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April 30, 2012

Video: Paul Silas out as Bobcats' coach

The Charlotte Bobcats, who finished the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, have relieved Paul Silas of his coaching duties.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 30, 2012 at 05:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Nate McMillan on Charlotte Bobcats opening

Told by the Observer Monday that the Charlotte Bobcats have a coaching opening, Nate McMillan didn’t dismiss the idea of returning to North Carolina.

               “I certainly do want to be in coaching again, so we’ll see what happens,’’ said McMillan, former coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and a one-time N.C. State star.

               McMillan was caught off-guard by the Bobcats’ decision not to bring back Paul Silas, after 1½ seasons on the job. McMillan worked with now-Bobcats general manager Rich Cho in Portland.

               Cho and president of basketball operations Rod Higgins addressed the decision to change
coaches at a Monday news conference. Cho said a key component in the search should be finding someone who considers the rebuilding job a challenge, rather than a burden.

               “We don’t want somebody who’d say, ‘Oh, they had the worst record in the league,’’ Cho said. “It’s easy to go to a winning team. We want someone who sees this as a great opportunity, a chance to build from the ground up.’’

               Among the key moments in Monday’s news conference:

               --Paul Silas will continue with the organization, in a yet-undetermined consulting role. The
current coaching staff will help run pre-draft workouts if a new coach isn’t hired in time.

               --Lead assistant Stephen Silas will get an interview to be head coach, after coaching several games this season.

               --Higgins is putting no timetable on the search, except that it will commence immediately. Higgins expects to interview a wide range of candidates, some of whom might not be available until their teams are eliminated from the playoffs.

               --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, who made Charlotte his home before taking the Bobcats job in December of 2010,
says he’s through with coaching at 68.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 30, 2012 at 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Paul Silas out as Charlotte Bobcats coach

Paul Silas will not be back to coach next season with the Charlotte Bobcats.

               Silas will not get a new contract, following a 7-59 record in the season just completed. That means the Bobcats will hire their fifth coach since the franchise’s inception in 2004.

               Silas took over for Larry Brown in December of 2010. He finished last season 25-29.
During that season the Bobcats lifted the interim tag from Silas’s job description and gave him a contract extension through the end of the season just completed.

               Silas, 68, has coached four NBA franchises (the Clippers, the Hornets, the Cavaliers and the Bobcats) over 12 seasons. His all-time coaching record is 387-488.

               The Bobcats are expected to quickly engage in a coaching search. Potential candidates could include former Portland Trail Blazers coach (and one-time N.C. State great) Nate McMillan and former New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. Another possibility could be Orlando Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing, who has close ties to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.

               Ewing, among the best centers in NBA history, played on the original Dream Team with
Jordan.  As players they both were represented by agent David Falk.

               Silas’ best accomplishment as Bobcats coach was probably the development of Gerald Henderson, arguably the Bobcats’ best player. Henderson wasn’t playing much for Brown, and Silas went to work on the former Duke star’s confidence. When the Bobcats traded Gerald Wallace to Portland two months into Silas’ tenure, Silas inserted Henderson into the starting lineup. He’s been a fixture there ever since.

               During Silas’s 1 ½ seasons with the team the front office chose to dismantle the roster that reached the playoffs in the spring of 2010. After trading Wallace, primarily for draft picks, the Bobcats sent Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee in a three-team trade that allowed the Bobcats to draft big man Bismack Biyombo.

               While those moves made long-term sense, it saddled Silas with one of the least-experienced, least-talented rosters in NBA history. As injuries mounted and Silas was forced to play rookies Biyombo and Kemba Walker heavy minutes, the Bobcats lost their last 23 games and finished with the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.

               Silas hoped he’d be succeeded as Bobcats coach by his son, Stephen, his lead assistant. Stephen Silas filled in as head coach several games the latter part of this season, with the blessing of the front office.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 30, 2012 at 02:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (72)

April 25, 2012

Michael Jordan deserves scrutiny, but Larry Brown's jab felt more like revenge

If you want to write off Michael Jordan as the guy who shouldn’t be wearing a hockey jersey in Chicago when his NBA team is withering back in Charlotte, more power to you.

If you want to conclude Rod Higgins is a paper-pusher whose job security hinges on being a Friend-of-Mike, I won’t waste breath debating you (though I think that defines over-simplification).

Here’s what trumps all that: Larry Brown turned Jordan and Higgins into victims on national radio Wednesday. It was shabby and silly and petty. Somebody – I guess it’s my job by default -- needs to explain what really happened.

LB says Jordan’s people didn’t have a “clue’’ and made him “sick’’ and were “spies.’’

Here’s what I saw: Rod Higgins (who I’ve had more than a few battles with) put up graciously with hundreds of hours of all the garbage that comes with being Larry’s personnel guy.

 Ask Billy King. Ask Donnie Walsh. You think I haven’t? Larry is a magnificent maniac. He has a savant quality when it comes to basketball, but he’s loopy; overreacts to whatever he last saw. Like a crab in the sand, searching for the next feed.

He wants to make trades that would work for five minutes and cost the franchise five years.

As much as LB professes “play the right way’’ (and he believes that), he’s also manipulative and fickle and vindictive. I love the guy for his genius, but I wrote this years before he ever came to Charlotte:

“Larry makes you better…Larry makes you crazy…Larry makes his exit.’’

It used to be that “Good Larry’’ dynamic lasted five seasons (Indiana, Philly). Lately (New York, Charlotte) the exasperation exceeds the genius way too quickly. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson were true believers, and then the day before the start of training camp two years ago Larry told them the front office had sold everyone out and they’d be terrible.

That’s probably not the best message to send to your two key players entering a season. Whatever purpose LB intended, Wallace and Jackson saw this as renouncement. Imagine your parents telling you, “You’ll be nothing….uh, sorry.’’

So three months later it was evident the Bobcats stopped believing in the guy who stopped believing in them. And 1½ years later Brown gets a national forum and turns the knife ever so slowly. It feels way too Mafia-like: Revenge is best served cold, ya know?

     I think there are a lot of legitimate reasons to scrutinize the Bobcats. I’ve written that regularly over the duration of their existence: Rudy Gay vs. Adam Morrison? Come on. Not trading up for draft rights to CP3 or Deron Williams? Yadda, yadda, yadda.

     But what Brown did on radio and what Sam Vincent did in the Washington Post is so self-serving, so childish, that it reflects far more on them than Jordan or anyone who works for the Bobcats.

     Rip them for what they deserve. Don’t exploit bad times to settle old grudges. It’s tacky.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 25, 2012 at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

Larry Brown rips Michael Jordan and Charlotte Bobcats

591-1otDiJ.St.156I guess after more than a year out of work, Larry Brown built up a lot of venom.

I understand how unfiltered Brown can be from the 2 ½ seasons I covered him coaching the Charlotte Bobcats. But I was still taken aback this morning by how emphatically he ripped his former boss, Michael Jordan, and his former coworkers in Charlotte.

Brown is back at work as coach at Southern Methodist. He went on the Dan Patrick Show
Wednesday morning and of course was asked about the Bobcats’ plight. Among Brown’s comments regarding Bobcats owner Jordan and the organization that fired him in December of 2010:

“He’s around people who don’t have a clue.’’

“He had people around me that made me sick.’’

“It was almost like they were spies wondering what we were doing and getting back to him.’’

“A coach, a GM and a president all have to be attached at the hip.’’

I haven’t spoken to Brown since he was fired, despite leaving more than a dozen messages
on his cell phone. He told then-Bobcats assistant coach Dave Hanners the night he was let go that he’d call me, then never did. So I can’t tell you much about his state of mind since Jordan fired him.

But it’s a safe bet Brown’s comments were directed toward president of basketball operations Rod Higgins, who was the buffer zone between Brown and Jordan. Brown was frustrated by a lot of things as coach, particularly the decision to trade Tyson Chandler for what amounted to salary-cap relief when they acquired Erick Dampier’s unguaranteed contract. Brown felt he was handed a team with no chance to compete his last season in Charlotte.

He told that directly to the two leaders of that team, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, in so unfiltered a way that Wallace and Jackson decided Brown had given up on the franchise (and by extension, them). That was the first step toward the Bobcats-Brown divorce three months later.

I have great respect for Brown and his basketball knowledge, but I feel sorry for Higgins in this. I can’t tell you how often, following practice, Mike Cranston (then the Charlotte sportswriter for Associated Press) and I would watch Brown take Higgins aside for the never-ending critiques of the team.

I found Higgins remarkably patient with Brown’s persona. I’m sure Larry saw it the opposite; as Higgins paying lip service to Brown’s concerns, while holding him at a distance from Jordan.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 25, 2012 at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (42)

April 22, 2012

My NBA awards ballot

My awards ballot for the 2011-12 NBA season:

 Most Improved: 1. Greg Monroe, 2. Ty Lawson. 3, Jeff Teague.

 Sixth Man: 1. Lou Williams, 2. Zach Randolph, 3. Andre Miller

 Rookie of the Year: 1. Kyrie Irving, 2, Ricky Rubio, 3. Kemba Walker

 Coach of the Year: 1. Tom Thibodeau, 2. Frank Vogel, 3. Gregg Popovich

 Defensive Player of the year: 1. Serge Ibaka, 2. Dwight Howard, 3. Andre Iguodala

 MVP: 1. Kevin Durant, 2. LeBron James, 3. Tony Parker, 4. Kobe Bryant, 5. Chris Paul

All-NBA: (must be two guards, two forwards and a center)

 (first team): Bryant, Parker, James, Durant, Kevin Love. (second team): Paul, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Howard. (third team): Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andrew Bynum.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 22, 2012 at 01:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

April 18, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats' Rod Higgins confirms Paul Silas-Tyrus Thomas confrontation

               The frustration of a 7-53 season boiled over Sunday, when Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas and power forward Tyrus Thomas got into a physical confrontation following the loss to the Boston Celtics.

               Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins confirmed to the Observer that the two had a brush-up, after Yahoo Sports first reported the incident Wednesday afternoon.

               “You know how it is – in the heat of the moment these things happen in the course of an NBA season. This isn’t the last time something like this will happen in the league,’’ Higgins told the Observer. “We’ve handled it internally, talked to both the player and the coach.’’

               Silas said he “can’t really say what happened’’ in a brief phone interview this afternoon. Thomas could not immediately be reached for comment.

               According to the Yahoo story, Silas shoved Thomas toward his locker at the conclusion of a screaming match, following Sunday’s loss. The Yahoo story says players intervened to separate the two.

               Silas, 68, was one of the NBA’s toughest players as a power forward in the 1970s, and this isn’t the first time he’s had a confrontation with a player as a coach. As a Charlotte Hornets assistant in the mid-‘90s he went nose-to-nose with Anthony Mason, a burly and volatile power forward. Some Hornets players who were there have described that as among the boldest things they’ve seen a coach do.

               Thomas has had a disappointing season, and lost his starting job at power forward. He has the longest guarantee on the Bobcats’ salary cap going forward – three additional seasons at about $26 million.

               Silas’s coaching contract expires after this season and Bobcats management has made no statements as to whether Silas will be back next season.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 18, 2012 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

April 14, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats add Jamario Moon

The Charlotte Bobcats are signing small forward Jamario Moon for the rest of the season, filling the roster spot vacated when Boris Diaw was bought out of his contract last month.

Moon, a 6-8 small forward, played four NBA seasons for Toronto, Miami, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Clippers. He spent this season in the Development League, averaging 17.7 points for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

The Bobcats recently lost small forward Corey Maggette for the rest of the season with a strained Achilles tendon. The Bobcats have eight games (six of them at home) remaining on their schedule.

“We needed another athletic wing player with Maggette out,’’ said Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins, adding that the team doesn’t want to wear out Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson and risk injury.

Moon will hopefully be in Charlotte in time to join the team for Sunday’s 6 p.m. home game against the Boston Celtics. He grew up in Alabama and played college ball at Meridian Community

Posted by Observer Sports on April 14, 2012 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

April 12, 2012

Will Corey Maggette be back next season?

            I wonder if Corey Maggette has played his last game as a Charlotte Bobcat.

            Maggette will miss the last 10 games of the season with an injured right Achilles tendon. He leaves as this season’s leading scorer, at 15 points per game. And when you think about all the change likely coming this off-season, I could see Maggette being waived as the Bobcats’ amnesty provision.

            The Bobcats have the option to waive one player and no longer count his salary against their cap or a potential luxury-tax bill. Maggette makes about $10.9 million next season, the last on his contract. So the Bobcats could drop considerably under the cap by using the amnesty clause on Maggette.

            I should think there are four potential candidates should the Bobcats go the amnesty route: Maggette, Gana Diop (nearly $7.4 million next season), Matt Carroll ($3.5 million next season) or Tyrus Thomas (nearly $26 million over the next three seasons). If they’re reluctant to give up on Thomas, then waiving Maggette would produce the most cap space.

            I’d think twice before waiving Maggette, in that he is still a dependable scorer when healthy on a team that is last in the league in scoring. He doesn’t have a good shooting percentage this season (37 percent) but he still has a knack for getting to the foul line. He’s been more productive this season than Thomas, Diop or Carroll.

            This could simply come down to which free agents might be willing to sign here over the summer and how much cap space it would take to get those deals done.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 12, 2012 at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

Charlotte Bobcats' Corey Maggette out for season

Charlotte Bobcats leading scorer Corey Maggette will miss the last 10 games of the season, due to an Achilles tendon injury, coach Paul Silas told the Observer at morning shootaround.

Maggette was not at shootaround and sat out Wednesday’s practice. He has missed 24 games this season with various injuries.

The Bobcats will also be without Tyrus Thomas against the Detroit Pistons tonight, due to a right knee contusion.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 12, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)