Six-time NBL championship-winning mentor and Australian basketball Hall Of Fame inductee Brian Goorjian is set to be unveiled as the Illawarra Hawks coach as early as Tuesday.
The Mercury understands the new Hawks owners, after officially dropping the Illawarra name as part of a deal with the NBL, have secured Goorjian to take over and lead the club's rebuild.
Goorjian has a close relationship with Dorry Kordahi, who previously had a share in the Sydney Kings and will lead the ownership group, following the collapse of the Hawks during Simon Stratford's time in charge, which led to a period of voluntary administration.
After a decade-long stint coaching in China, Goorjian was at the Zhejiang Lions based in the city of Hangzhou, before returning to Melbourne when the COVID-19 crisis hit.
The 66-year-old took the Sydney Kings to the NBL promised land with a title threepeat from 2003-05 after years of failure, as well as being in charge of the Boomers.
On Monday, the Mercury declared Goorjian's involvement in the new-look Hawks, which will also include controversial former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo and the US college basketball identity and businessman Michael Proctor.
Goorjian will have some work ahead of him as the face of the club, given the free agency period is likely to be delayed another month.
A series of meetings, which began on Monday, will determine the basic coaching and administration structure of the club, which is expected to continue with general manager Matt Campbell and possibly assistant coach Eric Cooks. It is uncertain if last year's coach Matt Flinn will have a role.
"With them signalling their intentions to find a new coach, who will probably bring their own staff, it leaves my future up in the air," Cooks told ACM on Monday.
"When I heard the news [about the name change], it was extremely disappointing. It's a worrying sign, if they're willing to drop the name, they might want to move the team away from the Illawarra in the coming seasons.
"On top of that, the club loses its identity and Illawarra fabric that has made it who it is today after 41 years.
"It's understandably ruffled some feathers but it's still early days."
Angus Glover and Sunday Dech had contracts with the club for next season before the voluntary administration period, as well as Sam Froling. Emmett Naar and Todd Blanchfield also had options in their contracts to be negotiated.
But with the COVID-19 crisis, it is uncertain what the final import situation or salary cap arrangement is likely to be, especially with the likelihood of a shortened and condensed playing season, which may not start until December at the end of the AFL and NRL competitions.
There is also uncertainty about where the Hawks will play games outside of Wollongong, in a bid to grow the NBL footprint.
The ACT Government has already declared it is unlikely to fund games in Canberra, while Newcastle's plans for a new stadium will not be completed until the end of next year. The Hawks slumped to a 5-23 record last year with potential NBA star LaMelo Ball, who with manager Jermaine Jackson, had been part of a bid to take over the club backed by Illawarra businessman Tory Lavalle.