Colangelo: Talk of Coach K's USA future must wait
Jerry Colangelo had little reaction to Mike Krzyzewski's latest comments about his future as U.S. Olympic basketball coach.
Nothing changes until he hears it from Krzyzewski himself — and it isn't time for that yet.
"He and I always have to have a final discussion," the USA Basketball chairman said Wednesday. "That's all. And you should know I'm prepared either way for what the result of that discussion might be."
Krzyzewski told ESPN Radio on Tuesday that he expected the Americans to pick a new coach this summer. The Duke coach said during and after the Olympics that he didn't plan to come back after winning a second straight gold medal, and said his stance hadn't changed.
Neither has Colangelo's.
"Nothing has changed with Coach K," Colangelo said in a phone interview. "We have discussions throughout the year, but as it relates to the $64 question, that has to wait for the appropriate time, and it's only fair to he and his family, and the university to wait until the season is over. That's all. It's pretty simple."
Colangelo originally said he planned to name a new coach sometime around the new year. But since the Americans don't have to play again until 2014, he put off those plans so Krzyzewski could focus on Duke's season.
Though the delay increased speculation that Krzyzewski could return, he has continued to say otherwise. He also said he wouldn't be back in a recent interview on Sirius Radio, but Colangelo said he doesn't "overly react to whatever I hear or I'm told."
"With all due respect to reports, to interviews with third parties, that doesn't have any impact on me," Colangelo said. "Our relationship is such and the respect, mutual respect is such that at the appropriate time, which means as soon as he's finished with his college season — he's had another great year, even with injuries, he's primed to have a big run in terms of the tournament and I wish him the best. And there will be time right after that for us to speak."
Colangelo said the Americans will have a coach in place by the time they hold a minicamp in July. Boston's Doc Rivers and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich are leading candidates if the U.S. goes with a pro coach, Michigan State's Tom Izzo considered the top college choice, and Colangelo said other talented coaches have expressed interest.
He's still hoping there's a chance he can stick with the guy he already has.
He hired Krzyzewski in 2005 after taking over a U.S. program that was coming off debacles at the 2004 Olympics and 2002 world basketball championship. After a third-place finish at the '06 worlds, the Americans haven't lost since, adding gold at the '10 worlds to the pair of Olympic titles.
Along the way, Krzyzewski has become the face of a U.S. program that has regained its place atop the basketball world. The graduate of the U.S. Military Academy has served on the staffs of 12 teams since 1979.
"The reality is, his persona is as much personified with USA Basketball as it is with Duke," Colangelo said. "That's what happened over these last seven, either years, and he's very aware of that, and his heart may say one thing and other factors may pull against that. But what I've tried to do is just delay having any specific conversation until his season is over.
"He shouldn't be diverted from his focus, nor should the attention from the media be on this. There's a time and place for it and it's only weeks away when you think about it. So I've been content to wait it out."
Krzyzewski committed to return in 2009 for another three-year run after he and Colangelo, a pair of Chicago guys, shared a pizza and bottle of wine during a lengthy discussion about the program. Colangelo knows he may have to look elsewhere this time, and insists no matter what he won't try to convince Krzyzewski.
And if he has to hire someone else, he believes that coach will have an easy transition because of the work he and Krzyzewski have done over the last 7 ½ years.
"I know one way or another Coach K is going to be involved with me," Colangelo said. "One way or another, whether he's coaching or not, he's a big part of USA Basketball."