Charlotte Bobcats New Assistant Coaches
Mike Dunlap was an assistant coach for the last 10 years or so, starting with the NBA and going back to the college ranks, then he was hired as the Charlotte Bobcats head coach. Now, he has to fill out his staff of assistants. The Bobcats have had some interesting assistants over the years. Mostly determined by need and nepotism (has there ever been a coach that didn't have a brother/son/relative on staff?) familiarity and someone that's good at certain positions are what have shaped past staffs, but I don't know about that with Mike Dunlap.
Like many fans, especially here at BobcatsPlanet.com, I'm hopeful things are going to change. Not just uniforms, staff and draft picks, but a whole cultural change, starting with Rich Cho and continuing with this still, somewhat, questionable hire of Mike Dunlap. But let's hope for the best and assume that Dunlap will surround himself with interesting and influential assistants.
First hire, as far as I know, is Rick Brunson. Rick Brunson is a young former player, at 40, he played for the Rockets as recently as 2006. He finished his career and became an assistant/scout 6 months later. Brunson was the 1991 McDonald's All-American Game MVP, well, co-MVP with Chris Webber. He went on to play at Temple and wasn't drafted but, here's where paths cross: he was signed in 1995 in Australia with the Adelade 36ers. That's right, for coach Mike Dunlap. So much for few connections, but there's nothing really wrong with that. Team MVP for Dunlap and he was back in the US for a few years at the CBA level, some stints with the Trailblazers and then he became a fixture in the NBA for almost 10 years. As I said, he must have caught someone's eye as an analytical player because he was hired at the NBA level as a player development assistant. That somebody was George Karl, wait, not the George Karl that was so glowing about the hire of Mike Dunlap, was it? Yes, and Mike was a fellow assistant at the same time in Denver. Rick Brunson went on to assist at the college level and then was hired to join Tom Thibideau's staff in Chicago, another good mentor.
Overall, you can't really complain about this hire. If you like to see the roles that assistant's play, you can put Brunson in the "young assistant that runs the drills" coach role. If you want to look at who this guy is, he's probably someone you'd really like to talk basketball with. A super-talented high school player, made a regional final in college and had a solid career, played with some seriously cool guys in possibly the most entertaining period in NBA history and then almost immediately got a job as an assistant under some good coaches. I think he knows a lot about the game and will be a welcome addition to Mike Dunlap's staff. Very interested to see what this guy is all about.
Now, that's one assistant, and true, he's been on the #1 seed from the past two seasons in the Eastern Conference the last 2 seasons; we gotta have a guy familiar with losing. How about bringing back Stephen Silas? The rumor I read has the younger Silas returning as an assistant, even after his father's firing and being rejected in his bid to be the next head coach. This is truly interesting to me. A carryover from the 7-59 season? I don't mean to sound like all ties to the worst season in NBA history should be cut, realistically, that can't happen but one of the biggest influences in losing? I don't know. Stephen is definitely a talented basketball mind and a coach on the upward path in the NBA. I can't take that away from him, but him wanting to come back and the Bobcats wanting to bring him back is truly intriguing.
Stephen's other assistant buddies from last season won't return. Rob Werdann and Ralph Lewis will hopefully find jobs elsewhere. I think 4 will be the magic number for the full staff. Assuming Silas is actually retained, Brunson and he make, umm, 2. So, who else is there? Stacey Augmon was interviewed last week. Lots of guard types, in Silas, Brunson and Augmon. You probably remember Augmon from the period a little before Brunson. He was a star at UNLV in the Jerry Tarkanian years with Larry Johnson. He was also a Hornet in Charlotte, you know for that last season? Never mind, no one watched the Hornets that year but me and my dumb college friends. Wait til I tell you the story about buying playoff tickets for $5. Anyway, Augmon played for 15 years in the league, wasn't resigned in his last contract, picked up by Denver in 2007 and then converted into a player development coach. See a pattern here? The Plastic Man was an assistant in Denver from 2007 until 2011. He was hired to return to Vegas as an assistant for the Rebels. It might be a case of how much does he want to move back East, rather than do the Bobcats actually want him.
If I had to guess there'd be another hire on the horizon but rumors haven't surfaced just yet. A big man coach would be really helpful with Bismack Biyombo being so incredibly raw. Augmon may not be hired at all, I'm not sure it's even been reported that he's been offered the job. It's getting down to it, with Summer League starting today and the first game coming on Friday. You start to realize how short the off season really is in a full NBA season, when the assistant coaching staff isn't filled going into something as formative to the young players as Summer League. Here's hoping the Bobcats make the right choices, and with the quickness.