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Dallas Mavericks Fire Head Coach Jim Cleamons After Team Won Just Four of First 16 Games;

December 4, 1997

Dallas Mavericks Fire Head Coach Jim Cleamons After Team Won Just Four of First 16 Games; General Manager Don Nelson Expected To Take Over As CoachBy CHRIS NEWTON

DALLAS (AP) _ Jim Clemsons was fired as coach of the Dallas Mavericks today, with his team having lost 12 of its last 13 games.

Cleamons, who had a 28-70 record since taking over last year, was told was given the news when he arrived at a morning shootaround. Assistant coach Charlie Parker will coach the team tonight against the New York Knicks.

General manager Don Nelson had been lobbying for Cleamons’ dismissal for months and owner Ross Perot Jr. finally agreed. Perot has been trying to get Nelson to take over as coach, as well.

A news conference was scheduled for 6 p.m.

Cleamons becomes the first NBA coach to be fired this season.

``This comes as a tremendous loss,″ said Parker, who coached Southern California for two years before joining Cleamons’ staff. ``But we all have to be professional. I’m in here to be a coach, that’s what I’m paid to do and that’s what I’m going to do.″

Cleamons has been in a tenuous position since Nelson was hired in February. He immediately dismantled the roster and brought in players better suited to play his up-tempo style rather than Cleamons’ halfcourt offense.

Cleamons’ insistence on sticking with the triangle offense, a complicated scheme that’s been best used by the Chicago Bulls, alienated him from the team.

``I just think whatever the upper-management decided to do we have to deal with,″ guard Erick Strickland said. ``It’s just a situation that we can’t help right now.″

Strickland was among the players angered by Cleamons. The coach has limited his minutes despite Nelson having given Strickland a six-year, $14 million contract during the summer.

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