CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a miserable start to the season in which he took shots at his players and himself, Larry Brown is out as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats in another messy exit in his well-traveled career.
The team announced later Wednesday that former Charlotte Hornets coach Paul Silas will take over on an interim basis.
Owner Michael Jordan announced Brown’s departure in a news release a day after the Bobcats were outscored 31-12 in the fourth quarter in their fourth straight loss.
The 70-year-old Brown had been upset with the makeup and effort of his team for weeks. The Bobcats (9-19) had lost three games by 31 or more points in 10 days before Tuesday’s fourth-quarter meltdown against Oklahoma City.
“I met with Coach Brown two weeks ago about the team’s performance and what we could do to improve it,” Jordan said. “We met again this morning after practice. The team has clearly not lived up to either of our expectations and we both agreed that a change was necessary.”
The 70-year-old Brown, a Hall of Fame coach who was in the third season of his 13th professional and college head coaching job, had been upset with the makeup and effort of his team for weeks. The Bobcats (9-19) had lost three games by 31 or more points in 10 days before Tuesday’s fourth-quarter meltdown against Oklahoma City.
Brown, whose contract runs through the end of the 2011-12 season, didn’t immediately return a message on his cell phone seeking comment. But his agent, Joe Glass, said Brown will be back on the bench soon.
“Larry is going to coach again,” Glass said. “He’s got plenty of strength and energy.”
Glass declined to discuss details of any buyout or if Brown will be paid through the end of his original four-year contract.
Brown leaves with an 88-108 mark with the Bobcats. His 1,327 victories in the ABA and NBA are nine shy of supplanting Don Nelson for the most all-time.
“This was a difficult decision for both of us, but one that needed to be made,” Jordan said. “I want to thank Larry for everything he has done for our team. He has played a key role in this organization’s development including coaching us to our first-ever playoff appearance last season.
“Larry will continue to be a valuable advisor to me regarding the team.”
Silas was a popular figure when he coached the Hornets through their departure to New Orleans in 2002. He later coached Cleveland and has a home in the Charlotte area.
It’s a familiar script for Brown, whose career includes quick turnarounds of teams and then usually ugly divorces.
The only coach to win NBA and NCAA titles had been out of coaching for two years following his dismissal after going 23-59 in his only season in New York in 2005-06 when Jordan hired him to replace Sam Vincent in 2008.
Brown immediately demanded changes and Jordan and general manager Rod Higgins responded with a number of trades that completely rebuilt the team. Behind Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, the Bobcats went 44-38 last season and secured the franchise’s first playoff berth.
But after getting swept by Orlando in the first round, Brown started having reservations about returning. He lamented about being away from his wife and young children in suburban Philadelphia. He stressed that he would only coach for Jordan, and eventually agreed to come back.
But the offseason included point guard Raymond Felton’s departure to New York in free agency and the trade of center Tyson Chandler to Dallas in what amounted to a salary dump to get under the luxury tax threshold.
A day before training camp opened, Brown said, ‘I died’ when Felton left, then questioned his team’s front line. That stood in contrast to Jordan, who was bullish on the team just before the start of the season.
“I think we’re going to be a better off team than we were last year,” Jordan said. “We’re together, we’re coming off some success from last year. Granted, Raymond’s not here. But when you think about, Tyson came off the bench.
“At the minimum, we should make the playoffs.”
Instead, the Bobcats have struggled all season under a barrage of turnovers and a stagnant offense, with Brown getting increasingly critical of his team and himself in recent weeks.
“I never thought I’d have to be in a position where I’d have to beg guys to play hard,” Brown said before Tuesday’s game. “Then if you look down the bench I don’t know if guys on the bench are playing any harder. Again, it’s my responsibility. We look so disorganized.
“I just feel bad if anybody who really enjoys the game would watch our team play. They’d look at me and say, ‘That coach is not doing his job.’ That’s the thing I feel most bad about.”
Brown was similarly despondent after Charlotte missed its first 11 shots of the fourth quarter to go with five turnovers against the Thunder, turning a one-point lead into another one-sided loss.
Brown was at the practice on Wednesday morning, working with mostly the second unit before he met with Jordan.
It leaves Jordan in a tough position after he bought the team outright from Bob Johnson earlier this year. Jordan has been in charge of the basketball operations of the club since 2006.
Jordan has made several questionable moves that included taking Adam Morrison with No. 3 overall pick in the draft and hiring the inexperienced Vincent, who was fired after one season.