Wizards fire Doug Collins

WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- The Washington Wizards continued their purge Friday by firing Coach Doug Collins.

Collins was hired by then-president of basketball operations Michel Jordan, who was let go by team chairman Abe Pollin on May 7. In two years with Jordan on the court and Collins on the sidelines, the Wizards packed the MCI Center but went 74-90 and missed the playoffs both seasons.


"I was disappointed I wasn't able to take the team to the playoffs and give the fans of Washington a taste of what the playoff experience is all about," Collins said. "It was a great experience to coach in front of sellout crowds every night."

Collins had two years worth a reported $10 million remaining on his contract. Pollin said he let go of his coach to give him other opportunities.

"Several weeks ago, Doug and I spoke and we promised each other we would be fair in whatever happened," Pollin said. "With seven head coaching positions available in the league and with his future here in Washington in doubt, I felt that it was only fair that Doug be given a chance to pursue other interests."


Pollin still is searching for an executive to run the basketball operations. That person will have the task of selecting the Wizards' next coach.

According to the Washington Post, Wes Unseld is expected to take an indefinite leave of absence once a new executive is hired. He has been with the team for 33 years, serving as general manager the past seven.

The Wizards have been one of the NBA's laughingstocks over the past 15-plus seasons, making the playoffs just once since 1988. Their last postseason appearance was in 1997, when they were still known as the Bullets.

Three years ago, Jordan was given the job of turning around the franchise. But he couldn't do it in the front office or on the court.

Jordan named Leonard Hamilton coach in June 2000, but the Wizards went just 19-62 in his only season.

Jordan then drafted Kwame Brown out of high school with the first overall pick in 2000 but was unable to groom his project on the court.

Collins never really had much of a chance, with the aging Jordan taking the spotlight from the likes of Richard Hamilton and Jerry Stackhouse -- before and after they were traded for each other.


This past season, Collins had six players with fewer than two years NBA experience. The roster also contained Jordan, Charles Oakley, Christian Laettner and Bryon Russell, who have combined for 54 years in the league.

Collins leaves Washington with a career coaching mark of 332-287. He coached Jordan in Chicago from 1986-87 through 1988-89 and guided Detroit from 1995-96 to 1997-98, making the playoffs all but one season.

The first overall pick by Philadelphia in 1973, Collins averaged 17.9 points in eight NBA seasons. He was named to four All-Star Games and was a member of the 1972 United States Olympic team that lost the gold medal in controversial fashion to the Soviet Union.

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