If the Charlotte Bobcats are going to lose the rest of this season, then they’re at least going to lose with the kids getting most of the minutes.
That was the message from coach Mike Dunlap, following a blowout 105-75 home loss to the Chicago Bulls.
This was the third time this season the Bobcats lost by 30 or more and the 10th time they lost by 20 or more. The difference Friday was that even in a blowout, the team’s three highest-paid players – Ben Gordon, Gana Diop and Tyrus Thomas – never played.
Thomas was inactive, as he was the four previous games. Diop seldom plays and is in the final season of his contract.
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But this was the first time this season Gordon has not played by coach’s decision. This appeared discipline-related: Gordon was disruptive at a shootaround Feb. 11, but was never suspended. This was the first game following the trade deadline, so sitting Gordon no longer could undermine his trade value.
Dunlap didn’t deny Gordon’s absence was discipline-related. But he said it was more about playing young guys, mentioning rookie Jeff Taylor specifically.
And Dunlap said this is how his rotation would work the remaining 27 games this season.
Dunlap said he has a “mandate” to develop the young core and, “These guys will continue to get those minutes.”
Gordon declined to stop and talk to a reporter as he exited the locker room. He’s played 49 games, all as a reserve this season, missing five others due to injury or a family emergency. He’s the Bobcats’ highest-paid player this season at $12.4 million and has a player-option for next season at $13.2 million.
The Bobcats traded for him in June in large part because his former team, the Detroit Pistons, was willing to send Charlotte a future first-round pick to get Gordon off the payroll. Gordon and Dunlap have had some tensions over how he’s been used, and the situation boiled over at a shootaround before the Feb. 11 home game against the Boston Celtics.
A team source confirms Gordon kept bouncing a ball as a distraction while Dunlap was going through the Celtics’ plays. At the time the Bobcats had proposed a trade with the Brooklyn Nets that would have swapped Gordon for power forward Kris Humphries. But the Nets turned down that deal.
Taylor played 24 minutes Friday, the most he’s logged in any of the past seven games. His 4-of-5 shooting was in stark contrast to the Bobcats’ 25-of-75 performance against the Bulls, who led by 21 in the first half and cruised the rest of the way.