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Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has relieved Mike Dunlap of his duties as head coach. The search for his successor will begin immediately.
“Rich Cho and I conducted our season-ending review and met with Coach Dunlap to reflect on this season. As an organization, it was decided that we needed to make a change with the head coach position,” Higgins said. “We want to thank Mike for his contribution and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Technically speaking, this season was actually a major improvement for Charlotte, as the team's winning percentage jumped from .106 to .256. However, there clearly wasn't enough progress to save Dunlap's job.
Hired before this season, Dunlap had the Bobcats humming early, as the team went 7-5 to start the season. He couldn't maintain that momentum, though, as Charlotte proceeded to lose 18 straight games.
His hiring was somewhat unexpected, as he was an assistant coach at St. John's University and only had two years of NBA experience as an assistant for the Denver Nuggets from 2006 to 2008.
Because the team improved and Dunlap didn't have a lot to work with, it's also a bit surprising that he was fired. While there are some nice young pieces in Charlotte—Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist come to mind—this is clearly a flawed roster.
For the most part, the strength of this team is its backcourt, as the team's four top scorers—Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon—are all guards. There isn't much of a frontcourt to speak of, though, or at least one that has consistently produced at the NBA level.
Still, there is room for improvement. The team will have another top-five pick and could be up to $21 million under the cap in the offseason, giving them the freedom to add a free agent or two. As a result, the Bobcats should be better next season and continue to see improvement, regardless of who steps in to replace Dunlap.