CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 3 (AP)-- The Charlotte Bobcats are being thorough in their search for a new coach, conducting at least five interviews already with more on the way. And they're willing to wait while other candidates coach their teams in the playoffs.

General manager Bernie Bickerstaff confirmed Thursday that the Bobcats have interviewed former Hornets and Cavaliers coach Paul Silas, former NBA player and assistant coach Mario Elie, longtime Grizzlies assistant Lionel Hollins, former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy and New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus.

"We've had some interviews and they've gone well,'' Bickerstaff said. "We won't make any public comments until we really complete the process. We have not done that as of yet.''

The Bobcats are looking to replace Bickerstaff, who has served as the expansion team's coach and GM since its inception three years ago. Bickerstaff is staying in a front-office role, conducting the search with part-owner Michael Jordan, who has the final say on all basketball decisions.

Bickerstaff declined to identify any other candidates, but said no more interviews are scheduled this week.

"Obviously there are some people that you may want to interview that are still playing in the playoffs. There are coaches that you want to talk to,'' Bickerstaff said.

That may include Toronto's Sam Mitchell. The NBA coach of the year is a close friend of Bickerstaff and was hired as the Bobcats' first assistant in 2004 before the Raptors hired him a month later. Mitchell is in the final year of his contract, although Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo has said he wants to sign him to a new deal.

The candidates interviewed so far have wide-ranging credentials.

Silas has 10 years of NBA head-coaching experience with the Clippers, Cavaliers and Hornets. He was popular in Charlotte while coaching the Hornets before they moved to New Orleans in 2002.

Van Gundy hasn't coached since he resigned in Miami to make way for Pat Riley in December 2005.

Elie played 11 years in the NBA with six teams and helped lead the Rockets to consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and '95. He has served as an assistant coach with San Antonio and Golden State.

Hollins joined the Grizzlies as an assistant in their inaugural season in 1995-96 and served two stints as interim head coach.

Theus, a former NBA All-Star, has never coached in the league and has only been with New Mexico State for two seasons. But the Aggies were 25-9 this season and made their first NCAA tournament in eight years.

"He's done a hell of a job for us and I'm hoping that he will continue to do a great job for us,'' New Mexico State athletic director McKinley Boston said. "But his long term career goal may be more suited for an NBA job than a college job.''

The Bobcats, coming off a 33-49 season, are in no rush to hire a coach but would like one in place before they begin working out draft prospects in early June.

It's also unclear whether Bickerstaff will remain GM or take another role in the front office.

"We haven't even gotten into that,'' Bickerstaff said. "We're trying to find a coach and get ready for the draft.''

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