MILWAUKEE -- Don Nelson resigned as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday, ending an 11-year career in which he reached 500 victories faster than any NBA coach.
Nelson, 47, submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday to Bucks owner Herb Kohl. Nelson had indicated earlier he would resign because his relationship with Kohl had deteriorated.
Nelson did not hold a news conference to announce his resignation and could not be reached for comment.
Nelson took over as coach of the Bucks 18 games into the 1976-77 season and posted a 540-344 record with Milwaukee, achieving 500 wins quicker than any NBA coach. He won his 500th game Nov. 26, 1986.
In accepting the resignation, Kohl said, 'Don Nelson's many contributions to the Milwaukee Bucks, and our city and state are well known. I personally appreciate all he has done for the franchise during his tenure. His departure is a difficult one for all of us to accept, but we wish him well in whatever future endeavors he undertakes.'
The Dallas Mavericks have said Nelson is at the top of the list of coaching candidates to replace Dick Motta, who resigned last week. Nelson has also been courted by the New York Knicks, who are seeking a coach and a general manager, and the Golden State Warriors, who need a general manager.
Nelson had a clause in his Bucks' contract prohibiting him from coaching or serving as director of player personnel for another NBA team for two years.
Kohl has said he would waive the clause for compensation but would not accept money. It is thought Kohl would require a first-round draft pick or a top player as compensation. The Mavericks have three-first round picks in 1990.
Nelson has received an offer from the Warriors to become their general manager, a post he said he believes is not prohibited by the clause in his contract. One of the owners of the Warriors is Jim Fitzgerald, a former owner of the Bucks and a close friend of Nelson.
The Mavericks Wednesday received permission to begin contract talks with Nelson, but Dallas officials said only preliminary discussions would be held until the question of compensation could be resolved.
A Mavericks spokesman said Dallas owner Donald Carter and Kohl were far apart on the compensation issue and because of that a formal interview with Nelson had been delayed.
Mavericks personnel director Rick Sund, a close friend of Nelson, planned to informally discuss the Dallas job with Nelson this week during the NBA's scouting camp in Chicago.
Under Nelson, the Bucks won at least 50 games for seven consecutive seasons and won six straight Central Division titles before finishing third this year. Milwaukee was eliminated this season from the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games by the Boston Celtics.
Nelson's 540 career victories places him 11th on the all-time NBA coaching list and his .612 winning percentage ranks second among coaches with 500 victories behind Red Auerbach's .662.