Bob Leverone, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bobcats coach Paul Silas is hoping one way or another there's still a Silas coaching in Charlotte next season.
Silas' contract expires in July but he's leaning toward coaching one more season if the Bobcats decide to renew his deal. Ultimately he hopes to keep the seat warm for his son Stephen Silas, his assistant coach, to take his job when he retires.
Not that Paul Silas feels his work is done.
His goal is to see this rebuilding project through and get the NBA-worst Bobcats (7-39) to a point where they're set up to be a playoff contender every season.
"I'm at the point now where if I can do this another year or so I would consider it," said Silas, 68. "I want this team to really get to where it's solid, where it's a team that can compete for the postseason. And then if my son could take over after that it would be great."
Bobcats executive Rod Higgins said the elder Silas has done a "very good job" with what he has to work with this season, but that it's still too early to say who'll be coaching the team next year.
"It's not the right time to discuss the matter," said Higgins, Charlotte's president of basketball operations
Higgins said he plans to meet with Silas after the season.
Silas long ago began grooming his son to follow in his footsteps. And this year he's taken another step, allowing Stephen to coach a few regular season games from the sidelines while he took a backseat.
"I think Stephen is a bona fide coach in this league," Higgins said. "He will have his opportunity to coach in this league at some point. I think he will get that chance."
But Higgins stopped short of saying that chance would be with the Bobcats.
"Only time will tell," Higgins said.
Paul Silas may be a tad biased but he insists the Bobcats wouldn't be making a mistake if they hired Stephen to take over.
"He's really, really good and he understands this game," Paul Silas said. "He's been an assistant coach now for 11 years, so he's ready. He really understands the game and his X's and O's are just perfect. But also he has a good rapport with the guys and I think what I've instilled in him and what he has is a positive attitude."
Point guard D.J. Augustin called Stephen Silas "extremely knowledgeable" and said he already has the respect from the players because he works so hard.
Stephen Silas said he aspires to be a head coach, but is not looking beyond his current job.
"I'd love it," he said. "I feel like I'm so much further along this year than I was last year at this time."
But for now, Paul Silas thinks he still wants to coach.
And it's not like the Bobcats are eager to shove him out the door.
Owner Michael Jordan could have easily made Silas the scapegoat for this season and fired him after any of the team's 15 losses by 20 or more points.
But he hasn't.
Ownership and management seem to understand that Paul Silas has been thrust into a very difficult situation with seven of the team's 14 players new to the roster this year.
Higgins points out the Bobcats didn't get much time to work together in training camp because of the lockout, which made it difficult to develop team chemistry. And he also notes the impact injuries to key players like Corey Maggette, Gerald Henderson and Augustin have had on the season.
"You have to realize that Paul is having to play a lot of young kids," Higgins said. "They've tried to compete as best they can. The one thing I can tell you is Paul still has the passion — and I love that part."
Paul Silas has acknowledged it's been "an incredibly frustrating season."
At his age, Silas doesn't have to keep coming back for more. He appears to be financially secure and could walk off into the sunset and enjoy retirement with his wife at any time.
Silas jokingly acknowledged there have been a few days this season when that didn't sound like a bad idea. But deep inside he remains competitive and said he's driven by goal of trying to see this project through.
"I want to see where we go with the draft and see what the plan is for improving this team," Silas said. "I've talked to Mike and Rod and that's what they want to do. They want to improve this ball club. I want this club where it's a solid team and you know you have a chance to make the playoffs every year and you're going forward.
"That's where I want to see this team progress."
Through it all, Paul Silas has remained remarkably positive.
"We couldn't have gotten through this season without his positive attitude," Stephen Silas said.
Stephen Silas says the Bobcats haven't had a bad practice all season and the atmosphere is incredibly positive for a young team that's struggling to find its identity. But there are times when his father is overwhelmed by frustration.
"When we're in our back room once in a while he'll get a little down," Stephen Silas said. "He'll be there looking at the schedule trying to figure out when the next win is going to come. He has his moments. But I think it's great for me to be there and know what kind of buttons to push. I know how to make him laugh and bring him back to looking at the big picture."
Ah yes, the big picture.
That is, after all, what keeps Paul Silas going.
He insists he's seeing improvement from young players like Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens, enough to where he's encouraged to stick with them and help them develop.
And he knows the Bobcats have a decent shot at the top pick in the NBA draft depending on the lottery, which would give them a shot at a player like Kentucky's Anthony Davis.
"You can understand Paul's frustration," said Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "You look just statistically and they're last in points, last in field goal percentage and last in 3-point percentage, so that can make for a difficult year.
"But they're going down a path they elected to go down and that could potentially pay off big for them in the future."
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