Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap has often popped up on the coaching radars for college teams, including Colorado State this year. The veteran NCAA and NBA coach - with a national championship to his credit at Division II Metro State - has a lot of respect in NBA circles.
So much so that he will get a look at the Charlotte Bobcats head coaching gig.
...Bobcats will interview Mike Dunlap, associate head coach at St. John's U, & Cleveland Cavs assistant Nate Tibbetts next week, sources say— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) May 8, 2012
The Bobcats search has an expansive feel, with the team looking at coaches from well known head coaches like Nate McMillan and well-known assistants like Mike Malone, to well-known ex-players (Patrick Ewing, Brian Shaw), and now former assistant coaches like Mike Dunlap.
Dunlap is well-regarded as a tactician, participating in a clinic last weekend with other Division I coaches (see his notes on the 1-1-3 zone). He ran the team from November until the end of the season while Steve Lavin recovered from his prostate cancer surgery. The Red Storm, the youngest team in the nation, went 11-17 with Dunlap at the helm.
But the team got better as the season went on, a credit to Dunlap's ability craft schemes and teach his young athletes to understand the Johnnies' motion offense and matchup zones.
From Red Storm Sports, a quote from Nuggets coach George Karl went into detail in praising Dunlap's skills. "Mike Dunlap absolutely elevates every player and team he comes into contact with.... He will take you from good to great. Name any top-level, elite coach in the game - the only difference between Mike and them is their address. There is no higher level of coaching ability than his. There is absolutely no one better."
He has expressed a desire to be a head coach in the right situation. Is the Charlotte job the right situation? Or if given the chance, will he want to return to the second chair with St. John's?
The Bobcats, with an NBA-worst record of 7-59, have the best chance of receiving the NBA's first pick in this spring's draft lottery. Their general manager, Rich Cho, is known for his facility with player evaluation and analysis, helping to build the Oklahoma City Thunder into a small-market powerhouse; he was also the Portland TrailBlazers' general Manager in 2010-11.
The Bobcats could be talented in a few years; but currently they are willing to "take a step back to take two steps forward". In other words - they plan to build their talent base from the ground up.
More on the story as it develops.