Well, that was quick. Mike Dunlap is one and done as the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats after a disastrous season. He did have some potential, but it was in flashes and overall you’d have to admit he just wasn’t hacking it. However, if Dunlap can get dropped after one abysmal year, Bobcats fans could probably argue the entire team could, as well.
I kid, I kid. The reality is, Dunlap was inexperienced and it showed. However, these Bobcats do have some talent on the roster, and with a likely high lottery pick in the June 2013 NBA Draft, they’ll look to add another elite talent that hopefully can help turn this ship around.
But before they can even begin focusing on the draft, Charlotte needs a legit head coach who can come in and shape this team, and arguably most importantly, give them an identity.
Let’s take a look at the potential coaching candidates and pick the one that is the best fit:
Collins preaches defense and team offense, and he’d at least get the Bobcats to compete on a regular basis. There would be order and a clear identity under Collins. However, he’s up there in years and he seemed to have lost the 76ers’ attention in 2012.
Ewing has been trying to become a head coach for years now, and has done well as an assistant. He’d likely be able to get a lot more out of Charlotte’s bigs than they’re currently producing, but he lacks experience – something the Bobcats brass really is looking for.
Former coach of the Phoenix Suns that can really coach and was a surprise fire this season. Gentry knows offense, and would help Charlotte improve their consistency in that department. He’d also help along the young guys, as he’s a player’s coach and is good at one on one scenarios with his guys.
Scott has been to the NBA Finals and he’s been down in the dumps. He knows how to get the max production out of average players, and he knows what it’s like to start from the ground up with a franchise and young talent.
Shaw knows the triangle offense and defense, and he’s been an elite assistant for years. He’s from the Phil Jackson coaching spree and could be a gem in the making. He has no top level experience, though, so he’s a risk just as much as Dunlap was.
Cheeks is a big name because of his playing days, but his teams have been inconsistent at best. He’s a solid coach who knows both ends of the floor, but his production won’t get you excited.
Stan Van Gundy
Van Gundy is probably one of the most underrated head coaches in the league. Orlando (and Miami before them) clearly had no idea what they had. Van Gundy coaches elite offense and while his teams play inconsistent defense, he still screams for them to play it. His teams always succeed, so it’d be hard to bet against him. I just can’t see him coming down to such a bad team to start over. He’s more of a playoff-ready coach at this point in his career. I’d mention his brother Jeff here, but he hasn’t coached in years and he’s pretty comfortable at the broadcast booth. Besides, he’s another guy that isn’t likely to return to anything but a contender.
McMillan has loads of experience and has found success with the Sonics and Blazers. The best part about him, though, is he doesn’t take crap, coaches players up, and most importantly, will not settle for weak defense. His teams tend to man up, box out, and give great effort. I can see the Bobcats bringing him in for that alone.
There are some other candidates (Avery Johnson, heck, Phil Jackson), but I think this list is your more realistic options. In the end, I really don’t see Charlotte giving a guy with no experience a shot for the second year in a row. I like Nate McMillan here, as he could be up for a long-term project, and he’ll come in and correct Charlotte’s main issue – defense. If he can add shot-blocker Nerlsen Noel with a top-five pick, that’ll simply be the icing on the cake.
The reality is, when the Bobcats were competitive and in the playoffs a few years ago, it was because they were big, long and played solid defense. McMillan is the ticket to get back to that kind of winning basketball.