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Coaching pursuit continues

Thomas pays debt, clearing way to take Indiana job

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The former owner of a Continental Basketball Association team said Isiah Thomas has paid him more than $186,000 owed from the sale of the minor basketball league.

Thomas owed former CBA owners a total of $750,000 as part of his purchase of the league last fall. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that clearing the debts will allow the Hall of Famer to be hired as coach of the Indiana Pacers this week.

Don Frye, former owner of the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury, said he received a check Monday, more than seven months after he expected the payment.

"I don't know if he paid the full $750,000, but he paid the $186,000 and change that he owed us," Frye said.

Thomas has been told by NBA officials that he must sell his ownership of the CBA, which he bought last year for $10 million, to accept any NBA coaching job.

Thomas is one of two acknowledged candidates to succeed Larry Bird as coach of the Pacers. Pacers assistant Rick Carlisle is the other.

Team spokesman Jeff McCoy said Tuesday the club had no comment on its coaching situation.

CBA president Don Welsh told the Sun-Times the checks to Frye and other former franchise owners were sent by registered mail on Thursday.

"So we have paid off every penny of that installment. The job of consolidating nine ownerships into one took much more accounting time than expected," he said.

Frye last week said Thomas planned to use advance payments from the Pacers for the coaching job to pay off the $750,000 debt.

"What Frye has done is totally improper," Welsh told the Sun-Times. "He had engaged in a campaign to publicly embarrass Isiah and to try to keep him from getting the Indiana Pacer coaching job."