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Cartwright to debut Saturday as Bulls coach

Associated Press

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Bill Cartwright has a new title to go along with the five NBA championship rings he won as a player and an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls.

Head coach.

Cartwright, in his sixth season as a Bulls assistant, was promoted to head coach Friday. He replaces Tim Floyd, who resigned Monday after going 49-190 in three-plus seasons.

"We're going to have a tremendous opportunity with coach Cartwright being here," forward Marcus Fizer said. "He's been through the system, he's won championships and we're looking for a new beginning."

Even before the official announcement, it was clear Cartwright was in charge. He ran practice and five players openly talked about his new role.

"They kept it in-house with Bill," said Charles Oakley, who was traded for Cartwright in 1988. "Bill's going to try and do his best every night to prepare us, get the young guys going and try to teach them the game the way it should be taught."

Cartwright's first game as a head coach will be Saturday, when the Bulls play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 44-year-old Cartwright was the center on Chicago's first three championship teams. He averaged 13.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 15 years in the NBA, six with the Bulls.

After retiring in 1994, he earned his master's degree from San Francisco. Phil Jackson hired him as an assistant in 1996, and he was there for Chicago's last two championship teams.

"Guys definitely have respect for Bill Cartwright," guard Fred Hoiberg said. "He's won five championships. Guys have respect for him and know the hard work he put into his career and saw how many years he got out of it. He's going to bring that attitude to the court and he let us know that.

"The first practice was a lot of instruction, and I think we got a lot out of it."

But it's going to take more than simply a coaching switch to turn around the Bulls. Since winning the last of their six championships in the 1990s, they are 49-192, including an NBA-worst 4-23 this season.

The Bulls have talented players on their roster, but they're young and have been plagued by injuries. Eddie Robinson has missed all but three games this season because of an injury to his left toe.

Rookies Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler are still teen-agers, and it's been Cartwright's job to tutor them since they were drafted.

"There are still some things that need to be changed around here," Oakley said. "It can't happen overnight. It's going to take time. I think Bill knows that and management knows that."

Cartwright was mentioned as a possible replacement for Jackson 3 years ago, but problems with his voice raised some concerns. He fractured his larynx after catching an elbow during the 1993-94 season and has undergone five operations to repair it. He still speaks with a raspy voice, but it will be loud enough to be heard.

Cartwright said he's been preparing to be a coach since his days as a player. A first-round draft pick by the Knicks in 1979, he played for Jackson, Red Holzman, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins and George Karl in the NBA.

"When I was in Seattle, I used to go into George's coaches meetings in the morning," Cartwright told the Tribune and Sun-Times. "He was surprised to see me down there and probably still thinks I'm a pest. But that was good for me to see what he did and how he prepared."

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