Paul Silas, a member of three NBA championship teams as a player and LeBron James’ first coach in the league, has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 79 years old.
The family announced the death through the Houston Rockets, for whom Silas’ son Stephen is a second-generation coach. The Boston Globe was the first outlet to report Silas’ death, the cause of which has yet to be announced.
“Our thoughts are with Stephen and his family during this difficult time,” the Rockets said in a statement.
Paul Silas began his coaching career in 1980 with a three-year stint at the helm of the then San Diego Clippers. After more than a decade as an assistant, he returned to head coaching and spent time with the Charlotte Hornets. New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats.
He led four teams to the playoffs that won exactly 400 games – 387 in the regular season, 13 more in the post-season.
Los Angeles Lakers star Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeted, “Paul made a tremendous contribution to basketball and will be missed.”
The Rockets hosted the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night. It is unknown at this time how long Stephen Silas will be absent, and the Rockets plan for John Lucas to lead the team on an interim basis while the Silas family grieves.
Stephen Silas came into the world of the NBA when his father was a coach in Charlotte. He started out as a scout and later served as an assistant on his father’s coaching staff with the Hornets in 2000. It took two decades for Stephen Silas to get the coaching opportunity, hired by Houston in 2020.
“My dad was, obviously, my number one mentor, someone I could lean on, ask and ask questions,” Stephen Silas said in the 2021 Rocket-produced documentary about his coaching journey. “He really valued my opinion, which was a bit strange for me, being so young and not very experienced.”
He was named to the All-Defensive Team five times and averaged 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds over 16 seasons with the St. Louis Hawks and Atlanta, Phoenix, Boston, Denver and Seattle. Silas won two titles with the Celtics – his first in his 10th season as a player, and his third with the then SuperSonics.