Mike Dunleavy was fired as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, taking the fall for an underachieving team that failed to win a playoff game despite an NBA-record $89.7-million payroll.
"We had a great opportunity here and my only regret is that we did not bring a championship to Portland during my tenure," Dunleavy said in a statement.
Dunleavy met with team president and general manager Bob Whitsitt for about three hours and Whitsitt announced Dunleavy's dismissal afterward.
"Probably nobody had a tougher decision to make than me, because there's a lot of personal reasons why I'd like to see Mike come back," Whitsitt said. "But ultimately I've got to do what I think is right for the franchise."
The Trail Blazers, plagued by suspensions and infighting, lost 17 of their final 25 games, including a 3-0 sweep by the Lakers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The day after Portland was eliminated, Whitsitt took much of the blame, acknowledging that several of his roster moves had backfired. But he would not give his coach a vote of confidence.
After receiving assurance from owner Paul Allen that his job was safe, Whitsitt spent much of last week meeting with the players, and at least one reportedly said Dunleavy should go.
Dunleavy, 47, had one year left on a five-year, $12-million contract he signed in 1997. He's rumored to be a candidate for the vacant job in Cleveland.
Dunleavy was 190-106 in four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He was selected the league's coach of the year in 1999, when the Blazers went 35-15 in the lockout-shortened season and won the Pacific Division title.
Seattle SuperSonic forward Ruben Patterson was charged with trying to rape the family's nanny.
John Wolfe, Patterson's attorney, said the player planned to enter a plea Friday in which a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees there may be sufficient evidence for a jury to convict him.
Patterson, 25, free on his own recognizance, was ordered to have no contact with the nanny or other witnesses.
The maximum punishment for attempted third-degree rape, a gross misdemeanor, is one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, said Maleng's spokesman, Dan Donohoe.
Patterson is a restricted free agent.
Aaron McKie, who helped the Philadelphia 76ers win their first Atlantic Division title since 1990, won the NBA's sixth man award.
McKie received 57 of 124 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Milwaukee's Tim Thomas finished second with 27 votes.
McKie, in his seventh NBA season out of Temple, averaged career highs in points (11.6), rebounds (4.1), assists (five), steals (1.39) and minutes (31.5).