The Charlotte Bobcats made headlines when they decided on Mike Dunlap as their new head coach.
Charlotte had previously announced three finalists for the vacancy: former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and current NBA assistants Brian Shaw and Quin Snyder. So why did the team shift gears and go with the St. John's assistant coach? There were a couple of factors.
First is Dunlap's demeanor. Whoever was hired as the new coach was going to have to be patient with this young team coming off a seven-win season. The Bobcats are not going to turn things around overnight. I just hope they give Dunlap a chance to build up the team.
There is no doubt that Dunlap is a master in the X's and O's. He is a solid tactician who knows the game of basketball inside and out. This move reminds me of Chicago's decision to hire Tom Thibodeau, though he had a roster with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng there.
Dunlap relates well to young athletes and wants to run an up-tempo style offense. He did that as a successful head coach at Metro State. Dunlap also gained valuable experience as an assistant at Arizona under Lute Olson and at St. John's, where he served as interim head coach while Steve Lavin recovered from cancer surgery.
There was a North Carolina connection here as well. Michael Jordan, the Bobcats owner, probably got some input from Dunlap's former boss, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. Dunlap was a respected assistant in Denver from 2006-08. That may have helped in the decision-making process.
The bottom line is, the Bobcats have made their decision. Dunlap's departure is a blow for a young St. John's team that brought in a super recruiting class. Lavin will have to go out and add to his staff. I would expect him to go after a veteran coach with good experience.
Congratulations to Mike Dunlap, moving from a college assistant to running his own show in the pros. I wish him good luck in the future.