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April 23, 2013

Transcript of Bobcats executives Rod Higgins and Rich Cho, following firing of head coach Mike Dunlap

    Transcript of the interview Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho did Tuesday with the Charlotte Observer and Associated Press:


Why did you decide to fire Mike Dunlap as coach?


Higgins: “After getting through the course of an 82-game season, getting through our exit interviews with our players, meeting with Mike (Dunlap), Rich and I came to the conclusion we needed to make a change. At that point we went to ownership – Michael and Curtis (Polk, the vice chairman) – and made the suggestion of the change. And the change was allowed.’’


How did Dunlap handle the news?


Higgins: “I would say he was very professional and thanked us for the opportunity.’’



Was he surprised by this?


Higgins:  “I can’t speak for Mike but that’s always a tough situation for anybody on either side – organizational side or individual side.’’


How much did the player interviews factor in this decision?


Higgins: “It was part of the process. But not the only indicator.’’


Did he have a difficult time evolving from the persona of a college coach to the interactions  NBA coaches have with their players?


Higgins:  “There were times where that could be perceived. We knew when we hired Mike there were
going to be some uncharted waters, so to speak.’’

Cho: “I just don’t think he was a great fit. Probably best that we go in a different direction.’’


An agent for one of your players suggested Dunlap remaining coach could have impeded your pursuit of free agents. Was that a concern?


Higgins:  “I don’t feel that. No. Players want opportunities – meaning financial gain, playing time, probably the third one would be a winning scenario. That’s what we’re planning to be – a wining team.’’


What qualities would you prioritize in picking the next coach?


Higgins: “A great leader, the player development aspect is still vitally important to us because of our youth. Obviously you want a fantastic X-and-O coach. Someone who can make our players better and help us win games.’’


Do you need a more experienced coach?


Cho: “We don’t want to limit ourselves to a model. We’re pretty open-minded. Right now we’re putting a list together.’’


Fans want to know why you would fire a guy who tripled the win total from last season and finished strong. Why?

Higgins: “You can characterize the season in different buckets. We started pretty strong and we finished pretty strong. But through the middle part of those two buckets we had some inconsistencies. So when Rich and I reviewed the season we came to the conclusion we needed a change.”

How did he do coaching vets?

Higgins: “I thought the veterans we had on the roster got opportunities to play. Maybe not Reggie Williams but the other veterans had opportunities to play and that’s the most important thing. If you look at Tyrus (Thomas), he was playing the most competitive position on the team and coach probably didn’t feel the need to give Tyrus as many minutes as another power forward. But Tyrus did have an opportunity to play as well as Ben (Gordon). (Ramon) Sessions and (Brendan) Haywood.’’

Surprised you have to find a new coach after hiring one last year?

Higgins: “In the NBA, you’re not surprised by a lot because so many different things happen. It’s the business and we’re preparing for what tomorrow may bring.”

How appealing do you think this job is?

Cho: “I don’t think there will be any shortage of interest in this position. Both our phones have been ringing off the hook so far so I think it’s an appealing situation.’’

Any timetable?

Higgins: “We’ll go fast but we won’t hurry.’’

As in-depth of a search as last time?

Higgins: “I couldn’t say that right now. Just to piggyback on what Rich said, since the release our cell phones have been blowing up. It lets you know that there is interest in this job, a high level of interest.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2013 at 06:51 PM | Permalink


Nate McMillan, before he goes to Detroit.

Posted by: LB | Apr 23, 2013 8:01:48 PM

If Mike Malone's (GS) agent calls Cho may want to answer that call immediately...

Posted by: Amillionwayz | Apr 23, 2013 8:42:58 PM

I still can not figure out why R. Higgins is still here. I have not observed a single positive contribution...

Bad trades, Bad coaching hires, Bad Contracts, Bad Drafts, Bad personnel, Bad records have all been on his watch. Not just in Charlotte but in Golden State and in Washington DC with the Wizards...Mr Higgins you are lucky to be a FOM because It's clearly time to cut the cord and move in another direction from you.

Posted by: mdizzy5 | Apr 23, 2013 10:18:04 PM

Just last season, trading Matt Carroll - whom I like, but wasn't needed, due to the guards overload on the roster - for Hakim Warrick was already a good move. Then, getting Josh McRoberts for Warrick, that was an even better move. Josh McRoberts is special, he's a point forward, and should be a keeper.

Do fans still remember Rod Higgins' first trade as a Bobcats' GM, in 2007 ? He got us Jason Richardson from the Warriors for the 8th overall Draft pick. JRich was the team's leading scorer and the fans' favorite in '07-'08. And how much do you hear about Brandan Wright (the '07 pick we traded for him) ? Not very productive, and he's injury prone too.
Then, he got us Nazr Mohammed for Walter Hermann. Hermann was really good, but Vincent didn't want to play him, so, there was no point to keep him. Nazr had a big contract, which many didn't like, but it didn't take long until most fans began liking this player. Another good trade.

Then, there was a series of trades, some good , some bad - but, mostly made to please coach Brown, with MJ's blessing. That's Larry Brown, you just MUST please him if you want him as a coach. The worst trade, for Gana Diop was precisely a "please LB" move.

On the truly dark side, there was, of course, the horrible trading away of Tyson Chandler. Blame Higgins for not getting a better deal, but also blame MJ for acting stingy and just wanting to unload Chandler's big salary. And in the same off-season they splurged on Tyrus' big contract - for a player who never had proved himself worthy of it.

So, yes, Higgins made some mistakes, but he has some good decisions too on his record.
And I know, his haters won't stop asking for his firing ...

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 23, 2013 11:14:28 PM

Sandy are you serious? Look at the roster right now. You can seriously go on a rant about how he isn't that bad when they have had one of the worst teams ever two years in a row? Because he was able to trade for Walter Hermann? Seriously!??!

He is awful. Has been awful and will continue to be awful. This team drafts poorly, and continues to be coached poorly. The only good thing they have done in the last 5 years was draft Kemba and trade Maggette for Gordon and a first round pick. Thats it.

Lets see Higgins first year as GM he drafted Augustin and Ajinca instead of Brook Lopez and anyone else in that draft that has turned out good. Does anyone realize that Higgins traded their 2010 draft pick for Ajinca? I know they weren't in the lottery that year, but guys like Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley and Greivis Vazquez all drafted outside of the lottery.

In 2011 he turns around and drafts a project that is all but certain to be a bust, maybe not as big as Ajinca, but close in Biyombo when they could have drafted somoene like Kawhai Leonard, a Morris twin, Nik Vucevic, Klay Thompson, etc.

Not only that, but he gave Tyson Chandler a perenial defensive player of the year candidate away for a trade exception that I am pretty sure was never used as well as waiving, not even trading Boris Diaw who starts on one of the top 5 teams in the NBA and of course gave out atrocious contracts to Thomas, Diop, Carroll, etc etc etc etc.

I just dont know how anyone in their sane mind could seriously try to defend Higgins. Hes atrocious, and has completely buried the bobcats into the ground for YEARS to come.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 24, 2013 9:54:55 AM

Wow, last year they couldn't give the coaching job away and now they have 'no shortage of interest'. So now the Bobcats are a much sought after team??? Why the change of heart among candidates? Obviously, they had a candidate in mind last year but they wanted someone else (Dunlap) to do the dirty work of teaching/ pushing the greenhorns and dealing with the overpaid, limited-talent veterans. Then as the youngsters are slowly turning around the situation Higgins/MJ give the job to the buddy who was too damn lazy to do the job in the first place. That's Bobcats ball!!!

Posted by: Rob | Apr 24, 2013 10:53:25 AM

Mike, you certainly didn't get my point, and you're not the only fan who simply didn't follow the decision making processes of this franchise closely enough to know who's responsible for what. You (and others) are throwing some really cheap shots at Rod Higgins for some bad decisions that were NOT his. It was his job to go along with his boss's wishes.

Picking Augustin and Ajinca: poor choices, which I criticized repeatedly in past years. Those were Larry Brown's Draft choices, supported by Michael Jordan.
Picking Biyombo in 2011; another poor choice, this time, Cho's preference, based on the potential he saw in this player. Again, it was done because MJ decided to go along with Cho's preference.

As for Higgins' own mistakes, I mentioned Chandler and Tyrus as serious mistakes, so when you rehash these you're not adding anything new.

When you say "Look at the roster right now", you need to understand that this is the result of MJ's decision to dismantle the 2010 playoffs team. I went against that decision in countless posts. But, it was the owner who made it, thinking he doesn't need to pay so much for a team that got swept in the first round of the playoffs.

So, there were a lot of bad management decisions that brought the team where it's at now, but most of them are NOT Higgins's ideas: many of them started with Larry Brown's, or Rich Cho's, preferences, with MJ's blessing. Once the big boss said OK to such losing ideas, Higgins just went along with them.

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 24, 2013 10:56:50 AM

Agree with most of above and bottom line is clock is ticking and it's about to be a turnover. In 2014 tickets are not renewed to be the worst 2 teams again with no hope.
I mean folks talk about Wizards, Cavs, and Pistons with hope and possibilities. I would take there spots as they have cap space and better current core team then we have.
So to make playoffs who drops out and we have to beat those 3 plus Orlando who may even be better off than us.

Posted by: Season Ticket holder for now | Apr 24, 2013 11:24:11 AM

Sandy - are you really Rod Higgins?

Who are you kidding? Bottom line is this, you are the General Manager, or Team President or whatever they want to call Higgins, you are responsible for everything. If you don't have the balls to stand up to MJ or Larry Brown or Rich Cho you shouldn't be in a power position. Thats BS you just tried to feed me. Tell the CEO of a company that their business failed because others in the company wanted their way. NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 24, 2013 12:55:30 PM

It's not just "others", Mike. Those "others" insisted on some pet ideas they had. What matters was, and always is, what the big boss says. That's what I said: "Once the big boss said OK to such losing ideas, Higgins just went along with them."

If you want to say that Rod Higgins was always a yes-man to his boss, and never stood up to Michael Jordan, that would be fair enough. I guess he values keeping his job...

But this is very far from blaming Rod Higgins for all the bad management decisions of this franchise, and from saying that he's "responsible for everything". That's what making someone a scape-goat is. No, responsible for everything is the "big boss" - the owner, Michael Jordan.

Those who came up to him with various fancy requests (Larry Brown, many times, then Rich Cho too) are evidently responsible too for what they asked for.

But, to go by your example, for the Bobcats the ultimate authority (CEO, President, whatever his formal title is) is NOT Rod Higgins, it's Michael Jordan.

But, you see, Higgins is the one who always sticks out, because he's the one who always communicates with the media, whereas the owner rarely does this.

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 24, 2013 4:46:41 PM

sandy you gotta be effing kidding me....

walter hermann for nazr was a HORRIBLE trade. sure nazr plays great NOW as a role player and for the veteran minimum but he was making 6 million a year for the 3 years he was here. He only played well his last year. he was HORRIBLE that 2nd year. I mean he basically caused the diop trade by how bad he was.

there is no questioning how bad rod higgins was when he was the general manager. sure I was hype when we got jason richardson for the 8 pick. Great value. but then we all realized after that year how much that was just a salary dump and we turned around and dumped him on phoenix for quality players with winning mentalities. richardson is or more so was a stat stuffing highlight reel who did not win games for teams. being a fan favorite doesn't make it a great move. by that measure matt carroll deserved his 5 year contract.

the dampier trade? seriously? the only salary dump in NBA history that actually brought back more salary while simultaneously dismantling a playoff team. and he threw in a 21 year old alexis ajinca who like basically every other young prospect we have ever had was never given the chance to grow up. spurs would have made ajinca into splitter.

matt carroll for diop?

giving up on morrison? and getting radmonovic in return?

pause to give space before i remind you that shannon brown was the throw in for that deal.

getting less value for wallace than the trailblazers did A YEAR LATER AND WITH LESS LEVERAGE?

the only GM of recent memory worse is david kahn. and that's debatable.

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 24, 2013 5:52:28 PM

You didn't like Nazr ? It's your opinion, and it's the contrary of what most fans thought. And you're factually wrong. Nazr played here 4 years, not 3, and he played well in his first, third and fourth seasons here. Second season ? He mostly didn't play, because LB didn't want him; just one of his many quirks. Nazr played 8.7 minutes per game in 39 games only in that second season, and I remember well the fans' protesting comments against this, throughout that season. But LB is also shifting positions, and when he allowed him more minutes (in Nazr's 3rd season here), it was with good results.

LB wanted Diop as a big defensive center, instead of Nazr, who was mostly a skilled offensive center, a pretty good rebounder and average as a defender.

Also, you can have whatever opinion you want on JRich. You can't change the facts: he was the team's top scorer in '07-'08. And who is Brandan Wright, anyway ?

But then, he was traded to Phoenix, because his defense wasn't good enough (especially, for coach Brown). Then, you liked that trade, that brought us Diaw and Raja Bell. Congratulations! Finally, you're in the fans' consensus, on this one. And who worked that trade out? Oh, that "horrible" Rod Higgins.
Another one of his good moves, which I didn't even mention before.

Why do you even mention here the Chandler for Dampier (plus others) trade ? How many dozens of times would you like me to repeat that it was horrible, a bad move by Higgins. Just in this discussion thread, it's the third time that I'm repeating it.

About Ajinca: LB wanted him, then LB got disappointed in him, and we traded him. Well, again, most fans - contrary to you - thought this was a bad draft pick, and were relieved when he was traded. Not only Larry Brown, Rod Higgins and most of the Cats' fans thought we didn't need him, so did the Mavs and the Raptors. So, back to France he went, one year after leaving Charlotte.

Morrison ? Talented offensive player, but, a weak defender, who had no chance to survive under LB. So, he had to be traded. And you forgot to say that Radmanovic and a badly injured Raja Bell were moved to G.S. for Jax. The fans' consensus: it was a very good trade, it was a serious improvement of the team, and - I know you and the other Higgins haters won't forgive me for saying this - it was Higgins' achievement.

David Kahn is a clown in a GM's costume, while Rod Higgins has a mixed record: a number of good moves, but also some very bad ones (I mentioned the two worst in my first post).

Look, you can have your own opinion on his moves and I don't mind a bit you're stating it here, but you're too conceited to care that, on most issues you brought up in your last post (Nazr, JRich, Ajinca, Morrison), your opinion is in a small minority, and as I showed above, not only fans disagree with you. There was one issue where you're in the consensus, and that was in Higgins' favor.

I'm not trying to make you, or any other Higgins hater, appreciate this man. Keep calling for his firing, as far as I'm concerned ! I'm writing for any open minded fans, who are not blinded by their own hateful prejudice.

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 24, 2013 11:10:14 PM

At some point management must evaluate themselves , i dont care how much money u have u can't keep loosing money like the bobcats. GM CHO hands are tied cant really brings who he wants because of MJ best friend as POBO. focus on 3 heads coach: mc milan.sloan and byron scott. they have a track record and good .

Posted by: jaymoney | Apr 24, 2013 11:40:39 PM

With the new CBA revenue sharing and some paying huge amounts in luxury tax are we really losing that much money??
No honestly who knows we all just assume I think.

I just so want this team to even just make the playoffs and be decent. Championships are dreams at this point.

Posted by: Season Ticket holder for now | Apr 25, 2013 2:44:52 PM

Excellent article. The Coach did everything he was asked to do and still got the boot. Check out the draft choices and trades over the past 5 years starting with lottery pick Adam Morrisson. The problem is Michael Jordan's ego and his yes man Rod Higgans. Whose accountable for the hiring and expectation process? Oh yea,
Higgans kid was actually on this years roster. Go figure!

Posted by: Tim Valentine | Apr 27, 2013 9:28:21 PM

the problem with nazr was that he was making 6 million a year and no....he WAS horrible that second year. that's why brown didn't play him. defensively AND offensively. I'm being hard on him because of that one year. He was outstanding while chandler was hurt.

the dampier/chandler fiasco negated anything else he ever did. If he wanted to dump salary he could have done that. but he took back more money to "dump salary". that will never ever ever ever ever be forgiven. good with bad? no......bad with worse.

You're giving him a hall pass for the past 6 years because of.........? 1 playoff appearance? he lost all of that a long time ago and producing an 7 or 8 seed who gets swept in round 1 with bad cap situation and lack of youth - isn't something to hang your hat on. especially not when you turned and gave the 6th or 7th man on that team 40 million.

i bet you mark cuban sent him a championship ring.

i'm fine having an opinion in the minority. idiots agreeing or disagreeing with me don't give my opinions any more or less merit than they held before anybody read or heard them.

i have the opinion that most of his deals were bad. but it is a fact that the dampier trade was one of the worst of the past 15 years. People give the grizzlies hell for the gasol deal, yet they got marc gasol in that deal. how was that ever a bad deal for them? ever?

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 29, 2013 3:51:45 PM

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