CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Deliberate is the key word in the Charlotte Bobcats’ coaching search; the front office isn’t under any time pressure to replace Paul Silas, so don’t expect any imminent decision.
President of basketball operations Rod Higgins told the Observer Monday that he’s taking a “nice, slow pace’’ to make sure they consider everyone worthwhile. Part of that is about arranging interviews with coaches who just finished up, either with the close of the regular season or the end of the first round of the playoffs.
It’s also about who might not yet be available. As Higgins put it, “our list might include guys (still) in the playoffs.’’
The Bobcats have already interviewed Michael Malone, the lead assistant to Mark Jackson at Golden State. Higgins used one word – “impressive’’ – to describe Malone. He’s considered a defensive specialist. He was a key factor in the New Orleans Hornets improving greatly on defense two years ago, when Malone worked for Monty Williams.
A source familiar with the search said the Bobcats are set to interview Cleveland Cavaliers assistant Nate Tibbetts today and Orlando Magic assistant Patrick Ewing later this week.
Tibbetts has worked for Cavs coach Byron Scott since December of 2011. Most of his experience is as a head coach in the NBA’s development league. Tibbetts spent two seasons as coach of the Tulsa 66ers and two previous to that as coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Tibbetts did impressive work in Tulsa. He produced four call-ups to NBA teams, the most in the D-League in that span. His team advanced to the finals of the D-League playoffs in one of those two seasons.
Ewing, now an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic, is considered one of the best centers in NBA history. He was elected to the basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Ewing played most of his career for the New York Knicks before finishing out with the Seattle Supersonics and the Magic. He was just the 10th player in league history to reach 22,000 points and 10,000 rebounds.
Centers rarely become NBA head coaches. About half the 30 coaches in the league are former NBA players and almost all of those played guard. The only current coach who saw the game from a big man’s perspective is the Houston Rockets’ Kevin McHale, who played mostly power forward with the Boston Celtics.
Agent David Falk, who represented both Ewing and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan as
players, finds the lack of big men elevated to head-coaching positions strange.
“It seems like there’s this bias that point guards make better coaches because they lead the offense,’’ said Falk, who no longer represents Ewing. “But (former Georgetown coach and NBA center) John Thompson coached Allen Iverson to be one of the best small players in NBA history.
“It’s the strangest thing. Michael’s coach never had (head-coaching) experience and he was 6-10. And no one has a question about Phil Jackson’s success’’ with the Bulls and later the Lakers.
Ewing has nine seasons of experience as an assistant, first with Washington under Doug Collins and then with the Magic. In Orlando he has tutored Dwight Howard, the dominant center in the NBA. Howard has improved offensively in those seasons but has never reached the rounded offensive game Ewing displayed as a pro.
Ewing was a fine shotblocker, and obviously the Bobcats could use help with their low-post defense; they were among the worst in the NBA last season in points allowed in the lane. Also, if the Bobcats are fortunate enough to get the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery, it’s a virtual certainty they would select Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.