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CAVALIERS FIRE GM PAXSON

Their shocking collapse complete, the Cleveland Cavaliers began to rebuild Thursday -- from the top.

Jim Paxson was fired as the club's general manager, dismissed by new owner Dan Gilbert a day after the Cavaliers' season ended short of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year.

Expected for weeks, Paxson's firing came exactly one month after coach Paul Silas was fired with 18 games left by Gilbert, the online mortgage banker who has had a rough introduction into operating a pro sports franchise.

On March 1, Gilbert took over a 31-24 team that appeared playoff-bound. But a prolonged losing skid, compounded by Silas' firing and rumors that Paxson was next, LeBron James wasn't happy and free agent center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was apartment hunting in New York, has Gilbert entering his first summer looking for a coach and GM.

"We have a pretty good track record in 21 years of business of picking the right people," he said. "We're looking at the best in business and basketball."

Gilbert didn't divulge any candidates for a successor to Paxson, who took over the Cavaliers in 1999. Gilbert intends to have Cleveland's next GM hire the new coach. He removed Brendan Malone as a coaching candidate. Malone went 8-10 as an interim replacement for Silas and will stay with the organization.

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