Bobcats majority owner and chairman Michael Jordan sat down with the Charlotte Observer today to speak about a variety of changes the Bobcats have undergone and looking forward to the season ahead and beyond.
Jordan was especially keen to bring up how much he likes Dunlap and his coaching style. It's no stretch to make even without Jordan's public endorsement. Looking back at Jordan's playing career and his penchant for perfection down to the minutiae of the game, this makes sense.
I felt good about what Coach Dunlap was actually doing, all the little things that seemingly have been our biggest issue in the past. ... Boxing out. Making good passes. Utilizing each other's talents. Understanding basic basketball. Pivots. Things that basketball fans don't see as often, but if you look at good teams, those are good things that happen in the game.
He further explained that at first some players were rather unenthusiastic about practices lasting three to four hours. But Jordan said he put a stop to that by telling them "The culture of what's happening in Charlotte is going to be this. Either you buy in or you're not going to be here. ... The next day, it seemed everybody was on board."
Good. The Bobcats were not only bad last year at the flashy parts of the game like shooting and defense, but also the core intricate details of it. They didn't set very good screens, they didn't box out well whatsoever and as Jordan said, they didn't play together well utilizing each other's talents.
Jordan also touched on his expectations for the team. For him the expectations aren't a number but encouraging development and improvement, emphasizing the importance of youth. "We've got MKG and we've got Jeff Taylor, who are new kids who I think they're going to get it. How fast they get it, I don't know."
I'm in favor of this approach as well, as the W-L record for the Bobcats is going to be rather insignificant save for draft position. The focus should be on improving the roster's talent and getting the rookies to catch on, which could take a while.
MJ also touched on why the team selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:
What I saw in the kid was his potential. He's a very versatile guy. His demeanor, his motivation for playing the game was something I could identify with. He loves to play. He plays hard. Success has been part of his life in terms of a basketball scenario. And if he succeeds as everybody expects him to, he's going to be a connector. He can connect a lot of different talent together and be successful.
I've said this in the past and I say it loosely obviously: He reminds me of Scottie Pippen because he can do so many different facets and he can connect a lot of different, talented players. Whereas if we looked at other guys - I looked at [Thomas] Robinson, who I think is going to be a great player - but can he connect? Can he connect the different pieces?
That's where I saw MKG as being more valuable to this organization because if we can find those types of players that can make everybody else better and touch it with the ball, with the pass, with his defense, with his voice, with his energy, all those types of things, that's a quick road to success.
When you look at the way our league is, you have some players who are capable of doing this. Now I'm only going to say this as recognizing and identifying guys: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, all these guys play multiple positions, they know how to involve everyone, they know how to lead, they have the work ethic, this is what I saw about this kid that can be very beneficial to this organization, especially where we are and where we're trying to go.
Oof. He's going to take some serious flak for that last part about LeBron, Kobe and Durant. I see what he's getting at, that they all make their teammates better, but those are tough comparisons.
Gerald Henderson did not get an extension before yesterday's deadline, but Jordan still thinks the young guard can take the next step towards being an all-star. He noted Henderson's designation as a captain and how he'll have to lead by example and show more than just signs of what he can do to deserve a bigger contract.
Though the Bobcats have yet to make any free agency splashes, Jordan hopes the new CBA's intent on creating more parity will lead to changing that.
If the (collective bargaining agreement) operates the way it's supposed to, there will be very few teams with the right cap space (to pursue major free agents). Hopefully we can start picking them off that way, by maintaining our flexibility. Maybe we can provide them with the financial reward most players are starting to look for. Hoping the CBA will work that way for small-market teams - some parity.
In theory this works, but it's not that simple. The largest markets will still be fine with paying luxury taxes while the smaller markets with good teams will feel the screws being put on them to not chase after their attractive free agents. This creates an imbalance at the top and then a plateau, so not quite parity. Still it may very well help the Bobcats more than the previous CBA.
He also discussed how the Bobcats made a few phone calls to try to get James Harden when he was on the block, how the team's open to changing the name if New Orleans changes theirs, too.