CLEVELAND -- Paul Silas was hired to mentor the NBA's next superstar. While he succeeded with LeBron James, his failure with the rest of the team cost him his job.
Silas was fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday, his team fighting for a playoff spot after leading its division earlier this year. Longtime NBA assistant Brendan Malone was appointed interim coach.
The dismissal came with 18 games left and the team clinging to the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. James seems to have been the only player who saw the move coming.
"You could kind of tell the way the air was, how things were going around here, there was going to have to be a change," said James, who scored a franchise-record 56 points Sunday. "I didn't know it was going to be this soon."
Silas said he was informed at a morning meeting with general manager Jim Paxson and new owner Dan Gilbert. Silas's 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.
Despite James and fellow All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers have slumped since the All-Star break. They have lost nine of 12 and nine straight road games.
"We felt that if we didn't make this decision that we were jeopardizing our ability to be a playoff team this year," Paxson said.