Mike Dunlap will be asked to cook the dinner in Charlotte. But he won’t be allowed to shop for the groceries.
At least not at the NBA draft.
Dunlap, the former St. John’s assistant hired as the new coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, told SheridanHoops he won’t have much input on the team’s No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft – if it uses the pick at all.
“I’m secondary,” Dunlap said in a lengthy telephone interview. “These guys (owner Michael Jordan, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and GM Rich Cho) have been at this a long time, so if they ask me something, I answer. I don’t think (I will have) a significant amount (of input).”
Still, Dunlap allowed that Charlotte may well trade down from the second pick if it makes sense, which is starting to look like a possibility.
“I think anybody in our situation would have that on the board,” Dunlap told the Associated Press. “(Our) people are very smart up top. So options and thinking of your variables is a very smart thing to do.”
In a separate interview with SheridanHoops.com, Dunlap said there was a “possibility” that the Bobcats would trade the No. 2 pick.
“There’s that piece of other organizations calling to do deals, so it puts a degree of wait-and-see all the way up,” Dunlap said in a lengthy phone interview from Charlotte. “But you have these scripts and they have decision A, B, C, D and they’re really high-tech here. They’ve got it down.”
With Kentucky’s Anthony Davis the presumptive top overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte is likely to choose from among power forward Thomas Robinson of Kansas, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky, shooting guard Bradley Beal of Florida and small forward Harrison Barnes of North Carolina at No. 2.
However, the idea of taking Beal was somewhat reduced and the premise of trading the pick somewhat increased with Thursday night’s trade with the Pistons, which sent small forward Corey Maggette to Detroit for shooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round pick.
The Bobcats aren’t strong at many positions, but shooting guard appears set with Gerald Henderson – one of the team’s few bright spots last season – now backed up by Gordon, one of the best bench scorers in the NBA.
Even prior to the trade, Dunlap told the AP that Charlotte has “definitely reduced” the number of players it is targeting at No. 2.
One potential trading partner is the Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of picks 4 and 24. That would allow Charlotte – which finished an NBA all-time-worst 7-59 this season — to trade down to acquire an outside shooter.
“The ability to make the three is important because it allows you to play inside the 3-point line,” Dunlap told the AP. “What happens is a defense collapses and it gets crowded in there. I would say that is safe to say that we need to do that. And we need to do a better job with our spacing, too. But as far as the roster goes it’s always nice to have guys who can shoot a basketball.”
Gordon can do that, and there have been rumors that the Cavs are trying to climb above the Washington Wizards, who have the third pick and may be targeting Beal. Any deal that allows the Bobcats to collect multiple draft picks is a good one.
Dunlap, 54, is still settling into his new job after he made the quantum leap from college assistant to NBA coach. And he didn’t jump from Kentucky, Kansas or North Carolina, either.
He jumped from a St. John’s team that finished 13-19. Dunlap coached most of the season while Steve Lavin recovered from prostate cancer surgery.
“I’m still a bit numb to it all and I think that’s a good way to be because it’s like Christmas and there’s just a jubilation within my family and then all of that,” he said. “But also I understand that there’s work to be done each day.”
Dunlap was chosen earlier this month over a group of finalists that included former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder. When Sloan removed his name from consideration, Dunlap was brought back in for a second interview.
“It’s one of one in terms of how that’s happened,” Dunlap said of the uniqueness of his hiring. “The point for me is just the gratitude. You realize you’re really lucky and then go from there as a base point.”
“Mike’s selection as the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach is a well-deserved honor,” Lavin said. “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.”
Known as a master strategist and tactician, Dunlap won two national titles at Division II Metro State in Denver and also served two years as an assistant under Denver Nuggets coach George Karl.
Dunlap also served as the associate head coach at Arizona and an assistant at Oregon before joining the St. John’s staff in 2010.
“He is one of the outstanding minds in the game,” legendary former Arizona coach Lute Olson said when Dunlap was hired at St. John’s. “His strengths are in organization and on-the-floor coaching.”
Dunlap isn’t a back-slapping, gregarious personality by nature. But he is making an effort to get to know Jordan as well as his new players.
“It’s still a feeling-out process and a get-to-know-you,” Dunlap said of his relationship with Jordan, the owner who is under as much pressure as anyone to make a quality pick in this draft.
Dunlap also has a link to Bobcats guard Kemba Walker. Moe Hicks, Walker’s coach at Rice High School, is on the staff at St. John’s and Dunlap coached against Walker when the point guard was at UConn.
“For Kemba to know that I had a relationship witih someone that’s important to him is good and that we came from the same conference which is good,” Dunlap said. “That relationship and basically trying to find out common interests for them and not just go straight for the basektball is a good way of going.
“And then anytime I can get out of the building and meet them on their turf is a good thing, whether it’s a meal or whatever. And I’m setting up all that.”
Dunlap is living in a hotel next to the Charlotte arena while his wife, Mollie, and his daughter, Ellie, are in the process of relocating to Charlotte from Manhasset, NY. His daughter is still in high school.
“Sometimes I wake up and I still think I’m in New York,” Dunlap said. “I think I’ve gotta take care of my responsibilities at St. John’s like on the housing or guys transitioning in, compliance.
“It’s just a different world here. Sometimes I’m writing in my notebook and I’m writing the wrong list.”