Weekend Links: Chris Paul Madness Edition

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Chris Paul with Black Shoe

Chris Paul trade news/rumors continue to dominate the NBA news-and-blog-o-sphere as we head into the weekend.  But there’s still some other interesting stuff going on, including Gerald Wallace making a push to be included on Team USA’s final roster this summer.  Here’s your required reading for the weekend.

Chris Paul

  • ESPN’s Chris Broussard provides an update on Paul’s wishlist, along with the reality check regarding which teams on the list could actually come up with a decent package to return to New Orleans in a trade.  Broussard does mention that the Bobcats are one of the teams with interest in pursuing Paul — first time I’ve seen a national, mainstream, traditional media member acknowledge the Bobcats being in the mix.
  • Paul will be sitting down with new Hornets coach Monty Williams and GM Dell Demps on Monday to discuss his future with the team.  Peter Finney from The Times-Picayune opines on how Williams and Demps should approach that meeting.
  • Fresh off his run of blistering pieces critical of Lebron’s “Decision”, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski warns that Chris Paul has succumbed to too much influence from Lebron/Worldwide Wes/CAA/LRMR/etc. and needs to check himself before damaging his reputation.
  • NYT’s Howard Beck reports that Paul, perhaps cognizant of the above sentiment, has not yet hired James’ LRMR marketing firm — though my guess is that this is just semantics/a formality.

Stephen Jackson/Home Invasion

  • There are no new developments in the story of the home invasion/armed robbery at Stephen Jackson’s house Wednesday morning, but here’s the link from the Observer if you never got around to reading up on the story.
  • Rick Bonnell did offer a few additional thoughts on the story on his blog.  The whole thing is a shame — just when Jackson’s image was turning the corner after the Bobcats’ success last year, here comes bad news again.  Not suggesting that being targeted like this is in any way his fault, but you have to be concerned when trouble just seems to follow some people.  Also, nice job by ‘the gates’ in his gated community.  Strong work.  Here’s hoping that Jack’s wife is OK and that the bad guys get caught.

Gerald Wallace/Team USA

  • Gerald Wallace is still out in Vegas at the Team USA camp.  When he was initially named to the squad, I thought it was a nice acknowledgement of how far he had come as a player, but didn’t think much of his chances at making the final cut to represent the US at this summer’s FIBA World Championsips in Turkey due to his marginal outside shooting ability.  But with all of the Redeem Teamers begging off, Amare Stoudemire’s crip-eye, and injuries to David Lee and Robin Lopez, it’s starting to look like Gerald has a real shot.  ESPN’s Chris Sheridan feels that Wallace has the inside track to make the squad, owing largely to his size and defensive tenacity.  On the other hand, I asked Ric Bucher about Gerald’s chances on Twitter and he DMed me back “unlikely”.
  • Bobcats.com has a bunch of Gerald/Team USA content here, including video interviews with Coach K.  I have mixed feelings about Gerald making the squad.  First, as mentioned above, I personally feel he’s kind of a long shot due to his mediocre outside shooting — you just have to be able to knock down deep and midrange shots in international ball.  But Wallace’s primary competition in making the cut is probably Andre Igoudala, who isn’t exactly a deadeye shooter himself, so we’ll see.  Second, Gerald has played a ton of minutes over the past few years, and will no doubt be relied upon for big minutes again in 2010-11 for the Cats.  His ‘balls-to-the-wall’ style of play means potential injuries loom around every pick and attempted block anyways, and extended minutes means nagging injuries continue to nag, or even worsen.
  • Team USA sang Happy Birthday to Gerald yesterday as the team prepared for tonight’s intrasquad scrimmage that will be televised live on ESPN2 at 10pm ET.

Shaq

  • Shaq is still a free agent, and has a list of preferred destinations as well.  As the Bobcats now only employ Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop (I’m assuming Dampier is not on the roster opening night) at center, and with last year’s stopgap solution Theo Ratliff off the market, there has been some sentiment around the Bobcats blogosphere that Shaq might be an acceptable short-term pickup.  NYT’s Howard Beck updates us on the ‘dwindling’ market for Shaq, with Atlanta, Dallas and Miami having passed on the Diesel.
  • Shaq reportedly wants a two-year deal for a good bit of money and a chance to compete for a championship.  He may have to settle for one or the other, and Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak is reporting that the Celtics are at the top of O’Neal’s wish list of destinations.  Boston would be nice, if only for the eventual Shaq-Nate Robinson buddy cop comedy that would grow out of it.

-Dr. E

More Fuel For The Chris Paul Fire

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Save for some banter in the comments and the occasional tweet (oh, and this post from back in April), we’ve tried to treat the Chris Paul “rumors” with a healthy dose of skeptisicm here at Bobcats Baseline.  As my colleague ASChin noted (biting Owen Wilson in the process):  What in Jordan’s history in the front office makes you think he’s capable of something like that?

But this story refuses to die.  First, Rick Bonnell elevated it from “internet rumor” to “semi-legitimate story” with this piece from the weekend that was widely linked to around the intertubes:

Chris Paul as a Charlotte Bobcat isn’t crazy.  It’s unlikely. It’s undoubtedly problematic…

But it’s doable, and I’m told it’s a twinkle in the eyes of this team’s decision-makers.

I figured the resolution of the New Orleans Hornets GM vacancy earlier this week might help to calm the speculation down. Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s John Hollinger even tweeted that Trail Blazer maniacs needed to “stop asking me about CP3. Not happening for at least a year, if ever.”

But Wednesday night CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger tossed a drum of gasoline onto the smoldering embers with this dispatch, titled “New Hornets brass already facing crisis with Paul“.  An excerpt to whet your appetite for the link:

Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.  “He wants out,” said the person…

Now never mind that Berger also reveals that Paul’s list of preferred destinations “consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers.”  What we Bobcats fans know that Berger doesn’t is that Paul really wants to play in his home state, for the founder of the Jumpman brand he endorses, and for Larry Brown.  And that we have cap relief in the form of Dampier’s contract waiting.

And that Carmelo Anthony is coming next.  For Gana Diop.  To complete Team Jumpman.  With World Wide Wes as special advisor.

Right?

-Dr. E

P.S.  Typing in C-h-r-i-s-P-a-u into Google gets you “Chris Paul” followed by “Chris Paul to bobcats” as the top two suggestions.  Ridiculous…




Calderon/Evans for Diaw/Chandler Still Not Official (UPDATED)

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The three team trade that will reportedly involve the Bobcats sending Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler to Toronto and receiving Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans is still not official as of Monday evening.  Bonnell is reporting that it won’t happen tonight, and cites the complexities of a three-team deal in regards to satisfying salary cap issues for the delay.  In a subsequent blog entry, Bonnell reports that the Raptors are causing the holdup and that there is still a chance the deal could break down.

The Phoenix Suns are also supposedly involved — sending Leandro Barbosa to the Raptors for Hedo Turkoglu.  Earlier versions of the story also had the Suns sending Dwayne Jones to Charlotte, which accounts for the “three team” and not “two separate trades involving the Raptors” characterization of the deal.

Here at the Baseline, we’ve been anticipating a trade of either Diaw or Chandler for a point guard, but I have to say, I’m surprised it took both of them to get back someone the caliber of Calderon.  Granted, the contracts have to match up (and Calderon has a big one — 3 years left at an average of $10 million per year) but I would have rather seen a smaller deal that sent Diaw away for a cheaper PG like Jarrett Jack, Ramon Sessions or even TJ Ford.

Getting Chandler helps the Raptors improve defensively and maintain an air of respectability this year while still being bad enough to miss the playoffs and get a lottery pick, then getting the cap space when Chandler’s deal expires to help their rebuilding project.  Frankly I would have rather kept Chandler to anchor the middle this year and used the cap space his expiring deal would provide next summer ourselves, but the Cats have essentially waived the white flag when it comes to being free agent players.

ASChin has already pontificated on Calderon in an earlier post; my take is fairly similar.  Calderon had a career year in 2007-08 while splitting time with TJ Ford at the point.  Calderon led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio while shooting over 50% from the field, 40% from 3PT, and 90% from FT.  As a result, the Raps traded TJ Ford away after the season and signed Calderon to the current fat deal he’s on.

However, Calderon (and the Raptors, for that matter) has struggled to meet expectations since.  He’s been hampered by injuries that have limited him to 68 games in each of the last two seasons.  Never a gifted defender to begin with, hamstring problems have rendered the Spaniard into a matador when it comes to defending quick opposing guards.  Toronto’s lack of interior defense didn’t help matters any.

Still, at his best, Calderon is a sharpshooting, efficient point guard with good size who excels at taking care of the ball and his teammates.  He’s not much of a playmaker, but under Larry Brown, the system will make the plays, not the point guard.  With Tyrus Thomas and Gerald Wallace on the court to provide help defense in the paint, his on-ball defensive deficiencies will hopefully be mitigated.

(UPDATED 11:55 PM ET)  Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is now reporting that:

Charlotte owner Michael Jordan has had “second thoughts” on trade with Toronto and deal is suddenly in peril, league sources tell Y! Sports.

You mean I just wrote three paragraphs breaking down Jose Calderon’s career/game for nothing?!?!

-Dr. E

Free Agent Fall Out – Ohio Guy Moving South

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Lebron-Miami Era Day 1:

Today, all the sports media will be saturated with coverage, analysis and rambling about the aftermath of Lebron James’ relocation plans. As it turns out, James is just following a story that folks in Charlotte have heard repeatedly for the past ten years. Another Ohio town is losing one of it’s best and brightest to opportunity and prosperity down South. It looks like this guy just had an offer for a better job in a city with a better climate. Most of Charlotte is populated by good people fitting that description.

So, with that reasoning, I kind of feel a “different strokes for different folks” type of response to the situation. I’m sure someone can say he “screwed” Cleveland or maybe a Limbaugh-type will claim that he is being Un-American by cooperating with other super powers of the basketball world, rather than going it solo (which won zero rings). Though as a Bobcats fan, I didn’t have a strong opinion either way about where Lebron would land. It was the resulting Free Agency Fallout that should be most interesting to the Charlotte fans.

Obviously, the SouthEastern Division will be much tougher with the Heat looking to be the favorite despite having only 4 players at this time. The Magic don’t seem to be slipping, the Hawks are still solid, and the Wizards should be stepping up from the basement next year. Charlotte will hope to improve on last year’s great run, but fans have to question just how it could happen.

It sounds as though the front office crew hasn’t taken too much time off this summer. Yesterday’s rumors of the Bobcats’ pursuit of Michael Beasley, and their efforts to evaluate cheap veterans for depth show that they are actively trying to tweak their roster. The Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler wrote a short piece about Michael Jordan and the Lebron announcement. I was happy to read the story for one big reason – Fowler reports that Jordan was at his office late into the evening (even watching a Summer League game).

The Bobcats have an owner who is immersed in the sport. We know the Jordan legacy, we know that he needs wins, and we know that he won’t except failures. So, it’s about time we expect something to happen with the Bobcats this off-season.

The Fallout

New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Cleveland now have a load of roster spots to fill if they want to be competitive next season. Luckily, those teams have a load of available salary cap money to spread around, as well. Those two factors will affect the Charlotte Bobcats in differing ways. The team could be in position to unload some big contracts to a team with roster needs or lose free agents to the clubs with money.

Here’s a quick summary of the situation (Lebron Miami Era : Day 1)


New York Knicks
Ouch. Wish things hadn’t been so ugly for them. Welcome to your new team Amare.

Needs:
• Point Guard (Previous starter Chris Duhon has signed w/ Orlando)
• Center (Amare will play Center a lot with D’Antoni, but they’ll need depth)
• Shooting Guard (T-Mac’s contract has finally expired)

Thoughts : NY has been rumored to have interest in signing Raymond Felton. Could Charlotte trade Nazr Mohammed or Tyson Chandler to the Knicks to get cap space or future draft picks?


New Jersey Nets
It seemed like a Russian billionaire and Jay-Z had a great plan underway until Lebron decided to go elsewhere. The new Brooklyn arena will be great, and they’ve got some developing talent and a new coach.

Needs:
• Power Forward (rookie Derrick Favors will need some time)
• Shooting Guard (Courtney Lee still has great potential)

Thoughts : Rumor has it that Tyrus Thomas will be offered a big contract by the Nets. It’s speculated that the contract offer will be “front-loaded” with more money in the first year than Charlotte can match. This would really hurt the Bobcats, who gave up a first round draft pick for a player that may have only worn the jersey for a couple of months. Then again, that sounds like Sean “Crab Bread” May and we all think higher of Tyrus than Sean.


Chicago Bulls
The additions of Carlos Boozer and their new coach won’t make them a true force in the Eastern Conference. They could use another scorer and depth, and that’s what money can buy you in Free Agency.

Needs
• Shooting Guard (Flip Murray is a good scorer, but not a real starter)
• Center – Backup (Noah will start, then old Brad Miller will jog into the game)

Thoughts: This is a team that Charlotte should be calling on a daily basis to move Nazr Mohammed. The Cats probably couldn’t get a contributing player back, but they could get some cap relief with the rights to future draft picks or Vladimir Veremeenko (from Wizards swap).


Cleveland Cavaliers / Toronto Raptors

These two teams face a tough road ahead of them. When you build a roster around a single centerpiece, this is the risk you face when that centerpiece decides to have a Quarter-Life Crisis and head to South Beach. Now, the Cavaliers and Raptors will work to use their money wisely in the effort to build rosters guaranteed to fall in the shadow of their recent success, and will operate on a level so as not to embarrass the fans too much. These clubs have to be in full “Rebuilding Mode” as it’s often called. They can either tank the season for a future star via the Draft or create 5 year plan to become challengers in the East. In the meantime, the Raptors are Hedo’s team and the Cavs will be led by Mo Williams and JJ Hickson. It might be necessary, to find a cost-effective patch to avoid too much of a disaster.

Needs:

• Young Talent
• Centers
• Reset Button

Thoughts: The Bobcats could find a taker for Chandler, Mohammed, or Diaw with one of these trade partners. If the right deal came along, we might even see these teams find a deal for Charlotte’s younger guys (Henderson, Augustin, Brown).

-Mike

Beasley to Bobcats? Let’s Hope So

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Four Way Trade Supposedly in the Works

Michael Beasley ©NBA 2010

UPDATED:

According ESPN.com’ s Chad Ford and Mark Stein, the Bobcats are working on a four team deal that would net them former second overall selection Michael Beasley.  The deal would reportedly send out Tyson Chandler’s expiring to Houston, bring the Rocket’s Jared Jeffries and the Heat’s Beasley to Charlotte while allowing the Toronto Raptors and Heat conduct a sign & trade for Chris Bosh, handing Toronto a massive trade exception in return.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen started the rumor by tweeting that three of the four teams are in with the Raps wavering (read: “we want something else besides cap space in return”).

If the trade goes through, it would be a massive upgrade in talent for the Bobcats who’ve never had a frontcourt scoring presence in their six seasons of existence.  Beasley would instantly upgrade a putrid offense that ranked dead last in the League last season in points per game.

Post will be updated as the story develops.

UPDATE: 11:57pm

Mark Stein is now reporting that Beasley will be shipped off to to the Timberwolves for a second round pick.  Wolves will absorb Beasley’s contract into their cap space and send a second rounder back to Miami.  Also the deal will reportedly offer a first round pick swap in a future draft.

ANALYSIS: Tough loss for the Bobcats who could have gotten Beasley for less than what they paid for Tyrus Thomas back in February.  Beasley has a higher upside and a smaller contract and wouldn’t have cost them a first round pick outright.  Furthermore, the Bobcats might be painted into a corner with Tyrus as a team flush with cap space (the rumor mill suggests New Jersey) will likely offer a front-loaded contract to him.  Hope MJ is prepared to pay the luxury tax because if not, he’ll have thrown away a first round pick for a three month rental of Tyrus Thomas.

-ASChin

Bobcats May Be Active In 2010 NBA Draft

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2010-DRAFT

Bobcats 2010 NBA Draft Cap : Will Anyone Wear This?

This Thursday’s NBA Draft will mark the first day of the “John Wall Era” for the league. The dismantled Washington Wizards will have the good fortune of adding the talented point guard to center the foundation of a rebuilt roster. Elsewhere in the Southeast Division, the Charlotte Bobcats have prepared to sit this one out despite the challenge to improve on last year’s success.

Coach Larry Brown has openly confirmed rumors that the Bobcats would like to pick up a second-round talent in the Draft, or sign an un-drafted prospect. Reports say that the team has been working the phones in search of a trade partner, as well. So, there’s a strong possibility that the Bobcats might make some news in the next couple of days. If Jordan and Brown are handling such preparations, what do the Bobcats want in the 2010 NBA Draft?

REASONS FOR THE BOBCATS TO GET INVOLVED IN THE DRAFT

• CHEAP LABOR : The team might be very close to the top of the salary cap even if they pull off a trade (to unload a contract). A second-round rookie could be useful to an organization so tight on funds.

• RESERVES : Charlotte needed their two best players (Stephen Jackson & Gerald Wallace) to play nearly every minute of every game last season. Considering that Wallace plays dangerously and may never change his style, the team can only protect their All-Star by securing a capable, young reserve to give Gerald a few more chances to rest and repair his body throughout the season. The same idea should apply to Stephen Jackson, who is only getting older and will need to get some opportunities to rest in order to avoid injury over the next season.

• INSURANCE : During the upcoming NBA Free Agency period, Charlotte might find the opportunity to trade away one of their big contracts or find a remedy for their point guard problem. The result of such a fortunate deal could leave the team with a lack of depth at one or multiple roster positions. If the team could pick up a second-rounder and a cheap free agent, the Cats would have a couple of safeguards in place and some hungry players heading into training camp.

REASONS FOR THE BOBCATS TO SIT IT OUT

• DRAFTING IS A WEAKNESS : The Bobcats are exceptionally bad at the NBA Draft. Their Draft history is just about embarrassing; Raymond Felton, Sean May, Adam Morrison, DJ Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, and Gerald Henderson. Maybe the sparkle displayed by their second-round selections Jared Dudley (2007 : now with Phoenix), and Derrick Brown (2009) have made Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan feel like geniuses of Round 2?  That might explain why a late selection is so appealing to these guys.

• WASTING MONEY: It sounds like the Bobcats might be in the hunt to buy a Draft selection from another NBA club.  This is probably a bad idea. The rumored rate for a second-round pick is about $1.5 million. Maybe Jordan and Larry Brown can identify the distinct qualities between a player that wasn’t fit for the first round and an un-drafted talent. From a fan’s perspective, the difference between those two types of players seems very small, but maybe MJ wants to bet $1.5 million that he can spot the difference. Then again, this might just be an easy way for the team to avoid staying at home and at least have a ticket to the dance on Draft night.

• PLAYING TIME : Let’s get back to two of the Draft selections mentioned above – Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown. Both of these young players showed great athleticism, skill, and energy during their sparse minutes on the floor last season. Still, the Charlotte Bobcats are coached by a guy that just simply prefers veterans over rookies. If the Cats really want to acquire a pick this year, it’s very likely that the youngster will spend all but garbage-time on the bench this coming season. Any rookie acquired on Thursday or during the off-season should find rare playing time unless Coach Brown leaves the team.

IS DRAFT DAY JUST THE START?

We can’t expect to know what exactly is going on with the Cats this summer until the first domino falls; the late-night trades and fallout on Friday morning. With Free Agency beginning on July 1st, the changes will continue around the league and it appears that Michael Jordan and Rod Higgins want to be active with trades this summer.  The unfolding of the Raymond Felton dilemma begins next Thursday and the team’s actions should provide some insight into their plans for the upcoming season. Fortunately, the latest news about Tyrus Thomas’ desire to stay with the team sounds encouraging, but Charlotte might need to pinch some pennies to work out a long-term contract with their new power forward. The club’s current payroll might limit their ambitions this summer, but we should expect to see a few more headlines about changes to the Bobcats roster.

LINKS:

Charlotte Bobcats may get in NBA draft (Charlotte Observer)

Bobcats busy on trade front (Inside the NBA – Rick Bonnell)

Thomas wants to stay with Bobcats (ESPN.com)

2 Reasons Why Tyson Might Opt Out

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Tyson Chandler is thinking about leaving $12.75 million on the table?  What???!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen...Tyson Chandler!

So let me get this straight, Tyson Chandler is owed almost $13 million for next season and he’s reportedly thinking about opting out of the final year of his contract and testing the open waters of free agency madness.  Hmm…

We are talking about the same Tyson Chandler who limped through fifty one games last season averaging 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, right?  The same dude who was unable to unseat the paleolithic Theo Ratliff during the franchise’s inaugural Playoff run in April and May?  The same player who OKC general manager Sam Presti  (the NBA’s equivalent of Steve Jobs) rejected in a deal for table scraps due to a lingering foot injury that was supposedly healed last summer?  Huh?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not ripping Tyson Chandler the human being or even Tyson Chandler the basketball player (he’s shown in previous seasons that he most definitely belongs in the League), rather I’m questioning the logic that would lead Tyson and his agent to walk away from an incredible sum of guaranteed money for a player of Tyson’s production level.  Is there brilliance hidden away in this seemingly illogical proposition?

1. Tyson and Rod Higgins have a long-term deal worked out.

To me, this makes the most sense.  I couldn’t find any CBA restrictions against it (though some of our more cap versed readers may) but Tyson could very well opt out of his current contract in order to sign a three or four year contract for slightly above market value, say 4 years, $32 million.  I still think this is way too much to throw at a player who hasn’t been healthy in three years but if Higgins, Coach Brown and MJ think that Chandler will eventually return to NOHo form, then it’s at least justifiable.  A healthy Tyson Chandler at $8 million per as your starting center is far from the team’s worst case scenario.

Re-signing Tyson at this dollar figure would give the team an extra $4.75 million of wiggle room going into free agency, allowing the team more flexibility to re-sign Tyrus Thomas and add a point guard via free agency or trade.  In summary, the ‘Cats get some much needed short term cap relief and Tyson gets some extra fiscal security in case his foot never fully heals.

2. Tyson and his Agent are Genuinely Worried about the New CBA

The NBA is losing money and is intent on fixing the broken labor model as the League (and the country) heads into a new economic era.  The salary cap has already lowered in consecutive seasons and there is talk of reducing the maximum year and dollar limits on player contracts.  In this forthcoming scenario, only the very cream of the League’s crop (Lebron, Wade, Anthony) will receive massive contracts as their supporting cast members will be left to divvy up the leftovers of a smaller pie.

Chandler and his agent may see this future clearly and decide that after 2011, a third tier NBA starting center will be earning considerably less money.  In this scenario, Tyson “gets” while the “gettin’ is good.”  Sounds logical to me.

-ASChin