The Charlotte Bobcats have fired coach Mike Dunlap after a single season in which the NBA team went 21-61.
The Bobcats put out a brief statement Tuesday that included the following quote from president of basketball Rod Higgins:
“Rich Cho and I conducted our season-ending review and met with Coach Dunlap to reflect on this season. As an organization, it was decided that we needed to make a change with the head coach position. We want to thank Mike for his contribution and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
With Dunlap’s firing, the Bobcats will now have a coaching search for the second consecutive season. The Bobcats chose not to re-sign Paul Silas after his contract expired following a 7-59 season.
Dunlap was one of 10 candidates to interview for the job last summer, and was arguably the least known.
He came to the Bobcats from St. John’s, where he served as acting head coach while Steve Lavin recovered from cancer surgery. He had not been an NBA head coach previous to this season and had two seasons as an NBA assistant with the Denver Nuggets.
Dunlap’s strength was player development and his greatest success was probably the improvement of point guard Kemba Walker. But he appeared to have friction at times with some of the veterans, including a verbal altercation with guard Ben Gordon during a shootaround.
Players were asked in their exit interviews last week for a review of Dunlap’s coaching style. It’s unclear how much that factored in the decision to let him go.
In a post-season interview with the Observer Friday, Dunlap said he had evolved as a coach this season. He noted that he had backed off on managing every aspect of games from the sideline and had shortened practices.
“Whether it’s Kemba Walker or Brendan Haywood, they appreciate what you don’t say when the game is being played,’’ Dunlap said. “In college you can literally yell across the floor and direct traffic with a player and it’s perfectly acceptable. Here the pro player can’t stand that.’’
It was clear from Dunlap’s mood Friday that he expected to be retained. The Bobcats won their last three games and eight of their last 18.
Dunlap was the fifth coach in Bobcats history. One of his predecessors, Sam Vincent, also lasted a single season in the job.
Go to the Charlotte Observer.