Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein takes you around the league for the latest news in "Coast to Coast."
Leave it to George Shinn to make Donald T. Sterling seem warm and cuddly. Shinn's New Orleans Hornets were out of the playoffs for about five minutes when the team announced Sunday that the contracts of Paul Silas and his staff were not being renewed.
Silas wasn't likely to stay in New Orleans, after talks with Shinn on a contract extension broke off before the season, but the quick dismissal is no less a slap for Silas than his paltry (by coaching standards) $1.5 million salary. Given the Hornets' resolve (again) this season in the face of yet another injury crisis, Shinn should have at least reconvened with Silas to explore the possibility of working out a new deal.
All Silas did is keep the Hornets competitive to the end; New Orleans extended Philadelphia to six games despite playing at times without injured stars Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn. That's after Silas had already helped hold this team together through the tragic death of Bobby Phills in January 2000 and last season's lame-duck campaign in Charlotte. With the move to Louisiana looming, and despite losing Mashburn for half the season to a mysterious bout with vertigo, the Hornets played their home games in a near-empty building and still made the second round of the playoffs.
The sudden split, which figures to disappoint and confuse the club's new fan base, will definitely upset many Hornets players, who saw this coming and had begun lobbying Shinn and co-owner Ray Wooldridge to keep Silas. Mashburn recently told ESPN.com that "there are lots of players who are already in the batter's box for Paul. We've voiced our opinion in a lot of different ways."
Shinn, not surprisingly, didn't listen. Mike Fratello, a close Wooldridge associate, has been linked with the job for months, but Davis has openly resisted the idea of a disciplinarian as Silas' replacement. "In this day and age, a coach has to be a manager of people," Mashburn said. "That's the biggest asset you can have as a coach."
Which is one reason why the affable Silas should have no trouble landing a new job. Silas joins Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Dunleavy on the list of established free agents from the coaching ranks.
"I'm probably the most positive person anyone will ever meet," Silas said, explaining why he hasn't been worried about his the future the past few months, undoubtedly knowing -- as Shinn's announcement confirmed -- that a quick dismissal could have been pre-planned no matter what happened in the playoffs.
Lottery comes before coach for Cavs
The Cavaliers are waiting until after the May 22 lottery to accelerate their coaching search, since the job potentially becomes a lot more attractive to prospective candidates if the Cavs land the No 1 pick and the right to draft LeBron James.
When the Cavs do intensify proceedings, don't be surprised if they hire someone closer to Hubie Brown's age than Keith Smart's. Owner Gordon Gund is apparently hooked on the idea of a veteran presence like Brown to run his team, to the point that Gund made a rare road trip to Memphis earlier in the season to do a little Hubie research of his own.
Of course, the Cleveland job could actually be seen as less attractive to some coaches with LeBron in tow, given the circus atmosphere that awaits and the never-seen-before scrutiny James is sure to command. It's going to take a strong, dominant personality just to clean up the existing chaos in the Cavs' locker room (it's not just Ricky Davis) besides nuturing LBJ in his formative stages.
Smart will almost certainly stay with the organization, perhaps in a return to his previous life as a player-personnel man alongside general manager Jim Paxson. If Gund alters his thinking and the Cavs do elect to go younger, Nets assistant Eddie Jordan -- already on Toronto's list -- would be a main target.
The smart move, though, would be placing an immediate call to Silas. Especially if the Cavs land LeBron. Silas would be an ideal guy to break the kid in.
Press gatherings aren't for all dream teens, apparently
So why no glitzy news conference for Darko Milicic, a la LeBron and Carmelo Anthony, to declare his entry into the 2003 NBA Draft?
"He is adamant that his interaction (with the media) is reflective of his personal style -- low-key," said Marc Cornstein, Darko's New York-based agent. "His philosophy is that he wants to prove himself in the NBA and then talk."
Sounds good to us.
The retiring Bach on the retiring MJ
If you're wondering how the retired Michael Jordan is handling his status as a spectator in these playoffs, watching all sorts of guys score in the 40s while he awaits a meeting with Wizards owner Abe Pollin to resolve his front-office future, retiring Wiz assistant coach Johnny Bach recently offered a decent guess.
"I don't think he's satisfied, no," Bach said. "He still has that ambition. He still has that hunger. And I think he always wondered what could he do in the playoffs if he could just get there? Just get us in, what could he do? Could he take himself to another level one last time?
"But (the suggestion that he tarnished his legacy) doesn't bother him. He doesn't think he's lost any of his luster. The great ones ... they never think they lost it. It isn't arrogance, it's confidence. That man ... he will have a swagger to his walk no matter how old he is."
The latest scenario in circulation suggests Jordan moving to Charlotte to run the expansion franchise with owner Robert Johnson and with MJ said to be pushing Wizards assistant Larry Drew as the club's first coach. ... Toronto's ability to land Van Gundy or Silas will apparently be hindered by financial constraints. The Raptors' search to date has focused on top assistant coaches with other teams, since hiring from that tier would be less of a financial pinch for a franchise that still owes Lenny Wilkens an estimated $5 million next season. ... Look for longtime Blazers center Chris Dudley, not on the active roster for the playoffs, to eventually move into the Portland front office.