Local News

Hornets VP Calls Cowens Comments Ill-Timed, but He's Still Coach

Posted February 16, 1999

— Charlotte Hornets vice president Bob Bass says comments by coach Dave Cowens indicating he's underpaid and unappreciated were ill-timed in light of the team's early-season stumble.

Cowens, whose team is in the middle of a West Coast trip, said earlier this week he didn't expect to be around next season because Hornets management wouldn't give him a significant raise.

``It's just about feeling appreciated,'' Cowens said Tuesday in California.

The Hornets were 1-5 heading into Wednesday night's game at Golden State. The team is without its two top players in Glen Rice and Anthony Mason due to injuries.

``The team is already wrecked with injuries,'' said Bass on Tuesday from San Antonio. ``... For your head coach to make statements like this, he's actually damaged the team further.

``How many hits this can this team take? He's the leader of the team saying something like that. It's very unfortunate to me. I was shocked.''

When asked if Cowens would continue as coach, Bass replied: ``He's our coach of record right now.''

He added: ``I wouldn't comment on any extensions or termination.''

Cowens is in the final year of a three-year contract, with the team holding an option for a fourth year. This season he's making $675,000 this season, among the lowest in the NBA. But he said he might not be back for the fourth year even if the Hornets offer the option.

``I don't need millions and millions of dollars,'' Cowens said Monday to the Winston-Salem Journal, who first reported his comments. ``I just want to get paid fairly.''

He also blasted management for a lack of direction for the franchise.

Cowens said he spoke Tuesday with Bass, who told him he was upset with the comments.

When asked before Tuesday night's game with Los Angeles - a 116-88 loss to the Lakers - if he was concerned about being fired, Cowens said: ``No, I don't have any concern... . They could, and maybe they should. I don't know.''

Mason, who has been know for his opinions about his teams' directions over the years, said of Cowens' tirade: ``I think that's cool for Dave to say that if he feels that way. How are people going to know it if he doesn't say something? Keeping it in would be a bigger problem, I think.''

Guard Bobby Phills added: ``He's just speaking his mind, from what I hear. Maybe him and the owner can work things out and see if they're on the same page.''

Charlotte owner George Shinn will have to decide whether Cowens is worth a hefty pay raise to retain him. All four Hornets coaches - Dick Harter, Gene Littles, Allan Bristow and Cowens were at the low end of the pay scale at the time.

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