Mike Dunlap hitches a ride out of Charlotte. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/MCT/Getty Images)The first thing I thought of after news broke Tuesday afternoon that the Charlotte Bobcats had fired head coach Mike Dunlap was the scene in "Major League II" in which radio announcer Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) narrates the aftermath of pitcher Rick Vaughn (pre-the-worst Charlie Sheen) convincing manager Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) to let him pitch to slugger Jack Parkman (David Keith), who was hitting "a shade under .900 against Vaughn."
"Obviously, Taylor's thinking ... I don't know what the hell he's thinking," Doyle says.
Firing Dunlap isn't some grave sin in and of itself; it's not like he'd proven himself to be a Coach of the Year candidate in waiting during his lone season at the Bobcats' helm or anything. No, it's more the "lone season" thing. Wasn't the whole point of veering away from the retread path to try something different? To acknowledge that just trying to get back to being good enough to get wiped out in the playoffs wasn't a goal worth striving for? To accept that rebuilding takes time, commitment and clarity of vision?
If so, then what does changing course after one year accomplish?
[Also: Pacers swingman Paul George wins Most Improved Player award]
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins made the firing, which was first reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, official in a brief Tuesday statement:
“[General manager] 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.”
Higgins was a bit more forthcoming in an email sent Tuesday to season ticket-holders. In that email, which was obtained by Steve Reed of The Associated Press, the team president wrote that he and Cho "'ultimately decided that [Dunlap] was not the right fit to lead our team into the future' and that 'in order to reach our goal of reshaping this franchise into one that can sustain long-term success, we needed to make this change.'"
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"We believe our head coaching position will be an attractive one to potential candidates," Higgins said in the email. "This offseason, we will have an excellent opportunity to acquire a quality player with a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and we could have up to $21 million in space under the salary cap to add players via free agency or trade, so the foundation is solid for someone to come in and continue to build on our on court performance.
"With a young core that includes Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, we feel positive about where our team is relative to our plan."