The Charlotte Bobcats face a lot of scrutiny today for hiring St. Johns assistant Mike Dunlap as their head coach. Thats understandable when you elevate a college assistant to NBA head coach, it causes fans to scratch their heads.
I have an open mind to this being a good hire because Dunlap comes so strongly recommended by Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. Dunlap worked two seasons for Karl, drawing raves for his defensive principles. Along the way Dunlap became tight with former Karl assistant Tim Grgurich, and I hear Grgurich might end up on the Bobcats bench. That would be a great move.
I get all the attention on Dunlap, but the next five seasons wont rise or fall on this coaching hire. How the Bobcats use the No. 2 overall pick June 28 and how they employ up to $21 million in salary-cap space will be far more important than which plays Dunlap runs or whether the players like the way he dresses.
Its brutally tough to win in the NBA without stars. A glance at the rosters of the Thunder, Heat, Celtics and Spurs shows why those four teams advanced to the conference finals. And the Bobcats are as starless right now as any NBA team in recent memory.
People talk about what a genius Phil Jackson is, but hes never coached an NBA team that wasnt loaded with talent. Had Jackson coached the Bobcats, he would have had the same miserable experience last year that Paul Silas did. Except Jackson wouldnt consider doing such a thing.
Dunlap is getting this chance to grow with an organization, and at 54, Im sure hes thankful for that. But if they dont get him some help on that roster, and quickly, hell fail. As would Jerry Sloan or Brian Shaw or any of those flashier names once connected to this job.