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Rockets already pursuing Brown

New York Times News Service

Houston Rockets officials are not ready to call Larry Brown their top choice to replace Rudy Tomjanovich as coach. But they wasted no time treating him like he is.

Less than 24 hours after Brown became a free-agent coach, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Carroll Dawson met with Brown and his wife, Shelly, on Tuesday in New York.

"I want to sit back with Shelly, L.J. (his son) and Madison (his daughter) and figure this out," Brown said Tuesday without commenting about the meeting itself. "I really want to coach and go to a situation where I think I can make a difference. We'll just have to wait and see."

Brown has compiled the seventh-most wins in NBA history in stints with the Nuggets, Clippers, Spurs, Nets, Pacers and 76ers. But he might not be the winningest coach on the Rockets' list.

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Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson also has expressed interest in the position, a source said Tuesday. With the Mavs still in the playoffs, there has not been any contact between the Rockets and Nelson or his representatives. But Nelson is in the last season of his coaching contract in Dallas.

Nelson has three years left on his contract as a general manager and another five years remaining as a consultant, but he has expressed a desire to continue coaching. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has said discussions with Nelson about his position with the team would have to wait until after the season.

Dawson was not about to comment on another team's coach. But he said the meeting with Brown went well.

"Great meal, great company," Dawson said. "We talked a little basketball."

Dawson, however, said neither the Rockets nor Brown was ready to make a decision and that the team doesn't consider any of the candidates Dawson and Alexander have interviewed -- Brown, Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Van Gundy -- the front-runner.

"He just resigned yesterday, and there are seven or eight jobs open," Dawson said of Brown. "This was just our second day (of interviews). They've all went well, but nothing has been decided."

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