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Bobcats part ways with Silas, begin search for new coach

Posted Apr 30 2012 3:08PM - Updated May 1 2012 6:36AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The worst team in NBA history will have a new coach next season.

The Charlotte Bobcats have decided not to renew coach Paul Silas' contract after the team finished 7-59 this season for the worst winning percentage in league history (.106).

"We have been talking internally about what is best for us going forward," Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said at a news conference Monday. "The record kind of speaks for itself. When you look at the youthfulness of this roster ... we just all felt collectively that the change was something we wanted to do at this time."

The 68-year-old Silas, who told The Associated Press late in the season he wanted to "see things through" and coach one more year, said Monday he found out earlier in the day he would not be brought back.

Silas said he was not surprised by the decision.

"I'm ok with that," he said. "I have had a very successful career coaching and playing and it's time to move on."

Silas said he was promised a job in the organization by team owner Michael Jordan and said he's retiring from coaching.

It's unclear who'll replace Silas, who leaves with a 32-88 record at Charlotte. Higgins said a search for his replacement will begin immediately.

"We do not have a timetable. We will start as soon as this presser is over," he said. "I just don't want to say there is a time frame. We plan on interviewing quite a few people. We want to find the right guy."

Higgins said Silas' son, Stephen Silas - who served as an assistant under his father and led the team in several games - will be interviewed for the job, but added finding someone with heading coaching experience "is important."

"We want someone who wants to win," Higgins said. "That's the main quality. We will have quite a few candidates. I would say there are quite a few people who come into mind."

Finding someone who might be interested in taking over the last-place Bobcats might not be easy. They're light on talent and experience and it could be a long way from competing for a playoff spot.

Bobcats general manager Rich Cho is aware this job might not be for everyone.

"Those are the type of coaches we don't want to bring in," Cho said. "I want somebody that will relish the opportunity and look at it as a challenge. It's really easy to go to a winning team and take that opportunity. But I want somebody in here that's going to look at this as a great opportunity and a challenge and a chance to build something from the ground up."

Silas was in a difficult situation heading into the season with a young and inexperienced team, plus a shortened offseason that limited practice time. Injuries to top players like Corey Maggette, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson did not help.

"I respect Paul to the utmost," Higgins said. "He wanted to be successful but it was an unfortunate thing that it didn't happen."

Late in the season, Silas was involved in an altercation with forward Tyrus Thomas, shoving him in the locker room following a loss. The two had gotten into an argument and had to be separated.

But Higgins said that didn't factor into the decision to part ways with Silas.

Players tried to rally to his defense after the season to save his job, but to no avail.

"I think Paul did the best he could with the guys he had on the floor," Maggette said Friday. "We went through a year where night after night guys were going down with injuries and you're shooting under 30 percent from the field. You just can't win any games that way. That's tough. So hopefully they give him an opportunity to show what type of a coach he is and what he can bring to the table here."

But in the end it was hard for the Bobcats to justify keeping him.

They were last in the league in scoring and shooting percentage and lost 22 games by 20 or more points.

Silas said he's unsure what role he'll have with the Bobcats moving forward, but hopes to have some input on personnel decisions.

The Bobcats are guaranteed one of the top four picks in the NBA draft and could have the No. 1 pick overall and a shot at Kentucky's Anthony Davis. They're also expected to be extremely aggressive in free agency, trying to build with some young talent.

"I really know this team and I think I understand this team better than anyone because I've had them for a whole year," Silas said. "So I hope I can be a part of making some decisions as to who we bring in here... All I want to do is see this team be successful. The people in Charlotte deserve it."

Silas entered the season with a career coaching mark of 380-429 and a 13-16 mark in the playoffs in 11 seasons as an NBA coach. He previously coached the San Diego Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

As for Silas' assistant coaches, their contracts expire on June 30. No decision has been made as to their future.

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