SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY – Hours before the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery, Charlotte Bobcats head coach Paul Silas grabs a beverage, takes a seat in the media hospitality room while his lucky charm, a Bobcats headband given to him from a nine-year old child when he took over as head coach for Charlotte, sits in his coat pocket.
The Bobcats had a 1.7% chance of landing the number one draft spot. Unfortunately, Charlotte did not win the lottery and will select number nine in the NBA Draft. A draft some say is not strong with talent.
But do not tell that to Silas who feels any draft comes with unknowns.
“Who would have thought that Portland would have passed on Kevin Durant and look what he’s doing. It’s an inexact science but I think there are some very, very good talented players. There always is. And it’s just a point of trying to pick the right one. If you can do that, it works. If not, then it’s not going to work.”
Whoever the Bobcats select with the ninth pick, Silas, who was given a one-year extension as head coach after Larry Brown was dismissed in February, will be chomping at the bit to get a full season as the head coach and heading into the draft, he knows what Charlotte will be aiming towards.
“We just take best player available and if you need to make some moves and that kind of thing, you do. I don’t go in for, we need a point guard, so that’s what we are going to pick and there’s a heck of a better power forward. Whoever is the best player, that’s who we’re going to pick.”
Adding the best available player to go along with an already young, talented team has Silas wishing next season was here but even with the opportunity get a full season as the Bobcats head coach, he knows it will take time to get things going in the right direction.
“It’s going to take some time I think. If we just brought the same team back that we had last year I think we’d be better. Mainly because I’m going to have a chance to start with them from the start. Institute what I want to, make changes and that kind of thing. We made a few changes but couldn’t make enough this year. I think our talent will be upgraded. Gerald Henderson, he’s going to be phenomenal. He’s hurt now but he’s going to get better. D.J. Augustin, Kwame Brown, all these guys are going to be a lot better.”
And in Silas’ plan, he looking to a former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs to lead the team on the court and becoming an NBA All-Star.
“I’m looking at Stephen Jackson. I think he can be the catalyst for our whole team. He can be an All-Star and that’s what I’m going to push him to be.”
However, according to Silas, Bobcats free agent Joel Przybilla does not figure into the team’s plans next season.
“Joel is there but he’s a free agent this year and I don’t think we’re going to bring him back.”
As I continued my conversation with Silas, he gave his thoughts on his former player, now head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, Lionel Hollins, and the job Hollins has done in Memphis especially in the playoffs against the West’s number one seeded Spurs.
“I was just happy to see what Memphis did. I love Lionel Hollins. I coached him way, way back and we’ve been close since then. It’s just a matter of players stepping up. I didn’t think that San Antonio had the wherewithal to make it happen. Memphis did. I was very happy for them. Everybody on Memphis’ ball club really stepped up. Very seldom does that happen – an eighth seed beats the one. It did and I was happy it did.”
Even though Charlotte did not win the draft lottery, things are looking up for the Bobcats. They got the ninth pick in the draft, a young squad, and a new head coach.
Should things go well for the Bobcats next season, it will be because of Silas and the winning attitude he brings to his team. And a little luck from a special headband won’t hurt either.