For most NBA teams, the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season was a whirlwind. But for the Charlotte Bobcats, it was more like a never-ending nightmare.
After finishing the season on an unfathomable 23-game losing streak, the new owners of the NBA’s worst single-season winning percentage (.106) chose not to bring back head coach Paul Silas in an effort to wipe the slate clean.
Now Yahoo Sports is reporting that Patrick Ewing could be the next man charged with the task of dragging the Bobcats out of the NBA cellar. The longtime Knicks center, who currently serves as an assistant on the Orlando staff, will reportedly interview with the team when the Magic’s playoff run is over. The Pacers host Orlando Tuesday night and own a 3-1 lead in the series.
From Larry Brown to the recently-deposed Silas, the Bobcats have tried — and failed — to achieve sustained success with veteran coaches at the helm, so a first-time coach like Ewing would at least provide a different approach.
Ewing, who has spent five years on Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando, has long desired a head coaching opportunity, and his close friendship with Bobcats owner Michael Jordan could help his cause. Warriors assistant Mike Malone and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan are also said to be on Charlotte’s short list. Team officials were scheduled to meet with Malone — the league’s highest-paid assistant at $750,000 per year — in California on Tuesday.
In a March interview with ESPNNewYork.com, Ewing was asked about his interest in the Knicks job should the team choose not to retain interim coach Mike Woodson.
“I’ve put in the work,” he said. “I’ve learned from a lot of very good coaches in Stan (Van Gundy), Jeff (Van Gundy), and Doug Collins, and I’ve played for a lot of great coaches. All I need is an opportunity, and once I get that opportunity, hopefully I’ll be successful.”
With an NBA-worst record of 7-59, the Bobcats have the best shot to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, which could provide added incentive to a coach considering the post. Kentucky freshman center Anthony Davis is widely considered the top prospect in the draft, and Ewing’s experience working with Dwight Howard in Orlando (not to mention his accomplished NBA career), could help also his candidacy should the Bobcats land the top pick.
But it remains to be seen whether the Bobcats will be willing to wait until the lottery (May 30) to name their next coach.
Attracting a coach with a track record of success could be a challenge for Jordan, who has yet to demonstrate a willingness to spend money on players and staff that can turn his doormat club into a winner. But for a guy like Ewing looking to ascend the coaching ladder, the Bobcats could be an ideal fit.