Paul Silas Rumors

Mason did it his way. He frequently sent ballboys or locker-room attendants for a couple pregame hot dogs, a habit which didn’t endear him to Knicks nutritionists. One game, the ballboy was intercepted. The hot dogs were removed from the buns and replaced with bananas. Mason was not amused. But his anger would fade far quicker than the bruises he inflicted on opponents. And he wasn’t just a brute. Silas turned him into a point forward in Charlotte, a far more demanding role, and Mason handled it perfectly.
The players mostly are forgotten now, but in the summer of 1991, the Knicks brought a group of hopefuls to the Catskills to play against an equally non-descript team of Philadelphia 76ers wannabes. One guy stood out: this hulking 6-foot-7 bruiser, Anthony Mason, who tossed the Sixers around like rag dolls. “Mase was tough. He didn’t give up anything. He wanted to play. Even then, players weren’t nearly as tough as he was,” said Paul Silas, a three-time champ as a player who was a Knicks assistant and later Mason’s head coach in Charlotte.
Silas once left for China on a National Basketball Players Association exhibition tour. When he returned, he found that all of his belongings from his office had been moved into a hallway. His office had been given to Patricia Simmons, a former model and Sterling companion whom the boss had hired as an assistant general manager. “That was a trip, man,” Silas said. “She knew nothing about basketball. Then the newspaper guys started writing about her, so she started calling me into her office, trying to get me to explain what offense was, how does shooting go and dribbling and all that. I just said, ‘I can’t talk about this. I can tell you, but you’re just not going to know.’”
Silas coached the Hornets until 2003, piloting the franchise through its move to New Orleans. He was fired after leading the team to a strong 47-35 record, but then falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. Silas laughed when he recalled how he found out about the firing. Reporters had arrived at his door to ask about it, and Silas simply walked next door to team owner George Shinn’s house. “You don’t want to kick my ass, do you?” Shinn asked, according to Silas. “I grabbed him and said, ‘George, you gave me nothing but a great career. I love you man.’ We became buddies after that, but he thought we were going to go at it.”
One practice, Silas noticed James’s mood seemed down. It was routine for Silas’s Cavs to shoot 100 free throws before every practice, and James was refusing to shoot. Silas called the star rookie to his office. From his days with the Celtics and Sonics, Silas knew that respect among players had to be earned. If James was to become a leader on this team, he needed to prove it. The older players wouldn’t follow him just because of his talent. “You’ve got to change,” Silas told him. “What they’re saying means nothing to you. You’re going to be one of the best players ever.” “He changed,” Silas said, noting how James embraced his leadership role on the team. “He changed his attitude and then we got a chance to trade Ricky [Davis] and those guys.”
From 1993-94 until now, who are five coaches you have most enjoyed interacting with? Marc Stein: I’m incredibly blessed at ESPN, where I’ve had the chance to work closely with a bunch of great ones. Trying, again, to do this off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Hubie Brown, Rick Carlisle, Avery Johnson, Doug Collins, Mark Jackson, P.J. Carlesimo, Paul Silas, Jeff Van Gundy, George Karl and, of course, Dr. Jack Ramsay, who sadly passed away recently.
Thomas was an odd bird, no doubt. He seemed flighty and Silas became so exasperated with him that they had a brush-up at the end of Silas’ final season as head coach. (That did Paul no favors, by the way, in his case to get an extension to continue coaching the Bobcats). Things went south between Thomas and Dunlap, and I’m sure Thomas contributed to that breakdown. But still: I’m inclined to think players get too much slack and coaches get too much blame, but I have to say Thomas was treated poorly. Remember when they told him he wasn’t welcome to travel with the team on a West Coast trip? That was just demoralizing. And mean.
Silas wouldn’t give any names. But he said that not long after James showed up in Cleveland, there were teammates who were critical of James when the 18-year-old could hear them. “We had a few guys that would test him,” Silas said. “They would say, ‘What has he done to warrant all this hype?’ They would say it where he could hear them. There were some problems. “LeBron got down a few times about it. Sometimes he would just be sitting there and not get up right away for shooting (during a practice). I’d come over and tell him, ‘You have to just forget about that. You can’t worry about that. You’re a professional.’ But (the comments from his teammates) all went away when he started putting up numbers.”
Silas, a three-time NBA champion and two-time All-Star, was James’ first coach with the Cavaliers. He was brought in because then Cleveland general manager Jim Paxson wanted a veteran coach with an impressive resume to help nurture James, who entered the NBA as the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft after having led nearby St. Vincent-St. Mary High to three state titles. “I thought he would be as good as he is, no question about it,” said Silas, 69, who does consulting work for Charlotte after concluding his coaching career last season with the Bobcats. “You could see the talent and the athleticism he had. I thought he would be the type of player he is now, winning MVPs and being one of the best ever.”
The Bobcats have reportedly already interviewed Jerry Sloan, Patrick Ewing, Nate McMillan, Dave Joerger, Mike Malone, Nate Tibbetts, Mike Dunlap and Stephen Silas — son of departed coach Paul Silas. The Bobcats decided not to renew Paul Silas’ contract after the team finished 7-59 this season for the worst winning percentage in league history (.106).
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Stan Van Gundy said assistant coach Patrick Ewing is ready to become an NBA head coach. The Charlotte Bobcats are expected to interview Ewing for their vacant position created by the firing of Paul Silas. “I think he would really focus on the details of execution and hold guys to a high standard of that,” Van Gundy said. “Look, I think the guy will be a great head coach. I can’t believe it’s taken this long. I don’t know what the problem is in terms of people’s perception. There’s so many other ex- players who can get a shot. He’s ready, and I hope this offseason will be his time.”
Of the two unemployed Team USA assistants, Nate McMillan and Mike D’Antoni, McMillan certainly makes the most sense. I see D’Antoni as a better fit in Washington, where he’d have the point guard he needs to run his system (John Wall) and a legit pick-and-roll big man in Nene — plus a young, athletic roster. The brief working relationship that Charlotte executive Rich Cho and McMillan had in Portland shouldn’t be discounted. But let’s face it: The Bobcats job is not very attractive, depending on how the draft lottery works out. Short of landing No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, it’s hard to envision the Bobcats being able to attract a proven winner to a franchise that has taken rebuilding to new depths.
“I would like to personally thank Paul for everything he has done for this team under some pretty unique circumstances,” Rod Higgins, Bobcats president of basketball operations, said in a statement. “His basketball experience as a coach and a player speak for themselves. We have been fortunate to have someone of his character associated with this franchise and we hope he will continue to be a valuable resource to us in the future.”
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.
When asked pre-game Wednesday if he and Thomas are now on the same page, Silas said, “We always were.” Silas declined to answer any other questions concerning what happened between him and Thomas. According to the Yahoo story, Silas shoved Thomas toward his locker at the conclusion of a screaming match after Sunday’s loss. The Yahoo story says players intervened to separate the two.
“Silas hates losing to the Celtics, and Paul was even angrier that he thought [Thomas] was acting buddy-buddy with some of their guys,” one source said. “That’s what got it going. But Paul was yelling at him over his salary, over what they have left to pay him. But it started with him saying, hey, he could live with the losing, but you’re going to be buddy-buddy as they’re beating your ass too?”