Silas to accept Cavs' coaching offer

Originally Published: May 31, 2003
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Paul Silas will accept the job as the new Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, possibly as soon as Monday, league sources told ESPN.com

That lines up Silas, fired by the New Orleans Hornets on May 4, to be LeBron James' first pro coach.

Sources said that Silas is the Cavaliers' choice after the club conducted two interviews each with Silas and ex-New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said the team would hold a 4:30 p.m. ET news conference Monday at Gund Arena for "a major announcement.''

ESPN.com reported Friday that Silas was the Cavs' leading candidate entering the weekend, despite persistent speculation that Van Gundy was mulling over a lucrative offer. Van Gundy, who along with Silas has also interviewed with the Houston Rockets, said Thursday that a return to coaching next season was 50-50.

"They decided, and they got a great guy. I'm fine with it," Van Gundy told The Associated Press.

Van Gundy was expected to demand more money and personnel control than Silas, who turns 60 in July and fits the veteran profile established months ago by Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund.

Earlier this season, Gund's interest was piqued by the Memphis Grizzlies' turnaround under 69-year-old Hubie Brown. That prompted Gund to make a rare road trip to Memphis to do some firsthand research on Brown's methods.

Silas could not be reached for comment Saturday, but told ESPN.com last month that he would relish the opportunity to coach the 6-8 James, in spite of the intense scrutiny surrounding the teen phenom. The Cavaliers hold the first pick in the June 26 draft and have already declared their intentions to select the Akron star.

"A kid like that only comes around only every so often," Silas said at the time. "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."

Cleveland would be Silas' third stop as a head coach. After a stint with the San Diego Clippers in the early 1980s, Silas had to wait 15 seasons before getting another shot to run a team. He spent four-plus seasons with the Hornets, quickly establishing himself as a players' favorite. Silas also reached the playoffs in each of his four full seasons with the Hornets, despite a steady stream of difficult circumstances.

Silas helped hold the team together after the tragic death of Bobby Phills in January 2000 and through the lame-duck campaign in Charlotte during the 2001-02 season. The Hornets played their home games that season in a near-empty building and also lost Jamal Mashburn to a mysterious bout with vertigo, but still managed to make the playoffs.

In their first season in New Orleans, the Hornets suffered a first-round knockout by Philadelphia in six games. At times, they were forced to play without injured stars Baron Davis and Mashburn. With a Hornets' record of 208-155, Silas was fired two days after they were eliminated.

Silas will likely see a significant rise in salary with the Cavaliers. In New Orleans, he was among the league's lowest-paid coaches at $1.5 million per season.

The Cavaliers still owe John Lucas $3 million in the final year of his contract. Lucas was fired in January after an 8-34 start and replaced by interim coach Keith Smart.

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. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report. Paul Silas will accept the job as the new Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, possibly as soon as Monday, league sources told ESPN.com

That lines up Silas, fired by the New Orleans Hornets on May 4, to be LeBron James' first pro coach.

Sources said that Silas is the Cavaliers' choice after the club conducted two interviews each with Silas and ex-New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said the team would hold a 4:30 p.m. ET news conference Monday at Gund Arena for "a major announcement.''

ESPN.com reported Friday that Silas was the Cavs' leading candidate entering the weekend, despite persistent speculation that Van Gundy was mulling over a lucrative offer. Van Gundy, who along with Silas has also interviewed with the Houston Rockets, said Thursday that a return to coaching next season was 50-50.

"They decided, and they got a great guy. I'm fine with it," Van Gundy told The Associated Press.

Van Gundy was expected to demand more money and personnel control than Silas, who turns 60 in July and fits the veteran profile established months ago by Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund.

Earlier this season, Gund's interest was piqued by the Memphis Grizzlies' turnaround under 69-year-old Hubie Brown. That prompted Gund to make a rare road trip to Memphis to do some firsthand research on Brown's methods.

Silas could not be reached for comment Saturday, but told ESPN.com last month that he would relish the opportunity to coach the 6-8 James, in spite of the intense scrutiny surrounding the teen phenom. The Cavaliers hold the first pick in the June 26 draft and have already declared their intentions to select the Akron star.

"A kid like that only comes around only every so often," Silas said at the time. "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."

Cleveland would be Silas' third stop as a head coach. After a stint with the San Diego Clippers in the early 1980s, Silas had to wait 15 seasons before getting another shot to run a team. He spent four-plus seasons with the Hornets, quickly establishing himself as a players' favorite. Silas also reached the playoffs in each of his four full seasons with the Hornets, despite a steady stream of difficult circumstances.

Silas helped hold the team together after the tragic death of Bobby Phills in January 2000 and through the lame-duck campaign in Charlotte during the 2001-02 season. The Hornets played their home games that season in a near-empty building and also lost Jamal Mashburn to a mysterious bout with vertigo, but still managed to make the playoffs.

In their first season in New Orleans, the Hornets suffered a first-round knockout by Philadelphia in six games. At times, they were forced to play without injured stars Baron Davis and Mashburn. With a Hornets' record of 208-155, Silas was fired two days after they were eliminated.

Silas will likely see a significant rise in salary with the Cavaliers. In New Orleans, he was among the league's lowest-paid coaches at $1.5 million per season.

The Cavaliers still owe John Lucas $3 million in the final year of his contract. Lucas was fired in January after an 8-34 start and replaced by interim coach Keith Smart.

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. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.

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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