D’Antoni to talk to Knicks, Bulls

PHOENIX (TICKER) —The Phoenix Suns have granted coach Mike D’Antoni permission to speak with other teams about their head-coaching vacancies, the team announced Monday.

The Arizona Republic reported Monday that D’Antoni plans to interview with the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.

“As we have continued to convey, we value Mike D’Antoni as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns and would like him to continue leading this basketball team,” the Suns said in a statement. “Because he has requested to speak to other teams about their head-coaching vacancies, we have granted him permission.”

According to the Republic, the relationship between D’Antoni and Suns general manager Steve Kerr has been strained since the two had an argument in November.

During the Suns’ playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Kerr refused to give D’Antoni a vote of confidence, saying that he would be evaluated in the offseason.

Last week, Kerr said D’Antoni, who is owed $8.5 million over the next two seasons, would not be given that permission until their personal situation was resolved.

If D’Antoni takes other job, the Suns’ contract obligations would be offset.

The Suns were eliminated by the Spurs in five games, their first opening-round exit from the playoffs since 2003.

Under D’Antoni’s watch, the Suns have been one of the NBA’s highest-scoring and most entertaining teams, but they have been unable to advance behind the Western Conference finals.

D’Antoni has a 253-136 record in his four-plus seasons as Suns’ coach.

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Updated Monday, May 5, 2008