Fri, Jan 16, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Lenny Wilkens replaces Dan Chaney

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION The coach of the Knicks was handed his walking papers, along with his assistant coaches Brendan Malone and Lon Kruger

REUTERS AND AP , NEW YORK

New Jersey Nets' Rodney Rogers goes up for a dunk during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Wednesday. Rogers scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds as the Nets beat the Wizards 115-103.

PHOTO: AP

The New York Knicks fired head coach Don Chaney and immediately announced 66-year-old Lenny Wilkens as his replacement Wednesday.

The Knicks were 15-24 this season under Chaney, 57, who had a 72-112 record after taking over from Jeff Van Gundy in December 2001.

Assistant Herb Williams will coach the team Wednesday against Orlando at Madison Square Garden. Wilkens, the all-time winningest NBA coach with 1,292 victories, will take over today.

"I think he [Wilkens] is a perfect fit," team president Isiah Thomas told a news conference.

Assistant coaches Brendan Malone and Lon Kruger were also fired.

Seattle won the NBA championship in 1979 under Wilkens, whose record is 1,292-1,114 with the SuperSonics, Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta and Toronto.

He is one of only two coaches to lead four different teams to 100 wins.

In 1996, Wilkens coached the US Olympic team to the gold medal at the Atlanta Games. He mutually agreed to leave his position as head coach of Toronto after the 2002-2003 season following a three-year spell with the Raptors.

This will be his 31st season as a head coach in the NBA.

Wilkens is also one of only two men, John Wooden being the other, to have been enshrined in the basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.

The former point guard entered the Hall as a player in May 1989 and as a coach in October 1998.

The outgoing Knicks coach has recently come under heavy scrutiny with home fans chanting "fire Chaney."

Chaney, who joined New York's coaching staff in August 1995, was in his fourth head coaching stint. He won NBA Coach of the Year honors by leading the 1990-1991 Houston Rockets to a 52-30 record.

A media report earlier Wednesday said the Knicks would appoint former Cleveland and Atlanta coach Mike Fratello as Chaney's successor.

Thomas said he considered a number of options, including taking over the coaching duties himself.

"Don Chaney is a good man and he did his best for the Knicks ... but I felt a change was necessary," said Thomas.

"We considered a whole range of choices. We did not have negotiations with [Fratello] ... yes, I did think about [coaching] myself.

"But I never thought I would be able to get a Hall of Fame coach like Lenny Wilkens. The opportunity was too good."

Thomas refused to reveal details of Wilkens's contract but said it was not an interim measure designed to see the Knicks through to the end of the season.

knicks 120, Magic 110

Herb Williams made the most of his one game as Knicks coach, guiding New York to a 120-110 victory Wednesday night over the Orlando Magic just hours after Don Chaney was fired.

The game was almost an afterthought on another day of big changes for the Knicks.

Stephon Marbury had 26 points and 10 assists, Allan Houston scored 23 and Keith Van Horn had 22 as the Knicks surpassed 100 points for the second straight game and just the seventh time this season.

"I think we all understand that all our jobs are on the line," Knicks guard Penny Hardaway said. "There's no time to baby anybody. If you're not getting it done on a consistent basis, you will be moved."

Tracy McGrady had 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead Orlando, which lost its seventh straight on the road and for the eighth time in nine games overall.

Pistons 95, Raptors 91

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Mehmet Okur scored a career-high 27 points and Detroit won its 10th straight with a comeback victory over Toronto.

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