1- On a scale of 1-10, how much did this move surprise you?
Spencer: 8. I just cannot understand how a franchise that has existed through such a persistent culture of losing and is coming off the worst season in NBA history (one year ago) can believe it’s wise to part ways with a coach after just one season.
Did Dunlap’s style sit well with the players? Maybe not. I can’t answer that. I am tired of reading that this shouldn’t be this big of a surprise. If someone can honestly answer that they heard consistent bad rumors about Dunlap, then please speak up. Didn’t we all know that Dunlap was a guy who was going to come in and run this team more like a college program — or at least to the level that would relate to the NBA? Yep, I’m pretty sure that was the word on him before Higgins and Cho made the hire. So, that being said — who now looks stupid? The guy who was fired, or the guys who hired him and then fired him for presumably the same reason they hired him? It’s all very odd to me and makes me wonder what in the world is going on in the Bobcats front office.
Maybe Mike Dunlap wasn’t the right guy for the job — I’m not trying to say that he was, I guess what I’m trying to say is that he deserved more than one season with this roster. Honestly, this should probably be a reminder to us all that this league is about the players, and the coaches that make out good in this league are the ones who can manage the personalities on their rosters the best.
Mathew: Seven. When I first saw the news come across Twitter, I have to admit I was rather surprised. Probably more in the 8/9 category. However, as I thought about it more and heard some of the rumblings about player dissatisfaction with his coaching style, general demeanor, and long practices, I began to understand it. As I saw a few writers point out, Dunlap was not very well-liked by the veteran players on the team (though it’s tough to find favor with the vets when you’re playing a majority of young guys). I agree with the notion that this would’ve come into play when potential free agents began asking their NBA brethren about playing for Dunlap and whether they would enjoy the experience. It’s difficult to lure players to your market when you have both a struggling team and a coach veteran players don’t respect.
Greg: Six. It was pretty clear last year that Dunlap wasn’t their first choice, and that he’d likely be a caretaker coach as the team rebuilt. I expected him to get another year, but this was a move that was coming sooner rather than later.
2- Was this the correct decision by Rich Cho and Rod Higgins?
Spencer: I’m sure you could tell from my first answer where I stand on this one — I don’t see the purpose in doing business the way that Higgins, in particular, has chosen to. Like he has something in specific to hang his hat on in Charlotte? Nope. If the firing of Dunlap was such a pre-meditated decision, then why in the world hire him in the first place?
The rebuilding process that works together in unison must involve a consistent coach, so for the front office to pull the trigger this quickly on Dunlap just makes me believe they regret hiring him in the first place — funny, that correlates directly to what we’ve been used to with this front office for quite sometime now — inconsistent, poor decision making. It’s not good for the young core to have to get used to another system, it doesn’t fire up the fan base (at least not in the correct way) and it doesn’t seem to be healthy for the franchise.
Mathew: Yes. I’m all-in on Rich Cho because I feel like I have to be. I’m choosing to trust his judgment. Though you never know how it truly went down, I like the fact it was reported that Cho and Higgins first made the decision to let go of Dunlap before reaching out to Jordan for his blessing. It’s (purportedly) nice to see Cho calling the shots. That being said, this next decision needs to be right or it could be his last.
Greg: From the information we have, sure. There’s something to be said for continuity, but if Dunlap wasn’t a long-term answer, they need to take another shot at finding someone who will be. There were positives this year (increased win total, player development), but I think those mostly stemmed from improvements to the roster and some more seasoning for the young players. In any case, I think they’ll be making a lateral move at worst with their next hire, and maybe the players won’t hate the new guy.
3- Who’s your choice to be the Bobcats next head coach?
Spencer: Well, I certainly cannot see the team attracting any top names to Charlotte to come coach this roster. Mike Budenholzer is someone that I hope the Bobcats go after very hard. He’s the head assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and has been for 6 seasons now — he’s been with the Spurs organization for 16 seasons. Working under Pop, presumably Budenholzer would be a great X’s & O’s coach. As far as how good he is working with player ego’s and personalities, well I can’t speak for that, but he falls from the Popovich tree — that’s what is most attractive.
My head tells me Quinn Snyder will be the guy. It seemed for a short while that he was going to be who Charlotte went with before giving the sword to Dunlap last summer and the front office may now be deciding that’s the direction they should have gone in the first place.
Mathew: The early rumors surrounded Quinn Snyder, the former Missouri Tigers head coach and NBA assistant. Supposedly the Bobcats were very high on him last year. I would love to see them go after Brian Shaw, but from the sounds of it that doesn’t seem like a possibility at this time. Since my intel goes only so far as the NBA insiders I follow on Twitter, I’ll go with the current concensus pick and say Quinn Snyder.
Greg: My blue-sky choice would be a top assistant like Golden State’s Mike Malone or San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer. Unlike Dunlap, those two have extensive experience with the NBA game and are more familiar with the grind of the season. The big negative is that they can afford to wait for an ideal head coaching job, which they wouldn’t have in Charlotte.
I think it’s more likely the Bobcats end up with a retread like Mo Cheeks or Avery Johnson, someone who wouldn’t mind inheriting a mess. A dark horse candidate could be Stephen Silas, but I don’t think the team will take a chance on two unproven coaches in a row.