At least when Don Nelson’s coaching days in Dallas ended a few days ago his son (Donnie) got to remain a Maverick, which is more than can be said for Paul Silas, whose son (Stephen) was dusted along with him yesterday by the Cavaliers.
Ironically, Silas’ replacement is Brendan Malone. Last season his son (Michael) was retained on the bench when security callously escorted Brendan and Don Chaney out of Madison Square Garden during the Knicks’ annual rite of coaching passage.
But enough about the NBA’s widespread nepotism; Phil Jackson now has two additional teams to enhance his already heightened leverage to become the wealthiest spiritual bench leader in league history. Big Chief Triangle can’t help but be attracted to their superstars, not to mention their sufficient supply of supporting actors.
The Knicks, Blazers, Magic and Timberwolves have their share of tempting bait and tackle, as do the Nets; if you’re owner Bruce Ratner and you’ve already got Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Marv Albert locked up long term, surely you have to make a strong pitch for Jackson, even at the risk of hurting the feelings of Ian Eagle, er, Lawrence Frank.
Still, the Mavericks and Cavaliers flaunt Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James. Though Dallas lacks a key ingredient or two and Cleveland hasn’t nearly gone through the necessary aging process, both give off that special championship-flavored aroma.
While I doubt Maverick owner Mark Cuban went to the trouble of placing Avery Johnson in position to succeed as Nelson’s interim and now permanent replacement, only to push him aside for Jackson, he’d certainly have to consider the proposition if it presented itself. As for coaching LeBron, Jackson can’t help but see Michael Jordan four or five years before he matured into His Airness.
Silas unmistakably went out of his way to get himself fired by sitting a starter down. The Cavs’ coach had a lot going against him in the last couple weeks and seemingly lost his passion; the losing of nine games in the last dozen, the fall from grace in the Central Division to No. 5 in the East, the nine successive road lack of successes; having to answer questions regarding strategy and substitutions to new owner Dan Gilbert, making him feel like he was back in New Orleans waging war against then minority owner Ray Woolridge; and conflict with several players, especially Jeff McInnis and Drew Gooden regarding their defensive defects.
Gooden was recently demoted but fought his way back into the lineup. For the most part, rather than confront McInnis, by all accounts, a tough customer to deal with, a guy who yells at everyone, Silas left him alone.
There came a time, of course, when there was no getting away from disciplining McInnis, a rising free agent whose stock was high the first 30 games of the season. Rather than sit him down last Sunday in favor of Eric Snow, say sources, Silas wanted to cut him; he felt his point guard would be too much a problem and wouldn’t accept the new role.
When Gilbert and GM Jim Paxson refused to endorse such an extreme measure, preferring to wait to see if McInnis became a complete jerk sharing minutes, Silas decided not to play him a single second. Almost overnight he’d gone from integral to insignificant.