CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Mike Dunlap is one and done with the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats went 21-61 under Dunlap, finishing with the second-worst record in the NBA ahead of only the Orlando Magic. Charlotte won just seven games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, but tripling last season’s victory total and a three-game winning streak to close the season weren’t enough to save Dunlap’s job.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said he and general manager Rich Cho met with players and Dunlap before approaching owner Michael Jordan and asking him to make a coaching change.
“The change was allowed,” Higgins said.
Dunlap struggled at times with game management, transitioning from the college game to the NBA and handling professional athletes, often benching veteran players for weeks at a time after they’d irritated him in some way.
Higgins said player input was “a part of the process, but not the only indicator.”
During one point in the season Dunlap feuded with veteran guard Ben Gordon during a practice, and his micromanaging approach didn’t always sit well with some of the more experienced players on the roster.
“I just don’t think he was a great fit,” general manager Rich Cho said. “Probably best that we go in a different direction.”
In a statement Tuesday night, Dunlap took the high road, thanking Jordan and the entire organization for the opportunity as well as the fans for their support.
“I am very proud of the effort and hard work that the players demonstrated throughout the season,” Dunlap said. “I am looking forward to the next chapter in my coaching career.”
The move means the Bobcats will have a third head coach in three seasons.
The Bobcats hired Dunlap last June after he had been working as an assistant at St. John’s, the first person to make a direct move from an assistant coach at the college level to a head coaching position in the NBA.
The Bobcats got off to a surprising 7-5 start, but even Dunlap said at the time he “didn’t trust” the record. The Bobcats would go on to lose 18 straight games and quickly regain their spot at the bottom of the NBA standings, where they would remain until closing with three wins and moving ahead of the Magic.