<
>

Floyd 'didn't see it coming'

NEW ORLEANS -- Being fired by the New Orleans Hornets after
only one season on the job was a complete surprise, Tim Floyd said
Thursday.

"I was shocked," Floyd said in a telephone interview with the
Associated Press. "I didn't feel any support from management, but
I didn't see it coming."

Floyd, hired last summer to replace Paul Silas, said he knew
owner George Shinn expected the Hornets to advance deep into the
playoffs, an ambition Floyd thinks was too optimistic.

"We were picked to finish fourth before the season, and that
was with a healthy Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis," Floyd said.
"I really don't feel that we did that bad of a job, given that we
didn't have Davis and Mashburn for 48 games and we won only six
fewer games than they won a year ago. I'm proud of our effort and
proud of our guys."

Floyd, who has stayed out of sight since being fired, said there
was no dissension on the team and his players never gave up on the
season.

"I really liked our guys and felt good about working with
them," Floyd said. "And I'm really proud of the job our staff
did."

Injuries were the big problem. They contributed not only to the
41-41 regular season record, but to an opening-round playoff loss
to the Miami Heat in Game 7.

"From what I saw of the Heat the last couple of games, I'd say
they are a pretty good team," Floyd said. "And I'd say it looks
like we played pretty hard and did pretty well."

The Heat tied the series against the Indiana Pacers 2-2 with a
100-88 victory Wednesday night. The Pacers, with the best record in
the NBA during the regular season, swept Boston, blew out the Heat
twice and set an NBA record with six straight victories by double
digits.

"I make no apologies for the job that we did," Floyd said. "I
feel like anybody that says the team lay down at any time must not
have been watching the games."

The Hornets' injuries started before the regular season.
Mashburn, an All-Star the season before, hurt his right knee and
played only 19 regular season games, then was left off the playoff
roster. Top reserve Courtney Alexander tore his Achilles' tendon
and missed the whole season. David Wesley missed 20 games with a
toe injury. All-Star guard Davis missed 15 games with a sprained
left ankle late in the season and played through pain in the
playoffs.

"This is a star-driven league," Floyd said. "Take one or two
stars off any team in it and tell me there won't be a let down.
Anyone that doubts that doesn't know the league."

Asked if he had been able to discuss the problems with Shinn,
Floyd said, "Yea, as I was being shown out the door."

Floyd, whose contract called for him to get about $4.8 million
over three years, has not decided what he will do. A successful
college coach, he replaced Phil Jackson as the Chicago Bulls' coach
in the post-Michael Jordan era and went 49-190 before resigning in
December 2001.

Floyd denied a report that he would become an unpaid assistant
for his friend Larry Eustachy at Southern Mississippi.

"He doesn't need my help," Floyd said. "I told somebody that
I would be watching a lot of their practices and games, but I'm
going to be watching a lot of teams' practices and games."