“You can characterize the season in different buckets,” Higgins said. “We started pretty strong and we finished pretty strong. But through the middle part of those two buckets we had some inconsistencies. So when Rich and I reviewed the season we came to the conclusion we needed a change.”
Dunlap entered training camp with a desire to push his young players physically, and three- and four-hour practices became the norm. Dunlap talked early in the season about disrupting teams with three-quarter presses, but those plans were quickly abandoned.
The Bobcats were outscored by 757 points this season, more than any team in the NBA.
Defensively, the Bobcats allowed 102.6 points per game, the second-most in the league, and they were the NBA’s worst shooting team at 42.5 percent.
“About 80 percent of Mike Dunlap is sad and despondent because he wants to continue coaching in the league,” Karl said. “(But) there will be a piece of him that is relieved. In general, we get paid a lot of money to do a very difficult job. Sometimes it’s not a thankful job.”
After the season, Dunlap sounded like a man politicking to keep his job.
“I never thought that we were going to blink our eyes and have 35 wins,” Dunlap said last week. “I thought it was always going to be a slog. We’re slowly moving this thing around and again, what’s perspective? The worst team in the history of the NBA (last season), all right, so how do you go from seven wins to, say, 40 wins? That’s pretty tough to do.”
The Bobcats interviewed 10 candidates last summer for the job.
Now that process will start all over.
“In the NBA, you’re not surprised by a lot because so many different things happen,” Higgins said of the decision. “It’s the business.”
With the Bobcats getting another top-five draft pick this year and having up to $21 million to spend under the salary cap, Higgins and Cho don’t believe there will be a lack of interested candidates in the position.
“Since the release our cellphones have been blowing up,” Higgins said. “It lets you know that there is interest in this job, a high level of interest.”
Higgins said it’s too early for a list of candidates but indicated he wants a coach who’s a great leader, able to develop players and great with Xs and Os.