Former Oklahoma men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson might be returning to the sidelines, this time as an NBA assistant. NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Sampson and the Milwaukee Bucks are discussing an assistant coach's role at the urging of new Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
Skiles has targeted two men who worked in the college game this season — Sampson and University of New Mexico associate head coach Craig Neal — to be part of his first staff in Milwaukee. Sources say Wisconsin native and former Bucks forward Joe Wolf, who has coached two teams in the NBA Development League, is another candidate. Since his forced resignation from Indiana in February, Sampson has spent the past two months with the San Antonio Spurs as an unofficial observer. Sampson and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich have remained close since they worked together as assistants under Denver Nuggets coach George Karl on Team USA in 2002. Sampson accepted a $750,000 buyout from Indiana in exchange for his resignation and waiving his right to seek further damages from the university after an NCAA report charged the 52-year-old coach with five major NCAA recruiting violations. Further sanctions against the Hoosiers and/or Sampson are possible. The Indiana basketball program is scheduled to have a face-to-face examination with the NCAA's infractions committee in mid-June in Seattle. Indiana hired Sampson despite an NCAA report that cited more than 550 illegal phone calls made by Sampson and his staff to 17 different recruits while at OU. The recruiting violations under Sampson prompted Oklahoma to place its basketball program on two years probation by reducing scholarships.