Source confirms Williams is New Orleans’ second choice

A league source confirmed a report by ESPN on Wednesday that New Orleans plans to soon offer its vacant head-coaching job to Portland assistant Monty Williams, if Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau does not accept the job by Thursday.

“I’ve been in this way too long to get too high or too low,” Williams said Tuesday. “I never believe anything until I sign on the line.”

Williams has been on New Orleans’ radar for at least two years, initiating with his work as Portland’s head coach during the team’s recent Summer League camps.

Williams’ combination of NBA playing and coaching experience, youth, intelligence and an even-keeled composure have made him “one of the hottest names out there,” a source said.

Williams was a lead candidate for the previously vacant Philadelphia head-coaching job, which went to Doug Collins. Collins, Williams and Avery Johnson were finalists for the position, and Williams was given serious consideration for the job before Collins received the nod.

Williams has also been considered for New Jersey’s open coaching position, which Jeff Van Gundy turned down Wednesday.

In addition, Williams interviewed last summer for Minnesota’s head-coaching position, which was awarded to Kurt Rambis.

Williams recently completed his fifth season with the Trail Blazers. He, head coach Nate McMillan and lead assistant Dean Demoploulos have guided Portland from a franchise-worst 21-61 record in 2005-06 to back-to-back 50-win seasons and playoff berths.

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