Former Sun Kings Head Coach Paul Woolpert Comments on Team FoldingPosted: Updated:
YAKIMA, Wash - A day after the surprising move by the Yakama Nation to disband the Yakama Sun Kings, coach Paul Woolpert told us how he felt about the whole ordeal. Here's what coach had to say.
Reporter: Coach, what was your reaction to the news from yesterday?
Paul Woolpert: "Well, um, first reaction was shock. I was contacted last Friday mentioning the fact that this could be happening and that it had happened. So I kind of knew about it but still when they call you and kind of say, 'hey, get out of the office' and 'vacate the premises', it kind of hits home. I'm sad, disappointed, unfortunately it's not a new feeling. We've been through this before with the Isaiah Thomas situation 7 years ago. Unforutnately, we're going through this again but the Yakama Sun Kings have found ways to survive and be successful so hopefully we can keep it going."
Reporter: What was it like going through the Isaiah Thomas situation and looking for a new job in the CBA the first time around, 7 years ago?
Woolpert: "Like today, it's just an empty feeling. You don't have an office to go to, you don't have a team to run, you don't have players to talk to. It's a strange feeling and it's something you have to deal with and move on."
Reporter: Did you guys see this coming with the whole Kip situation a while back? (Kip refers to Kip Christianson who was fired by the team a month ago with no true reason why.)
Woolpert: "I just attribute the Kip situation to a lack of communication and I hadn't really talked to the tribeal committee that runs the Sun Kings throughout the season. Two years ago they gave us a three year committment so we definitely planned on being owned by and run by the tribe for another year. So if definitely came out of left field and we're shocked and amazed by it. It definitely surprised the hell out of me.
Reporter: So if the Sun Kings are not saved, where do you go from here?
Woolpert: I've talked to the commissioner of the league and he called me and said that if I wanted a job I could get you a job in an hour. There have already been three teams that have contacted him expressing interest in me. Last year I had a couple conversations with N.B.A. teams, I have a couple offers with them. I turned down an offer to be a scout last year for an N.B.A. team. I've been a head coach for a bunch of years now and when you're a head coach you can control the situation and we've been successful in something I want to continue doing. I definitely will now go to the NBA if possible in an assistant coaching postion. I'm talking to three teams right now. I'm talking to Dallas, possibly Portland and possibly Charlotte. My agent is talking to a couple of them. Last year I went down to Dallas and met with Avery Johnson, we had some preliminary talks, and he said that's what he's done with his past assistant coaches, you know, met with them and gotten to know them a little better. Luckily Avery and I knew each other, we were together with the Sonics two or three years so I've known Avery for a long time and hopefully that will come about. I know obviously right now they just locked up a playoff spot last night and they're gonna hopefully do very well in the playoffs and we'll get something done after that. But that's something I'm definitely looking forward to, either being in Dallas or somewhere else."
Reporter: When the tribe had said we've lost $1.3 million on this team, was that surprising to you?
Woolpert: "CBA teams, historically, don't make money. I think in rare situations they do. I think we have a chance here where we can at least break even, make a little bit of a profit, but it has to be run correctly. When we had Rich Austin, our long time general manager, the first year they owned it it was very close to a breaking even situation, unfortunately they didn't retain Rich. I think that's a mistake that they made and that's something they're probably aware of. CBA teams don't make money but I think they're a huge impact on the community, obviously they give small communities such as this a profile throughout the nation actually. When we go places, when I talk to people, they know Yakima, it's on the map because of the Sun Kings. It's something to do in the winter, on a cold winter night it's great to be able to go to the Dome and be able to watch games."