- Last Updated: 7:37 AM, July 26, 2012
- Posted: 3:07 AM, June 19, 2012
Mike Dunlap will be the next head coach of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, sources told The Post last night.
Dunlap, 54, spent the past two years working as Steve Lavin’s lead assistant at St. John’s, including running the program’s day-to-day operations this past season while Lavin recovered from prostate cancer surgery.
Dunlap’s hiring was first reported by the Charlotte Observer.
He becomes the first NBA head coach that jumps from being an NCAA assistant who has no prior Division I head-coaching experience.
Dunlap originally was one of the 10 candidates to interview for the job, but the team last week trimmed the list to former Utah coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana assistant coach Brian Shaw and Lakers assistant coach Quin Snyder last week.
At some point Dunlap re-entered the picture and was offered and accepted the job last night, AP reported.
“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,” Lavin said last night.
Dunlap’s hiring leaves a big hole in Lavin’s St. John’s staff. While Lavin’s other assistants, Rico Hines and Tony Chiles, are strong recruiters, Dunlap is highly regarded as a strategist and tactician on the sidelines.
Sources said Lavin will not take a cookie-cutter approach to hiring a replacement, which means he’s not married to hiring another X’s and O’s expert.
Since getting his first coaching job as an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount in 1980, Dunlap has spent the vast majority of his time working in the college game. His only previous NBA experience came from a two-year stint in Denver from 2006-08 as an assistant under George Karl.
Dunlap has had three previous head-coaching jobs. He was the coach at Division III California Lutheran from 1989-94 before leaving to coach an Australian pro team, the Adelaide 36ers, from 1994-97. He left there to have a lengthy run of success at Division II Metro State in Denver, where he won two national championships and made nine straight NCAA Tournaments from 1997-2006 before joining Karl’s Nuggets staff.
Dunlap becomes the fifth coach in the nine-year history of the Charlotte franchise, which is owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan. The Bobcats are coming off a historically bad season that saw them finish 7-59, including losing their final 23 games of the season. Charlotte’s .106 winning percentage was the worst in NBA history.
The Bobcats even lost in the lottery, getting the second pick behind the Hornets and missing out on a chance to draft Kentucky star Anthony Davis.
—Additional reporting by Lenn RobbinsFollow @NYPostsports