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Sonics: We Want Phil Jackson

The Seattle SuperSonics won't hire a coach until the NBA Finals end so they can talk to Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls about the job, the Seattle Post-Intellingencer reported Thursday.

Sonics president Wally Walker has not yet formally inquired about Jackson's interest in coaching the Sonics, but intends to before selecting George Karl's successor, the newspaper reported, quoting unidentified sources.

Jackson, whose Bulls are seeking a sixth NBA championship, has had one-year contracts with Chicago for the past two years. He has indicated he is unlikely to sign again with Chicago, but he doesn't have permission to talk about jobs with other teams until after the finals.

Jackson would join four other candidates Walker is considering: former Phoenix Suns coach Paul Westphal; Charlotte assistant Paul Silas; Karl's former assistant, Bob Weiss, and former San Antonio coach Bob Hill, all of whom have been interviewed.

Westphal currently tops Walker's list, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger, said Wednesday the Sonics had not yet contacted his client. He did not say whether Jackson wants the job.

"Before (the Sonics) officially say, 'Phil, we want you,' Phil does not want to comment," Musburger said from Chicago.

Walker wants a coach in place by the June 24 NBA draft.

He refused comment Wednesday on specific candidates to replace Karl, who was fired last month. Walker said he had more research to do and was at least a week from making a decision.

"To say that I'm close (to choosing a coach) or that there are front-runners is completely inaccurate," Walker said.

Meanwhile, Karl hasn't been overwhelmed with offers. Only one NBA team with a coaching vacancy has called him, Karl told the newspaper.

He also denied reports that he had talked with the Bulls about their possible vacancy. "I don't talk to teams that have coaches," Karl said.

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