Bobcats Look To Ride Twilight Vampire Craze

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Bobcats Looking To Sign Another Forward

The Charlotte Bobcats continue their efforts to build depth and find quality role players this summer. The Arizona Republic and The Charlotte Observer have reported that the team has been in contact with Phoenix Suns free agent Louis Amundson. If the team were successful in signing Amundson, this could signal further shifts to the Bobcats roster.

Who Is Louis Amundson?

Okay, so you look at Louis Amundson and the first thing that comes to mind is “Vampire”, right? I expected to run a Google search and find a heartwarming, local newspaper article about how he’s worked hard to overcome the bias and adversity of adjusting to the US since his arrival from Transylvania. Over the past two seasons he’s been praised for his hard work on the court with the Phoenix Suns, but his extensive efforts to wear that mouthpiece and pretend to be a normal human are never recognized.

It appears that the Bobcats may be in line to capitalize on circumstances that will follow Amundson throughout his NBA “life.” The 6’9″ forward/vampire is destined to spend his entire career on the move, hoping no one will notice that he never ages. After breaking into the NBA from the D-League, he played just one game for Utah before heading East to avoid the suspicious eye of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan (estimated to be 95 yrs old).  Amundson  spent the following two NBA seasons working to learn the intricacies of modern human life and the dynamics of a team locker room with the Philadelphia 76ers. This experience prepared him for a more productive role with the Phoenix Suns.

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After the November 2008 release of the highly anticipated first Twilight film, Amundson realized that America embraced and celebrated his kind. His new sense of comfort began to show immediately. Over the next few months, he thrived in a more vampire-appropriate pace of offense with Phoenix. It could be argued that as he got more minutes on the court, his teammates actually began to run faster on the break just to get distance from him. It’s been speculated that after his first season, the Suns were forced to trade away Shaq after coach Alvin Gentry reviewed hours of game footage and noticed the way Amundson would watch O’Neal as slow and easy prey.

Now that Louis Amundson is once again looking to relocate and avoid suspicion, Charlotte hopes that he can invigorate their front line or at least give Larry Brown the gift of immortality. In order to compete with the other teams courting Louis Amundson, the Cats could offer him on an incentive-based contract to keep the base salary numbers low, as well as encourage Amundson to avoid biting season ticket holders or Rufus, the team mascot.

Notes : Louis Amundson may not be an actual vampire. My initial guess had him as a big man from somewhere in Europe. That, too, is probably wrong. It looks like Amundson was born in California, grew up in Colorado, and went to college at UNLV.  He was not an actor in The Lost Boys. Who knew?

-Mike

Bobcats Score 2K Sports Sponsorship Deal

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Jordan Lines Up Another Deal, The Endorsement Kind.

Jordan Returns - In a Video Game

It looks like MJ convinced video game producer 2K Sports to swing some cash his way for lending his face to the cover for their upcoming NBA 2K11. The Sporting News is reporting that 2K Sports has an agreement with the Bobcats for screen graphics and signage throughout Time Warner Cable Arena, but more notably the company will hold its release of the new NBA 2K11 during the Bobcats home opener this coming season. Who knows what a video game release is all about, but this kind of buzz can’t really hurt the team. This is exactly the kind of stuff that Jordan brings as an owner. It might not be as awesome as a deal for Chris Paul, but I bet the Bobcats can win the Finals this year on NBA 2K.

Here’s bit of the business-oriented story:

In early June, 2K Sports made Jordan the first former NBA player and the first team owner to be featured on the cover of a 2K video game. Jordan also is included in the “NBA 2K11″ game along with other former NBA pros.

The company’s deal with the Bobcats signals the continued effort to meld the team’s brand more closely with Jordan’s personal endorsement portfolio. Hanes, Gatorade and Jordan Brand are other Jordan-endorsed companies that have done deals in the past with the Bobcats.

Let’s hope they make Rufus look real good in the game!

I’ve got to admit that I play the hell out of NBA 2K10, so this news might only be “blogworthy” to me. (Yeah, that’s right – I blog and play video games. My girlfriend sure is proud.)

-Mike

Bobcats Offer Kind Deal to Dominic McGuire

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Dominic McGuire has been signed by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Nicknamed “D-Mac”, the 6-9 McGuire was selected by the Wizards with the 47th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. In three NBA seasons, McGuire has played in 200 games, averaging 2.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 15.4 minutes.

Press Release here: http://www.nba.com/bobcats/release_mcguire_signed_100722.html

Player Profile here: http://www.nba.com/bobcats/player_profile_dominic_mcguire.html

Raymond Felton Moving to New York; has Trouble Selling Condo

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ESPN is reporting that Raymond Felton is signing with the New York Knicks in a deal that will be finalized over the weekend…

The New York Knicks’ consolation prize after missing out on LeBron James will be point guard Raymond Felton…Felton joins Amare Stoudemire as the Knicks’ two big free-agent signings of the summer, even though they failed to achieve their primary goal of getting James.

Raymond’s first priority is surely to find a solid Realtor to assist in the sale of his luxury condominium. With residential sales in a slump, he is courting several real estate firms before deciding who is the best fit. Would Remax move his urban condo quicker than a experienced, local agency such as Allen Tate? He has big questions to address.

Which ever Real Estate agent Raymond decides to go with, what does this mean for the Bobcats? Is DJ going to be our starter? If Raymond is the #1 point guard on the free agent market, who is #2?

THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: Jordan’s Approach to Building a Winning Team in Charlotte

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THE PLAYERS (AKA THE MISFITS):

It starts with the city itself.  Once a shining example of the NBA’s ever-growing popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Charlotte finds itself today as a middle aged divorcee six years into a rebound marriage, unsure if it was ever cut out for this pro basketball city thing to begin with.*

The team’s first All-Star and only remaining original member was a bargain bin castoff selected in the expansion draft.  Young Gerald Wallace was worth less to the Sacramento Kings than shedding $1 million from their bloated payroll.

Even though he is only one of a dozen or so current NBA players who can score twenty points a night while preventing his opponent from doing the same, Stephen Jackson was exiled from Golden State for what amounted to a $5 million expiring contract and a poor shooting, non-rebounding Eastern European caveman.

Once universally revered, hall of fame head coach Larry Brown arrived in Charlotte a tarnished brand.  In a League where head coaching vacancies are filled annually by the same retread Temp Agency, Brown had to practically reach out to an old friend in order to secure a job and begin rebuilding his reputation.

And finally there’s Jordan.  A man who could do no wrong on the court is now the man who can barely do anything right off of it.  Joining the names Ehlo and Russell in the MJ ethos are new ones like Kwame and Morrison.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Michael Jordan has something to prove in the game of basketball.

A BRIEF, PAINFUL RECAP

Successful small market teams (OKC, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, Orlando) use the same formula and we all know it: BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT.  Draft stars to cheap rookie deals, treat ‘em well, sign ‘em to big contracts before they hit free agency and keep drafting young talent and signing mid-level free agents to pair with them.  Rinse and repeat.

The Bobcats are currently the worst drafting franchise in the NBA.  It’s not even up for debate.  In six plus years of existence, not once has one of their draft picks sniffed an All-Star game – and the ‘Cats have had more lottery selections than anyone else in that span.  Indulge me for another brief and painful recap:

2004: Emeka Okafor.  GRADE: a solid double. Could have had more picks and taken Big Al or Iggy if Bob Johnson had a clue about running a business, “hmm, buy a pick from Phoenix for $2 million to draft Jefferson, Deng or Iguodala or build a brand new cable sports network from scratch?  What’s the main draw you ask?  Charlotte Bobcats basketball of course!  Brevin Knight every night!”

2005: Ray Felton/Crab Bread May.  GRADE: a sacrifice bunt. Felton a below average starter for a few years, May on his way to hosting Man vs. Food: EXTREME CARBS!
2006: Adam Morrison.  GRADE: whiff.
Not only a whiff but a McGwire Whiff.  The kind where the guy is on ‘roids and whiffs so hard that he blows out both knees in the process.  Embarrassing.
2007: Jason Richardson/Jared Dudley.  GRADE: RBI single. Could have been worse.  At least realized that they didn’t know how to draft and received a couple non-bust assets in return.

2008: Augustin/Ajinca.  GRADE: whiff. Not as bad as the Morrison knee blowout but a close second.  Passed on Brook Lopez and threw away a future first rounder in order to select Freedom Fries.  Jordan was on record as saying that the team sat out the 2010 draft because “Tyrus Thomas was our first round pick.”  No, Michael.  Alexis Ajinca is your 2010 first round pick.  Ugh.
2009: Henderson/Brown.  GRADE: promising single right up the gap.
Henderson looked good in some late season action and is at least athletic enough to belong in the League–although his complete lack of an outside shot scares me.  Derrick Brown has the Gerald Wallace “I’m not intellectually capable enough to realize I shouldn’t be any good” gene – and this is no insult to Crash, look at how the book-smarts have hampered Okatron 2000’s career.  Higher grade for this draft if LB actually plays them next year.
2010: Ajinca by proxy.  GRADE: Freedom whiff.

So there you go folks, somehow with all of this draft day carnage in their immediate past, the Charlotte Bobcats attained a winning record in 2009-2010 and stole the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  So how in the hell did they do it?

GIVE US YOUR UNDER-PERFORMING & YOUR OVER-PAID

Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw.  What’s the single thread that ties these players together?  Why, it’s the fact that their former teams handed them massive contracts and then immediately realized that they’d made a mistake.  “Oh crap, we just signed Joel Pryzbilla to a nine year $80 million contract.  Quick, get Jordan on the phone!”

So in a silly season which saw half of the League’s teams trade away wins for cap space, the Bobcats “philosophy” of taking on bad contracts to win now was just wacky enough to propel them into the postseason.  While other GMs plotted for future dynasties, Jordan mortgaged the farm on the more modest and attainable goal of simply making the Playoffs.  It worked.  The ‘Cats finished the season as one of the Association’s top 15 teams.

Could it be that MJ and crony Rod Higgins are sharking their peers by making fiscally questionable deals to upgrade the team’s talent pool?  Have the ‘Cats created a new “Freakonomics” meets “Moneyball” model that challenges the importance of the amateur draft and free agency?  Is Michael Jordan stealthily playing checkers while the rest of the League plays chess?  Or will all of these questionable contracts and draft day screw-ups eventually cripple the team, making future trades difficult and free agent additions impossible?**

If Jordan and Higgins are intent on foregoing the tried and true paradigm for small market success and continue with their merry spending ways, then I present to you, without further ado…

THE SUMMER OF 2010’s MISFIT TOY CANDIDATES:

What makes a Misfit Toy candidate?  Simple: you have to be way overpaid and way underperforming.  If you fit this description then I hope you like pulled pork BBQ ‘cause your probably coming to Carolina!

Ben Gordon 4 yrs: $47 million

Y’think Joey Dumars is just a tad bit regretful for signing a 6’3” sixth man shooting guard to a $60 million deal?  Gordon is way overpaid for his production but could be exactly what the doctor ordered on a team like the Bobcats: Electric bench and fourth quarter scoring.  The ‘Cats are desperate for it.  That said, Dumars is notoriously tough to trade with.  Wonder if a combination of Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson might get this done.

Monta Ellis 4 yrs: $44 million

We’ve been speculating on this one for years.  Ellis hogs the ball and jacks up shots at an unprecedented rate.  Not good on a team with lots of offensive options like Golden State but could be an absolute godsend for the Bobcats, who spent the vast majority of last season spastically passing the ball around on offense like it was a live hand grenade.  Again, wonder if Diaw and Henderson or Chandler’s expiring could get this done.  The W’s are a mess in the front office right now, Higgins could potentially steal something else in return (pick, prospect).

Baron Davis 3yrs: $41 million

A blast from the past, a former home grown product entering the end of his career.  Still has the size and offensive firepower to occasionally dominate a game.  Couldn’t be any worse than Felton and is so overpaid that the ‘Cats could conceivably unload Diop’s longer deal in exchange.

Al Jefferson 3yrs: $42 million

Not sure exactly why Big Al is being shopped so fiercely this summer.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of David Kahn.  If the rest of League’s GMs are playing chess to MJ’s checkers, then Kahn is playing badminton.  Al would be a huge upgrade at the PF spot for the ‘Cats but not quite sure what the T’Wolves would want in exchange.  I’m praying that Kahn would ok a deal that would send out Jefferson and Ramon Sessions (Andre Miller: The Next Generation) for Tyson and Nazr’s expirings (plus a future first rounder).

Emeka Okafor: 4yrs, $52 million

Tied with two others on this list (see below) for the worst contract in the League.  Obviously, it was the Bobcats who signed him to it.  Was such a poor fit in New Orleans that Charlotte actually won the trade by taking back 6ppg/6rpg, semi-crippled Tyson Chandler in exchange.  Hate the contract but could live with ‘Mek’s 16 + 10 if the Hornets threw in Darren Collison.  Diop/Mohammed/Augustin for Okafor/Collison anybody?

Rashard Lewis: 3yrs, $65 million

Sole possession of 2nd Worst Contract in the League.  He’s paid over $20 million a year over the next three.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rashard should gift half his salary to Dwight Howard every season.  Without D-Ho backing him up in the lane, Lewis’s skinny frame and lack of defensive skills would make him an absolute liability.  Don’t think the Magic would trade him (they’re firmly in “go for broke” mode) but his offensive skills and outside shooting would fill a need for the ‘Cats.

Elton Brand: 3yrs, $51 million

Here we go, a good old fashioned back to the basket All-Star power forward.  Only problem is that Elton hasn’t been the same since an achilles injury derailed his career a few seasons ago.  He’s a round peg in a square hole with fast paced Philly but could regain dominance in Larry Brown’s grind it out half-court offense in Charlotte.  Would Diaw/Mohammed (expiring) be enough to get it done?

Hedu Turkoglu: 4yrs, $43 million

We’ve been hearing this rumor for a solid month now.  Hedu and Jack to Charlotte for Boris, Diop and D.J.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense mainly because Hedu can only play small forward, doesn’t defend or rebound well and is essentially not very good.  He’s basically Boris with a worse contract and poorer defense.  Jack and Ray Felton may as well be the same player.  Dud.  Oh and Hedu is one of the other “Worst Contract in the League”ers.  The other one?

Gilbert Arenas: 4yrs, $60 million

I’ve already written about this in length so I won’t rehash it here.  If MJ could swing a deal featuring Diop, Diaw and Mohammed for Gilbert and an asset (prospect or pick) then do it.  It’d be the biggest gamble in MJ’s tenure but he’s shown that he’s most definitely the gambling type.  An Arenas/JAX/CRASH/Tyrus/Chandler core could win 50 games this year as long as everybody stays relatively healthy.  The team would also retain the young talent on the roster and pick up either a pick or a young player like Javale McGee or Blatche from the Wiz for their troubles.

Allen Iverson: free agent.

We couldn’t leave out good old AI.  He’s a free agent and has declared himself ready take on the League again.  The dude has hit rock bottom.  If you’re gonna take a flyer on him then now is the time to do it.  If he would accept a smaller (possibly bench) role and play nice with his new teammates then I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career than with his old coach in the Queen City.  He’d also come cheap.  Think: Flip Murray Advanced.

IN CONCLUSION

Don’t be surprised if Jordan pulls off a deal for one of these misfits sometime between now and the end of next month.  MJ sat out the draft and one gets the sense that both he and Trader Larry are chomping at the bit to make yet another move for an overpriced toy in need of a new home.

Until then, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

*I find it ironic that throughout Charlotte’s twenty plus years of NBA basketball history the vast majority of the city’s successful players have come via trade or as castaways: Monster Mash, Eddie Jones, Mase, Vlade Two Packs, Easy E Campbell, P-Whipped Rice, Curry 1.0, Don’t Tell Me No Bogues, Crash and JAX.  Doesn’t that sort of represent how the city’s success was built as well?  Sure, there are some shining examples of homegrown talent but the vast majority of the Queen City’s brain pool came here from somewhere else looking for a new start.  Buffalo, Rochester, Jersey, Pittsburgh, WV, Ohio, represent BABY BABY!  UH!

**The good news is that the team drafts so poorly that they’ll never have to worry about re-signing their own talent on the open market.  “What’s that?  Raymond is an unrestricted free agent?  He might sign with another team?  Huh.  Anyways, so you’re telling me that a poached egg is actually boiled?  I always wondered how they did that…”

Bucks’ Mascot Attempts Ultimate Stunt to Get Back at Rufus

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an article on their Bucks Blog that includes this incredible video of their Mascot “Bango” performing a stunt during a recent Playoff game…

This is the most incredible Mascot stunt I have ever seen for the following reasons…

1. Balancing on top of a ladder that tall is very hard.

2. Doing a backflip off a ladder and landing on your back is painful.

3. Getting up and doing a handspring is insane.

This next video features Bango, Super Hugo and Rufus during the 2009 All-Star game. Apparently, Bango had to have surgery as a result of this stunt…leading us to believe that the “Ultimate Stunt” was an attempt to get back at Rufus for contributing to his injury.

If a second-rate mascot banked a shot off my crotch in front of a huge crowd I would be pretty motivated to reclaim my image.

Fair Weather Breezes Through Charlotte

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My allergies have been just horrible this Spring…

And It’s not because of the oak pollen.

Over the past few weeks, Charlotte has been under a cloud of Fair Weather. The record amount of support for the Bobcats has been really difficult to bear. I’ve been sneezing non-stop since we made the Playoffs; I break out in hives when I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with people on the Lynx Light Rail (disease train); and every time I see someone wearing a Jordan Brand shirt I keel over with the dry heaves.

My Doctor told me that the weather would pass but wrote me a pretty strong prescription…

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The Fair Weather toxins have physically disfigured several of us at Bobcats Baseline but maybe we can use our new physical appearance to become some sort of Bobcats super-hero alliance…

For the past 6 years I have been a Bobcats fan solely for the indie-cred. To be a Bobcats fan meant that you were an outcast; a freak. I found solace in being part of a community that accepted me for, well, me. The Bobcats fan-base was so small and welcoming. Are those days gone forever?

Will the Bobcats no longer be made up of chill bros that play World of Warcraft (between games) in their basement?

Are Bobcats fans no longer just a group of teenage mutants that live in the sewer?

I just don’t understand why “the others” have suddenly become die-hard fans of OUR team.

They HATE the Bobcats. They shout things like,

“That Damn Arena took ALL my tax dollars!”

“Bob Johnson is a complete dbag/weirdo/jerkface!”

“I hate the name! Change the name!”

“The NBA is nothing but a bunch of thugs!”

“GRRRRRR….Rabble, Rabble!”

Fortunately, the fog of fair weather seems to be clearing…

I can only hope that the Bobcats fan community can go back to being the small group of misfits it once was.

I pray that we will no longer see the skyline lit under a hue of orange.

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I don’t want to see people taking pictures underneath a large inflatable Bobcats head.

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I hope to never again see Gerald Wallace on the side of the Light Rail.

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If Charlotte can just go back to ignoring the Bobcats, maybe, just maybe, we can have our team back.