SEATTLE (AP) – The SuperSonics hired Bob Weiss as coach Monday, promoting the 11-year assistant who worked under former coaches George Karl, Paul Westphal and Nate McMillan.

This will be the fourth NBA head coaching job for the 63-year-old Weiss, who agreed to a three-year deal. He coached the San Antonio Spurs from 1986-88 (going 59-105), the Atlanta Hawks from 1990-93 (124-122) and the Los Angeles Clippers in 1993-94 (27-55).

“It was a simple decision,” Sonics chairman Howard Schultz said. “What Bob demonstrated to us privately was absolute unbridled enthusiasm.”

The jovial Weiss noted he’s going into a much different situation this time.

“We don’t have any players on a respirator,” he joked. “The first couple of jobs I had were complete rebuilding jobs. In fact, they weren’t even done deteriorating yet.”

Weiss led the Spurs to the playoffs once and reached the postseason in two of his three years with Atlanta.

He has been known to perform card tricks on Seattle’s charter flights, making him popular with players. He was endorsed last week for the top job by Sonics star Ray Allen, who recently agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract.

Though Seattle’s free agency situation currently makes the roster fluid, Weiss also will coach Rashard Lewis, who made his first All-Star team last season, as well as young standouts like Luke Ridnour and Nick Collison.

“This is the first opportunity I’ve had to work with talent like Ray and Rashard, all the nucleus, Luke, Nick Collison,” Weiss said. “There’s the caliber of people, the city, the friends we’ve already made here. All those things are very, very special to me.”

After 19 years in the Sonics organization as a player, assistant and head coach, McMillan left earlier this month to coach the Portland Trail Blazers. Another top assistant, Dwane Casey, became Minnesota’s head coach in June.

Weiss said he turned down McMillan’s offer to continue working together in Portland, hoping to become the 13th head coach in Seattle.

“I’ve said this before: Being an assistant is like being a spectator,” Weiss said. “You can contribute some, but when you’re the head coach it’s almost like being in the game.”

Seattle is coming off a 52-win season that ended with a dramatic six-game series loss to the eventual champion Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

By hiring Weiss, general manager Rick Sund said the front office can assure some measure of continuity – a huge factor in the decision.

“Today is more of an announcement of a head coach, rather than an introduction,” said Sund, who was the first personnel director in Dallas back in 1980 when Weiss was an assistant under Dick Motta.

Weiss was the 21st pick in the 1965 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He played 12 NBA seasons before starting his coaching career as an assistant with the San Diego Clippers in 1977.

While some of McMillan’s influence will carry over from last season, Weiss said he hopes to install an even more high-powered offense than the one that averaged 96.6 points per game during the regular season.

On defense, Weiss plans to simplify, saying he’ll probably borrow from some of the systems used when Karl coached the Sonics from 1992-98 – a span that included Seattle’s last appearance in the NBA Finals.

“I know what our weaknesses are,” Weiss said. “I know the history of what’s been done and I know where the holes are.”

AP-ES-07-18-05 1824EDT

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