- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Washington Wizards are considering firing coach Doug Collins before the June26 NBA Draft, a move prompted by the short list of quality replacements available.

“They’ve got a lot of decisions to make, and they don’t have a lot of time to make them in,” a source with knowledge of the situation said. “It’s almost a certainty they will fire Doug because the new guy is going to want to put his people in place. That, and they don’t have a lot of time left to get their house in order.”

Paul Silas, recently fired by the New Orleans Hornets, is believed to be the available coach the Wizards covet the most.

A league source said yesterday “it’s not beyond the realm of possibility” that the Wizards might hire Silas as both the coach and general manager, giving him the type of autonomy enjoyed by the Philadelphia 76ers’ Larry Brown, the Miami Heat’s Pat Riley and the Milwaukee Bucks’ George Karl.

Last week Wizards owner Abe Pollin declined to rehire Michael Jordan as president of basketball operations.

Wes Unseld, the team’s general manager the past seven seasons, announced two weeks ago he would take a leave of absence after the draft and said Sunday he would not resume his duties as general manager when he returns.

The Wizards’ efforts to stabilize the front office are being headed by Pollin and Washington Sports and Entertainment president Susan O’Malley.

Awarding Silas both jobs would be a step in that direction. However, it is not known whether the Wizards are willing to pay the money required for such a hire.

Just as important, Silas has been targeted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the top choice to run that struggling franchise. The Cavaliers will meet with him soon, and they are also expected to talk to former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Collins has about $10million remaining on the final two years of his contract. If the Wizards leave him in place until after the draft and Jordan’s position remains unfilled, the top candidates all could be hired elsewhere.

At the moment, the Hornets and Cavaliers are the only teams with coaching vacancies.

Meanwhile, two New York papers, citing unnamed sources, reported St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis had been contacted to gauge his interest in the Wizards’ coaching job. His contract with the Red Storm expires in June.

Efforts to reach Jarvis, the one-time coach at George Washington, were unsuccessful.

Jarvis was the first coach Jordan attempted to hire in his one-year stint as president of basketball operations. However, Jarvis felt the Wizards low-balled him with an offer of a three-year contract worth a little more than $5million and ended negotiations.

The Wizards settled instead on Leonard Hamilton, then the coach at the University of Miami.

One major strike against Jarvis is that he has never coached in the NBA. After Hamilton led the Wizards to a 19-63 record, the Wizards are leery of hiring a coach from the college ranks.

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