The Charlotte Bobcats have hired St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap to be their new head coach, two people familiar with the decision said.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because an official announcement was still being planned for the next two days.
The Charlotte Observer first reported the news.
The choice comes as a bit of a surprise because Dunlap was not one of the team’s three finalists and rejoined the picture late.
He was originally one of the 10 candidates to interview for the job, but the team trimmed the list to former Utah coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana assistant coach Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Quin Snyder last week.
At some point Dunlap re-entered the picture and was offered and accepted the job Monday night.
A text message sent to Dunlap was not immediately returned.
Dunlap, 54, will replace Paul Silas, whose contract was not renewed after Charlotte finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history this past season. The Bobcats were 7-59.
“The Johnnies basketball family is ecstatic for Coach Dunlap’s opportunity,” Lavin said in a statement. “Mike’s selection as the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach is a well-deserved honor. To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is testament to both Mike’s abilities as a teacher and our basketball program’s marked improvement over the past 27 months.”
Dunlap has spent most of his career at the college level and has worked under Lute Olson in Arizona.
He joined St. John’s after serving as the associate head coach on Pac-10 staffs at Arizona and Oregon.
Arizona went 21-14 in 2008-09, advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 before ending the season with a loss to top-seeded Louisville in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal game. Dunlap joined Oregon’s staff in 2009-10 and the Ducks posted a 16-16 record.
The Nuggets compiled a 95-69 (.579) record during his tenure and made two playoff appearances, including a 50-win season for the 2007-08 Denver squad, a first for the organization in 23 seasons.