Charlotte Bobcats Draft Retrospective | Part One

Standard

Editor’s Note: What you are about to read is a grotesque lesson in abject NBA failure. It is not suitable for children under the age of 12, readers who are pregnant or for those weak of heart. If, by coincidence, any reader is to one day become involved with running a professional sports franchise, it is our hope that he or she would refer back to this epic tragedy in the hopes of avoiding the (seemingly obvious) pitfalls of this moribound organization. Finally, if this column is to ever appear in printed form, it is highly suggested that the publishers bundle it with a barf bag.

The Charlotte Bobcats will participate in their tenth NBA Draft on June 27th, 2013. In their previous nine drafts, the team has selected in the first round a total of twelve times, producing exactly zero All-Star appearances which have in turn produced a total of zero Playoff victories for the franchise. Think about that. The Bobcats organization has drafted in the first round a dozen times, ten of which were Lottery selections, and have produced not a single player who has sniffed an All-Star game. Once more: Ten Lottery Selections, Zero All-Star appearances. Needless to say, it takes a special sort of ineptitude to accomplish such a feat. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at how they did it:

Part One: ’04-’06 The Bickerstaff Era

In one of the few sound (and by sound, I mean not horrendous) decisions Bob Johnson ever made as owner of the team, longtime coach and personnel director Bernie Bickerstaff was hired to shape the newborn franchise in the combined role of general manager/coach during the franchise’s infancy. Bernie actually got the team off to a decent drafting start but, as we will learn, the success didn’t last for very long…

The 2004 Draft: Emeka Okafor F/C UConn, Bernard Robinson SF Michigan.

How It Played Out: Bickerstaff used his connections with the Clippers organization to swing a nice pre-Draft deal, moving the 4th overall selection (Shaun Livingston) and two future second rounders to L.A. for the 2nd overall pick (Okafor) plus Eddie House and Melvin Ely. The Clips were on a failed mission to sign Kobe Bryant and needed to clear cap space pronto. Bernie jumped at the opportunity to make Okafor the face of the league’s newest franchise.

Amazing as it sounds, Emeka probably ranks as the Bobcats most successful Draft choice to date despite little development beyond his Rookie of the Year season. A combination of management overpaying him for no apparant reason (bidding against themselves) in conjunction with the hiring of yoga-hater Larry Brown derailed what could have a been a long career in Charlotte. Okafor is no superstar but as a kind of poor-man’s David Robinson/rich-man’s Udonis Haslem, Emeka could have anchored the team’s interior defense for a decade or more. Intelligent and photogenic, Okafor was also the perfect PR representitive for a team trying desperately to connect with a reticent fanbase.

As the Cats’ inaugural second round choice, Robinson contributed few meaningful minutes and was out of league after just three seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: The Okafor selection aside, the Cats missed out on a major opportunity to land another Lottery pick via a capped stretched Phoenix team who were shopping the Draft’s 7th overall pick for the very reasonable price of a protected future first rounder. The Suns ended up making a deal with Chicago for what ended up being the 21st pick in the ’05 Draft. The Bulls selected Duke freshman Luol Deng seventh; two picks later Arizona sophmore Andre Iguodala went to the Sixers. Given the team’s needs and talent available, it’s unknown why Charlotte wasn’t more aggressive with an offer; perhaps Bickerstaff felt the franchise’s top expansion draftee, Gerald Wallace, would develop into the long term starter.

GRADE: B-


The 2005 Draft: Raymond Felton PG UNC, Sean May PF UNC.

While most point to the 2006 Draft as THE PIVOTAL MOMENT that set the franchise back half a decade, I would argue that it was the 2005 Draft that had the greater impact.

How It Played Out: The seeds of destruction were planted that May, as the league’s Lottery system punished Bickerstaff for keeping the Bobcats competitive in their inaugaral season, pushing their 2nd worst overall record back to pick number five. There was a bit of good news however: as a result of an expansion draft day trade with the Suns, the Bobcats had acquired Cleveland’s 13th overall selection via Phoenix, giving the Bobcats two lottery picks in the same draft – more than enough ammunition to move up and grab one of college basketball’s elite Point Guards (Deron Williams, Chris Paul) should a deal become available. One did. And Bickerstaff turned it down.

You all know the story: Having been rejected by Charlotte, Portland instead traded the third overall selection to Utah for the 6th and 27th picks. The Jazz took Williams at three, New Orleans selected Chris Paul at four, while the Bobcats (in desperate need of a franchise PG) reached for Raymond Felton at number five.

At the time, Bickerstaff believed that the team was in need of quantity over quality. This made as little sense then as it does now. The NBA isn’t the NFL, there is no 53 man roster to fill out. Only five players can play at once. Regular season rotations max out at 10 and shrink even further during the postseason. It was a hugely obvious and irrepreable mistake.
Eight seasons later, Paul is the greatest PG on the planet, Williams is a sometimes-superstar and Felton is a solid player who the Knicks were able to sign off the street for a partial mid-level contract. To make matters worse, the “quantity” number 13 pick Bickerstaff was so excited about ended up being more “quantity” than his knees could ever handle.

Sean May had played his way into the Lottery with a big-time Final Four performance that landed he and teammate Felton a NCAA Championship (that’s three first round picks, three NCAA champions, Zero All-Star appearances if you’re counting), but the work ethic and health concerns that dinged May’s rep pre-Tourney showed up almost immediately into his pro career. Despite some solid performances in orange & blue (including two monster games against Cleveland and Orlando on national television), May ate his way out of the league in just a few seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: One can only imagine the impact drafting Paul (a local guy with family in the Charlotte area) would have had on the team’s success and reputation, on Okafor and Wallace’s development and on the development of the fanbase. Even if CP3 would have forced his way out as he did in New Orleans two summers ago, the Cats would have likely received major assets in return — unlike the bounty they received for May and Felton, which was absolutely nothing. Future NBA GMs of America take note: Quality ALWAYS wins out over Quantity.

GRADE: F-


The 2006 NBA Draft: Adam Morrison SF Gonzaga, Ryan Hollins C UCLA

How It Played Out: Let’s put it this way, the team’s 2nd round pick in ’06 (Ryan Hollins, 50th overall) is still in the league three years after their 1st round pick (Adam Morrison, 3rd overall) hopped a one-way train to Eastern Europe. In fairness to Bickerstaff, the Ammo selection was likley influenced by Michael Jordan, who had only weeks prior to the Draft purchased a significant portion of the team from Johnson. MJ’s “great white hope” certainly didn’t start out as a bust. I was there opening night when Morrison nailed his first NBA shot, a near half court buzzer beater that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Morrison spent the next 81 games doing basically what everyone thought he’d do coming out of Gonzaga: score in bunches and play terrible defense. Overall, it was an up and down season in which Ammo would typically go for 20 points one night, followed by a 2 point, 1-10 night the next. His brightest moment came in a late December game against Indy in which the rook dropped thirty on 9-17 shooting, earning an impressive ten points from the line.

Cut to Los Angeles, ten months later: Morrison blows out his ACL guarding Luke Walton in a pre-season game, effectively ending his NBA career. The following season Charlotte would ship Ammo (along with Shannon Brown) to the Lakers for Vladimir “Radman” Radmanovic, leaving Morrison to ride out his rookie deal on L.A.’s high-profile pine. (SIDE NOTE: Being that Hollywood is the land of happy endings, Phil, Kobe and Pau made sure to slip a couple of Championship rings into Morrison’s Euro-bound suitcase as a parting gift.)

How It Should Have Played Out: The pick was a disaster for two reasons: 1.) The other players the Bobcats seriously considered drafting were Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. 2.) The team already had a young SF prospect in Gerald Wallace.

This second point is key: Just 12 months earlier, Bickerstaff was preaching quantity over quality yet by selecting Morrison, Bernie doubled up on a position of strength. Had Bickerstaff stuck (or been allowed to stick) to his philosophy, the Cats could have simply selected Roy and slid him next to Felton, Crash and Okafor to form a nice young core. Four amazing seasons with a healthy Roy (which included a Rookie of the Year campaign and three All-Star selections) could have ignited the dormant local fanbase and put the team on the national NBA map. Instead, Morrison cemented the laughing stock status of both the Bobcats as a franchise and MJ as an Exec. Place the blame on Bernie or his Air-ness, either way this Draft was a fail of epic proportions.

GRADE: F-


NEXT UP IN PART TWO: ROD HIGGINS TRIES TO OUT-SUCK THE BICKERSTAFF ERA… AND SUCCEEDS!

 


POLL : Best Bobcats Draft Pick

  • Emeka Okafor (9%, 27 Votes)
  • Kemba Walker (62%, 188 Votes)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11%, 32 Votes)
  • Raymond Felton (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Gerald Henderson (14%, 41 Votes)

Total Voters: 301

Loading ... Loading ...

Bobcats Get By Clippers; Wallace Leaves With Sprained Ankle

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats vs Clippers 3/12/10

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their fifth straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night.  Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats with 24 points (9-21 FG) and 6 assists.  The Clippers actually outshot the Cats 57.5% to 54.2%, but committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Cats 36-30.

AP recap here |  Box score here

The Cats built a 61-45 lead by halftime, then coasted through the second half, withstanding a half-hearted fourth quarter push by the rag-tag, Eric Gordon-less Clippers.  With the win, the Cats move to 33-31 overall, 6th place in the East, and ensured their best ever home record with their 24th victory at the Cable Box.

But it was a play right at the end of the first half that will be causing Cats fans consternation in the coming days.

Crash

With the Cats already on a 6-0 run and causing the Clippers all sorts of problems closing out the first half, Gerald Wallace poked the ball away from Baron Davis.  Wallace had been dominant in the first half, with 17 points (7-8 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The loose ball went to Stephen Jackson, who flipped it ahead to Wallace, already at full speed.  Gerald flew down the court with just seconds left on the clock, a step or two ahead of Baron.  But as Gerald took off and glided towards the basket, Baron caught up enough to make some contact.

Most of the contact he made was basically a cheap push in Gerald’s lower back with his left hand.  Gerald was fully extended and essentially defenseless, and was sent careening towards the basket support in a manner that we’ve certainly seen in the past, but not this season.  Gerald landed awkwardly on his left ankle and immediately grabbed for it.

Larry Brown soon made his way over as Gerald rolled around on the floor.  The rest of the bench was up and visibly upset. Raymond Felton fretted with both hands on his head; assistant coach Phil Ford angrily slapped some rolled up papers against his other hand.  Angry boos rained down; Baron’s perfunctory concern for Gerald and the fact that a flagrant foul was called was enough to prevent a minor incident.

Gerald was eventually able to get up and hit one of the two free throws to give the Cats 61-45 halftime lead, but headed straight back to the locker room with the trainers after that.  He reportedly had negative x-rays on the ankle, but did not return to the bench (or the game) for the second half.

With the Bulls having fallen off a cliff without Joakim Noah (and now without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose), there’s no longer much danger of the Cats finishing out of the playoff race.  But we can hardly afford to be without Gerald for too long as we try to jockey for the 6th seed and the right to play Boston (or possibly Atlanta) in the first round.  7th or 8th place buys us a matchup with the Magic or Cavs, respectively.  This season’s victories over the Cavs notwithstanding, both of those series would probably result in the Bobcats getting swept or nearly swept.

6th place or bust — Get Well Soon Gerald!

Lotsa Tidbits

  • David Stern has rubber-stamped Michael Jordan’s purchase of the Bobcats; all that remains is for the league’s board of governors to agree sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In something of a surprise, Stern indicated that the purchase price was around $275 million (not $175 million as had been rumored last week) and that Jordan put up all of the money.  He apparently is still trying to line up minority investors, but still…
  • Gana Diop was apparently planning to dress for tonight’s game, but had dizzy spells after a Thursday workout and will miss several games while getting worked up.  Check the first comment under the post in that link, it says all you need to know about this story — Cats fans are already fantasizing about a career-ending heart condition for Gana and the salary cap relief it would provide.
  • After giving up and selling the Bobcats, Bob Johnson is mercifully killing off his stupid horse-jumping competition.
  • Tyson Chandler had another solid game off the bench: 13 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Here’s some food for thought for the weekend from the Wall Street Journal: there is a 50/50 split in the NBA between teams who employ dedicated statistical/data analysts.  The teams that do have a 60% winning percentage this season, while the teams that don’t are at 40%.  Now I was pretty sure that the Bobcats don’t, but a line in the story seems to contradict that (the line about only the Suns, Hawks and Jazz being the only playoff teams that don’t).  Anyone know for sure if the Cats do?
  • Larry Hughes, anyone?
  • Next game is Sunday evening at 6 PM in Orlando versus Superman and the Magic.

-Dr. E

Charlotte Bobcats™ © MJ Basketball Holdings, LLC

Standard

Will MJ Follow Bob Johnson's Footsteps or Jerry Richardson's?

Postolos Posterized.

It’s official.  MJ came through in the clutch as he did time and time again during his playing days.  We all assumed that the George Postolos Group had the game wrapped up with just seconds to go on the clock but in a surprising turn of events, Jordan did to Postolos what he did to another geeky white guy 21 years ago – schooled him at the buzzer.  I’m not comparing Postolos to Craig Ehlo – the former Rockets president has a much more impressive resume – but we may have forgotten for a moment that we were dealing with the most competitive athlete in the history of professional sports.  MJ would NEVER have allowed himself to be outbid by a nerdy pencil pusher from Texas.  MJ posterized Postolos.

So Now What? (On the Court)

Massive changes would’ve occurred had the Postolos Group gained control the franchise.  Coach Larry Brown publicly announced earlier in the season that he’d walk away from the team (“preposterous!“) if MJ weren’t involved in the team’s ownership.  Friends of Mike featuring GM Rod Higgidy-Higgins and President Fred Whitfield would have certainly been cut loose.  There’s a great chance that Postolos would’ve rebuilt the roster as soon as this offseason, trading veterans for cap space and draft picks.

Now that Jordan is firmly in charge, it’s hard to imagine any major shift in philosophy from a basketball perspective.  Coach Brown will most likely honor his current contract and return next season.  The team will presumably retain its top veteran players and try to improve itself through trades and overlooked free agents during the summer.  Jordan has made most of the basketball decisions for the team since the summer of ’06 so we should know what to expect by now: Crappy Draft Picks (Morrison, Augustin), Quality Trades (Jackson, Diaw, Thomas), and So-So Free Agent Signings (Good: Gerald Wallace, Bad: Matt Carroll).

So Now What? (Off the Court)

This is the tricky part.  For the NBA to succeed in Charlotte, the team will need an owner who’s capable of conducting “Charlotte Business.”  You know, Good ‘ol BoyHow’s Yer Mama and Daddy – kind of business.  The kind that attracts big regional partnerships and sponsorships.  Very local, very social, very political, very congenial and (most importantly) very accessible.  I’m not so sure that MJ is any of these things quite yet.  Sure, he gets a partial-pass simply for being the greatest NBA player of all time and for being a local High School & Collegiate star but that only goes so far.  It reminds of another Nike superstar’s homecoming.

Don’t Pull a Tiger Woods (It’s not what you think)

My father’s side of the family is Thai-Chinese and in the early 90s golf became the leisure sport of choice in Thailand thanks in large part due to the country’s sunny, tropical climate, low labor cost and (relatively) low real estate values.  Wealthy Japanese businessmen could fly into Bangkok, shoot a few rounds of golf, take in a few days at a luxury resort and be back in Osaka or Tokyo by Monday morning all for less money than playing a single round in The Land of the Rising Sun.  As a kid I saw my father’s wealthy Thai friends begin to emulate the Japanese golfers and then a few years later the middle class jumped in and all of a sudden Thailand was golf-crazy. 
CUT TO:
Around the turn of the millenium the greatest golfing talent the world has ever witnessed shows up on the scene and miraculously (seemingly by the grace of the bodhisatva Ben Hogan) he is half-Thai.  So Tiger Woods visits Bangkok and is fawned over by all and bestowed every honor available in the Siamese book and the people love him.  For about a year.  Maybe two.  Nowadays nobody even really talks about.  He’s just the dude who wears expensive Tag watches and bangs a bunch of chicks on the side.  So what.  All rich Thai guys do that.

Tiger missed out on becoming a national hero because he didn’t become part of the community.  He didn’t attempt to learn the language, the culture, teach or coach young Thai golfers — nothing.  He just showed up, picked up a huge check from the local golf promoters and said “sawadee – peace out.”

Michael Jordan is a global icon but is going to have to learn to do local.  It’s like one of those hackneyed Hollywood star vehicles in which the city folk have to “rough it” in the country – only to find that the small town life is what they were after all along.  Jordan is going to have to kiss babies and go to mega (and mini) churches and speak with local business groups and donate to local charities.  And unlike George Shinn, Jordan is going to have to be genuine about it.  The good news is that MJ has a model to follow just down the street from The Cable Box.  Jerry Richardson is another former athlete who has succeeded as a business entrepreneur and a professional sports owner.

The Ballad of Bob & Jerry

I walked into the Dilworth Harris Teeter just hours before the Bobcats made their ’06-’07 debut at the then unnamed Uptown Arena.  As I hit the snack aisle, Bob Johnson walks past.  I quickly turn to offer a few words of encouragement but before I can open my mouth he’s bolted off to the frozen foods.  This was strange because A.) We Clearly made Eye Contact and B.) I was dressed in FULL BOBCATS gear that included an authentic Bobcats Warmup, Bobcats Beanie and Primoz Brezec jersey.  Keep in mind that this was during a time in which most Charlotteans didn’t even know what the Bobcats were and couldn’t tell Brevin Knight apart from Urkle.
By chance, I walked past him two more times and finally ended up standing behind him at the checkout line.  The friendly HT checkout person tried chatting him up southern-style.  “Bob Johnson!  How are you doing sir!  Got a big game tonight.  Wish you the best!”  Johnson acknowledged her with a grunt and an uncomfortable smile, shoved some money in the cashier’s hand and then made a B-Line for the chauffuered Mercedes getaway car screeching to a halt immediately to the left of those vile, bourgeois tinted automatic exit doors.  The man seemed less sour than he seemed borderline autistic.

Contrast this to a chance encounter I had with Mr. Richardson outside of a Joseph A. Bank in South Charlotte.  Mr. Richardson rose gently from the driver’s seat of a vintage luxury sedan, pulled a couple of plastic covered suits from the back seat and limped into the shop.  I caught him on the sidewalk and quickly thanked him for his contribution to the city.  Richardson thanked me in return for supporting the team and continued along his way.  That’s all it took.  I care about basketball around two hundred times more than I care about football but I’ll always follow the Panthers because the owner is a class act.  Stories like these abound.  In an opinionated age in which most sports owners are viewed as an obstacle between fan and team success, Jerry Richardson is beloved.

MJ would be wise to take note: Be like Jerry, not like Bob.

–ASChin


POLL : NEW OWNER - AIR JORDAN

  • Great For Charlotte
    (57%, 51 Votes)
  • Postolos = Better Option
    (7%, 6 Votes)
  • Not a Big Change
    (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Good Bye Bob Johnson
    (25%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 89

Loading ... Loading ...

Boozer Demolishes Bobcats, Sale Imminent? Hughes Signing Soon?

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats @ Utah 2/24/10

Charlotte can’t hold onto an eleven point half-time lead as Carlos Boozer and the Jazz TapouT™ the ‘Cats in Salt Lake City 102-93.

AP recap here | Box Score here | Bonnell recap here

The Game

Bobcats start out strong in Utah, avoiding the usual Insta-Road-Deficit but were bullied by a physical Jazz team in the second half.

Jerry Sloan countered Larry Brown with an all-too-obvious adjustment at halftime by pounding the ball inside and destroying a small Bobcats lineup that was without centers Nazr Mohammed (back), Gana Diop (knee) and Tyson Chandler (testicles).

Without the $64 Million Dollar Men, Larry Brown was again forced to play Theo Ratliff north of 30 minutes for the second consecutive game – Ratliff had played a total of 37 minutes in 2010 before being traded to the Bobcats.  The 36 year old veteran did his best but the Bobcats had no answer for former Dookie Carlos Boozer (33 points on 13 of 16 shooting).  Even Boris Diaw, who is regularly singled out for his one-on-one defensive abilities by John Hollinger, had no chance against ‘Los.  Boris’ -23 plus/minus pretty much sums up his night.  THE RESULT: Jazz outscore the Bobcats 31-16 in the third, 29-24 in the fourth.  LB would watch the rest of the game from the locker room after being tossed late in the final period (reportedly over being jealous of Kyle Korver’s tan).

QUICK NOTE ON TYRUS THOMAS:
I’m sure that the Bobcats believed that the acquisition of Thomas would allow them to throw different looks at opposing forwards.  The problem is that Thomas is a much better help defender than a Dennis Rodman-like pest on the low block and although Tyrus put up a nice line tonight (20 points, 3 steals, 4 rebounds), he’s gonna need some coaching before he becomes anything more than a game-changing gimmick player off of the bench — much like Gerald Wallace during his first few years in Charlotte.

Bullets:

  • Derrick Brown only scored two points in two minutes in this game but it was on a seriously rad dunk (check out the highlights above).  Why he and Henderson aren’t getting any extended burn is beyond me.
  • How is that this guy is two thirds of the way through his third NBA season and I’m just now finding out about Kyrylo Fesenko?  A 7-foot, 300 pound “hoss,” Fesenko could feasibly stick around in the League for the next decade.  If Marcin Gortat is worth the full mid-level, this kid is worth at least half that.  Gotta commend the Jazz organization for loading up on quality bigs (Boozer, Milsap, Okur, Kirilenko, (last year’s) Koufus and now Fesenko.  The Jazz not only have incredible depth at the 4 & 5 positions, they could also trot out enough Euro-Heavies to finally bring down Jason Bourne.

Help on the Way?

The Kings officially cut ties with Larry Hughes today which brought on an onslaught of speculation that the ‘Cats would sign him.  On paper this makes lots of sense as Hughes seems to be from the Flip Murray School of Instant Offense.  As a 26+ game rental, Hughes could provide the slashing and jump shooting that the team lost in Murray with the added benefit of being a much better defender.  The team could ink him at the veteran’s minimum and still be under the luxury tax.
Bonnell has a nice write up of the logistics and probabilities of the move in his blog.

Going Once, Going Twice, SOLD!

How funny is it that while the financial world lies shaken from the fallout of the Greek sovereign debt crisis, some Greek-American dude is about to take on one of professional sports’ most debt-laden franchises?  You’ve probably read the quote before but the official line goes something like “most of the franchise’s value lies in it’s debt” — yeah, isn’t that how the world got into this economic mess to begin with?
The truth of the matter is that the Bobcats are going to be sold for far less than what Bob Johnson paid for it (before calculating inflation and all of the other money Johnson has thrown away during the past 6-7 years) and if George Postolos’ Group has the slightest inkling of how to run a major sports franchise, the team should be profitable within the next 3-5 years (pending a 2011 lockout).
Charlotte led the league in attendance for close to a decade, they have an incredible facility (controversially gifted to them by taxpayers), a quality city, educated fans, good weather, lots of home grown, regional talent and are the only NBA team in a region that spans south of D.C. and north of Atlanta.  It would take a certified moron to screw up a situation like this (as we’ve witnessed).  Barring a last minute rally from Michael Jordan’s “Ownership Group,” we’re likely to see Postolos take control of this franchise very soon.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Jordan Making His Play

Standard

michael-jordan-bobcats

A day after Gerald Wallace’s unassuming turn as the first Bobcat to play in an All-Star game bored me to the point of not bothering to blog about it, we have a new development in the pending sale of the Bobcats.

After Monday evening’s practice, Larry Brown confirmed to the media that Michael Jordan is intent on putting together a proper group and offer to buy the Charlotte Bobcats.

This is not at all surprising; Jordan has indicated his desire to become majority owner in the past.  As we’ve learned about former Houston Rockets president George Postolos and his bid to buy the team in recent months, we’ve also learned that there is some sort of agreement in place which allows Jordan some time to be able to match any bid that current owner Bob Johnson might find acceptable.

At All-Star weekend, NBA Commisioner David Stern confirmed that serious negotiations were underway, and that the team would likely be sold within 60 days.  The only missing piece, as I noted, was some confirmation that Jordan was assembling a group/offer to compete with Postolos’ bid.  And now we have it.

Don’t think this was just an offhand comment by Brown, either.  Jordan has reportedly declined interview requests by the Observer regarding the subject (as has Postolos) but clearly wanted to pass word on at this point.

One would have to assume that Jordan is pretty far along in his quest to put together a bid if he’s allowed Brown to make these comments to the media.  The thing that’s still unclear to me is the exact nature of the agreement that is allowing Jordan time to match Postolos’ bid.  Can Postolos come over the top with another offer?

This is huge stuff in regards to the future of the franchise.  Postolos would reportedly clean house in the front office.  Jordan, current GM Rod Higgins and coach Larry Brown would all be gone.  Prior to the trade for Steven Jackson and the Bobcats’ ascension into the playoff race over the past couple of months, most Cats fans would have welcomed such news, even if it meant blowing up the roster.

But with the team headed in the right direction on the court, continuity sounds pretty good right now.

-Dr. E

The Future of The Bobcats (What to Expect)

Standard

BOBCATS ON COURSE TO REPEAT (LAST SEASON)

What Are They 'Gana Do Next?

What Are They 'Gana Do Next?

The Charlotte Bobcats have played their first first 8 games and have shown their small cult much about what kind of team they will be watching this year.  This first stretch of games represents nearly one-tenth of the full 82-game season and their current record looks to fall in line with many of the media projections of about a 30 – 35 win total for the season.

STYLE OF PLAY

Most anyone that’s watched the Cats play this season seems to be struggling to characterize the team and their style of play.  Early in pre-season, chatter leaked from the club about pushing the tempo and running a bit on offense to boost their scoring output.  As the training camp concluded, it seemed that the team was simply trying to get their players back from injury and everyone adjusted into the mentality that led to their few successes last season. Defense was to be a cornerstone of the Bobcats team play and the offensive formula was trusted to Larry Brown’s basketball genius.  So far this season, no one has seen Charlotte exhibit any sort of expertise on offense or defense.  The few periods of solid basketball have come in short bursts, while the slumps of poor play have dragged across games.

Seasons ago (Sam Vincent Era), the Bobcats had several talented players but seemed to lack a core identity as a collective unit.  During the installation of the Larry Brown scheme, the concerns about the team’s identity were forgotten.  Now, in Brown’s second year, that question returns.  What kind of basketball team is this?  Right now, they are a slow, sloppy, and generally bad NBA product.  Coach Brown probably didn’t plan to lead the league in Turnovers and sit last in Field Goal Percentage.  These traits don’t really fall into his “Play The Right Way” philosophy.

In brief, the 2009-2010 Bobcats team can be described by their slow-pace, low scoring, consistent turnovers, and lack of on-court leadership.  Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton may be team Captains, but their doing little to motivate or assist their partners.  The “Right Way” offense lacks any true centerpiece at this point of the season, so defenses have yet to find any difficulty stopping the Bobcats.

THIS SEASON AND BEYOND

For this year and the next few along the horizon, this will be a team and roster in transition.  The organization surely wants the club to improve and  begin turning some measure of profit. After five years, no one has discovered what it will take to make that happen. Owner Bob Johnson has all but surrendered his efforts to improve the situation and there’s really no need for the Bobcats basketball operations to spend beyond the salary cap to patch this clunker of a team.  The Cats should seriously consider any potential option to unload some of their big contract baggage (Mohammed, Diop, Radmanovich, Diaw, Wallace) to pave the way for some future opportunity toward improvement.  This year’s team doesn’t look to be on course for that elusive post-season goal, so this would be the period where a team’s organization begins to maneuver for better positioning toward the future.

In the short term, the Cats have several young players that could benefit from their time with Coach Brown.  This year or the next may  be his last season, so the men that stay with the team after his departure will be young, well-coached, and preparing to hit their prime.  Most of the team’s currently trade-able players should benefit from their season with Larry, and continue on toward the peak of their careers with another club.  Right now, the organization would do well to get the most in return for their “assets” and begin planning for the future.  There are no real stars like Wade, James, Bosh, or Durant on this team on which to build a foundation.  Their best bet is to acquire one via trade or free agency in the coming years.

For the long-term, the Bobcats should aim for two big-picture goals.  First, they need to get their house in order, financially.  This team needs to unload bad deals, even if that means throwing in one of their better players (Bell / Diaw / Wallace).  Charlotte’s team is nearly unbearable to watch right now, so they can’t really get any less entertaining this season – can they?  Secondly, the team will benefit greatly from the wave of fresh, positive energy with a new ownership group.  Though, things won’t magically become prosperous for the Cats once Bob Johnson finds a taker.  There’s still a lot of work to be done to create a solid, marketable on-court product.  Hopefully, the next owner will be up to the superhuman task of winning the favor of Charlotte’s public (who have outright despised their previous two NBA club owners).

WE’RE DEALIN’

Upon the shock of seeing how disoriented the team looked at the onset of this season, tons of fans have hit their keyboards in order to suggest potential fixes for the team.  Most of those suggestions are trades, so it’s worth taking a quick look at what the team has available. With the look of the Cats so far, no one is untouchable. If the Bobcats have any truly desirable assets for other clubs, here’s the top of the list :

Gerald Wallace  (Pros : Skills, Stats, Best Talent on the Team / Cons : Big Contract)

Raja Bell (Pros : Great Defender, Expiring Contract / Cons: Serious Injury)

Raymond Felton  (Pros : Expiring Contract, Young Guard / Cons : Skill Level)

Boris Diaw (Pros :  Shooting, Passing / Cons : Big Contract)

DJ Augustin (Pros : Young, Shooting, Talent, Contract / Cons : Poor Passing, Unproven)

Vladimir Radmanovich ( Pros : Shooting, Size / Cons : Big Contract )

Wallace Powers Bobcats to Ugly Win Over Nets

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Nets, 11/2/09

The Skinny

The Bobcats move to 2-2 (2-0 at home) with an ugly victory over the Nets: AP recap here, box score here, Bonnell story here.  Quick caveat/reminder here: I was out of town for the first three games and only saw highlights/recaps/boxscores, so this was my first full game.  I say that because I hadn’t realized just how offensively challenged the Cats were.  I mean, I knew on an intellectual level, but to see it in person is horrifyingly reinforcing.

At home, against a fellow Eastern Conference lottery team missing its best player (Devin Harris), the Cats struggled mightily out of the gate.  After 9 minutes of the first quarter, the Cats had more turnovers than points, but only trailed 12-4.  Both teams picked it up a bit in the second quarter, with the Nets maintaining an 8 point cushion at the half.  Then, halfway through the third quarter, the Nets began a stretch of ineptitude that made the Bobcats slow start look like child’s play.  With the score 48-39, the Nets would not score for over 9 minutes, whilst the Bobcats practically exploded for a 24-0 run and a 63-48 lead.  From there, the Cats would coast to victory.

To say it was all ineptitude on the Nets’ part would be disingenuous — the Cats did play very good defense during the stretch.  And Gerald Wallace had a strong game, eventually totalling 24 points (7-14 FG, 10-13 FT), 20 rebounds (7 offensive) and 4 steals.  DJ came to life with 21 points.  But that’s it for the positives.  Otherwise, this was a dreadful game between two bad teams that was hard to watch.

The Bobcats shot 24-74 for 32% and 1-15 from 3PT.  Raja Bell returned to the lineup with a 1-8 night; Radmanovic shot 0-7.  Diaw’s line looks OK, but we need him to be contributing more.  Both he and Chandler look like they are going at 80-90% and need to round into mid-season form pronto.  Despite not getting much from Bell, Radmanovic, Felton or Graham, Gerald Henderson only played 4 minutes.

As currently configured (and barring Flip Murray going for a career best 16+ PER and 25+MPG or Gerald Henderson turning into Brandon Roy) the Bobcats aren’t going to sniff the playoffs this year.  Sorry, Baseliners, just isn’t going to happen.  We just had to play our starters/veterans extended minutes with a superhuman effort by Gerald Wallace to eek by the Nets (who were without their best player and are essentially rebuilding with a shot at getting Lebron next summer) in an excruciatingly ugly game.  That’s where we are.

Quick Thoughts

  • Weeks ago, without looking at the schedule, I had written something about wondering what the attendance would be for the first Mon/Tues night game against a non-marquee Eastern Conference team.  We got our answer tonight: no more than 5,000.  That’s generous; upper deck was almost completely empty.
  • Both Michael Jordan and Bob Johnson were at the game.  MJ in his usual seat at the end of the bench, BJ at midcourt (at least for the first half, didn’t come back out for second half).  Must be a weird dynamic there.  Conspiracy theory: Jordan puts this crummy team on the court, knowing that it drives BJ’s selling price down, maybe so low that he can buy controlling stake?  Conspiracy theory falls apart as it presupposes that Jordan has a clue what he’s doing in helping to put the roster together.  He’s never shown that he does.
  • During a particularly grueling stretch in the 2nd quarter, a fan in the section behind the Bobcats bench yelled for Jordan to sub himself into the game (yes, you can hear this stuff when there’s only a few thousand people in the arena).  Everyone in section cheers and laughs, Jordan puts his head in his hands and chuckles.
  • Raymond-hating note of the game: Raymond gets home-cooking on his turnover numbers.  Late in the second quarter, I had an unofficial count of 5 Raymond Felton turnovers — official count at the time was 3.  I may have to start paying closer attention to this.  It is noteworthy, as Raymond’s official totals on the year are 18 assists:20 turnovers.  For comparison, Aaron Brooks’ ratio for the year is 34:14.  Just sayin…
  • Be sure to check out our Twitter feeds for more thoughts, including plenty of in-game tweeting: mine and ASChin’s.
  • A few days off before the next game, hosting the Hawks at the Cable Box on Friday night at 7PM ET.

-Dr. E