Charlotte Bobcats reassign coach Paul Silas

Coach stays as consultant, says fans must be patient

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com April 30, 2012 

Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas wanted one more season to make amends for the worst season in NBA history. He won’t get it.

The Bobcats announced Monday afternoon that Silas, 68, won’t return for the 2012-13 season after coaching the Bobcats to a 7-59 record – the worst single-season winning percentage (.106) in NBA history. Silas’ current contract with the Bobcats expires June 30.

Stephen Silas, Paul’s son and the Bobcats’ lead assistant, will get an interview to succeed his father as head coach. Other potential candidates could include former N.C. State star Nate McMillan, former New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and Orlando Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing.

When asked Monday if he’d have interest in the Bobcats opening, McMillan told the Observer, “I certainly do want to be in coaching again, so we’ll see what happens.” McMillan has most recently coached the Portland Trail Blazers, who fired him this season.

Asked why Silas won’t get another season, as he requested, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said, “The record kind of speaks for itself.” The Bobcats ended the lockout-shortened season on a 23-game losing streak.

By losing that last game, to the New York Knicks Thursday night, the Bobcats slipped behind the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73) for the worst winning-percentage in the NBA’s 66 years.

Higgins praised Silas as being a coach of great character and patience. Silas will remain with the Bobcats in a consulting role.

Higgins and general manager Rich Cho will start immediately on a coaching search. Higgins said he plans to interview “quite a few’’ candidates and put no timetable on a hire. Ideally, the new coach would be in place before the Bobcats start pre-draft workouts in June.

Paul Silas’ successor will sign on for a major rebuild. The Bobcats were last in the NBA in scoring and 27th among 30 NBA teams in points allowed. Cho said some coaches would be turned off by that and “those are the type of coaches we don’t want to bring in.”

“We don’t want somebody who’d say, ‘Oh, they had the worst record in the league,’ ” Cho said. “I want someone who’s going to look at this as a great opportunity and a challenge.”

Cho worked with McMillan when both were with the Trail Blazers, but it’s unclear how close they were or whether Cho finds McMillan’s approach attractive. McMillan is known to be quite demanding on his players.

The Bobcats do have the tools to rebuild: They will have a top-four pick, possibly No. 1 overall, in the June 28 draft. And Cho has said the Bobcats could be as much as $20 million under the salary cap that governs player-payroll this summer.

Higgins said he wants a coach who will emphasize developing young players, but “the main quality is somebody who wants to win.” Higgins said head-coaching experience would be valuable, but “we won’t limit (the search) to ex-NBA head coaches.”

Silas, in semi-retirement in Charlotte before taking the Bobcats job in December of 2010, says he’s through with coaching. He coached with four franchises – the Clippers, the Hornets, the Cavaliers and the Bobcats – between 1980 and 2012, finishing with a career record of 387-488.

Silas said he can be a resource as a team consultant to the front office and the next coach.

“I think I understand this team better than anyone because I’ve had them for a whole year,” Silas said. “So I hope I can be part of making some decisions” as far as which players to retain and which players to acquire.

Silas said whoever replaces him must be granted patience by the fans, because there is so much work still ahead before the Bobcats can be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference (owner Michael Jordan’s stated goal).

“It takes time to rebuild it,” Silas said. “They’ve got to understand that.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129

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