NBA team fires its coach, but keeps him in another capacity

WASHINGTON.- Wes Unseld Jr. stopped being the coach of the Washington Wizards averaging his third season with the team, which has the second-fewest wins in the NBA.

President Michael Winger announced Thursday that Unseld will transition to a front-office role. Washington is 7-36 and 14th among the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. They have lost five straight and 11 of their last 12 heading into the Utah Jazz’s visit on Thursday night.

Brian Keefe, an assistant coach, was named interim coach.

Keefe joined the team in July after working the last two seasons as an assistant with Brooklyn. He has also been on the coaching staff with Oklahoma City and the New York Knicks. He began his career as a video coordinator with the San Antonio Spurs, who won a championship in 2007.

The Wizards indicated they will begin the search for a permanent coach after the season ends.

“After several candid conversations with Wes, we came to the conclusion that a change was necessary for the benefit of the team,” Winger said. “Wes embodies the characteristics we value in our organization and his extensive basketball experience will be valuable in the front office as we address our long-term goals. We are grateful that he will be able to continue contributing to our organization and community.”

NBA tradition in the family:

Unseld, 48, is the son of franchise legend and Hall of Famer Wes Unseld. Unseld led the then-Bullets to the NBA championship in 1978.

The Wizards’ record with Unseld Jr. was 77-130.

“I am grateful to have coached the Washington Wizards,” Unseld said. “I am excited about this new opportunity to remain involved in the growth of this organization.”