Jim Lynam, who led the Philadelphia 76ers to a...

By JOE CIALINI, UPI Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Lynam, who led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 16-23 record after replacing Matt Guokas at midseason, Tuesday signed a three-year contract to coach the team.

'I believe Jim Lynam is the best-kept secret in basketball,' Philadelphia owner Harold Katz said in announcing the deal. 'I have not seen anyone communicate better with players than Jim Lynam.'


Lynam was signed only for the remainder of the season when he moved up from assistant to head coach after Guokas was fired at the All-Star break.

Katz said he has been leaning toward retaining Lynam since Philadelphia finished 36-46 and missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.

'I believe strongly that Jimmy is the right coach for this team,' said Katz, adding that Lynam could not be blamed for the team's record because of injuries and the effects of a January trade that sent Roy Hinson and Tim McCormick to the New Jersey Nets for Mike Gminski and Ben Coleman.


'They were new (players) and then Cliff Robinson missed 17 games because of injury,' Katz said. 'He had a tough road because of injuries and the trade. He couldn't show his own personality. I feel Jimmy's personality is to be aggressive at both ends of the court. I don't feel he had a chance to put that in with the short time he had. It's hard to do it in only two months of the season.'

Lynam, who joined the 76ers as an assistant coach in June 1985, said he believes Philadelphia needs a shooting guard and frontcourt player off the bench to return to the playoffs.

'I wouldn't have been interested in this position if I didn't feel this team was ready to go forward,' said Lynam, who also served as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers from 1983-85. 'We don't feel we're that far away from being in a competitive situation. With the upcoming draft and a possible personnel move or two, we can get right back in the thick of things.'

Lynam said he wanted a three-year deal to show the players who was in charge.

'I felt I would be more confortable with a three-year deal,' he said. 'That would indicate a commitment on Harold's part and in terms of perception in dealing with players, it's important they know who is the coach and know the owner has made a commitment.'


Katz said he was influenced in his decision by the desire of Philadelphia's players to have Lynam return.

'The players were asking me, 'Is Jimmy coming back?'' Katz said. 'I have tremendous respect for (veteran guard) Maurice Cheeks. He hardly says anything so when he does say something, I listen. He said that in his years in pro basketball, he had never seen a better communicator than Jim Lynam.'

Katz said the contract of assistant coach Fred Carter, which had one year left, would be extended for two more seasons.

He also said Philadelphia would begin searching for a person to work in the player personnel area.

'Jim wants to stick with just Freddie on the bench,' Katz said. 'He feels that is the proper way to go. I feel we need some advance scouting of pro teams and some additional scouting of college teams.'

He said the job's responsibilities would be partly defined by the person hired to fill the position.

Katz also said he will now begin to consider the future of general manager John Nash, whose contract expires June 30.

'I just finished focusing on the head coach,' he said. 'Now I will focus on John Nash's position. Give me some time.'


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