PHOENIX (AP) – Phoenix Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni shot down a report on Friday that he had been offered the head coaching job of the Portland Trail Blazers, but acknowledged that he remains an interested candidate.

“I don’t know what the process is,” Iavaroni said after the Suns’ coaching staff watched a group of potential draft picks work out at America West Arena. “I just know that they told us that they’d get back to us when they’re ready to do something further.”

The Oregonian, in its Friday editions, quoted an anonymous source close to the talks as saying Iavaroni had been offered the position and would accept it as early as Friday. The Trail Blazers denied the report.

“We have not extended an offer to Marc Iavaroni or anyone else,” Blazers spokesman Mike Hanson said.

According to several reports, the Blazers were waiting to see whether Nate McMillan would remain as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. McMillan’s contract with the Sonics expires on June 30, and the two sides are talking daily on a new deal.

If McMillan is out of the picture, Portland would turn to Iavaroni, coach Mike D’Antoni’s lead assistant and a major factor in the Suns’ remarkable turnaround. Phoenix went from 29 victories in 2003-04 to an NBA-best 62 wins this season. The Suns were eliminated by San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.

“He’s been invaluable,” D’Antoni said. “He does everything. He prepares every game. He’s been really great with Amare (Stoudemire) and the big guys, but he’s not just limited to that. Somebody said he’s a big man’s coach. He’s a “coach’ coach. He just does a great job of preparing a basketball team to get ready to play in all areas, and he’ll do that as a head coach.”

Iavaroni said he was interviewed by Blazers president Steve Patterson and general manager John Nash.

“I was impressed with the plan that they have, the personnel they’re talking about and the core of players that they have there now,” Iavaroni said. “Without getting into specifics, I’m still interested in the job.”

The Blazers’ string of 21 consecutive playoff appearances ended in 2003-04, and the team won just 27 games this season, leading to the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks. The fans are restless in a city where the Trail Blazers are the only major professional team.

“They’re like any other town,” Iavaroni said. “They want their sports teams to do well, and we’ll see if I have something to do with that.”

Iavaroni played seven seasons in the NBA for Philadelphia, San Antonio and Utah. He started as a rookie for the 76ers team that won the league title in 1983. A Virginia graduate, Iavaroni went to Italy and played for the D’Antoni-coached team in Milan, but retired after a knee injury.

He was an assistant to coach Mike Fratello in Cleveland in 1997-99 and to Pat Riley in Miami from 1999 to 2002, when he came to the Suns.

AP-ES-06-17-05 1915EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.