Multiple sources have reported that the Charlotte Bobcats and owner Michael Jordan have settled on a new head coach; that new coach being St. Johns University assistant, Mike Dunlap.
This decision clearly came out of left field and has Bobcats’ fans wondering who Mike Dunlap is. Dunlap was indeed one of the ten candidates interviewed for the position, but reportedly did not make the cut for a final interview with Michael Jordan. The three names that did reportedly make that cut were Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, and Hall-of-Famer Jerry Sloan.
Team president of basketball operations, Rod Higgins, apparently never ruled out the prospect of further interviews, but Mike Dunlap was probably the last name anyone expected to land the job.
Dunlap has spent most of his career coaching college ball. His resume includes stops at Division II Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado where he won two Div. II National Championships in nine seasons as head coach (1997-2006). Other notable stops include associate head coaching positions at Arizona in 2008-2009 and Oregon in 2009-2010. In between his time at Metropolitan State and Arizona, he did spend two seasons with the Denver Nuggets (2006-2008) as an assistant under head coach George Karl.
This past season Dunlap served as the interim head coach at St. Johns while head coach Steve Lavin recovered from treatments brought on by prostate cancer. Dunlap was hired by St. Johns to be an assistant coach under Lavin in 2010.
“I have known Mike Dunlap since I was a student-athlete at Chapman University, and over the past 25 years he has developed into one of the game’s most-respected teachers,” Steve Lavin’s raved about Mike Dunlap via St. Johns University’s Athletic site. “Mike is a sound tactician with a deep understanding of the game and brings a wealth of experience to our staff. The addition of Coach Dunlap gives our program one of the most diverse and specialized coaching staffs in college basketball.”
This past year, as interim head coach, Dunlap compiled a record of 13-19 overall and went 6-12 in Big East action. Dunlap’s new job will certainly take plenty of specialized coaching to get the Bobcats going in the right direction.
It will take awhile for fans around the NBA to absorb this hire by the Bobcats. A team that needed a lot of pro basketball experience to help guide their young inexperienced players forward apparently has hired a college coach with marginal pro experience. Dunlap has plenty of coaching experience on his resume, but not nearly enough familiarity with the NBA.
We’ve seen this play out before in the NBA (John Calipari with the Nets) and in the NFL (Bobby Petrino with the Falcons) and for whatever reason owner’s and general managers still hire college coaches to lead professionals. Now, Dunlap hasn’t even taken the floor yet as head coach for the Bobcats, so it’s unfair to criticize the hire this early.
However, fair or unfair there will be critics from all over questioning this hire by owner Michael Jordan. At this point, any negative attention surrounding this franchise could be a distraction for its young players. The Bobcats don’t need any distractions during this very important offseason.
Time will tell if Mike Dunlap, who becomes the fifth different head coach in Bobcats history, was a good hire or not. With a head coach allegedly in place, the Bobcats can begin to turn all of their attention to the NBA Draft on June 28th and free agency which begins on July 1st.