John Lucas was fired yesterday as coach of the Cavaliers, who have the NBA's worst record and have shown few signs of development this season.
The 48-year-old Lucas, who was in his second season with the Cavs and had another year remaining on his contract, was replaced by assistant Keith Smart.
The Cavs are 8-34 and have just returned from a 1-5 West Coast trip. Cleveland blew second-half leads in several of those games, and the players on the NBA's youngest team were not showing the kind of progress GM Jim Paxson had been looking for.
Paxson said the road trip was the culmination of problems he had seen over the last month.
"We were not making the kind of progress that we should be making at this point of the season," he said at a news conference at Gund Arena. "I felt that the development was not where it should be, both from an individual and team standpoint."
Paxson said he met with Lucas yesterday morning. Assistant coach Jerry Eaves also was fired, while another assistant, Ron Ekker, was retained.
It is the first NBA head coaching job for Smart, who is in his third season in the Cavs' organization.
Smart has three years of head coaching experience in the CBA. He is best known for hitting the winning shot for Indiana in the 1987 NCAA championship game against Syracuse.
* BULLS' WILLIAMS TO IL: The Bulls placed rookie G Jay Williams on the injured list with a sprained left ankle and activated G Rick Brunson.
Williams is expected to miss five games.
-- From News Services