Originally created 08/30/98

Bucks hire George Karl as new coach



ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- The Milwaukee Bucks hired former Seattle SuperSonics coach George Karl on Saturday to replace Chris Ford, who was fired last week.

Karl was signed to a four-year deal.

"When the opportunity here came about, I was very excited," Karl said at a news conference at the Bucks' training center in St. Francis. "I love coaching and I wanted to coach this team."

Karl, said to be seeking a contract worth between $3 and $5 million per year, had been mentioned as a candidate for the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers jobs earlier this summer.

When Ford was fired Wednesday, team owner Herb Kohl said money wouldn't be an object in hiring a new coach.

Over the past six seasons, Seattle won more games than any NBA team except the Chicago Bulls. Still, owner Barry Ackerley was disappointed by his team's lack of playoff success despite a trip to the NBA Finals in 1996.

Karl has strained relations with Ackerley and Sonics general manager Wally Walker, and the team cited its inability to trust Karl with sensitive information when announcing that he would not return.

Paul Westphal has been named Karl's replacement in Seattle.

Ford, 49, a former Boston Celtics coach, joined the Bucks in June 1996 with a three-year contract. The Bucks hired him after Mike Dunleavy moved up to general manager. But Dunleavy resigned as GM in 1996 and later returned to coaching in Portland.

The Bucks were 33-49 in Ford's first season and 36-46 last season.