I had signed off my previous entry by saying I’d be off until either the lottery or the draft. How stupid of me to forget an annual ritual that’s more regular than Angelina Jolie obtaining a small brown foreign baby: a Bobcats coach firing. My initial reaction to the news that Coach Dunlap was let go like a fart in a junkyard was, “Huh.” But after careful reflection, I realized, “Hmm.”
Actually, I think the most puzzling reaction to have is anything strong one way or the other. I’m equally confused by the “good riddance” people and the “that’s not fair” crowd. I also don’t see how this is an indictment of the Rod Higgins/Rich Cho GM tag-team (or whatever’s the opposite of an indictment—a non-indictment? A Paul Kevin Curtis?). The team spent almost no money on Dunlap, and they signed him for just two years. Throwing him to the curb like a stack of Highlights for Children from 1987 isn’t going to cost anything, nor does it represent some grand failure, nor does it mean the team has suddenly turned a corner. It means nothing. It’s like getting offsetting penalties in football or landing on the “Free Parking” square in Monopoly (assuming you’re playing by the letter of the law and not doing the popular “Free Parking = Win the Lottery” version); it’s a totally neutral move.
This is because Dunlap did an equally good and terrible job. We know he won three times as many games as last year, but those final three wins were against teams who were tanking harder than Patton. Plus, although the team’s offensive efficiency improved from 92.3 points/100 possessions in 2011-12 to 98.3 this year, the defense actually got worse (107.8 to 108.9). Dunlap rode that collapse-the-lane zone like he was earning miles points for it and the team was dead last in defense—last, last, last as hell. Towards the end of the year I could barely watch them play in that system without wanting to reach for a surgical mask.
And as for the argument that Dunlap developed players, well, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson’s PER improved, while Bismack Biyombo’s actually dropped a little, and so did Byron Mullens’. Reggie Williams’ PER went up, but he played as infrequently as a Wesley Snipes tax return. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was loveable, but all he developed was creative new ways to ram his head into extremely solid objects, and fellow rookie Jeffery Taylor was like Antonio Cromartie’s 12th child—probably but a sweet kid but often completely forgotten. Meanwhile Tyrus Thomas aged like the special effects in Jaws, and the only thing he developed was a desire to see Dunlap thrown straight into a set of rotating helicopter blades. Long-story short: Dunlap’s player development skills are a mixed bag…
…A mixed cheap bag, don’t forget. If you stop to remember last year (or better yet, don’t stop, because god, why would you want to do that), Dunlap was hired over Jerry Sloan, Quin Snyder, and Brian Shaw. I’m pretty sure none of those three was going to do much better than 21 wins with this group (although watching Sloan actually attempt to rip Thomas’s heart out of his chest and show it to him before he died would have been funny). I’m also pretty sure all three of those guys are still available if team owner Michael Jordan gives them a call (assuming Snyder can even be called; if you can get to him, I’m willing to bet he’s open to leaving his current job as an assistant with CSKA Moscow).
The bottom line is the Bobcats risked nothing and gained nothing with the 1-year Dunlap experiment. Getting worked up over his legacy is like getting worked up over the legacy of Chingy. Charlotte was slightly less terrible than they were the previous year, and no more or less terrible than they would have been with someone else. As usual, the most apt summation came from the Bobcats’ resident philosopher Reggie Williams, who tweeted shortly after the news broke—and I quote—“Home cooked meal !! Chitterlings aka CHITLINS”.
Home cooked meal !! Chitterlings aka CHITLINS instagram.com/p/Yg55jTvSyF/
— Reggie Williams (@reggiew55) April 25, 2013
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