Darrell Walker, a former Washington Bullets guard, will be named the Washington Wizards' interim coach Monday, president of basketball operations Michael Jordan said Sunday.
The decision to hire Walker was made after the club's plan to hire Golden State Warriors assistant coach Rod Higgins came apart when the Warriors demanded compensation, a league source said.
Walker, 38, will replace Gar Heard, who was fired Saturday night in the Wizards' first major move since Jordan joined the organization 11 days ago. He will be introduced at a news conference Monday afternoon at MCI Center.
Walker, who coached the Toronto Raptors to a 41-90 record from April 1996 to February 1998, has been coaching the Continental Basketball Association's Rockford Lightning.
Wes Unseld, now the Wizards' general manager, coached the team -- then known as the Bullets -- during most of Walker's time with the franchise. Walker also played the second half of the 1992-93 season with Jordan and a Chicago Bulls team that won the NBA championship. Walker and Jordan have remained good friends.
''I felt we should (make the coaching change) do it now while we still can salvage something of the season,'' Jordan said Sunday during a telephone interview from Chicago. ''That doesn't guarantee anything, but I feel we've got to change the attitude on this team. We've got to kick start the team, and that starts with the coach.''
Walker's status as coach will be evaluated after the season. If he improves the Wizards (14-30, last in the Atlantic Division) and seems to have the backing of players and management, he could be signed to the full-time position. Otherwise, Walker likely will be shifted to a front office job.
The Wizards had planned to hire Higgins, another of Jordan's friends and former teammates. However, Warriors officials refused to release Higgins from his contract after the Wizards declined to alter the terms of a 1994 trade that could involve the Wizards' first-round choice in this year's NBA draft.
That pick is one of three first-round choices Washington gave to the Warriors, along with Tom Gugliotta, in exchange for Chris Webber.
However, under the deal's terms, Washington would get to keep that pick this year -- and give Golden State its first-round pick in 2001 -- if this year's NBA draft lottery results in Washington receiving one of the top three overall selections.
Wyche reported from Washington, Wilbon from Atlanta.
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