Bruce Pearl Rumors
Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl accepted a job as vice president of marketing with a Knoxville-based wholesale grocery company, bypassing the chance to coach the Texas Legends of the NBA’s developmental league. He will begin working at H.T. Hackney on Thursday. The company is led by Chairman and CEO Bill Sansom, a former University of Tennessee trustee. “It’s really an answer to prayer,” Pearl told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “This is where my family is. This is where I want to be. Everybody looks at me as a coach, but I’m a father and a husband, and I’ve got to provide for my family.”
The Legends’ top competition comes from ESPN, who are offering nearly double what he would make in Texas. Sources close to the situation say that Pearl would be used in a Fran Fraschilla-type role, providing NCAA analysis and possibly NBA Draft coverage as well.
It’s not quite a done deal yet, but it sure sounds like it could be soon. Donnie Nelson and the Texas Legends rolled out the red carpet for former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl on Thursday, with a pitch for Pearl to become the NBA Development League team’s next head coach. The duo addressed the media at the American Airlines Center and Legends owner Nelson said the team put together “the most aggressive package in D-League history” in an effort to put Pearl at the Legends’ helm, a spot left vacant after Nancy Lieberman made a move to the team’s front office earlier this month. “He is our A-Man and we are hoping to make something happen,” Nelson said. “We have had basketball dialogue all day long. Based on our lunch this afternoon, my wallet is not near as big as Mark [Cuban] but it is wide open.”
Coaching in the D-League is a logical step for Pearl in his quest to break into the NBA as an assistant coach. But Pearl is likely to be in high demand as a television analyst in college basketball after he was fired by Tennessee in the spring, which would presumably be a more lucrative field. But one source said the Legends “are finalizing an offer that will easily be the most lucrative deal in D-League history” in hopes of convincing Pearl to make an immediate return to coaching. The source said that the overall value of the package could approach $500,000. The Legends, sources said, are likewise hoping that the opportunity to coach what arguably ranks as the D-League’s most high-profile franchise — in a certifiable NBA market and with the chance to work closely with the NBA’s reigning champions — will ultimately sway Pearl to take the job. He led the Volunteers to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons, making one trip to the Elite Eight and two to the Sweet 16.