Silas is extremely hot free agent on market

Updated: May 9, 2003, 9:47 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

DALLAS -- Just days since his dismissal by the New Orleans Hornets, Paul Silas has already emerged as a highly coveted coaching free agent.

Silas, in Dallas at the invitation of Mavericks coach and former Celtics teammate Don Nelson, told ESPN.com that he will interview with the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers in coming days.

At Nelson's behest, Silas arrived in town Thursday to serve as a playoff consultant for the week. Silas will fly with the Mavericks this weekend for Games 3 and 4 in Sacramento and then proceed to L.A. to meet with the club that gave him his first coaching job in 1980. The Clippers were based in San Diego at the time, but Silas was still coaching the team when Donald T. Sterling assumed ownership control.

"Elgin (Baylor) gave me a call to come in and talk about things," Silas said of his forthcoming California trip. "I've worked there before, so we'll see where that goes. I'm also going to meet with the Cavaliers."

The Clippers and Cavaliers still have interim coaches in place: Dennis Johnson and Keith Smart, respectively. The Cavaliers, though, announced shortly after the season that they plan to include Smart as part of a full-scale search, and ESPN.com reported Monday that Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund is leaning toward a veteran presence to succeed Smart, in the mold of Memphis' Hubie Brown. Gund made a rare road trip to Memphis earlier in the season to do a little Hubie research of his own.

After a chaos-filled season, the Cavaliers need a strong coaching presence -- doubly so if they win the May 22 lottery and the right to draft Ohio native LeBron James with the No. 1 overall pick. James is expected to attract more scrutiny than any high school-to-the-pros rookie in NBA history, especially if he winds up in his home state.

"A kid like that only comes around only every so often," said Silas, who turns 60 in July. "He's got the potential to be truly great, but he's going to need some guidance and some fatherly love. And that's what I would give him."

The Mavericks, meanwhile, continue to insist that Silas isn't auditioning for a future role with Dallas, even with the coaching portion of Nelson's contract expiring at the end of the season. Nelson's contract calls for three more years as general manager and five more seasons beyond that as a consultant, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- while insisting he won't address Nelson's status until the off-season -- said recently that "there is no reason to think (Nelson) won't be back" as coach. Silas watched Thursday's Mavericks-Kings game from the stands, a few rows off the floor at American Airlines Center.

Back in New Orleans, speculation on Silas' replacement continues to center on TNT analyst Mike Fratello, a longtime colleague of Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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