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Karl Is Fired as the Cavaliers Coach, and Littles Gets Job on Interim Basis

March 17, 1986| Associated Press

CLEVELAND — George Karl was fired Sunday as coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. The firing came the day after Cleveland lost, 102-100, at home to the New Jersey Nets.

Cleveland has lost three straight games and five of the last six, but still is the leading contender for the final playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference.

Karl, 34, guided the Cavaliers to a 25-42 record this season. Gene Littles, an assistant coach under Karl, takes over the duties on an interim basis for the remainder of this season.

Cavalier General Manager Harry Weltman, in making the announcement, said Karl was told last Monday that his contract would not be renewed after the season ended. On Thursday of last week, Karl interviewed for a basketball coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh.

"In view of the fact that he is actively interviewing for another position, we think it is in our mutual best interests to release Coach Karl from any further obligation to the Cavs in the current season," Weltman said. "This will permit Coach Karl to turn his full attention to his current efforts to secure a new position and will allow the Cavs to finish the season with undivided attention to the task of gaining a position in the playoffs."

Cleveland holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.

A person at Karl's residence said Sunday that he was not available for immediate comment but would release a statement later.

Karl was in his second season at the helm of the Cavaliers. In the 1984-85 NBA season, his team got off to a 2-19 start. Then he rallied the Cavaliers to a 34-27 record the rest of the way to make the NBA playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics in a competitive series.

Littles, 42, is in his fourth year as a Cavaliers assistant. He previously was an assistant for three years with the Utah Jazz.

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