December 22, 2010
When Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Paul Silas had been selected as Charlotte's interim head coach, it seemed like a good idea. For 2004, the first year of existence for the Charlotte Bobcats.
But 2011 starts in a week and a half, and while I don't like bordering on being cruel, there just isn't a lot of precedent for former NBA coaches to leave the view of the pro game for nearly six years -- Silas was let go as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005 -- and come back as head man. Especially for someone Silas' age (he turned 67 last July).
Of course, the only one similar hiring along these lines came when Memphis hired the-then 69-year-old Hubie Brown in 2002 after 17 years away from the sidelines. Brown went on to win the coach of the year award two years later, and presided over a Grizzlies playoff appearance before retiring in 2004. Then again, Hubie had been an NBA fixture since his 1985 firing from the Knicks, calling several games a week for the USA Network, TBS, TNT and CBS.
Silas has just sort of disappeared from NBA view, something he has rightly earned. The three-time NBA champion had coached 755 games as a head coach and nearly three times as many as an assistant. He interviewed for the Bobcats position four years ago (the job eventually went to Sam Vincent), and had been bandied about as a replacement for Brown last spring. And while I understand that it's nearly impossible to get an assistant coach to willingly leave his team to take over on an interim basis, and that the Bobcats had to go for someone who was out of an NBA job, is this the guy you want?
Apologies for what may smack of ageism, but while age isn't a legitimate concern with Silas, his role in the modern game is. I would have no issue with the hiring of Silas on an interim basis (on the contrary, I might argue on his behalf for the full-time gig) if he was still involved with the league as a broadcaster, executive or assistant coach. But he's been out of the game for five years, and unless this guy is some voracious League Pass and/or Synergy Sports watcher, I am unaware.
Silas shares an advantage with Hubie Brown in one regard, though I don't really know how much of the advantage Silas will actually be allowed (or would want to) call upon.
Not only was Brown a full-time broadcaster (though his duties were lessened by Turner as the 2002-03 season started, to my great dismay), he also received innumerable updates as he flew around the country on the day-to-day evolution of the NBA game from his son, who was a scout for the Memphis Grizzlies (years before Hubie was hired) and the New Jersey Nets.
Silas' son Stephen Silas was an assistant under his father with both the Charlotte and New Orleans Hornets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. When the Cavs let Paul go, Stephen hooked on as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, where he's been since the 2005 season. So while Stephen may only get to see two teams a night (as opposed to a scout, working with a video coordinator), that is a pretty significant pipeline. Stephen knows his stuff.
But how much is the father allowed to, literally, call on his son for help in re-acclimating him to the pro game? Unless he hires him away from the Warriors for an assistant's position in Charlotte that might not be there next October -- unless the Bobcats groom the younger Silas to take over for good next year, which would be a pretty shrewd move -- can an assistant for one team really give away trade secrets to the head coach for another team?
And beyond that, what does it matter?
I don't want to tell you that Larry Brown had these Bobcats maxing everything out, not when Tyrus Thomas(notes) was playing 20 minutes a game with Boris Diaw(notes) playing 35 a night. But they weren't far off, and even with the time off (Charlotte doesn't play again until Monday, and that five-day respite is an eternity by NBA standards) this is still quite the undertaking for Silas. No matter his age, no matter his history, and no matter the wealth of knowledge that he brings to the Charlotte sideline.
It's good to see a good man get a gig, although it is a little unfortunate that this -- an interim placement with a terrible team with little hope for a turnaround, one that might set about to rebuilding soon and making itself much worse -- isn't really a good job.
All signs point to this getting a lot worse before it gets any better, and that's even assuming Michael Jordan the Executive can make an NBA team any better.
All we really know is that Paul Silas must really, really want to coach again.