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Friday, May 9
 
Silas' efforts to reach Shinn grew comical

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Paul Silas was ringing the doorbell of the man who had just fired him, and nobody was coming to the door at George Shinn's house.

Silas kept ringing, and someone inside disconnected the chime.

So Silas knocked and knocked and knocked until Shinn's son finally answered, telling Silas that his father was in the shower.

"I said, 'Well tell him to get on down here,''' Silas recalled.

The co-owner of the New Orleans Hornets and the ex-coach eventually had a talk, which Silas said was amiable in the end.

Silas managed to chuckle as he told his knock-knock tale, a story that has exacerbated the negative fallout from the Hornets' firing of the popular coach.

Hornets owners Shinn and Ray Wooldridge, reviled in the Carolinas before they moved the team from Charlotte last summer, barely made it through one season in New Orleans before their latest public relations debacle.

Shinn, the majority owner and Silas' next-door neighbor, ordered Wooldridge to deliver the news of his firing in a short phone call to Silas -- which prompted Silas to make the short walk to Shinn's house for further explanation.

A week later, Shinn, Wooldridge and general manager Bob Bass haven't explained precisely why Silas was fired or discussed which candidates they are considering to replace him. They've confirmed only an interview with Tim Floyd, who lives in New Orleans and had three-plus losing seasons with the Chicago Bulls.

Silas took the Hornets to the playoffs the past four seasons, twice getting to the second round. Known as a coach who can motivate and win respect from NBA players, he was widely praised for keeping the team successful through the death of Bobby Phills in 2000, the illness that kept Jamal Mashburn out of the 2002 playoffs, and injuries to Davis throughout the 2002-03 season.

When Philadelphia eliminated the Hornets in the first round of the playoffs, local fans were not terribly critical -- in large part because the Hornets' two best players were playing hurt -- Mashburn with a bone chip in the middle finger of his shooting hand; Davis with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Team officials have implied the decision to fire Silas had nothing to do with money. Silas' $1.5 million salary was about half the average for coaches. The Hornets offered him $2 million before contract talks broke off last summer.




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