|03-21-2005, 01:49 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Dec 2002
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Updated: Mar. 21, 2005, 1:38 PM ET
Cavs have dropped nine of 12 games
ESPN.com news services
CLEVELAND -- Paul Silas was fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday with his team fighting for a playoff spot after leading its division earlier this year. Long-time NBA assistant Brendan Malone will be the interim coach.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
While Silas has helped James' career soar, the rest of the team has struggled.
Silas told The Associated Press he was informed of the change at a morning meeting with general manager Jim Paxson and new owner Dan Gilbert. Silas' son, assistant Stephen Silas, also was fired.
"They didn't think the team was performing as well as it should be and they wanted to make a change," Paul Silas said.
Malone's first game as the Cavaliers' head coach will be Tuesday night at home against Detroit.
Despite superstar LeBron James, fellow All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a veteran bench, the Cavaliers have struggled since the All-Star break. They have lost nine of 12 and nine straight road games, including Sunday's 105-98 loss to Toronto when James scored a franchise-record 56.
According to league sources, the Cavaliers are interested in Cleveland native Flip Saunders as the possible successor to Silas, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports. Since his firing in Minnesota, Saunders has said he plans to sit out the rest of this season, but his ties to the city and his lengthy experience coaching another star player out of high school -- Kevin Garnett -- have Cleveland's attention.
"We believe in our players, and that progress just wasn't being made," Paxson said at a news conference Monday. "We have 18 games left in this season. We're fifth in the Eastern Conference right now, and we felt that if we didn't make this decision that we were jeopardizing our ability to be a playoff team this year."
The Cavaliers entered the All-Star break at 30-21, then went into a slide, the decline marked by personnel issues.
The trouble may have culminated Sunday when Silas benched starting guard Jeff McInnis and replaced him with Eric Snow. Snow did not score in Cleveland's loss at Toronto and McInnis, despite being dressed and available, didn't play.
Earlier this season, Silas threw Snow off the bench after the two exchanged words during the first quarter at Detroit, a move that stunned the team because of Snow's reputation as a leader.
Last week, Silas was fined $10,000 by the team for a derogatory comment he made about Utah forward Carlos Boozer.
Silas made the remark to reporters a day before Boozer was to return to Cleveland after leaving the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer. Boozer didn't travel with the Jazz because of a foot injury. Silas later apologized.
Silas, 61, joined Cleveland in June 2003 after being fired by the New Orleans Hornets, having led them to the playoffs four straight times.
Malone, in his first season with the Cavaliers, was the first coach of the expansion Toronto Raptors, spending one season with the team. He's been an assistant with New York, Indiana, Seattle and Detroit in 19 years of NBA coaching.
"We felt the change today was necessary. It's going to put us in a better position to win," Gilbert said.
The Cavaliers are the ninth team to make a coaching change since the start of the season, nearly one-third of the league. They join Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New York Knicks, Orlando and Portland.