The San Diego Clippers did the expected and ended Paul Silas' three-year (78-168) tenure as coach yesterday. Speculation around the NBA is that General Manager Paul Phipps will try to hire an "established" coach.

Names bandied include Indiana Pacers Coach Jack McKinney and the Dallas Mavericks' Dick Motta.

As for Golden State, where Al Attles is assumed to have coached his last, names seen in the rumor mill include Attles' assistant John Bach, McKinney, Kansas City Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, even John Thompson -- talk about speculation.

The Detroit Pistons, having dumped Scotty Robertson, already have obtained Pacers' permission to talk with McKinney. Indiana would let him go, if opportunity confronts him, before the franchise itself is gone -- although there's a new, anonymous "possible" Indianapolis buyer.

Kansas City's Fitzsimmons, after a 45-37 year but no playoff berth, has been mentioned in connection with the New Jersey vacancy, Warriors and Clippers. He says if the Kings let him be approached (with a year left on contract), he might search his soul to see where his "enthusiasm" and "desire" lie.

Question: Does a decade as right-hand man to K. C. Jones, Motta and Gene Shue on a succession of winning teams qualify Bernie Bickerstaff of the Bullets as "established"? Expand the speculation to include Bickerstaff -- head coach at U. of San Diego, of all places, before he came to the pros.