CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Mike Fratello and Paul Silas have plenty of NBA coaching experience. Sam Vincent and Mario Elie have only been NBA assistants. Then there's Reggie Theus, who has never coached in the league.
You can say one thing about the Charlotte Bobcats' search for Bernie Bickerstaff's replacement: it's exhaustive. Eight people have interviewed so far - and they aren't finished.
``We're trying to cover the spectrum,'' Bickerstaff said Wednesday.
Fratello, who has coached three teams and was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies in December, interviewed for the job on Tuesday. So did Vincent, a Dallas Mavericks assistant, and New York Knicks assistant Herb Williams.
Last week Elie, a former NBA player, and Silas, a former Clippers, Hornets and Cavaliers coach, interviewed. So did former Miami coach Stan Van Gundy, longtime Grizzlies assistant Lionel Hollins and Theus, the former NBA All-Star who completed his second season as coach at New Mexico State.
Bickerstaff, who is staying with the team in a front office role, is organizing the search with part-owner Michael Jordan.
``Our thing is we think these are just good basketball people and we want to be thorough in our search,'' Bickerstaff said.
Yet the wild card remains NBA coach of the year Sam Mitchell. Bickerstaff hired him as his lead assistant in 2004, a month before he left to take the Raptors' job, and the two remain close.
Mitchell's contract runs out June 30, but Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo has said he wants to keep him. Bickerstaff said he's yet to seek permission to speak with Mitchell.
``We'll have to make some decisions, but you also have to be sensitive toward those organizations,'' Bickerstaff said. ``Ultimately, they have to make the decision how they want to handle it, once you approach them.''
It's uncertain if the Bobcats want a coach with experience or would take a gamble on a young talent. If the Bobcats re-sign leading scorer Gerald Wallace, the new coach will be expected to help lead Charlotte to its first playoff berth, especially with the club holding two first-round picks in the draft.
While the Bobcats would like a coach in place before they can start working out potential draft picks at the end of the month, Bickerstaff said no deadline has been set.
``It's something that we'd like to do, but it won't put us in a situation where that would affect the process,'' Bickerstaff said.
That perhaps would give the Bobcats leeway if Mitchell enters the mix, or if Charlotte wants to wait for an assistant on a team still in the playoffs.
Bickerstaff, who declined to name any other candidates, said there are no other interviews planned this week.
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