Issel To Coach Nuggets AgainAARON J. LOPEZ , Associated Press
Sep. 14, 1999 3:17 PM ET
DENVER (AP) _ Dan Issel, who retired as Denver Nuggets coach in 1995, is returning to the bench, replacing Mike D'Antoni.
Issel, Denver's vice president and general manager, was set to be named head coach during a news conference scheduled later today, according to sources close to the Nuggets.
Issel replaced the man he hired as Denver's coach a year ago. D'Antoni, known for his coaching success in Italy, went 14-36 in his only season with the Nuggets.
It was unclear if D'Antoni would remain with the team in another capacity.
Issel, who played for the Nuggets from 1975-85, was hired as head coach in 1992 but retired early in the 1995-96 season, saying he did not like the person he had become.
Since then, the Nuggets have gone through five coaches with minimal success.
One of Denver's most popular players, Issel was inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame in 1993. He is second on the Nuggets' career scoring list and is the team's career rebounding leader.
Issel rejoined the team as Denver's 10th head coach in 1992, and took the Nuggets to the playoffs in only two seasons. In his second season as head coach, he led the Nuggets to a 42-40 record, their first winning mark since the 1989-90 season.
Three years after his retirement as coach, Issel returned to the Nuggets as vice president and general manager.
His major moves the past year have been trading for all-star point guard Nick Van Exel and Denver native Chauncey Billups. He also orchestrated a multiplayer trade with Boston this summer that brought talented swingman Ron Mercer to Denver.
D'Antoni, a former NBA player, was a successful Italian League coach who led his teams to seven-straight playoff seasons and one championship.
He replaced Bill Hanzlik after Denver's disastrous 1997-98 season in which the Nuggets challenged the NBA record for futility before finishing 11-71.
Issel said earlier this year that D'Antoni deserves to return for a second season.
A group led by Denver billionaire and banker Donald Sturm took over ownership of the Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center arena in July, after bidding $461 million.
It wasn't clear Tuesday if Sturm had a role in Issel's hiring or if Issel would continue to serve as the Nuggets' general manager.