It’s late at night. Way too late to still be awake, but you just can’t sleep. These kind of nights are something of an addiction for you. You work harder than nearly anyone you’ve ever known, and that might just be the only reason you’ve got this job. You’ve let yourself dream about getting here. You should be proud of how far you’ve come. But that’s not you. You outwork your problems. There will never be an opportunity to grant yourself the rest you need.
You let the weight of your failures settle for the night, just details lost in the darkness. It’s time to rest, but there’s that sound. There’s always that sound. The steady, deliberate pace only gets louder and louder against the silence of the night. As if someone is turning the dial just to drive you mad – Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.
No Coach Dunlap, that’s not your favorite R. Kelly track looping in your mind. That’s your insubordinate, disrespectful, and arrogant offensive weapon trying to undermine your authority. His intentional disregard for your position only strikes harder each time the ball hits the hardwood court in your mind. No, it’s not going to stop. You can’t even make it stop. You question your abilities, you question your profession, and you question yourself. You’re powerless.
“You need to humble yourself.”
Those words resonate in your head. All you can do is close your eyes, undoubtably envious of Tyrus Thomas and the calm pond of bliss that ripples around through his skull.
It’s been a little while since we’ve posted any recaps on Bobcats Baseline. Sure, plenty of excuses could be made for this. Really, it all comes down to a downturn in enthusiasm. It might be impossible to accuse any Bobcats blogger of being a fair weather fan, but this team sure does make it tough. December was a pretty dark month, as the Cats only one 1 of their 20 games. So, the new year will be my time to re-energize or spirits and express some loose thoughts on the current state of the Charlotte-based club that we wish wasn’t so terrible at professional basketball.
Let’s Look at the Positives
Um, there are some positives right?
Gordon for Three!
We can celebrate the fact that the Cats have 2 more wins than all of last season! How about that for improvement. Actually, let’s be grateful that we no longer have to see Corey Maggette on the court. His ability to make basketball unwatchable has perfectly suited all of the teams that have paid him so much money. Now, we get Ben Gordon – gettin’ hot and doin’ Ben Gordon thangs. Oh, and we should be happy that none of the important guys have suffered any serious injuries so far this year, either. Don’t try to tell me that Byron Mullens’ counts as important.
Let’s give Mike Dunlap some credit. He worked hard to install a defensive attitude to this team all throughout training camp. While that’s not actually shown any on-court results for the Bobcats, he has a fine excuse for the team playing offense like a YMCA pick up game. Well, maybe they could use at least one player that could score in the half-court offense. But, that’s a whole other story for another day. Realistically, Dunlap gets credit for the way the team has kept up their effort. They might not look or play like winners, but they’ve fought and hustled through nearly every game this year. No one is hanging their heads despite their collectively horrible record.
So, it’s been awesome to watch Ramon Sessions step on the floor and perform like a professional at every opportunity. He seems to do all that’s within his ability to give the team what it needs when he’s on the floor. Teams like the Spurs have 7 or 8 guys like this. The Bobcats have about 1.5.
Byron being ineffective
Remember when Byron Mullens was often the focal point of the Bobcats’ offense? Ugh. I know some folks like the unconventional, and seeing a 7-footer hitting long range shots sure was appealing. But Byron was failing at nearly every other aspect of the game. He’s no Dirk, and his teammates were punished for just about every minute he was on the court.
Now, we’ve got this weird platoon of Tyrus Thomas, Hakim Warrick, and Jeff Adrien. Where do you start with this squad. If we throw Byron in this pile, we still get one of the weakest performing collections of power forwards that the league will see for a long time. But I’ve got to admit that it’s fun to watch Jeff Adrien. His game is so old-school, and it’s great to see a D-League guy perform when he gets the chance. This might be one of his only seasons in the NBA, so let’s enjoy his stable, predictable style of ball. His game is so much more palatable than the 2013 Tyrus Thomas Jumpshot Clinic & Dribbling Exhibition.
What’s up with Gerald Henderson? He comes off the bench and seems pretty quiet these days. Somehow he always ends up in double digit scoring, and finds a way to never take it to the rack. I remember when jumping was one of the easiest things for him, and his shooting was shaky. By starting Jeff Taylor, I get the feeling that the Bobcats are feeling out what life without Henderson is like. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded or heading elsewhere this summer. Personally, I like his game a lot, but he might have a better role on another club.
One-half of Thunder & Lightning
Wasn’t Bismack Biyombo supposed to get better? Out of all of the discouraging comments that the Utah Jazz broadcast crew spouted during their game, there was one that stuck with me. Continually, they stated their opinion that the Bobcats were loaded with athletes that weren’t actually basketball players. You could probably say this most accurately describes two of the Cats – Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo. Potential and “development” were the themes we heard when Bismack was drafted. Right now, it’s starting to seem a little unrealistic to expect much from the kid. Let’s hope that he maintains his work ethic and the team provides him with everything he needs to grow and understand basketball at a pro level. Maybe they can keep Tyrus around as a cautionary example for him. “Hey, Bis – you don’t want to end up like that guy.”
As I mentioned, I caught the Jazz-Bobcats game on NBA League Pass last night and it was quite a treat to hear the Utah broadcast team’s opinions on Charlotte’s team. Most times, I enjoy hearing an alternative to Charlotte’s homer duo of Steve Martin and Dell Curry. Usually, the other teams have a very balanced and straightforward play-by-play guy and some awfully unintelligible color commentator that provides a good deal of exclamatory oohs and ahhs. The worst of these might be Dominique Wilkins. Check out an ATL game sometime and you’ll enjoy listening to how bad he is at his job. Last night, the Jazz team had a pair of absolutely sober guys that continually bashed the Bobcats performance, roster, and organization. To add insult to injury while the Jazz piled on a barrage of unanswered points during the 3rd, the color commentary dude just went on an unprompted and disconnected tangent about how he “didn’t know what this club can do” and mentioned how Charlotte was such an exciting place for basketball back when “there was the Hornets and Alonzo Mourning…” Ouch.
Let’s hope Charlotte can start to turn this thing around. We can’t let Mike Dunlap get the Paul Silas Blues. Things look to change over the next couple of years – David Stern will step down, the Hornets could be back, Gana Diop will retire, Tyrus Thomas should be gone, and Kemba might be good enough to threaten to take his talents to South Beach.
It’s been a few days since we’ve heard much from the Bobcats, but it looks like they’re ready to cough up some info about their upcoming season. While they’re tasked with determining how to best utilize the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, a couple of other jobs have kept the team busy for the summer.
First Up – a New Coach
After loads of rumors about high-profile or somewhat recognized names coming to Charlotte to take charge of this dreadful roster for next season, the Bobcats went and did something that no one saw coming. They hired Mike Dunlap. Like just about everyone else, I don’t know a thing about this guy. But, I can assume that he works cheap and he’s got patience for young guys that might not “play the right way.” It’s pretty clear that this is a cost-saving move, but there’s no reason that the Bobcats should pay top dollar for a head coach, when they’ve got a roster that’s closer to the D-League than the Playoffs. If Charlotte’s going to tank the 2013-14 season (which seems to be the plan), you can’t blame the team for rolling the dice on a guy with a little potential and could bring some new blood into the league.
The Bobcats are going to be loaded with young players, so a coach with an understanding of both the college and pro challenges should be helpful to the development of a lot of these guys. Let’s just hope that Tyrus Thomas doesn’t look to Mike Dunlap for tips on bulking up this summer.
Oh, and New Uniforms
The Bobcats or Cats just unveiled their new game uniforms. It’s not much of an impressive upgrade. The Charlotte Observer reported that Michael Jordan wanted some Carolina blue involved in the team’s palette. Can we credit him with slapping on some lettering of awkward proportions, applying a good deal of inconvenient negative spacing, and shortening the team’s nickname in order to improve the team’s brand and sell merchandise?
I definitely don’t see this as a step forward for the team’s image. How many times are they going to try to change their jerseys? It only makes me agree more with the grand rebrand scheme that fellow Baseliner A.S. Chin has suggested. In theory, we’re to believe that the Bobcats are trashing their roster, burning it to the ground so that they can build it back up with little tying them to past mistakes. Why wouldn’t the team do the same thing with their brand identity? The club is making a half-hearted effort to give it one more go as “Cats” and let folks fully detach from the organization’s name. Strategically, this looks like they’re dumping “Bobcats” and I can’t imagine anyone is gonna fall in love with this new “Cats” thing. So, what choice will the team have but to bring the buzz back? Teal, white, purple, and a cartoon bug with shaky wings. You’ve got to admit that these proposed Hornets uniforms look much better than what MJ & Co. just rolled out.
After analyzing the data and trying to ascertain just exactly how a team gets as bad as the Bobcats, I think I’ve found a breakthrough in understanding Charlotte’s issues. As it turns out, modern NBA teams are in love with a concept of a “Big Three.” If you happen to catch the NBA Finals, you might see that the Miami Heat have a “Big Three” made up of their most highly paid players – Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, & Chris Bosh. Many other teams like the Boston Celtics (Pierce, Garnett, Allen), the LA Lakers (Bryant, Gasol, Bynum), and the NY Knicks (Anthony, Stoudamire, Chandler) have used this template to collect and reward a core of their most talented players with the majority of their payroll. After a quick look at Hoops Hype’s salary info, it was evident that the Bobcats have a “Big Three” of their own – Corey Maggette, Gana Diop, & Tyrus Thomas. It can take a while to run the numbers, but you’ll find that Charlotte’s “Big Three” doesn’t seem to perform at the level of the league’s best teams with a comparably paid “Big Three.” I’m not fortune-teller, but it looks like this is going to cause problems for the Bobcats this coming season despite their high Draft pick.
Okay, so I’m calling Time Out from all of the Draft Lottery hype today.
While reading through stories on the San Antonio Spurs, I found myself deep in this (pretty non-PC) article about ex-Bobcat, Stephen Jackson. In Bobcats history, Jack will clearly be remembered for spitting out top grade sound bites. But, this article enlightened me as to the musical prowess of ol’ Cap’n Jack.
Why had I not known about his alter-ego, STAK5?
Why did I not own (via MP3s) his mixtapes – Trill Mixes & What’s a Lockout?
So what would be worth a record-settingly uncompetitive season of losing? As a fan, it’s really tough to justify why the Bobcats would be so terrible. The chance to select the next mega-talent in the 2012 Draft is nice. Freeing up some cash to sign one or two upper-tier free agents wouldn’t be so bad, either. Maybe, someone could argue that playing time for some of the Bobcats’ youngsters will develop them into solid players down the line. It’s all kind of hypothetical, so let’s hope the Rich Cho Rehab Plan works out.
It’s All On Cho
After seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely dismantle the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, I can only dream that we see the Bobcats shine so bright on national television in the future. The Thunder are the success story, while the Sacramento Kings or Washington Wizards might show you the other side of the coin. Hopefully, Rich Cho’s involvement with the Thunder/Sonics right before they got it going will result in the same amazing kind of turnaround for Charlotte’s suffering franchise.
Ease the Pain
When it comes to free agency, we should just take two steps and jump straight to the point. Dwight Howard’s not coming. Deron Wiilliams wouldn’t be worth the trouble even if would join the club. No superstars are targeting the Queen City, but a load of mid-level talent could find a a club like the Bobcats a good place to show their skills if they can be sold on the team’s direction. Some role player types like Matt Barnes, OJ Mayo, or Marco Bellinelli might see the Cats as a good fit for their career if the team shows that they’re putting the right pieces into place. If the front office could pull the strings, they might even land a player like Nicolas Batum or Ersan Ilyasova that could breakout and veer toward All-Star status one day. So, rather than betting it all on the NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong balls over the next few years, a few smart steps in free agency could leave the Cats with a bit more control over their destiny.
Alternately, an argument could be made that a star player would be well worth this embarrassing season. Honestly, the Bobcats could really use some luck in this game. Despite their regular appearances in the Draft Lottery, Charlotte just can’t catch the big one. It’s a shame to think that Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Derrick Rose have all landed in the league since the Bobcats’ first tip in 2004, and Charlotte didn’t snag one of them. Will Kentucky’s Anthony Davis prove to be worth this embarrassing season? He’s putting on a show right now in the NCAA Final Four. As Bobcats fans, we’re probably all hoping to catch a legendary performance in Monday night’s Championship game. Could Davis suit up as a Bobcat, and play like the next Chris Bosh? Would that scenario make us all forget about how bad the Bobcats were this season? And if the Bobcats don’t get the coveted first pick, does any other player help to ease the pain? Davis’ teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Connecticut’s Andre Drummond wouldn’t be bad consolation prizes. Whoever the Bobcats might pick, the team will need him to be a guaranteed starter and a potential All-Star – someone that can sell jerseys and win games. That’s not so much to ask, right?
So, it’s been nice to see ol’ Cap’n Jack and Boris Diaw reunite in San Antonio this month. I’m sure they’re just acting like bros down there – snapping photos at the Alamo, strolling the Riverwalk, and enjoying the warm sun of the Lone Star State. I was browsing the scores and highlights online today and something caught me way off guard. I had to share this…
That’s Boris Diaw Working Hard for a Rebound!
That’s it y’all. He’s proven us all wrong. He can actually hustle on a basketball court. Actually, the caption on this photo (jacked from the Houston Chronicle’s site) might even make you laugh. Check it out:
San Antonio Spurs’ Boris Diaw (33) crashes into Philadelphia 76ers’ Evan Turner (12) as he reaches for a rebound during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. 76ers’ Nikola Vucevic is at left.
Although the Spurs were short-handed against the 76ers, the team started Matt Bonner ahead of Diaw. With a top-tier organization like the Spurs, he’s not asked to do all that much and that’s just fine by him. Really, I think this is a great situation for Boris. I can’t help but admit that I liked him, but just couldn’t stand seeing him on the Bobcats this season.
Perhaps, the Bobcats missed a window of opportunity by not shipping Boris off early in the season. It would have been smart to have received at least something in return for his expiring contract. Maybe they were working at it and nothing panned out. As Cats fans, we should be thankful that he wasn’t sent to Dallas in exchange for a ridiculously overpaid benchwarmer (via Matt Carroll/Gana Diop/Eduardo Najera).