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Tuesday, January 3, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sonics

Team removes head coach Bob Weiss

Seattle Times staff

The Sonics removed Bob Weiss as their coach this morning, and made assistant coach and former NBA head coach Bob Hill as interim coach. Weiss will remain with the Sonics in an advisory role.

"Bob Weiss has been a solid part of the Sonics coaching staff for many years," said Sonics general manager Rick Sund. "He and I agreed that a change needed to be made to serve as a catalyst for elevating the performance of our team, and the timing is right for us today. He is a good man with an outstanding basketball mind and we look forward to his continued association with the organization."

Weiss, 63, initially joined the Sonics staff as an assistant coach in 1994. He had a 13-17 record this year, his first year as the Sonics head coach. He was originally a member of the Sonics organization as a player when he became part of the franchise's 1967 inaugural roster.

Sund said Monday evening that he was disappointed with the team effort and performance lately, but did not directly criticize Weiss. Sund made mention that he believed Weiss needed to be more direct with players and hold them accountable for their play. Since the first week of the season, the Sonics have been near the bottom of the NBA in terms of their defense, ranking last in opponent's points allowed (105.2) and opponent's field goal percentage (49.8). Monday night's 115-96 defeat to Indianapolis dropped Seattle to a season-low four-games below .500. It's the team's worst mark since the 2003-04 season.

Weiss was the overwhelming choice to replace Nate McMillan, who left last summer for Portland. Weiss received support from All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis as he became a head coach for the fourth time in his career, spending the past 11 as an assistant coach.

"Over the past 11-plus seasons, the Sonics have the fifth-best winning record in the NBA including four division titles,'' said CEO Wally Walker. "Bob Weiss has been a significant contributor to that success. His loyalty and insights have been extremely valuable to this organization. We thank him for all of his efforts and look forward to an ongoing relationship with him."

Hill brings 30-plus years of basketball coaching experience to his interim role as Sonics head coach. He has held coaching positions in the NBA, CBA, and the NCAA.. His most recent was with Fordham from 1999-2002. At San Antonio with the NBA, Hill compiled a 124-58 (.681) record from 1994-96 with the Spurs. The Spurs won two division titles with him at the helm and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 1995 before falling to the eventual NBA Champion Houston Rockets.

Hill has spent 10 seasons in the NBA coaching ranks, and holds an overall NBA head-coaching record of 257-212 (.548). Hill also coached the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, and was an assistant with the Orlando Magic and the Knicks.

Hill graduated from Bowling Green 1971 with a bachelor's degree in physical education and earned a master's in secondary education a year later. His various NCAA assistant coaching positions have included Bowling Green (1971-75), Pittsburgh (1975-77) and the Kansas (1977-85).

"I'm pleased with this opportunity to help this team," Hill said. "This Sonics squad has the talent and coach Weiss had them setting their goals high. It's my responsibility now to help them reach those goals."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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