Brook, Ill., country club. His agent, David Falk, said "only time will tell" what the future holds for Jordan.

"Michael needs to evaluate all the factors before he makes his decision. My advice will be to keep all his options open," Falk said.

The latest development in the Bulls' search for Jackson's replacement comes as a surprise. Since Jackson's departure, Floyd -- a longtime friend and occasional fishing companion of general manager Jerry Krause -- has been the odds-on favorite to take over as coach, a move that might still have far-reaching implications for the future of pro sports' premier dynasty, beginning with the possible retirement of Jordan.

Smith said that Floyd -- who compiled a 243-130 record as coach at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State -- deserves a fair chance in Chicago.

"Tim has been successful everywhere he's been. I think he has unbelievable talent and skill. He's a great teacher, a great motivator and he understands the game. We've all seen him perform on the collegiate level. I think he'll do well at the next level."

Pub Date: 7/23/98


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