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Is Mike Dunlap the best choice for the Charlotte Bobcats?

June 19, 2012
  • Mike Dunlap on the sideline with St. John's last season.
Mike Dunlap on the sideline with St. John's last season. (Mel Evans / Associated Press )

Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss the hiring of Mike Dunlap to coach the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. Check back throughout the day for their responses and give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Is Mike Dunlap the best choice for the Charlotte Bobcats?

Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

Maybe it's not as crazy as it seems.

Dunlap is a college coach and the young Bobcats are about the NBA's closest thing to a college team.

The historically inept 'Cats have the No. 2 draft pick to add to a nucleus of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Bismack Biyombo. Dunlap might as well bring back study hall and pep rallies.

The heralded Dunlap was an assistant in the NBA and, most recently, at St. John's.

The 'Cats gambled, selecting him over Nate McMillan and Brian Shaw. His hiring has a blue-light-special feel, in keeping with the franchise's frugality.

Owner Michael Jordan, his reputation as an executive already suspect, can't afford to roll snake eyes.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

Only time will tell if Mike Dunlap is the best choice to coach the Charlotte Bobcats. This can be said immediately: The hire is certainly intriguing.

For starters, it represents unconventional thinking by Michael Jordan and Co., a rare outside-the-box NBA hire. Cynics will point to Jordan's disastrous choice of Leonard Hamilton in Washington and predict a repeat. But this isn't the same: Though Dunlap has spent the majority of his career at the college level -- and hasn't served as head coach in the NBA or Division I -- his emphasis on player development and two-year stint as Denver Nuggets assistant make him a solid fit for the Bobcats' youth.

The Chicago Bulls interviewed Dunlap in the 2008 coaching search that resulted in Vinny Del Negro's hire. Dunlap was even more anonymous then, but Bulls officials were impressed by his basketball acumen and player-development ideas. The Bobcats are going to be bad again next season, and universal word on Dunlap is that he remains steadfast in his commitment to development. It sounds like he can take the losing in the short term for the benefit of the long term.

The pairing of Jordan and Dunlap certainly makes for a jarring contrast, one of the most recognizable people on the planet and a behind-the-scenes coaching lifer who shuns the spotlight. A common bond is competitiveness, and it might just be enough for this to work.

Steve Gorten, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Mike Dunlap is the wrong choice for the Charlotte Bobcats. Owner Michael Jordan made yet another bad decision with the surprising hiring of the St. John's assistant, who wasn’t one of the three finalists that had been named.

After former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan withdrew his name, the Bobcats decided Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, who would've been a great pick, was no longer a candidate. Dunlap has received a glowing endorsement from George Karl, for whom he was an assistant two seasons (2006-08) with the Denver Nuggets, and might turn out to be a good hire. But it's too risky.

Remember Jordan hiring then-University of Miami coach Leonard Hamilton to coach the Wizards in 2000? A proven coach such as Nate McMillan would have been better for the Bobcats.

Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times

Well, it sounds like he was the only choice.

Brian Shaw, the former Lakers and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach, turned the job down.

Former Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan and former Portland Trail Blazers Coach Nate McMillan both backed out of the job.

Let’s be honest, that’s a tough job coaching the Bobcats.

To be sure, Charlotte owner Michael Jordan hasn’t done a very good job with that franchise.

But Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl spoke highly of Dunlap, saying he was a “one of the most creative defensive minds” Karl had ever worked with. Dunlap was on Karl’s Nuggets staff in the past.

It’s just that Dunlap, who was an assistant coach at St. John’s last season, is a no-name to so many people. Maybe he’ll make a name for himself now.


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