What If George Postolos Owned The Bobcats?

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Postolos giving Gerald Wallace financial advice

Way back in February, the future ownership of the Bobcats was on a teeter-totter with Michael Jordan and former Houston Rockets President George Postolos on opposite sides. While Postolos had more funds, MJ had a friendly relationship with Bob. As such, I didn’t even think Jordan would get the team. I figured Postolos’ advantage in funds would overcome whatever favoritism Bob Johnson had for Jordan. However it did not, as after Postolos made his final offer, Johnson gave MJ “one last shot,” which Jordan was more than eager to jump on (ESPN).

The rest was history: Jordan became the first former player to own an NBA team; he sat courtside for just about every game, including the playoffs; he led a community-centered tour throughout North Carolina, and yada yada yada.

However, seeing as how incredibly close this team was to being George Postolos’, I couldn’t help but wonder what this team and organization would look like under George Postolos.

Coaching and Other Staff

  • Larry Brown would be gone – Sources had said that George Postolos was prepared to clean house if Jordan couldn’t raise the necessary capital to buy the team. Due to this, it was reported that LB was looking into finding other teams willing to offer him a job in case Larry was let go, including the Clippers (SLAM).
  • Coaching staff – I’m not going to lay out my whole thoughts about Larry Brown here, but I will say it seems he’s past his prime and at times even uninterested. Had Postolos bought the team and cleaned house, we would have needed to get a new coach. The odds for getting a coach better than LB would have seemed bad but in hindsight, it might have been a better option than keeping him, based on what we’ve seen of our Bobcats so far. I would have been completely in favor of Avery Johnson. Byron Scott would probably have been next on the list, or even Tom Thibodeau. While the pool of replacements would be somewhat deep in talent at the top (those mentioned above, Jeff Van Gundy, Doug Collins) there’s a drop off and who knows who would have possibly come out of the woodwork for the head coaching spot (Paul Silas? Allan Bristow?)
  • Other staff (scouts, etc.) – I would expect Postolos to get top notch talent as far as scouts and other staff members, not to mention those in the front office. It is a widely known fact that Jordan often favors his buddies when it comes to job openings (see Higgins, Rod) and while the Bobcats have proven lately to be trade aficionados, they have never been good at drafting. Seeing as how drafting well is most often a must for a franchise, I would expect Postolos to grab some excellent talent.

General Outlook

  • Commitment to the future and not the present – Sometimes I tend to get the feeling that Jordan is in a half-assed form of a “Win Now” mode. He obviously does not want to lose money on a yearly basis like his predecessor, so he knows this team has to win to bring in revenue. This means he has to spend money to bring in some good players. But he can’t spend too much money or the team would go over the luxury tax level, requiring him to pay even more money. So he brings in some mediocre players to fill some holes in the roster while having more than a considerable amount of salary tied up in veteran contracts. However, with Postolos steering the ship, I think he would be okay with getting rid of some terrible contracts in favor of gaining cap space for the future. That would mean trading Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw and/or maybe Stephen Jackson (maybe even Diop in conjunction with one of those players if we were lucky) to be able to rid the team of some bad contracts. I believe Postolos’ bigger bank account would allow him to be okay with losing now and being a better team in the future. In other words, it would be putting off minor success in the present for possibly even better results in the future.

The Team/Players

  • While Postolos is probably no Mark Cuban in terms of his wallet size, I think he would be more committed to building a team that would have a greater chance for success in the future resulting from a rebuilding process. As well as drafting well, this means ridding the team of bad contracts. If Postolos’ staff acts how I think they would be instructed, which is à la the late Supersonics/early Thunder, we might have seen a big trade where we dump one of our top players as well as one of our lousy contracts for young talent, a huge expiring contract and/or a good draft pick. Raymond Felton would not have been offered a new contract; Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin would have been given extensions just like they have gotten. Overall, we’d most likely be looking at an ugly-to-watch, young Carolina Panthers-esque basketball team.

The Team’s Image and Marketability

  • One of the great things Jordan has done for the Bobcats is that he has made them more visible than ever. By that, I don’t mean that the team is visible on more televisions, because I don’t get them on my T.V., like many people in the Carolinas. Rather, I mean that there is a lot more national interest in the team now. After it was announced that Jordan was to become majority owner, some fantastic things happened. The team got 40 new corporate sponsors, renewed 91% of season ticket holders and sold 1,575 new season tickets (Charlotte Observer). In addition, the purchase of the team gave the Bobcats more time on national television. Jordan was giving interviews on NBA TV and TNT, not to mention on whatever Fox Sports affiliate they are shown on. No one can even act like Postolos buying the team would get anywhere near the same response. Example: name the two men that the Golden State Warriors were sold to. Unless you’re a huge NBA junkie or a Warriors fan, in all likelihood you probably didn’t know the new owners are Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. The simple fact is that unless your owner is eccentric or famous, they’re not getting a lot of attention. And when your owner is (arguably) the greatest basketball player of all time, the team is going to get more attention than ever – from fans, locals, business, sponsors, the media – you name it. Postolos just can’t get the job done in the same regard. However, as his track record shows, he is excellent at maintaining good community relations with the organization. But Jordan is no slouch in this category either,  as shown by his 2010 Summer World (read: state) Tour, where he traveled across the state, making stops at Fort Bragg and talking to schoolchildren. He also donated a cool quarter mil to help fund middle school sports. Neat.

I don’t think either owner is a bad choice and honestly, I’m not sure which I’d prefer. On the one hand, if Postolos’ organization would act how I think they would act, they could make winning a more long term plan but at the expense of the present. On the other hand, Jordan would have the team try to win now. Jordan’s method of retaining most of the current roster, which would probably have more talent than Postolos’, would build up a bigger fanbase in the present, which could make it easier on the team later on when they undoubtedly have to rebuild (I just didn’t think it would be so soon). The possible Postolos plan could alienate and exasperate fans, both ones that were so happy to get to the playoffs and fans on the fence by sending off our best players to free up our books. It’s a tough decision that I’m glad I don’t have to make.

But don’t feel bad for George Postolos. He is reportedly interested in buying the Pistons and if that doesn’t go down, he’ll still be a really, really rich man trying to buy an NBA team. So he’s got that going for him.

- Cardboard Gerald

What’s Up With Larry Brown?

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Does Larry Want Out Of Charlotte?

Some may recall how Coach Larry Brown purposely and strategically avoided answering questions about returning to coach the Bobcats next season. The local press tried to ask questions that left Larry with some wiggle room, and he obliged by telling Charlotte that he’d think it over and figure it out this summer.

Well as it turns out,  NBA head coaches have duties that don’t allow them to take the full summer off.  Larry Brown was back in Charlotte for a few days to scout some second-tier college draft talent at the team’s practice facility. This time around, the press wanted to get the word on Brown’s decision. Rather than smile and tell the local media that he was happy to announce that he’d be back on the sidelines for the Bobcats, he snubbed the writers and camera guys and tried to focus on the basketball-oriented part of his job. After some griping and guessing by the local newspaper writers, Brown gave the reporters a few statements to chew on after the next day’s workout session.

Regarding his status for the upcoming season, Larry shared, “I’m here coaching. Obviously, I’m under contract and doing my job.”  Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell pushed him for more and he gave a less-than-enthusiastic reply of “I’m here. If I wasn’t here, it’d be another thing.”

So, how long will Brown stick around?

A few more weeks?  A couple of months?

For a coach that fans consider to be peerless and someone appreciated by every level of the organization, it doesn’t sound like Larry Brown is all too excited by the opportunity to return to Charlotte and make several millions of dollars to do what he does best. In order to get a better perspective on his position, let’s look at what he’s done since the end of the regular season.

1. He’s reached out to the Sixers about a front office position.

2. He coached the Bobcats through a 0-4 sweep by the Magic.

3. He refused to commit to leading the team next season.

4. He’s used the “I’m under contract” line to describe his position with the Bobcats.

Is there a limit to how far Michael Jordan will allow this to drag on?

There are only 30 head coaches on the NBA level, and unfortunately Charlotte’s got the guy that doesn’t really want  this job any more.  What do you do with a brilliant coach that will never be satisfied with his situation? Can the team follow a guy that conducts his job like this?


Links:

Brown Still Not Definitive On Future (The Canadian Press)

Larry Brown Mum On Future Plans With Charlotte Bobcats (Charlotte Observer)



POLL : Will Larry Brown Be Back?

  • Yes
    (70%, 28 Votes)
  • No
    (30%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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Questions Arrive With The Bobcats Off-Season

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What Is Next For This Team?

Bobcats Baseline has spent the past few days adjusting to life without Bobcats basketball and wondering what topics should be explored after the end of the team’s 2009-2010 campaign. There will be a more fitting time, deeper into the post-season,  to review the team’s outlook.  A summer of recuperating and Bobcats-detox should allow for a better perspective on the situation. So now, we can only address the questions that stare the team in the face.

For a little while,  the Bobcats have been given some down time. The players will rest up, the management will check out, the beat writers will go silent, yet the bloggers will just keep typing up speculations. Who will leave?  Who will stay?  Who will win?

The Big Question

Rumblings of next season’s big changes have already begun. More specifically, the rumblings about a change of scenery for Bobcats Coach Larry Brown. First, they were just online reports from inconsistent sources such as Yahoo! Sports or a blogger for a regional newspaper’s web site. Somehow, these built up enough steam to become common assumptions spread by national television commentators and the common Charlotte-area sports fan. From your co-worker that loves to hear (and repeat) bad news about the Bobcats to golf fans at the Quail Hollow tournament, so many folks around the area have asked “Is Larry Brown going to leave Charlotte?”

It doesn’t seem like too many people know what will be next for Coach Brown. One doesn’t usually follow their boss around the golf course before quitting the job. Then again, one doesn’t usually make such an effort to answer a simple question with loophole-laden remarks like “I’m not going to coach for anyone but Michael.” Ultimately, there’s really nothing the team can do about this situation other than just play it cool. This is something that Jordan is very capable of handling.

If Brown decides to leave the team, the Bobcats will be in a scramble for a new coach and will likely follow with additional personnel changes.  This would allow the team to shift their roster to fit the new coach’s preferences, but  probably not a drastic overhaul. It would be assumed that Jordan hired Brown to install a type of “system” for the Bobcats and the next head coach would be expected to practice a variation of the current system.  Beyond the coaching change, the steady player personnel changes will continue. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that GM Rod Higgins won’t see his job get easier any time soon. With Larry Brown or without Larry Brown, the Bobcats will continue to rework their roster.

Roster Changes

The coaching situation certainly impacts the next roster moves for the Bobcats. Still, the team will be forced to make a couple of important decisions regarding free agent veterans Raymond Felton, Larry Hughes, and Theo Ratliff. As the free agent season activity heats up, there will be plenty more to analyze about these moves – the toughest being the status of Raymond Felton.

Beyond free agency, this team will likely be involved in trade talks to shift their financial obligations for future opportunities.  Fans should hope that this won’t impact the overall level of talent on the roster next season.

No Draft For The Cats

The Bobcats have no selections in this summer’s NBA Draft. At first, this seems like a bad thing. But, we have to consider that this is the Charlotte Bobcats organization. The only opportunity this team will be missing without Draft picks is the opportunity to fail. Charlotte has decided that they aren’t going to let you look back at the Bobcats in three years, and ridicule them for not selecting some under-the-radar prospect. They’ve traded their picks, and now we’ll see what they get for them.  As compensation for no newcomers from the Draft, Charlotte will work to test the young Alexis Ajinca (1st round pick traded to Denver in 2008 Draft) and retain fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw (2nd round pick traded to Phoenix with Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley for Raja Bell and Diaw last season).

Additionally, the Bobcats have two 2009 rookies that have hardly found playing time. It could be argued that these players (with a year of NBA experience) are as valuable, and as ready to contribute as almost every lottery pick in the upcoming Draft. If the team doesn’t expect playing time to open-up for one of these young talents, it’s likely their value will be worked into a trade to help the team in the future.

In Perspective

While the Round 1 series sweep surely burns, the Cats shouldn’t overlook what was accomplished this season. The team executed one of the best defenses in the league, set a home winning record, and a franchise record for wins at 44-38. The team’s early exit from the Playoffs was largely due to the incredible play of the Orlando Magic, who serve as a fine example for what makes a true NBA title contender. Charlotte was able to match Orlando defensively, but Jameer Nelson and company excelled with a superb offense. For the Bobcats, their first Playoff series was simply a “Welcome to the Post-Season” kind of hurdle for a young franchise.

In the case that the leadership or the roster undergoes major changes this off-season, the team should be proud of the big leap they made.  As a losing club for five years, the Bobcats had suffered through such slow, incremental attempts at progress. The 2009-2010 season finally marked a winning season. Yes, the Bobcats were winners. It really happened. So, let’s hope it continues to happen for a while.

Links:

Larry Brown’s End of Season Press Conference – Charlotte Observer

NBA Draft 2010 (Mock Draft)

Bobcats’ Brown Continues Mulling Future – ESPN.com

Leave Larry Brown Behind Forever – Phil Sheridan, Philly.com Sports

Observations: Charlotte Bobcats 2009 Open Practice

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Fellow Baseliners, I knocked off work early, leaving loose ends untied, in order to bring you some observations and thoughts on the Bobcats open practice.

To summarize: I came, I yawned, I played Bejeweled on my phone.

Got there a bit late.  They had about the first 15 rows or so blocked off, presumably so the players could still curse without offending the young ears in attendance.  The rest of the lower bowl was surprisingly full of folks enjoying the free popcorn and soda.  The team was running full-court five-on-five at about 75%, roughly starters vs. second team (except with Ajinca in Chandler’s spot, and guys like DJ and VladRad did time with both squads).

As anyone who has ever read anything about Larry Brown would expect, he stopped the action about every 7 seconds to point out mistakes and demand perfection in every offensive set.  If I had the graphic design skills of my brethren here at the Baseline, I would have mashed up some picture of Larry Brown in practice gear with a big giant stop sign to lead off this post.  Alas…  (UPDATE: Photoshop added.  Thanks, D)

It’s ironic though, as Brown’s main issue with the replacement officials was that they stopped the game so much that no flow was ever established and he wasn’t able to fully evaluate his young guys.  I can identify.  I realize it’s practice, but still, would it have killed anyone to let the guys scrimmage freely for a few minutes for the fans?

So with everyone at least 15 rows back, and the seats full of murmuring people, you actually couldn’t hear anything that was being said down on the court.  I might have tolerated all the stoppages if Larry Brown had been wearing a mic and I could hear the teaching he was doing.

At about quarter til 7:00, people started peeling off.  Kids were either bored out of their minds or on the verge of a fit, no doubt due to the absence of Rufus.  A few minutes after 7:00, practice wrapped up and folks were invited to come down courtside for autographs.  I’ve never seen a player as seemingly excited to sign autographs as Derrick Brown.

A few other items:

  • Nazr sat out; he looked left out and bummed on the sidelines.
  • Chandler sat out; “brooding” and “chomping at the bit” come to mind — he looks like he’s dying to get back on the court.
  • Diaw participated fully and looked great; so sneaky and fun to watch.
  • Ray finished as poorly in practice as he does in games.
  • No one respects Gerald Henderson’s outside shot.  I’m guessing they do, however, respect his dunking ability.  Guy has instantly supplanted Crash as our most exciting player and will hopefully get into the dunk contest.
  • After stoppages for teaching moments, the possession would often be wrapped up by token free throws, generally by the poorer free throw shooters.  Gana Diop was a frequent recipient of these extra practice shots.
  • There were two guys that played with the reserves who I didn’t recognize.  One was Antonio Anderson.  Absolutely no clue as to who the other one was.
  • The team store was full of the same drek from the end of last season, save for the new jerseys.  And all they have of those are the chintzy replicas — no swingmans or authentics yet.

-E

Larry Brown as Mr. Vegas

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Brown in Las Vegas

First off, I’m not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to the Bobcats or the NBA for that matter. With that being said, I have been keeping up with the Bobcats recently and I’ve been happy to see Larry Brown being so involved with the Bobcats Summer League team in Las Vegas. From what I’ve read, he has been overloading the team with his style of offense. Apparently, this is what he learned from Dean Smith in his days at UNC. You give the new guys tons of information at first, then as time goes, you work on perfecting it. According to the players, it’s been quite the adjustment, but one that they are excited about. Brown doesn’t expect them to fully grasp his offense in just a couple of days, but one message he has gotten across is to go all out. Brown was quoted as saying, “if you’re going to make a mistake, make it giving 100%.” That’s pretty generic coach speak, but given the Bobcats roster, I think outworking other teams will give them a few extra wins off of effort alone. The players are responding well to Brown, and hopefully come preseason time, when Morrison, May, and the rest of the veterans are ready, this hard work trend can continue. Who knows, maybe the Bobcats can start the season on a win streak, build some confidence, and keep some momentum going, taking them into their first playoff series. For now though, let’s hope Larry Brown can keep the hard work going, keep the players healthy, and keep Michael Jordan and his company spending account out of the casinos. Get it?

THE RIGHT DIRECTION

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IT HAS BEGUN

In the last few days, the Charlotte Bobcats have removed Sam Vincent and announced that a Hall of Fame coach has been secured to lead the team in the right direction.

Due to some good fortune, I was able to reschedule some of the days plans and make it to announcement of Charlotte’s newest coach, Larry Brown. Within the arena, the press held down the chairs facing the new coach and the heads of the organization – Fred Whitfield, Michael Jordan and Bob Johnson. Surrounding the rows of chairs were fans that had shown up to celebrate the arrival of Brown. As a late entry, I slipped to the left side of the audience and noticed several familiar faces from the club just a few feet to my left – Bernie Bickerstaff and asst. coach Paul Moleski. As the curtained was cleared and the main event began, I realized that Raymond Felton, Sean May, Phil Ford, and Matt Carroll were just a step away from me, as well. They all seemed just as excited for this announcement as the fans around them.

Several things stood out to me as Brown and Jordan held their opening comments and answered a few rounds of questions. Particularly, it was interesting to learn that Jordan had contacted Brown about the position a year ago. Brown wasn’t ready then, but at what point did he let Michael know that he wanted the job? Was Vincent just a calculated gamble by Jordan and the organization, knowing that they could reach out to Brown in a future situation? Both Jordan and the new head coach strategically dodged any hint that this was in the works while Sam was on the job.

Also, it was great to hear Brown discuss his aims of coaching such a young team. Much has been said on the major sports broadcasts about how he prefers veteran guys. In response to question on the topic, Brown replied “You’ve got to coach guys up.” He followed comparing the trend of new NBA rosters with coaching college teams when asked about the youth of the Bobcats. He stated that a great challenge was “understanding the difference between criticism and coaching” for young players. A phrase he repeated often was that the team will “be coached every day.”

Another common line you’ll hear about Larry Brown from ESPN or Sports Illustrated is that he’s very hard on his point guards. A local reporter lobbed that question to Brown and he simply admitted to it. Of his point guards, he said that he considers them “an extension of the head coach.”

Additional Notes:

Sean May looks a bit thinner than I’ve ever seen him. From my brief observations, he and Felton look like true friends, not just long time teammates. Raymond looked honestly excited about the event, also.

When asked about the rest of his coaching staff, Brown said the Jordan wanted him to consider those currently on staff as a courtesy to their loyalty. Brown went to explain that he will choose his own assistants, those who “will care about me.” It was an interesting way to put it, but I think Phil Ford will probably be the only one of the assistants to remain.