Oh, the losing would be the same, that's for sure. The method and the face leading them will be different, though, which is why no matter how this turns out, the Bobcats' reportedly imminent hiring of Dunlap as head coach represents a rare inspired move by Michael Jordan's troubled organization.
Once again, an NBA organization showed some creativity in going outside the established coaching fraternity for its bench boss. Kaleb Canales and Erik Spoelstra are the newest and most accomplished coaches, respectively, who were met with "Who?" when they were hired, but their organizations are known for novel, daring moves. The Bobcats under Jordan have been known for anything but. Paul Silas and Larry Brown have resumes that cannot be dismissed, but their styles and limitations were known. They were solid, yet safe, picks.
Dunlap is not a safe pick. Despite having more than 30 years of coaching experience, he has never been a head coach at the NBA level. His only experience as a Division I head coach came when he assumed control at St. John's when Steve Lavin had to take a leave due to complications with prostate cancer. Dunlap apparently is known as a teacher of the game, which the 7-59 Bobcats could certainly use, but if Dunlap does not win, this one is on Jordan.
All the losing previously was on Jordan too, of course, but there were buffers. Lose with a known name like Silas, and there is justification to deflect blame. The organization did its job by hiring a seasoned coach, the logic goes, and the coach failed to do his job of winning.
Above all, it is always refreshing to see a somewhat unfamiliar name get a chance. Jerry Sloan is one of the finest coaches in NBA history, but it was rather encouraging to see Sloan pull his name from consideration. Not only did it ensure that the bitterly competitive Sloan avoided a brutal rebuilding process, it opened up another opportunity for a first-time head coach like Brian Shaw or Dunlap, the ultimate choice.
Knowing the Bobcats, of course, hiring Dunlap may not be the inspired, risk-embracing choice we assume. It is entirely possible Charlotte went with the bargain basement option, knowing Dunlap would not demand a lucrative contract or total control. The Clippers tried that by lowballing general manager Neil Olshey. It didn't work for the Clippers — Olshey got a much bigger deal with the Blazers — but the very fact that they tried is evidence that nothing can be put past franchises with histories of poor management.
Let us assume for now that Dunlap's hiring signals a change in the Bobcats' philosophy, one that values original thinking and finding talent — coach, player or otherwise — in previously unsearched places. The Bobcats, and the league as a whole, would be better for it.