Pritchslapped?, Free Agent News, and Vegas, Baby!

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Apologies for the lack of posting from me in recent days. I’ve been completely consumed by a relocation — back to the Charlotte area! Anyways, poor timing for such an interruption, as there has been an abundance of Bobcats news in the past couple of days. Let’s recap with links and comments.

  • First, as this story is now almost a week old, is a must-read link from the excellent Portland Trailblazers blog, Blazer’s Edge. Here is the original post, as well as the follow-up. Essentially, the story goes like this: on draft night, a rumor was started, and actually posted on Blazer’s Edge, that Charlotte had picked DJ Augustin for the Blazers. The Blazers would have sent back the #13 pick, Jarrett Jack and likely another young player. Now this isn’t some off-the-wall rumor site. Blazer’s Edge was ensconsed with all of the other Portland media covering the Blazers draft and many outlets were running with the rumor (thought it’s unclear exactly how it got started). Blazer’s Edge was apparently the only outlet to actually post it online before the actual Portland trade was confirmed (sending the #13 pick, Brandon Rush, and Josh McRoberts to Indiana for the #11 pick, Jerryd Bayless). This has led to some speculation that the Blazers’ wunderkind GM, Kevin Pritchard, was stringing Charlotte along by floating the possibility of a trade for Augustin, when he really was targeting Bayless all along. See, allowing Bayless to slip to Indiana at #11 means he has to give up less from his own roster than if he were to have to trade with the Bobcats at #9. Blazer’s Edge contends that this would amount to a “Pritchslap”. Awfully diabolical, great fun to blog about, but ultimately way too complicated to have actually taken place. I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I just can’t imagine Pritchard would employ such a convoluted scheme and risk pissing off his old college coach, Larry Brown, just to avoid giving up an extra player in a deal.
  • One piece to the above puzzle that Blazer’s Edge offers in support of the “Pritchslap” theory is that Augustin just doesn’t make any sense for the Bobcats (hence he must have been picked with a potential trade in mind, right?). In the hours and days following the draft, I was inclined to believe the same thing. As a Raymond Felton supporter/apologist, I feel that he has earned the right to be the starting PG this season and will have a great opportunity to raise his game to the next level under Larry Brown. So why bring in competition? And if Augustin is meant to be a backup, then isn’t #9 a bit too high to be picking a backup? Shouldn’t you be going for a guy with potential to be a star? Upon further consideration, though, I’ve changed my tune. I’ve come to believe that there were really only a couple of players that fit the Bobcats’ need for a power forward in this year’s draft: Michael Beasley (no way we could have moved up high enough to get him) and Kevin Love (ditto, plus he duplicates Sean May’s skill set a little too closely). With both of those guys long gone by #9, the Bobcats’ front office simply turned their attention to our other position of need, backup PG. Even if #9 seems a bit high for taking a guy you intend to use as a backup, it’s not a terrible strategy. Just conservative and boring.
  • On the free agent front: Bonnell reports that the Bobcats had some interest in DeSagana Diop; however, the Mavs have already taken him off the market. Meanwhile, Bobcats.com is reporting that the team has picked up next year’s option on Jermareo Davidson (sure to make my colleagues here at the Baseline happy) and that offers have been extended to restricted free agents Emeka Okafor and Ryan Hollins, thereby opening negotiations with both. Obviously, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Okafor negotiations. After the Clippers big spree (congrats to Clippers fans, by the way — that’s exciting) only the Warriors, Grizzlies and Sixers have significant cap space. Might the Grizzlies be interested in Okafor? Or will his decision to spurn the team’s offer of an extension last summer come back to bite him in the wallet? Here’s hoping that we can get him signed without things getting contentious.
  • After doing Summer League in Salt Lake City last year (and Orlando before that, right?) the Bobcats will join most of the rest of the NBA in Las Vegas for Summer League ’08. Play begins next Friday, July 11, but the Bobcats won’t take the court until Saturday the 12th against the Clippers.
  • The Bobcats’ Summer League roster hasn’t been announced/released yet as of this writing. Obviously, Augustin, Ajinca and Weaver will be there. It would be reasonable to expect that Jermareo Davidson will be as well. Much more interesting is that Bonnell is reporting that Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Jason Richardson will all be present in Vegas as well. None are expected to take the court for the official games, but all are said to be looking to participate in practices and drills with the new coaching staff. Nothing like getting in good with the new boss, right? I’d love to be a fly on the wall at practice if Raymond Felton has a chance to go at DJ Augustin. Whatever the intentions of the front office were with the Augustin pick, Felton has to be itching for a chance to establish alpha male status in the backcourt.
  • A separate report reveals that Sean May will also join the team in Las Vegas next week. The great news is that he has been cleared medically for basketball activity; the bad news is that he is still experiencing some pain in the knee. Like the other veterans, May plans to only participate in drills, as opposed to playing in the games: “after eight months, I’m not going to just jump out here, get it all back in one day.” The buffet at Mandalay is also hoping that May doesn’t try to just jump out there and get it all back in one day. Sorry, had to. I’ll get out of here on that one…

-E

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