- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - It was a little more than two years ago that Paul Silas was fighting for his life. Now he’s about to become permanent coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Happy with the job he’s done as interim coach, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has opened discussions with Silas on a one-year extension that would keep him on the job at least through the 2011-12 season.

“We are in discussions,” general manager Rod Higgins said Tuesday night. “Nothing has been finalized.”

Higgins added the Bobcats are pleased with how Silas inherited a team that went 9-19 under Larry Brown and turned them into playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The Bobcats were 15-12 under Silas and sat 1 1/2 games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday’s game at Chicago.

Yahoo! Sports, citing unidentified sources, first reported the Bobcats’ plans to remove Silas‘ interim tag.

The 67-year-old Silas, LeBron James’ first NBA coach in Cleveland, had been out of basketball for five years and not two years removed from a health scare involving blood clots in his leg when the Bobcats contacted him moments after Jordan fired Brown on Dec. 22.

Silas, a former Charlotte Hornets coach living in a home north of the city, agreed to take the job after not even being able to interview for the Minnesota job in 2009. Silas said he “nearly died twice” during the ordeal and had trouble walking until about a year ago.

“If you had seen me three years ago, you’d have say I’d never recover. I was in serious trouble,” Silas said. “This would have been the only job I would have taken.”

Silas inherited a team in disarray, with guard Stephen Jackson saying “nobody wanted to play no more” and “we needed a change” from the moody Brown. Silas immediately demanded the team play faster on offense, and Charlotte responded.

The Bobcats routed the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, a week after knocking off the Boston Celtics. Silas has been credited with the development of several players, including D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Shaun Livingston.

The affable Silas has helped relax what had been a difficult locker room despite still not being 100 percent. Silas moves slowly and has a special chair with arms on the bench to help him stand and sit.

The 6-foot-7 Silas, a bruising and elite rebounder who won an NBA title in Boston in 1974, first fell ill after a colonoscopy in 2008. He said doctors performed exploratory surgery to determine why he was feeling poorly, which led to blood clots in his lungs.

The clots then moved to the quadriceps muscle in his left leg.

“I would walk down steps and I would just fall down,” Silas said. “It was touch and go.”

Things got worse and Silas was hospitalized on Christmas Eve 2008 and sedated as doctors tried to solve his medical problems.

“I was in intensive care for about six weeks,” Silas said. “I was out. It was scary for my family. I don’t remember anything during that six-week period.”

Eventually blood thinners eliminated the blood clots and Silas slowly got back to his feet after later problems with his liver. After gaining a lot of weight in part due to the medication, he’s lost 50 pounds and feeling better daily. Doctors later determined the cause of his initial illness was being allergic to anesthesia.

Silas said it wasn’t until about a year ago that he felt good enough to coach. Now he’s about to get the reigns of the Bobcats through next season.

“They saved my life,” Silas said. “I didn’t think this would ever come about.”

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