NEW ORLEANS (AP) -NBA coach of the year Byron Scott, who has the right to buy out the remainder of his contract and go to the highest bidder next season, showed little interest in leaving the Hornets on Wednesday.
``I expect to be here,'' Scott said. ``In my mind right now I hope to be here unless something crazy happens.''
The Hornets pay Scott about $3.5 million a year and the team's majority owner, George Shinn, said he intends to make a fair extension offer that would make Scott one of the highest paid coaches in the league.
``Byron has done an outstanding job for us,'' Shinn said. ``I'm tired of flip-flopping and firing coaches. I want somebody to stay that I like. ... I'm not going to be stupid. I'll be as fair as I can to get him to stay with us.''
When Scott took over as coach following the 2003-04 season, he was the Hornets' third coach in three seasons.
In his first season, he oversaw the dismantling of an aging roster, which resulted in an 18-64 record. The Hornets drafted point-guard Chris Paul the following summer and improved their win total by 20 the following season, despite being displaced to Oklahoma City by Hurricane Katrina.
Still playing in Oklahoma City in 2006-07, the Hornets narrowly missed the playoffs before returning to New Orleans full-time for this season and winning the rugged Southwest Division with a franchise-record 56 victories.
The Hornets beat Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs before losing Monday night to San Antonio in the seventh game of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Shinn said the team's top priority is a long-term extension for Paul, who would be a restricted free agent after next season. General manager Jeff Bower said the Hornets were well-positioned to keep Paul because they've been preparing for it for several seasons.
Shinn said keeping Scott is the next priority.
``It's a great scenario for him. He's worked hard to develop the players he has,'' Shinn said of Scott. ``If we can pay the same as somebody else, why would he leave?''
Scott said he wouldn't - if Shinn follows through on what he said Wednesday.
``The biggest thing is, Mr. Shinn talked about being reasonable and things like that,'' Scott said. ``I'm not trying to break the bank or anything. I just put a number down that I feel is in that top five or six of what other coaches in this league make.''
The highest paid coach in the league is the Los Angeles Lakers' Phil Jackson, who's paid about $10.3 million, followed by Golden State's Don Nelson and the New York Knicks' Mike D'Antoni, who are both paid around $6 million.
The Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns both are looking for coaches.
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