Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blogged down

"Gee, Brian, anything much happen since your last post on Carlos? If you're not going to keep this up, why don't you just pull the plug on it? Your frequency online is pathetic! Since your last post, we've seen LBJ set league and team records, the chances for the playoffs diminish due to poor play, and (oh yeah) a coaching change! None of this seemed worth noting in your blog? I've enjoyed what you've written so far, but I'm just not sure it's worth my time to even check your site if you're not going to be more active." -Don Bianco, Columbus

Ouch! But Don's right. It's been a busy road for me. Here's how wacko I've been: I'm in Houston for the start of a three-game road trip across the South and I didn't pack a short-sleeve shirt or a pair of shorts. Just totally, freakin' forgot. I'm not right in the head these days. I'm off to the mall before shootaround this morning.

So, I'm sure your waiting to hear what I think about this whole Silas thing. First, let me relate my circumstances. I took a few days off last weekend to visit some family in Florida. I ended up racing across Alligator Alley listening to the press conference on satetille radio and making 34 calls on my cell phone and getting 22 on the day Silas was fired. Between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, I did no less than eight radio shows and led our coverage from 1,000 miles away. I flew back just in time for Tuesday night's game, Wednesday morning's practice and just made my Wednesday afternoon flight to Houston (after absent-mindedly packing). At least I got in on time, due to weather problems, fellow beat writers Branson Wright and Bob Finnan took the later Houston flight, which was delayed no less than six hours. My computer tells me they arrived at the airport at 4 a.m. this morning. Guess I won't be calling them to join me for breakfast.

So...sorry about the Blog, but I'm hoping for some understanding.

OK, basicly, here's how it went down.

From the first day that Paul Silas met Dan Gilbert, he was a little skeptical to say the least. He grumbled that they met with him for an entire hour. Here's what you have to understand about Paul, he does things his own way. He doesn't like listening to anyone, especially his bosses and even his own assistants. When he was in New Orleans, he hated the new owner there. When I called him on a December night while we were in San Antonio and told him Gordon Gund was selling the team -- No, he didn't know, I broke the news -- he wasn't happy and he didn't even know the new man's name. He probably knew then that his days were limited.

Now, before I go on, Gilbert and his right-hand man, David Katzman, have every right to do whatever they want and make whatever suggestions and comments to their employees. They paid the $375 million, they're the bosses. I certainly respect that, but, then again, they don't get to tell me what to do.

But Silas didn't like it. When Gilbert took over he was very active in making suggestions to Silas. This to a man that hated just having to take one call a week from Gund. I know Gilbert denies instructing Silas to play Anderson Varejao when he became healthy. I'm not saying he's lying, but I know for a fact it was made clear to Silas.

Gilbert and Katzman were upset at the way the team was playing and, after just three games as owners, were all set to fire Silas after the team got blown out by Seattle and Miami and lost at Philly. But they held off after the team went on a three-game winning streak, but didn't take off any pressure.

So, last Friday, on the morning before the Cavs lost to the Sixers at home, Paul and I spoke at length following the morning shootaround. He told me that he didn't want to come back at the end of the season, that he wanted bought out of his contract. He told me an owner and a coach getting together is like a marriage, when you get together it can be great, but if you are betrothed (like he was with Gilbert), it doesn't work out. He wanted a divorce. He said he hate to leave LeBron, that would be the worst part, but that he didn't want to go through again what happened to him in Charlotte.

He told me these things because he wanted me to write it, though I couldn't quote him. I thought long and hard about doing it, even talking with Terry Pluto about it. Paul gets very down after losses and he was in a bad streak. His team was still in fourth in the playoff standings and I flat-out didn't want to write something that would prove to be totally wrong in a week or so. You lose credibility that way. I once thought I had a huge story when I wrote that Jeff Van Gundy was going to be hired by the Cavs. Well, he really almost was, but in the end, I turned out to be wrong. But Paul knew that if that got out there, he may get fired, which is what I think he wanted. But, even though I have some regret about it because maybe had a written it the fans wouldn't be so shocked, I just didn't.

But, frankly, he was coaching like it anyway. He wasn't as active in practices or games. His decision not to play McInnis AT ALL, really pissed off the players and made the owners wonder what his motive was. When you don't have the players or the bosses on your side, you're in trouble. So they fired him. It took guts and it was probably the right decision.

All-in-all, I think Paul did what he came here to do. The Cavs needed a transitional coach to bring order to the franchise and Paul did that. To get him, the Cavs had to sign him to a four-year, $16 million deal. It is unfortunate that he didn't coach them in the playoffs and last another year, which would've been the for the best.

No, the team is not in disarray. No, they don't need to start over. Yes, they next a coach and a key player or three to take them to the next level. Silas and LeBron raised the team up, now on to the next.

More to come, I'm off to Target.

Brian