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Mavs player retires to be next coach

By wire services
Published October 29, 2004

DALLAS - Avery Johnson announced his retirement Thursday, officially ending his 16-year playing career and becoming an assistant coach for the Mavericks.

Johnson,39, played for Dallas in 2002-03, then re-signed with the Mavericks on Sept.30 as a player-coach with no expectation of playing significant minutes.

He decided during the last few days to become a full-time coach.

Johnson will be the top assistant to 64-year-old Don Nelson, who has tapped Johnson to take over when the he retires. Nelson's son, Donnie, has been his father's top assistant since 1998, but the younger Nelson will leave the bench to focus on his duties as the Mavericks' president of basketball operations.

Johnson played for six different teams and was a key member of San Antonio's 1998-99 NBA championship club. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.5 assists in 1,054 regular-season games and appeared in 90 playoff games, averaging 10.5 points and 6.2 assists.

"We know I played for a lot of teams in this league, but this is where I wanted to be," Johnson said.

CAVALIERS: Drew Gooden's contract option was picked up for 2005-06, anticipating the forward will take the spot vacated by departed free agent Carlos Boozer.

CLIPPERS: Home games will be played at Staples Center for at least 10 more seasons. The original lease had been scheduled to expire at the end of the upcoming season.

HAWKS: Forwards Lonny Baxter and Donnell Harvey were cut, reducing the roster to 15.

JAZZ: Andrei Kirilenko is close to signing a contract extension. The Deseret News reported the 23-year-old, who led the Jazz in points, rebounds, steals and blocked shots last season, would get a six-year contract worth the maximum allowable $86-million.

NETS: Jason Kidd was cleared for noncontact drills with his surgically repaired left knee. There is no timetable for his return to the active roster.

PACERS: Guard Fred Jones, the defending Slam Dunk contest champion, had his contract extended through the 2005-06 season.

ROCKETS: Yao Ming was held out of the team's final preseason game due to a hyper-extended left elbow. Yao injured the elbow Wednesday night when he got tangled up with the Spurs' Rasho Nesterovic going for a rebound.

TRAIL BLAZERS: Former UNLV coach Bill Bayno was hired as a scout.

[Last modified October 28, 2004, 23:50:16]


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