Dunlap said it's a relationship built on trust and he's been able to point out Mullens' shortcomings without any bitterness coming back his way.
"I'm able to tell him things he doesn't want to hear," Dunlap said.
Said Mullens: "Yeah, we have a certain way of talking to each other. People from the outside might see that and think we are getting into it. You know, it's all love. He gives me a lot of confidence out there on the court to do what I want to do so that goes a long way. You know when you have a green light you can hit big shots and have a big night. It's nice."
Earlier this month, Charlotte president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said "adding some bigs" remains a pressing necessity for the Bobcats, who had the worst record in the league entering the All-Star break.
The Bobcats have had conversations with Brooklyn Nets about acquiring Kris Humphries in exchange for Ben Gordon, but no deal is imminent.
The team likes Bismack Biyombo, although he's a much better defensive player than an offensive one. Brendan Haywood, Hakim Warrick, Tyrus Thomas, Jeff Adrian and Gana Diop are Charlotte's other "bigs," and none of them are averaging more than seven points a game.
That's one of the reasons the Bobcats consider Mullens a core players they must keep.
Ideally the Bobcats would like to add a true low post scoring threat, a move that would allow Mullens more freedom to step out and knock down 3-pointers. But those players are hard to find.
Regardless, the Bobcats believe Mullens' huge performance against the Celtics last week was more of a sign of things to come rather than an aberration.
"We need that from Byron," point guard Kemba Walker said. "He can do it. We have to get him to do it every night. He's very capable of it. When he has big games like that it gives us a much better chance."
For Mullens though, the focus moving forward is on becoming a rebounding force.
"The 18 rebounds, I would rather have that than 25 points," he said. "That's because (rebounding) is not what I'm known for. I just have to show I can rebound consistently."