One day after Larry Brown resigned as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, Paul Silas took over his dream job as the interim head coach and displayed the optimism that his predecessor lacked.
That energy could be felt in the Bobcats practice that had several highlights that include a 14 second shoot clock for the new up-tempo style. The energy was so good in practice that the session ended with point guard D.J. Augustin passing the ball off the backboard for a Matt Carroll dunk.
The dunk brought smiles to the faces of everyone on the court and the media even thought it was funny. That positive attitude has been missing for weeks, and it has showed in a four-game losing streak.
For the past several weeks Brown has criticized his former players for not playing hard, refusing to share the ball, inability to get loose balls and rebounds. Brown, 70, even accused his players of not being able to run plays that he ran as a player at North Carolina. He has even been critical of the move to let former-starting point guard Raymond Felton go. Brown went as far as saying “he died” when Felton signed a three-year deal with the New York Knicks.
But Silas, 67, was a breath of fresh for the struggling Bobcats, who have lost three of their last six games by more than 30 points. Silas believes Charlotte can win now, but he warns it will take time and there will be some rough moments.
When Silas addressed the media it was with a smile and said Charlotte can do something special. More important, he said he believes in this team and wants to present a product the fans can be proud of.
“I’m really excited,” Silas said about Jordan and the rest of Bobcats management approaching him about the job. “Rod (Higgins) and I talked, and I told him ‘this is really the only job I would have accepted.’ If another job had come about I would have not taken it. I’m from Charlotte. This is my home, and I want to see this thing successful. I’m really overwhelmed, Michael (Jordan) and Rod to reach(ed) out to me, and I just think it is something that is going to be very special.”
To make Charlotte special, Silas said the right attitude is vital. He said the team has to believe it its abilities and have confidence. Silas, who coached the Hornets before they moved to New Orleans, does not want Augustin and Shaun Livingston walking the ball up the court. Unlike Brown, Silas’ goal is to have an up-tempo style of basketball, so the fans can see the players at their best.
At the news conference, Silas said there will be mistakes like turnovers. But he maintained that is something that comes with being aggressive and playing a faster game. And it will take time to input the new system without having gone throw a training camp, he added.
Leading scorer Stephen Jackson welcomed the chance. Thus, he was thankful for what Brown had done for his career and said the team will miss its former coach. Jackson said the players are to blame for their poor performance just as much as Brown.
“At the end of the day, we knew everything coach Brown did was to make us better and tried to teach us, and everybody on the team knew that,” Jackson said. “Just for that he has respect from everybody and he will definitely be missed, but I think everybody just wants to win.”
Jackson said winning will cure all of the Bobcats problems. He said if the Bobcats were winning Brown would still be coaching the team.
However, Jackson did say the coaching change has rejuvenated the Bobcats. And he enjoyed running a practice with a 14-second shot clock. He said it was like playing days in Golden State. He said “there were a lot of things going on,” but the players appreciate having a second chance to right a season gone wrong.
Jackson said the styles between Brown and Silas are like night and day. He said the new style will help the younger players by allowing them to get out and run. Jackson said the faster style will enable the younger players such as Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson to use their athleticism to finish at the basket.
“They will get to get out and do the stuff they can do and not have to worry about looking over their shoulders,” Jackson said. “I think it is good from that aspect. Me, personally, I play my style anyway. But having a coach behind you to play up tempo it definitely makes it to where guys can be more confident. That is one thing about coach Silas is he has always been good about giving guys confidence.”
Jackson gave thumbs up to the new assistant coach Charles Oakley, who is the only coach on Silas’ staff. The remaining spots of the staff will be filled before the weekend, Silas said.
Moreover, Jackson has dined with Oakley often at his restaurant in Miami. He described Oakley as an uncle and said his toughness will be good for the team. In addition, Jackson believes that everyone has to get back to playing well and the coaching change alone won’t make the Bobcats better.
Silas said he is glad to have Oakley on his staff. He said Oakley is tough minded and knows the game. Silas also talked to the players about what they feel their strengthens and weakness are. He said he needs just a couple more days then he will know what’s on his roster.
For Silas, it is still the same because he was quick to let everyone know during and after his new conference that he is in the “business of winning.” And if he were not getting the results necessary to get a victory a player will sit next to him on the bench. More than 20 years as a coach and 16 years as a player winning games, Silas wants to succeed because that is what he is used to doing. So, it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t coached since 2004-05 season because it is in his blood.
With years of NBA experience under his belt and some good players on the roster, Silas believes the team can make a run at the playoffs. He notes the Bobcats are only 2 ½ games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The new coach praised Jackson, Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw for knowing how to play the game. He said Livingston is a smart player.
“We got shooters. We got defenders. We got shot blockers,” Silas said. “We got all the ingredients you need. The guys just have to get out and play and believe in themselves. We have 3-point shooters. You look at Matt. You look at D.J. All these guys and if you are open you shoot the basketball.
“And that is the one thing I think I can bring to this ball club is that if you are open shoot the basketball with confidence. I found out if you have a confident player it is unbelievable what he can do. That is our major goal, to make these players play at the highest level they can.”
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