I find it hard to believe that Mike Dunlap will be back for a second season as head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.
The most prominent factor behind this thought is his penchant for benching the guys who are playing the best during critical moments of the game, and then forgetting they’re on his roster.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is often the guy to whom Dunlap’s extended lapses in basic mental function latch on. In Charlotte’s last close loss, a one point-er to the Detroit Pistons, Kidd-Gilchrist was playing more-than-solid defense, rebounding well and scoring efficiently through three quarters. He ended up with 11 points on four-of-seven shooting, three rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 20 minutes.
Kemba Walker often falls victim to Dunlap’s brain farts, too. His lost minutes aren’t as egregious as the entire quarters that Dunlap forgets Kidd-Gilchrist exists, but a few minutes here and there at critical moments of close games have, in my opinion, cost the Bobcats a few wins.
Another reason Dunlap should (and probably will) be on his way out the door? It still appears to me like he’s trying to figure out which players work best together on the court. Take away the new additions of Jannero Pargo and Josh McRoberts, and just look at the guys who’ve been with the ‘Cats almost all season. The starting five has changed more than a handful of times, guys have fallen in-and-out of favor with their head coach, and minutes off the bench for guys like Jeff Adrien Jeff Taylor can be varied… To say the least.
The biggest reason Dunlap will probably be walking at seasons end, though, is this: Charlotte knew it was going to have another rough year. It also knew there would be plenty of respected and talented coaches available at the end of that rough year. I think after things fell apart with Jerry Sloan and Brian Shaw, the Bobcats went after someone they knew would be easy to fire. A guy like Dunlap, with as much NBA coaching experience as me, and just a little bit more NCAA Division One experience than me, is the perfect candidate for a one year gig with a symbolic multi-year deal.
I don’t hate Dunlap or even dislike him. I was excited by the prospect watching him develop the Bobcats’ young players, and that 7-5 start got me thinking he could be in Charlotte for a while.
But the results aren’t there. The evidence is.
And it’s inexcusable to keep Dunlap around if there are more qualified candidates out there who are willing to take over the job.