Alvin Gentry would love to come home and coach the Charlotte Bobcats.
A Shelby native and former Appalachian State player, Gentry has coached four NBA franchises over 12 seasons. He told the Observer Friday that the Bobcats opening is very appealing and he would like to be in the mix of candidates.
“It reminds me a little bit of the teams I had in L.A. (with the Clippers): Young players, very energetic guys,” Gentry said. “Kemba (Walker) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have a lot of potential and (Gerald) Henderson has started to really establish himself as a pro.
“I’ve seen a lot of their games. Yes, they’ve struggled at times, but that’s a situation where you could make a big change in a year or so. I know that player development is really important to that job.”
The job came open Tuesday when the Bobcats fired Mike Dunlap after a single 21-61 season. Bobcats executives Rod Higgins and Rich Cho said their phones “blew up” with coaches interested in the job.
Gentry, 58, is available after the Phoenix Suns let him go at midseason. He has coached the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Clippers and Suns to a career record of 335-370. He had his best season in 2009-10, coaching the Suns to the Western Conference finals before losing in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Bobcats have gone through four coaches since 2007. Gentry said that wouldn’t deter him, that the team’s assets – likely four first-round picks over the next two drafts and up to $21 million in cap space – make this an appealing situation.
“You know they’re going to get some good young players with those picks and then they have the (cap) flexibility to add a very good veteran player, somebody who can serve as an example to the rest of the locker room,” Gentry said.
“And you’ve got Michael (Jordan as owner) – the best player to ever put on a uniform. I’d certainly use him as a resource.”
Gentry said his ties to the Charlotte area could help a team still working to sell out home games.
“I’ve always been that way when I was in L.A. or Detroit or wherever. I understand the whole of a franchise, dealing with sponsors and season-ticket holders,” Gentry said. “I think putting yourself out there with the public is a very important part of being an NBA coach.
“You owe it to the franchise to be part of the community.”