Charlotte Hornets

Stephen Silas is filling in as Hornets’ coach Monday. Why that’s tougher than it sounds

Stephen Silas (second from left) filled in as Charlotte Hornets coach Monday, with Steve Clifford (right) unavailable because of illness.
Stephen Silas (second from left) filled in as Charlotte Hornets coach Monday, with Steve Clifford (right) unavailable because of illness.

Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Stephen Silas got the text about 2 p.m. Monday that his boss, Steve Clifford, was too sick to be at Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

So Silas, elevated to lead assistant when Patrick Ewing left to coach Georgetown last season, was in charge, looking to end a four-game losing streak. Clifford wasn’t at shootaound Monday morning at Spectrum Center, so Silas had an inkling this might happen.

He crammed throughout the day to additionally familiarize himself with Magic players and tendencies. And he went through a checklist of new responsibilities: How to oversee a player rotation, what were his options out of timeouts, etc.

“(Clifford) is always so prepared for every instance, every game, so today was a lot of study,” Silas said pregame. “Usually I’ll watch (an opponent’s) game and kind of gloss through it if it’s not my game plan. (Scouting responsibilities for the other 29 NBA teams are shared by the assistants.) Today I spent a lot more time delving into the stats, delving into our team, and being prepared for late-game situations. It was a long day.”

This wasn’t the first time Silas was in charge at the NBA level. During the then-Bobcats’ 2011-12 season, the last one coached by Silas’ father, Paul, Stephen was allowed to coach a handful of games. Paul Silas was on the bench as a resources, but Stephen was making final decisions.

“That was constructive,” Stephen Silas said. “There is definitely a little anxiety right now, because it is new, but once it starts, I know I have done it before. All that other stuff will go out the window when it’s time to coach.”

Monday’s opposing coach, Frank Vogel, was an associate head coach with the Indiana Pacers before being promoted to head coach there. He said the biggest difference in those two responsibilities is real-time calls on late-game situations.

“You’ve got to make split-second decisions on who should be in the game on the offensive end and on the defensive end. (Also), how to use your timeouts, what coverages you’ll be in when the other team needs two (points) or needs three. Do you want to go for a two (possessions) for one? Do you have a foul to give (before the penalty). All those types of things.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell