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Cavaliers Fire GM Paxson

Friday, April 22, 2005; Page D03

Jim Paxson was fired yesterday as general manager of the Cavaliers, whose second-half collapse this season cost them their first trip to the playoffs in seven years.

Paxson's dismissal came one month after Paul Silas was fired as coach by owner Dan Gilbert, who has had a tumultuous first 50 days with the franchise.

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The Cavaliers were 34-30 when Silas was fired, but fell apart down the stretch despite the play of LeBron James and finished 42-40, losing a tiebreaker with New Jersey for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Gilbert released Paxson with two years and $2 million left on the GM's contract.

"We felt the team had made progress in the past two years," Gilbert said. "But to get to a championship level we felt we needed to bring our own people in."

Gilbert also said interim coach Brendan Malone, who went 8-10 after taking over for Silas, will not be a candidate to be the next coach, but will remain with the organization.

• ATTENDANCE UP: Regular season attendance averaged 17,314 this year, the highest in league history.

Total attendance of nearly 21.3 million topped the previous mark of more than 20.5 million set during the 1995-96 season.

• JEFFERSON RETURNS: Injured F Richard Jefferson plans to practice today as the Nets get ready to take on the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. He has missed almost four months with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

-- From News Services

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