Paul Silas will be the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after reaching agreement with the team on a long-term contract, The Associated Press learned Sunday.
The deal was being finalized Sunday, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Silas beat out former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who had several discussions with Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund and general manager Jim Paxson about the possibility of becoming LeBron James' first pro coach.
The Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and have said they will select James, the 18-year-old high school phenom from Akron.
"They decided, and they got a great guy. I'm fine with it," Van Gundy said.
Silas was let go by the New Orleans Hornets at the conclusion of the regular season following his fifth season with the team. He was a candidate for several other coaching vacancies around the league.
Silas could not immediately be reached for comment. Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said the team would hold a 12:30 p.m. ADT news conference today at Gund Arena for "a major announcement."
Silas turns 60 in July and has said he would welcome the chance to coach James.
He fits the profile of a veteran NBA coach that Gund and Paxson have sought to groom James.
After four 50-loss seasons, James has Clevelanders talking about basketball again, and his impending selection in the June 26 draft has set off a flurry of season ticket sales at Gund Arena.
The Cavaliers were looking for a teacher for James and the team's other young players, including Dajuan Wagner, Ricky Davis, Darius Miles and Juneau-Douglas High School alumnus Carlos Boozer Jr.
Silas had an overall mark of 208-155 with the Hornets, taking them to the playoffs each of the past four seasons - although they've never advanced beyond the second round.
Silas was popular among fans and his players. Hornets point guard Baron Davis and others said after their final game that they wanted Silas to return next season.
Silas and Hornets owner George Shinn spoke about a contract extension before last season but were unable to reach an agreement, and Silas' departure from New Orleans was not unexpected.
Before joining the Hornets, Silas was the top assistant with the Phoenix Suns from 1995-97. Silas also worked for the New Jersey Nets for four seasons and was the head coach of the San Diego Clippers for three seasons from 1980-83.
During his 16-year NBA playing career, the 6-foot-7 forward won three NBA titles - two with Boston and one with Seattle - and was a two-time All-Star.
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