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Mike Dunlap fired by Charlotte Bobcats

Well... that was quick. Could he come back to St. John's?

maybe Dunlap knew he wasn't going to be around long, judging by his expression...
maybe Dunlap knew he wasn't going to be around long, judging by his expression...

From the "what the hell?" files, Mike Dunlap, hired less than a year ago to coach the Charlotte Bobcats, has been fired. Whoops, we mean "will not return" in NBA speak.

"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," Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced. "We want to thank Mike for his contribution and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Dunlap, a surprise, out-of-the-box hire by quantitatively minded Rich Cho and the Charlotte Bobcats, guided the woeful franchise to a 21-61 record, tripling the previous year's win total of 7 and tutoring the young roster. Dunlap guided the team to a surprise 7-5 start with NBA neophytes like Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

As a St. John's assistant, Mike Dunlap was a key element to Steve Lavin's first two years in Queens, helping an underachieving veteran team get to the NCAA Tournament and then guiding the youngest team in the country while Steve Lavin sat much of the year out with complications from prostate cancer surgery. Dunlap has been a coveted schematic coach who is respected in NCAA and NBA circles; his leap from college assistant to professional head coach was thought to be the first such leap.

GM Rich Cho said the Bobcats were willing to take a step back to move two steps forward; but firing a coach after a year seems like a second step back, doesn't it?

Dunlap reportedly clashed with guard Ben Gordon, but Ben Gordon is not a franchise guard; the Bobcats must have evaluated Dunlap on other metrics and decided they had a better direction to go in.

Mike Dunlap is missed by St. John's; he brought an extra dose of discipline to the Red Storm (and the teams he assisted were better at getting to the free throw line and the offensive glass).

While Dunlap's influence was strong as the voice next to Steve Lavin in the huddles, and as the man who helped Lavin's matchup zone schemes become more-precise reality, it seems unlikely that he would return to St. John's, with the Johnnies set at assistant positions with Rico Hines, Darrick Martin, and Tony Chiles.