The Charlotte Bobcats decided to eschew conventional wisdom on Monday by hiring St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap as their next head coach.
The move came out of left field after it appeared the Bobcats had narrowed their search down to former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder.
Bobcats owner Michael Jordan interviewed 10 candidates for the vacant job, but seemed destined to hire a quality coach. Sloan, the best candidate of the three, eventually pulled himself out of the running. Unhappy with the remaining choices, Jordan brought Dunlap in for another interview and hired him on Monday, despite the 54-year-old having no head coaching experience at the Division 1 or NBA level.
Dunlap, by all accounts, is a good Xs and Os tactician, who took over the St. John 's program on an interim basis while head coach Steve Lavin recovered from prostate cancer treatment. He could be counted upon to help develop a young Bobcats team that had the worst winning percentage in NBA history last season.
That poor record netted the Bobcats the second overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft that could be Florida guard Brad Beal, Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, according to recent mock drafts. The Bobcats are desperate for a major contributor from this year's draft with little talent currently on the roster.
The decision to hire Dunlap was immediately met with criticism, and rightfully so. Although Jordan cemented a place among the greatest basketball players of all time, he is also quickly moving up the ranks for worst sports owner of all time.
He has put together one of the least talented NBA rosters in a long time and has been criticized for stacking his front office with yes men that won't question Air Jordan. The Bobcats have also gone through four coaches in less than a decade of existence in Charlotte.
The Bobcats have gone through NBA coaching mainstays like Larry Brown and Paul Silas, the team's most recent head coach, yet have only one playoff appearance -- a four-game sweep -- to show for it. The organization went with proven NBA coaches and had little success.
That's why the decision to hire Dunlap isn't as bad as it seems from first glance. The Bobcats have gone the proven NBA head or assistant coach route before and gotten absolutely nothing to show for it. Going after a proven basketball strategist like Dunlap, who is known for developing young talent, is a nice way of trying something new to shake up the cellar-dwelling franchise.
Dunlap isn't the type of coach who has the name recognition to bring out fans or NBA players to Charlotte, but neither were Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks or Miami's Erik Spolestra before they got their shot.
Dunlap should help mold Kemba Walker and whomever the team drafts on June 28 into a nice one-two punch for the Bobcats to avoid setting any more unwanted records, at least.
He'll also do a nice job at keeping the young Bobcats in line when it comes to practicing and putting forth a strong effort.
Dunlap would really put us on the line if we yawned in practice. At 545 am!!!, former St. John's forward Maurice Harkless tweeted. And (he) would kick the managers out if they yawned. ... Dunlap a great coach, better person. Strong passion and is dedicated to the game more than any coach I've had. No doubt he'll be successful.
The decision to hire Dunlap might have shocked many at first, but the more one thinks about it, the more clear it becomes that the hire might be one of the few smart moves Jordan has made in Charlotte.