DALLAS (AP) – The Texas Legends made Bruce Pearl an offer Thursday and are waiting to see if the former Tennessee coach will take over the reins of the NBA D-League team.
Legends owner Donnie Nelson presented Pearl with what he labeled the “most aggressive package in D-League history.” Reports have put the offer as high as $500,000 per season.
Pearl will return to Knoxville to talk to his family before making a decision, saying he is intrigued by the possibility of coaching professional basketball and being associated with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks; Nelson is the team’s general manager.
“I’ve always seen myself as a college basketball coach . and things change,” Pearl said. “I still want to coach.”
He was fired by Tennessee in March six months after he admitted lying to NCAA investigators about recruiting violations. Pearl has been charged by the NCAA with unethical conduct and could face a college coaching ban
“It was my goal to be buried at Tennessee,” he said. “I just didn’t think I would be buried this year.”
Pearl said being around Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle also are selling points for taking the job with the team based in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.
Pearl, who has discussed the position with Carlisle and other NBA personnel, says he wouldn’t use it as a steppingstone to return to the college ranks or get into the NBA.
“My focus would not be on where I would be going from here,” he said. “If I took the job, my focus would be on doing the best we can with what we have.”
Nelson and Pearl have been discussing the opening for about a month, with Pearl adding that he’s become more interested with each passing day. Neither Pearl nor Nelson put a timetable on the negotiations, though Nelson conceded Pearl is the Legend’s top target and the hope is to get a deal done quickly. The D-League season begins in November.
“There’s still a window of time,” Pearl said.
Nelson’s proposed package would allow Pearl to pursue other career opportunities. Pearl said he’s also considering a move into broadcasting, but coaching remains his priority.
The Legends have been looking for a coach since Nancy Lieberman stepped down to become the team’s assistant general manager.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)