CLEVELAND -- Paul Silas was fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday with his team fighting for a playoff spot after being in first place earlier in the year.
Silas told The Associated Press he was called in Monday morning for a brief meeting with general manager Jim Paxson and new owner Dan Gilbert.
"They released me," Silas said. "They didn't think the team was performing as well as it should be and they wanted to make a change."
Despite having league superstar LeBron James, the Cavaliers have struggled since the All-Star break, losing nine of 12 and nine straight road games, including Sunday's 105-98 loss to Toronto when James scored a franchise-record 56.
The team also fired Silas' son, assistant coach Stephen Silas. Assistant coach Brendan Malone will take over as interim head coach.
According to league sources, the Cavaliers are interested in Cleveland native Flip Saunders as the possible successor to Silas, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports. Since his firing in Minnesota, Saunders has said he plans to sit out the rest of this season, but his ties to the city and his lengthy experience coaching another star player out of high school -- Kevin Garnett -- have Cleveland's attention.
Silas said he was not given a detailed explanation of why he was fired, but there have been issues over the last few weeks that have resulted in the Cavaliers' slide after they went into the All-Star break 30-21.
It all may have culminated Sunday when Silas benched starting guard Jeff McInnis and replaced him with Eric Snow. Snow did not score in Cleveland's loss at Toronto and McInnis, despite dressed and available, didn't play.
Earlier this season, Silas threw Snow off the bench after the two exchanged words during the first quarter of a game at Detroit, a move that stunned the team because of Snow's reputation as a leader.
Last week, Silas was fined $10,000 by the team for a derogatory comment he made about Utah forward Carlos Boozer.
Silas made the remark to reporters a day before Boozer was to return to Cleveland after leaving the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer. Boozer didn't travel with the Jazz because of a foot injury. Silas later apologized for the remark.
Silas joined Cleveland in June 2003 after being fired by the New Orleans Hornets, who he led to the playoffs four straight times.
The Cavaliers have called an afternoon news conference at Gund Arena.
Silas and James made for a formidable duo last season, leading the Cavaliers to a 35-47 record last season -- an 18-game turnaround. He seemed to have the respect of his players, who played hard for him and were improving.
However, in the offseason, the club lost Boozer after allowing him to become a free agent. It was the first sign of real trouble.
The Cavaliers started this season strong, staying in first place for most of the first two months of the season -- they were 30-21 at the break. But injuries and inconsistency led to their recent slide.
Silas was hired to be James' first professional coach and to mentor the 18-year-old star. James has soared from rookie of the year last season to All-Star this year, but the rest of the team has struggled.
Never had that been more apparent than in Sunday's loss, the team's third straight. While James had a career day, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to score 50 or more points, the Cavaliers were miserable on defense and the reserves were outscored 34-1.
In 16 NBA seasons as a player, Silas averaged 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in 1,254 career games. Twice selected as an All-Star, he won three NBA championships -- two with Boston and one with Seattle.
As a coach, he has a record of 355-400 with the Clippers, Hornets and Cavaliers. His Hornets teams (both in Charlotte and New Orleans) went 13-16 the playoffs.