The Charlotte Bobcats are ready to turn the page on the 2011-2012 NBA season. After posting the worst winning percentage in NBA history (7-59), Bobcats fans were ready to expect big changes with big names.
Former head coach Paul Silas was told in April that his contract would not be renewed for the 2012-2013 season. After trading away star foward Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trailblazers a year earlier, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan left Silas a team comprised of young, inexperienced players that never represented anything more than just another rebuilding year.
Still, with a vacant head coaching position and the highest odds (at 25 percent) of getting the first pick in the NBA draft, it seemed like Jordan's plan to success was almost predictable.
Bobcats fans crossed their fingers for the first pick in the NBA lottery, as the almost certain first pick for any team would be University of Kentucky center Anthony Davis. With his shot blocking and rebounding abilities, combined with his high basketball IQ and low-post moves, Davis has the potential completely change the fortune of an NBA franchise. He has been called one of the highest-valued college prospects since the 1980s, when Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing entered the draft.
So, who else would have been better to coach the big man than Ewing, one of the best big men the NBA has ever seen? Charlotte would not be Ewing's first experience on an NBA bench, as he has spent the last six years as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic, helping to develop All-Star center Dwight Howard. The former Knicks All-Star is known to be good friends with Jordan, so the move made perfect sense.
Davis and Ewing. That's what people predicted. And that's what no one will get.
The Bobcats announced Wednesday that Ewing had been turned down for the head coaching position, and they would pursue other options after the lottery. Then, that same night, the Bobcats "lost" the lottery, getting the second overall pick behind the New Orleans Hornets.
So, in less than 24 hours, what some Charlotte fans predicted as the new game plan was gone.
The Bobcats are not alone in their loss, as the worst team hasn't had the first pick since the Orlando Magic did in 2004. The question now is: Where should they go from here?
The Bobcats still have a long list of great coaches to consider for the job. They have reportedly scheduled interviews with Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw, Lakers assistant Quin Snyder and Golden State assistant Mike Malone. The list also includes two former head coaches, ex-Trailblazers coach Nate McMillan and former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
The Bobcats do not have a star player. They have talent, but it is young and needs time to develop. What Jordan should be looking for in his future coach is patience and command. By missing out on Davis, the time to turn the franchise's fortunes will not come swiftly. There still is a slew of talent in the draft, but none like Davis.
What the Bobcats need is Jerry Sloan.
The former Utah Jazz coach is one of the few elite coaches who can command a team simply by demeanor and reputation. When leading players like Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Bismack Biyombo, the Bobcats need a coach who will be followed right from the get-go.
Morale is low in Charlotte. With an average team age of 26 years old, the Bobcats can't afford to let their one advantage — youth — go to waste. Assistant coaches from the Pacers, Lakers or Warriors will not have the same effect Sloan would. Sloan can immediately have the support of an entire 15-man roster, change the attitudes of his players and instantly put in a new system to develop the Bobcats. The younger coaches would take more time to earn a team's trust, figure out a strategy and move forward. That time would be wasting the young talent the Bobcats have.
Sloan's resume speaks for itself. He has 26 years of experience, with a .603 winning percentage. Although he never won a championship, he has 98 playoff victories. Sloan has the experience and the patience to develop a system in Charlotte that would instantly have an impact.
Truth be told, no coach will be able to turn the Bobcats into a playoff team right away. But Sloan will change the mindset of the team and create a vast improvement from years past. He has the ability to start an upward trend that will carry over each year, that will at the very least carry the Bobcats out of dead last in the league.
There are many viable options at Jordan's disposal, but Sloan is the clear, commanding and reputable choice to put in place. The fact he would come out of retirement to put his reputation on the line shows he is committed to turning this team around. After hitting rock bottom, it's time for rebuilding to take effect and improvement to begin, starting with Sloan.
On a team that lacks veteran leadership, Sloan would be the ultimate experienced coach to command the team.
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