How The Bobcats Can Improve : Escaping The Nottery – Ver. 2.0

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats Offseason Checklist – PreDraft Edition

A little over a month ago I began part one of this series by defining the titular “Nottery” as:

A place where franchises go to die: Not good enough to be good and not bad enough to get good. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan understood this more so than any other when he made the controversial Gerald Wallace trade last month. Good isn’t good enough and if you want to get better, sometimes you gotta get a little worse.

Flash forward to last Monday when my bald-headed AmerAsian brother from another mother capped off his initial press conference with the following zinger:

One of the worst things you can do in this league, I think is be a middle-of-the-road team. After the team traded Gerald Wallace, I think there’s a lot of parallels (with Cho’s previous gig in Seattle/OKC). We got some cap room coming up, some assets and picks.

What can I say, great minds think alike.

So without further ado, let’s get to some good old fashion rosterbation, Southern Style!

SECTION 1. WHAT WE GOT

Before we head out to the supermarket, we should take a look in the cupboard. As badly as the Bobcats finished the season, the team does have a few assets.

a.) D.J. Augustin

Has clearly shown that he can be a top 20 starting PG in the league (although our own @BaselineDrE insists that Earl Boykins would destroy him in a PER contest). D.J. can shoot and has figured out how to score from in close. Perhaps no player currently in the league benefited from J.J. Barea’s Playoff Explosion more than Augustin. D.J. has more upside, is more versatile and stronger. Could be headed for a breakout season and newly crowned Bobcats GM Rich Cho repeatedly brought his name up during last week’s press conference – the team seems committed to him.

Another couple of positives: He proved that he could shoot his way out of a slump and is still on that sweet rookie deal.

b.) Stephen Jackson

Volatile and getting a bit long in the tooth, Jackson is a former champ and the Bobcats’ best player. He’s the only guy who can consistently create his own shot and when he’s on, can single-handily carry the team to a victory. Showed up at a team workout last month twenty pounds lighter and in great shape. Coach Silas intimated that at this weight JAX could play another 4-5 seasons. His contract is probably untradeable until at least the summer of 2012 so look for JAX to remain in his role with the team next season.

UPDATE: AP’s @mikecranston1 announced that other teams have been inquiring about Jackson’s availability so there could be a scenario in which the Bobcats start next season without one of the League’s most under-rated two way players.

c.) Tyrus Thomas

Needs to prove that he can stay healthy and stay focused but when he’s in physical and mental shape can really change the game from a defensive perspective. Solid rebounder and excellent shot blocker who has a nice mid-range jumper. Bobcats have invested a ton of cash hoping the Tyrus experiment works out. Best case scenario: Starting Power Forward for the next five seasons. Worst case scenario: Severely overpaid role player.

d.) Gerald Henderson

Very good defensive guard. Very athletic. Shown promise as a cutter but jump shot is still erratic. Henderson is another unknown. May one day become a great long-ball shooter but not there yet. Finished the season on an absolute tear, going for nearly 15ppg in March and April while shooting nearly 46% from the floor just over 34 minutes a game.

UPDATE: Had hip surgery in early May to repair a congenital flaw that led to chronic knee pain. Brass hopes he’s back 100% by the start of training camp.

e.) D.J. White, Dante Cunningham (RFA), Shaun Livingston

Three youngish rotation players who have shown flashes of potential. White seems to have the most upside and is still on his rookie deal. Livingston has managed to carve out a place in the league after destroying his knee a few years ago. Cunningham showed flashes as a full-time three (recording possibly the team highlight of the year by smacking away a KG gimme at the rim) but was busted for possession of the chronic after the season and has yet to receive his $1 million tender from the team.

Total it up and you have seven players who’ll most likely be suiting up for the Bobcats next season. That’s half a roster. Combine them with two first round draft picks next week and the CAP CRUNCHERS (Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Eddie Najera) and you’re down to just two roster spots available to improve the team.

SECTION 2. WHAT WE NEED

Augustin, Jackson, Thomas and Henderson will most likely return as four of the team’s starters. Livingston, White and possibly Cunningham will be solid contributors from the bench. That still leaves some major needs:

a.) Men in the Middle

A pleasantly mediocre surprise, Kwame Brown will be an unrestricted free agent come July and the team will need to make a major upgrade if it wants to compete. Gana Diop is currently the only center on the roster and he was bad before the season ending achilles injury. With Diop not likely to see action until at least next December, the Cats will most likely have to add size in Thursday’s Draft (see below) and hope Kwame gives them a bit of a hometown discount once FA starts after the new CBA.

b.) Bench Scoring

Augustin, Jackson and (if he develops a jumper) Henderson can handle most of the scoring as starters but the team lacks any sort of big time scoring presence from the bench. The Bobcats will need to find someone capable of taking off some of the scoring load. Coach Silas has been very vocal about his team’s lack of three point shooting and there are some players in the middle of the draft who could fill that need. Some veteran help might come relatively cheap in the way of Delonte West, Anthony Parker or Mike Dunleavy should Cho feel the need to stock up.

c.) Stars

Either through the draft or through crafty trades, the Bobcats will need to find a way to bring in a guy who’ll move the turnstiles and put down game-winning buckets.

This need won’t likely be met during the draft or in free agency this year but with Diaw and Najera coming off the books next summer and with Jackson transitioning into an expiring year, the Bobcats could make some serious noise in the vaunted summer FA class of 2012 (Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard).

SECTION 3. THE DRAFT

Just a few days away and the Bobcats sit pretty with picks number 9 and 19 in a muddy first round.

I’ve been racking my brain about this on Twitter and have come to the following conclusion:

It’s gonna be a wing and a big man.

Can’t say in what order but looking at the options available to the team at number nine and the dearth of quality starting fives in the league my gut tells me it’s going to be Southern Cal’s Nikola Vucevic first and whichever wing is available around pick nineteen next.

This would be high for Vucevic, who wasn’t even a first round lock at the end of the college season, but after his outstanding workouts around the league and after surveying the competition I think Bobcats management will pull the trigger simply because Nikola represents the best value.

Think of it this way: At 7ft, 260 and with three years of NCAA experience Vucevic has the body to come in and play right away. Between his soft touch around the hoop and a nice collegiate three point jumper, the guy would immediately be the most offensively potent center in team history (well, at least since Primoz Brezec). He plays a position which traditionally is well over-paid so by drafting a rookie the team could lock a potential starter into a four year rookie scale deal. Killer timing for next year’s free agency bonanza. Defensively, Vucevic’s slow-footedness is a concern but he’s a solid rebounder and would be a great fit next to Tyrus Thomas.

COMPS: Mehmet Okhur, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez.

At pick nineteen, Master Cho could then look at the abundant number of wing players (Jordan Hamilton, Marshon Brooks, Chris Singleton, Tobias Harris, Darius Morris) still on the board. He could roll the dice and take a player like Boston College’s Reggie Jackson. With the Heat reportedly high on the Rondo-clone, the Cats could screw over a division rival while adding another dimension to their backcourt.

The IDEAL scenario, of course, would be a second-tier wing player like Kawhi Leonard dropping to the Bobcats at #9 and then maneuvering up from #19 to select Vucevic before the Rockets can nab him at #14. I just don’t see how this is a possibility though if Houston is in fact ready to Nikola with the last pick in the Lottery.

SECTION 4. FREE AGENCY

No one knows what the new CBA will look like next season (if there is one) but I’d be willing to bet that the Bobcats’ situation won’t change much. Once all of the expirings come off, the team will sit at around $49 million in salaries, around $10 million south of this year’s cap. Add in the two first rounders along with (possibly) re-upping Dante Cunningham, the team should be at around $54 million.

Obviously, the remaining $6 million wouldn’t be enough to bring in a big-name star (even if there was one in a weak FA class) but the extra wiggle room may help them pull off a deal or two IF the team is lucky enough to import a decent center from another team.

Free Agent Centers 2011:

a.) DeAndre Jordan.

Made big strides this season but the high-flying athlete probably doesn’t make much sense to pair with a similar player in Tyrus Thomas. Clippers also seem intent on keeping him.

b.) Marc Gasol.

Will likely command around $10 million+/per on the open market. Gasol is a lower rent version of his All-Star brother but is only 26 and could develop into top tier center himself given the right circumstances. He’s a restricted and the Griz have stated that they’ll re-sign him but given the historical ownership thriftiness and the fact that Z-Bo’s deal is also up makes me think that Gasol could be had with a big poison-pill offer sheet. To make a move for Gasol, the Bobcats would likely have to find a taker for Boris Diaw’s $9 million expiring contract first (see TRADE section).

c.) Kwame Brown.

Performed adequately for the team as a starter this season and could be brought back as a backup if the price is right.

d.) Other Potentially Interesting FAs.

Big Baby Davis, Nene (ETO), Shane Battier, Carl Landry (who they’ve tried to sign before), Sam Dalembert, Craig Smith, Brandon Wright.

SECTION 5. TRADE

Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw. Did I mention Boris Diaw? I just can’t see any way the Frenchman stays on the Bobcat roster come training camp. Only on the books for a final season, in a contract year (so will likely be motivated – see Chandler, Tyson) and has proven that when he gives a crap can be a game-changing presence in the lineup. All these factors combined with the Coach’s obvious dissatisfaction in Diaw’s inconsistent performances will likely land Boris in another uniform next season.

Potential Trades:

a.) Boris Diaw to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa + 33rd Selection.

Colangelo wanted him last summer and they need size. Both players on expirings, Bobcats trade big for small but also shave another $1.4 million off the books to go after a FA. ‘Cats get the bench scoring they’ve so desperately needed and another high second rounder for an international draft ‘n stash.

UPDATE: With the Raps hiring of “D”wayne Casey, odds are that Toronto will be actually playing a little defense this season, making this trade more likely if the ‘Cats wanted to make it.

b.) Boris Diaw to LAClippers for Chris Kaman.

Again, both players on expirings. Clips get the third big to rotate with Griffin and Jordan. Bobcats take on an additional $3.2 million and risk Kaman’s recent injury history but if it works out, then they have a high-scoring starting center for the first time in franchise history.

UPDATE: With rumors flying around a possible Iggy for Kaman swap, this offer looks rather paltry. Would the Clips be in the market for a Stephen Jackson for Kaman trade?

c.) Boris Diaw + the #19 to TeamX for cap space.

In this deal, the ‘Cats could find a team with cap space in need of a versatile big and compensate them with either this year’s late first rounder or Portland’s pick in 2013. The ‘Cats would then have around $18 million to pursue a free agent target like Marc Gasol.

UPDATE: This seems very unlikely.

SECTION 6. WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE

Whenever the ’11-’12 NBA season starts, the Bobcats (barring major injury) will look quite a lot better than currently configured.

If the team simply follows the recipe above, they could trot out:

PG: Augustin/Livingston

SG: Henderson/Chris Singleton/Carroll

SF: Jackson/Chris Singleton/Cunningham

PF: Thomas/D.J. White/Najera

C: K.Brown/Vucevic/Diop

Not bad. Depending on the development of the youngsters, the team could even compete for one of the final seeds in the East. But I don’t think that’s Rich Cho’s plan. Again, in order to get better, some times you have to get worse. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team bottom out by trading both Diaw and Jackson by the trade deadline and finishing it up with a bunch of 25 and younger types logging major minutes. That is the OKC model anyway. A high lottery pick in 2012 and a boatload of cap space could then launch the Charlotte basketball franchise into the stratosphere.

Until Version 3.0…

Enjoy the Nottery, Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

How The Bobcats Can Improve : Escaping The Nottery – Ver. 1.0

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats Offseason Checklist

Ah, the Eastern Conference. ‘Tis a place where a bad team can go 2-9 in a late season slump and still be only a game or two out of the Playoffs. The current Race for Eight bears more resemblance to peewee football hot potato than a professional sports exercise. Someone please just win some games and put us all out of our misery.

Which brings us to the titular “Nottery,” a place where franchises go to die: Not good enough to be good and not bad enough to get good. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan understood this more so than any other when he made the controversial Gerald Wallace trade last month. Good isn’t good enough and if you want to get better, sometimes you gotta get a little worse.

SECTION 1. WHAT WE GOT

Before we head out to the supermarket, we should take a look in the cupboard. As poor as the Bobcats have been playing recently, the team does have a few assets.

a.) D.J. Augustin

Has clearly shown that he can be a top 15-20 starting PG in the league. Can shoot and has figured out how to score from in close. Defense isn’t as big of an issue as current rules have made it nearly impossible to defend the position. Proved that he could shoot his way out of a slump. Still on his rookie deal.

b.) Stephen Jackson

Volatile and playing too many minutes for his age, Jackson is nonetheless the Bobcats’ best player. He’s the only guy who can consistently create his own shot and when he’s on, can single-handily carry the team to a victory. His contract is probably untradeable until at least the summer of 2012 so look for JAX to remain in his role with the team next season.

c.) Tyrus Thomas

Needs to prove that he can stay healthy and stay focused but when he’s in physical and mental shape can really change the game from a defensive perspective. Solid rebounder and excellent shot blocker who has a nice mid-range jumper. Bobcats have invested a ton of cash hoping the Tyrus experiment works out. Best case scenario: Starting Power Forward for the next five seasons. Worst case scenario: Severely overpaid role player.

d.) Gerald Henderson

Very good defensive guard. Very athletic. Shown promise as a cutter but jump shot is still erratic. Henderson is another unknown. He’ll probably never be a great long ball threat but if he can develop a consistent mid-to-long range shot could become a very good player.

e.) D.J. White, Dante Cunningham (RFA), Shaun Livingston

Three youngish rotation players who have shown flashes of potential. White seems to have the most upside and is still on his rookie deal. Livingston has managed to carve out a place in the league after destroying his knee a few years ago. Cunningham should keep improving now that he’s playing the three position full-time.

Total it up and you have seven players who’ll most likely be suiting up for the Bobcats next season. That’s half a roster. Combine them with two first round draft picks in June and the CAP CRUNCHERS (Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Eddie Najera) and you’re down to just two roster spots available to improve the team.

SECTION 2. WHAT WE NEED

Augustin, Jackson, Thomas and Henderson will most likely return as four of the team’s starters. Livingston, White and Cunningham will be solid contributors from the bench. That still leaves some major needs:

a.) Men in the Middle

As pleasantly mediocre as Kwame Brown has been, he’s an unrestricted free agent come July and the team will need to make a major upgrade if it wants to compete. Gana Diop is currently the only center on the roster and he was bad before the season ending achilles injury.

b.) Bench Scoring

Augustin, Jackson and (if he develops a jumper) Henderson can handle most of the scoring as starters but the team lacks any sort of big time scoring presence from the bench. The Bobcats will need to find someone capable of taking off some of the scoring load.

c.) Stars

Either through the draft or through crafty trades, the Bobcats will need to find a way to bring in a guy who’ll move the turnstiles and put down game-winning buckets.

SECTION 3. THE DRAFT

Charlotte will most likely pick around #10 and #18 in the draft barring a improbable Bobcat Playoff berth, lottery miracle or a late-season collapse by New Orleans.

The ‘Cats will should have the opportunity to nab players like Kentucky’s Terrence Jones (Iggy-type SF), John Henson (long defensive SF), Texas forwards Tristan Thompson (poor-man’s Elton Brand) and Jordan Hamilton (O.J. Mayo, Jr. check that, DrE is saying Rashard Lewis or Danny Granger, Jr.). Kentucky point Brandon Knight (Jordan Crawford-like combo guard) and Moorehead State’s Kenneth Faried (Reggie Evans with upside) should also be on the board.

It’s by all accounts a weak draft and the ‘Cats would be better off not drafting for need. The center crop is thin but fortunately there are enough solid SF candidates who could be brought in to eventually replace Stephen Jackson a year or two down the road.

SECTION 4. FREE AGENCY

No one knows what the new CBA will look like next season (if there is one) but I’d be willing to bet that the Bobcats’ situation won’t change much. Once all of the expirings come off, the team will sit at around $49 million in salaries, around $10 million south of this year’s cap. Add in the two first rounders along with re-upping Dante Cunningham and the team should be at around $54 million.

Obviously, the remaining $6 million wouldn’t be enough to bring in a big-name star (even if there was one in a weak FA class) but the extra wiggle room may help them pull off a deal or two IF the team is lucky enough to import a decent center from another team.

Free Agent Centers 2011:

a.) DeAndre Jordan.

Made big strides this season but the high-flying athlete probably doesn’t make much sense to pair with a similar player in Tyrus Thomas. Clippers also seem intent on keeping him.

b.) Marc Gasol.

Will likely command around $10 million/per on the open market. Gasol is a lower rent version of his All-Star brother but is only 26 and could develop into top tier center himself given the right circumstances. He’s a restricted and the Griz have stated that they’ll re-sign him but given the historical ownership thriftiness and the fact that Z-Bo’s deal is also up makes me think that Gasol could be had with a big poison-pill offer sheet. To make a move for Gasol, the Bobcats would likely have to find a taker for Boris Diaw’s $9 million expiring contract first (see TRADE section).

c.) Kwame Brown.

Performed adequately for the team as a starter this season and could be brought back as a backup if the price is right.

d.) Other Potentially Interesting FAs.

Big Baby Davis, Nene (ETO), Shane Battier, Carl Landry (who they’ve tried to sign before), Sam Dalembert, Craig Smith, Brandon Wright.

SECTION 5. TRADE

Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw. Did I mention Boris Diaw? I just can’t see any way the Frenchman stays on the Bobcat roster come training camp. Only on the books for a final season, in a contract year (so will likely be motivated – see Chandler, Tyson) and has proven that when he gives a crap can be a game-changing presence in the lineup. All these factors combined with the Coach’s obvious dissatisfaction in Diaw’s inconsistent performances will likely land Boris in another uniform next season.

Potential Trades:

a.) Boris Diaw to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa.

Colangelo wanted him last summer and they need size. Both players on expirings, Bobcats trade big for small but also shave another $1.4 million off the books to go after a FA. ‘Cats get the bench scoring they’ve so desperately needed.

b.) Boris Diaw to LAClippers for Chris Kaman.

Again, both players on expirings. Clips get the third big to rotate with Griffin and Jordan. Bobcats take on an additional $3.2 million and risk Kaman’s recent injury history but if it works out, then they have a high-scoring starting center for the first time in franchise history.

c.) Boris Diaw + Future First Rounder to TeamX for cap space.

In this deal, the ‘Cats could find a team with cap space in need of a versatile big and compensate them with either this year’s late first rounder or Portland’s pick in 2013. The ‘Cats would then have around $18 million to pursue a free agent target like Marc Gasol.

SECTION 6. WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE

Whenever the ’11-’12 NBA season starts, the Bobcats (barring major injury) will look quite a lot better than currently configured.

If the team simply follows the recipe above, they could trot out:

PG: Augustin/Livingston/Brandon Knight

SG: Henderson/Carroll

SF: Jackson/Jordan Hamilton/Cunningham

PF: Thomas/D.J. White/Najera

C: Kaman/Brown/Diop

The team would still be well under the $60 million cap and have enough flexibility the following summer to make a major splash in the vaunted Free Agent summer of 2012. No need to fret, Bobcats fans. I think MJ has a plan and if he follows it correctly, the team may well be in contention sooner rather than never.

Until Version 2.0…

Enjoy the Nottery, Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

Loading ... Loading ...

Stephen Jackson Wins Game On Buzzer Beater, Downs Hawks 88-86

Standard

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Box Score | Recap

At the time of writing this recap, it’s been over an hour since end of the Bobcats-Hawks game, and I still can’t believe what I saw.

Stephen Jackson, while double-teamed and with the clock winding down, faded away and caught nothing but net on a shot that won the game at the buzzer.

But that wasn’t the only thing that absolutely boggles my mind. Try these on for size: the Bobcats came back from a 22 point deficit; the Bobcats had a reserve score 22 points; AND Stephen Jackson scored efficiently.

And all on the tail end of a back-to-back.

The end result was a Bobcats win over the Hawks, 88 to 86.

But the whole game was an extremely difficult fight. Even in the first quarter, the Bobcats found themselves down by ten points early. Luckily they recovered, with the help of Livingston, who had eight points in the first quarter. They went into the second quarter tied at 27.

The second quarter for the Bobcats was a disaster of epic proportions. Charlotte was down by 22 points and allowed an 18-0 run by the Hawks at times during the quarter. It wasn’t until 2:26 left in the quarter until a Bobcat made a field goal. And by that time, it seemed like the only thing separating the Bobcats from their 32nd loss was about 24 minutes of game time. The starters, outside of Gerald Wallace and Jackson, were completely awful. And Livingston was pretty much the only redeemable thing about the game, scoring 12 points by halftime. Meanwhile, Atlanta was hitting their shots from all over. In the first quarter they attacked the paint, but in the second, they hit shots from all over the court.

(CLICHÉ ALERT)

But there’s a reason they play 48 minutes, right?

(CLICHÉ ALERT OVER)

In the third quarter, you could see the Bobcats beginning to right the ship. An ineffective, poorly-shooting Augustin was replaced with Shaun Livingston, who played out of his mind. The defense tightened up, allowing only three Hawks attempts in the paint. Gerald Wallace even did un-Gerald Wallace-y things, like hitting three treys. Livingston picked up where he left off, dropping 6 points and two dishes. And Stephen Jackson came to life, playing more efficiently on offense, even drawing a few fouls. The game came into reach as the quarter ended, Hawks up 72-68.

As the final period of play began, one could feel the Bobcats taking complete control. They were getting shots that they wanted and more importantly, the Hawks weren’t able to attack Charlotte’s main weakness: defense in the post. Even D.J. and Gerald Henderson added some points, despite their rough nights. More importantly, Jackson was rolling. Whenever Stephen Jackson can get to the free throw line, it’s going to be a good night for him. And boy, was it for him tonight. Despite the Bobcats’ desire to pull away, the Hawks wouldn’t let that happen. While their offense wasn’t getting much of anything, their defense helped force the Bobcats into bad shots, making the game struggle at times when both teams took time off from scoring. But after a pair of Jackson free throws to tie up the game, the Bobcats stifled the Hawks on their next possession and Stack Jack a long, tough mid-range jumper to put Charlotte up by two. But Atlanta struck back with an Al Horford score and getting possession after Livingston missed a jump shot.

And then it was crunch time. Tie game at 86. Atlanta squeezed as much time from the clock but couldn’t also get a good shot, with Joe Johnson bricking a 21-foot shot. Bobcats ball with a little over five seconds left. Coach Paul Silas called for a time out, which moved the ball up court. Eduardo Najera inbounded the ball to Jackson from the sideline. And he just stood there. No one else even moved. Then Jackson took a single dribble back, towards Najera’s defender! Then, with about .8 seconds left, he jumped and faded away from the two defenders, hitting the bottom of the net and winning the game.

I was dumb-founded. I’m still dumb-founded. The Bobcats have never been really effective using isolation plays. And over a double team? I could have sworn we were headed to overtime. And it’s not just that. Shaun Livingston had 22 points! The Bobcats haven’t had a reserve score that many points since November! I’m just in awe over all of this.

Odds and Ends

  • When is D.J. Augustin going to find his shot? We need his offense quite badly.
  • Boris Diaw was pretty bad tonight too, just so it doesn’t go unsaid.
  • Gerald Wallace was really good. I didn’t want anyone to think I missed that.
  • Good defense by Jackson and Henderson on Joe Johnson (4-14 FG, 11 PTS) and Jamal Crawford (1-9 FG, 2 PTS).
  • I hate you, Mike Bibby. Eduardo Najera, I don’t like you much either, but you’re better than Bibby, I guess.
  • The Bobcats are now 23-31 and face the Lakers on Monday, in Charlotte. Watch out for the bandwagon fans if you go.
  • Josh Smith destroyed Eduardo Najera with a single dunk.

Stats Leaders:

Bobcats

Stephen Jackson: 12-24 FG, 7-8 FT, 32 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO

Shaun Livingston: 8-13 FG, 6-6 FT, 22 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO

Gerald Wallace: 6-15 FG, 4-6 3P, 16 PTS, 13 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO

Hawks

Josh Smith: 11-17 FG, 4-7 FT, 28 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL

Al Horford:  8-15 FG, 16 PTS, 10 REBS, 3 AST

Play of the Night

Well, I guess they can’t always be Shaun Livingston plays, haha.

Stephen Jackson’s game-winning shot

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

The Argument for the Bobcats to Shed Paul Silas’ Interim Status to Become Head Honcho

Standard

“It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?!?” (Credit to The Simpsons)

If there’s one Simpsons quote to describe this 2010-11 Charlotte Bobcats season, it’s probably that one, though it would fit better if it were reversed.

Regardless, this season for Charlotte fans has practically been a tale of two extremes. While during some games, they’ve looked like the worst team in the NBA, other nights they look like they’re a talented and competitive team.

Undoubtedly, the largest catalyst for this turnaround has been the coaching change from former head coach Larry Brown to interim head coach Paul Silas.

Larry Brown, though one of the greatest NBA head coaches of all-time, just was not effective as the head coach of the 2010-11 Bobcats. He made questionable lineup and substitution decisions and the team that was once known for swarming defense had acquiesced to a very mediocre status. The promising, much-anticipated season declined into a depressing elongated sigh of a year. The team began with a figurative stumble over their own shoelaces, starting the season with a 1-6 record. Then in December, the stumble became a full-fledged fall onto their face as the team dropped games by 20+ points to teams like Memphis, Philadelphia, Washington, not to mention the elite teams like Boston and Oklahoma City.

Change was necessary. Larry Brown was much more melancholy at post-game press conferences. He seemed to no longer enjoy coaching the games and often had a look of resignation plastered on his face.

That look of resignation shortly transformed into a real resignation, as Larry Brown and the Bobcats came to the decision as what was called a “mutual decision” (*raises single eyebrow*) for him to step down from his head coach position.

And so began the momentous organization transition. Paul Silas was hired as interim head coach with Charles Oakley, Stephen Silas (Paul’s son) and Ralph Lewis as assistant coaches.

The effect was nearly immediate. The Bobcats, though playing the dregs of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, were playing more efficient on offense and defense. Interim head coach Silas had decided to try to develop the rotation’s young talent more than his predecessor and gave Gerald Henderson more playing time. Since Silas’ arrival, the Bobcats are 12-10, a respectable record (especially with two recent games against elite teams). More impressive was their 4-2 record on their recent road trip. Considering the Bobcats have suffered a couple of significant injuries during this time, Paul Silas’ record is all the more remarkable.

And that leads me to the point of this article: the Bobcats should offer Paul Silas a contract to become the official head coach and not just on the current interim basis.

I understand that the CBA negotiations complicate the situation, but at any rate, the Bobcats should get Silas to coach in the following seasons.

Just look at the change in the players’ attitudes from Larry Brown to now under Silas. D.J. Augustin has been unleashed, as he flourishes in a faster, more free-flowing offense. The players are more comfortable because Silas is encouraging the players to have more feedback so he can respond and teach them how to better themselves. Plus, look at the coaching staff that surrounds him. They’re doing an outstanding job helping Silas coach up the players. Just look at Charles Oakley’s work with Kwame Brown: about 9 points per game and 9 rebounds per game in the month of January. And that’s just one example; this team’s success is a testament to their coaching ability.

Another quality of Silas’ coaching that can’t be overlooked is his experience. Since his first year as a head coach for the Charlotte Hornets, Silas has compiled an impressive coaching record of 289-240, or about a 55% winning percentage. Winning 55% of your games is usually good enough to get in the playoffs as the 6th or 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Speaking of playoffs, Paul has also been to the playoffs four seasons, helping the Charlotte Hornets reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2001. Don’t doubt the man’s experience.

On the flip side, if there was one main qualm I had about Larry Brown’s coaching style, it was his mule-like stubbornness when it came to playing veterans over the young guys. After all, it’s not often when a coach doesn’t play a first round draft pick more than 355 minutes in his rookie season without injury playing a large part in hindering their season (Henderson). And in this domain, Silas exceeds Brown by miles upon miles. Gerald Henderson already has 250 more minutes of playing time this season than he had all of last season. Even in this season alone, Henderson’s minutes per game under Larry Brown doubled in the Paul Silas era (11.78 to 22). And Henderson has responded, dropping double digit point totals in four of the last nine games. Silas has even managed to get Sherron Collins some experience lately, as well as Derrick Brown. Coach Silas inspires confidence in his young players which encourages their development as NBA players.

For those out there who think there’s someone better out there, who do you think is superior that’s also available? Jeff Van Gundy? Puh-leez. Jeff enjoys his cushy job at ESPN too much to leave it for a developing small-market team. Mike Brown? He’s basically Larry Brown Lite – strong defensive principles and very limited offensive coaching. I can’t think of any other coach with as much experience or versatility as Paul Silas.

How about we just ask D.J. Augustin? “I would love to see him be the permanent coach. He’s great for this team organization and the whole city.”

So there you have it. We’ve already seen the blurst of times. With Paul Silas at the helm, I think he gives the Bobcats their greatest shot at getting to the best of times.

Edit: More than just a few readers have brought up Silas’ age. I don’t see it as much of a factor. I’m not saying we wrap up Paul for the next ten years – just three or four. I haven’t heard any talk of Jerry Sloan ever stepping down, and he’s a year older than Silas. Also, George Karl has had some serious health concerns and he’s currently in negotiations with Denver to re-up his contract for another three years.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Drop to 0-14 All-Time Against Dallas, Lose 101-92

Standard

Shaun Livingston: "Derp." (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Recap | Box Score

Another game against Dallas, another loss.

The Bobcats moved to 0-14 all-time against the Dallas Mavericks with tonight’s 101-92 loss.

The Bobcats, on the tail end of a back-to-back, were stuck with a consistent 12-point deficit (give or take, obviously) for most of the game as their offense only managed to shoot 37.1% from the field while the Mavs shot 46.5%. Dirk Nowitzki headed the Bobcat-Killing Committee once again, with 25 points, including some clutch shots in the fourth quarter. The quintessential Bobcats-Mavs game, if you will.

A slow start for the Bobcats was quelled by an unusual 11-point scoring flash by Boris Diaw. However, after the Mavs compensated for his offensive outbreak, the Bobcats couldn’t find anyone to step up for a while. D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson’s shots were off early and the Bobcats fell to a nine-point deficit after the first quarter.

Luckily in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston came alive and had 10 points on six shots. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to help cut into Dallas’ lead as the rest of the Bobcats were wholly ineffective. And that especially extends to the defense, which was atrocious. I can’t even remember how many dunks Tyson Chandler had in the first half (eleventy-jillion?). Augustin could shoulder much of the blame as he couldn’t defend Jose Juan Barea because of Barea’s quick first step. And once Barea, or another Dallas player, got to the interior, the defense again collapsed. The Bobcats weren’t talking to each other, which is an incredibly important part of defensive cohesiveness. Furthermore, Tyson Chandler (in his first game back in Charlotte since being traded) dominated from a rebounding perspective in the first half, grabbing 11 rebounds in the first half alone. Kwame Brown was simply not strong or quick enough to rebound against Chandler. And to make things seem worse, I found that Jackson seemed disinterested.

The third quarter was more of the same for the most part. Barea and Dirk were still hitting their shots. Tyson Chandler was slowed down though, en route to only four second-half rebounds. D.J. Augustin did make an encouraging turnaround after hitting a three-pointer which seemed to instill some confidence in him. He ran with it, completing a three-point play on the next offensive possession and pulling the Bobcats back into the game, somehow. On the other side of things, Stack Jack was doing the opposite. In the third quarter, Jackson was getting quite fussy and even drew a technical foul. I was fairly confident he would get tossed by the end of the night (he didn’t). The third quarter ended with the Bobcats down 16. As Dr. E noted, it just felt like the Bobcats weren’t in it.

In a pleasing turn of events (especially to those who paid to watch this game in person), the fourth quarter was much more entertaining and competitive. Playing much better defense and utilizing better ball movement on offense, the Bobcats cut the Mavs’ lead to six with a minute left. It could have been even closer than that, but the Mavericks had seven offensive rebounds between 10:22 and 5:01 left in the fourth quarter. And even though some of those did not lead to any points for the Mavs, it took time off the clock from the Bobcats’ comeback effort. And in the end, the Bobcats couldn’t muster the energy to complete a comeback, losing by nine.

The Bobcats, now 21-29, play their next game at home against the Celtics (37-12) on Monday at 7 p.m. EST.

Plays of the Night

Shaun Livingston dunk!

There was also a very nice Shaun Livingston to Gerald Wallace alley oop that you can find here.

Stats Leaders:

Bobcats

D.J. Augustin: 7-17 FG, 21 PTS, 2 AST

Gerald Wallace: 6-15 FG, 13 PTS, 11 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK

Stephen Jackson: 5-17 FG, 17 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK

Mavs

Dirk Nowitzki: 10-19 FG, 25 PTS, 4 REB, 4 BLK

Tyson Chandler: 4-10 FG, 9 PTS, 15 REB, 2 BLK

Jason Terry: 7-14 FG, 21 PTS, 3 AST

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats’ Rally Attempt Ended by Heat, Themselves

Standard

Let's hope we can remove him from the milk carton now. (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)

Recap | Box Score

If there’s one thing everyone should know about the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s that they are not a great shooting team. The roster is built mostly on cutters – players who drive to the paint to score.

And tonight, against one of the best teams in the league, the Bobcats tried to cap a rally by trying to become what they most certainly are not. Of course, it didn’t work as Charlotte’s offense couldn’t keep up with Miami’s and the Bobcats fell to the Heat, 109-97.

The game started off as well as a Bobcats fan could hope, with Boris Diaw facilitating early and getting Kwame Brown involved, leading to a 17-9 lead going into the first timeout. From there, the Heat got back into it with LeBron contributing by hitting all four of his first-half shots. Also helping out was Dwyane Wade, who was said to be unsure about even playing tonight (yeah, right). Wade was making the hard shots and getting to the cup without too much trouble.

Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace also played well in the first half. Jackson was hitting his shots, mostly mid-range jumpers, at a decent clip and even drew fouls to get to the line. At the half, he had 11 points on 3-6 shooting and 4-4 from the stripe. Gerald Wallace was great in the first half as well, hitting five of 11 shots, including a three and he added three free throws for 14 points in the first half. D.J. Augustin also was playing well as far as passing, although his shooting left much to desire.

But keeping the Bobcats from leading in the first half was their interior defense. LeBron and Wade both can drive into the paint with such ease that opponents must have good transition and interior defenses. While the Bobcats are decent on transition defense, their interior defense still isn’t anything to be afraid of, even with Kwame Brown’s resurgence. Anyway, when LeBron or Wade drove to the paint, the Bobcats interior defense would collapse to compensate, leaving Miami’s spot-up men alone at the arc. The driving ballhandler kicks out to the sharpshooter and Bobcats players rush to contest the shot but it’s too late. The result? In the first half, Mike Miller was 3-3 and Eddie House was 1-1 from deep. This also occurred with the Bobcats’ big men leaving Zydrunas Ilgauskas alone to guard the paint. Ilgauskas would knock down three out of four mid-range shots in the first half.

The score at the half was Miami – 59, Charlotte – 55.

Then came the Bobcats’ worst fear – the third quarter. Somehow they survived, mostly by playing better defense than the first two quarters, “holding” the Heat to 50% shooting while the Bobcats managed 44%. As such, the Bobcats had a very manageable six-point deficit heading into the final quarter.

In one of the more noggin-scratching moves of the night, Paul Silas started Sherron Collins at the point to begin the fourth quarter. If Sherron Collins’ defense was a publicly held corporation that sold stock, you either should have sold it when he stepped on the court. In the first two minutes of the 4th quarter, Eddie House (Sherron’s man) hit 3 three-pointers. And while Sherron did hit a three of his own, that’s just not enough. I understand that Livingston doesn’t have the shooting ability from deep that Collins has, but Livingston’s defense and length are assets that definitely would have helped in the fourth. Regardless, the Heat turned a 6-point lead into a 12-point lead.

But then the Bobcats began to climb back into it with Augustin back in. With eight minutes left, the Bobcats were right back in the game, only down by six.

But then the Bobcats tried to be who they weren’t, as I mentioned way above. Despite having most of their success from good ball movement and getting the rock into the paint, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin started jacking long range jump shots that just weren’t falling. Augustin ended the night shooting 1-6 FG and 1-4 from three. Jackson went 1-5 from the field in the fourth, with three missed treys in the final period. I understand that the Bobcats had to resort to shooting the long ball to try to get back into the game, but that should only come with a big deficit with not a lot of time left. Down six points with about seven minutes left is not the time to abandon your strengths to try for the quick fix. While the Bobcats were shooting poorly, the Heat were not. Chris Bosh emerged from his poor first three quarters with 8 points in the final 12 minutes. Either way, the Bobcats killed themselves in the fourth. But, it was an entertaining game for most of the night and the Heat are an extremely good team, especially when all of their ‘Big Three’ are healthy (Wade had a triple double and LeBron was two rebounds and an assist away from a triple double).

Notable Plays

The Bobcats had some great plays in this game, despite the loss. In the second quarter the Bobcats went on a dunk parade with Gerald Henderson smashing a couple and Gerald Wallace getting in on the action. There was also a very nice play at the end of the first half where Augustin split a double-team beneath the basket to find a cutting Derrick Brown who got the bucket and drew the foul.

Stats leaders:

Bobcats

Wallace: 9-19 FG, 25 PTS, 10 REBS, 2 AST, 1 BLK

Jackson: 7-17 FG, 25 PTS, 3 REBS, 5 AST, 2 STL

Henderson: 6-10 FG, 14 PTS, 2 REBS, 1 AST, 3 BLK (I love that he’s developing into a great 6th man)

Heat

Wade: 8-20 FG, 22 PTS, 12 REBS, 10 AST

James: 7-13 FG, 19 PTS, 8 REBS, 9 AST

And a quick note: Yes, the officiating was iffy at best in the fourth quarter (in favor of the Heat, of course), but to blame the whole loss on the referees is absolutely absurd. The Bobcats got to the line more than the Heat did anyway. The real blame for this loss resides on the Heat being a superiorly talented team and the Bobcats straying from their best offensive strategy.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Clippers Decimate Road-Weary Bobcats

Standard

Believe it or not, this defense did not stop Blake Griffin. (AP Photo)

Recap | Box Score

It was a rough game tonight, from the beginning to the final buzzer.

Immediately after the tipoff, Los Angeles Clippers color-commentator, Ralph Lawler, called the Charlotte NBA team the “Charlotte Hornets” and their play-by-play guy, Michael Smith, said the coach was “Pete” Silas.

And though that didn’t have any impact on the game, it should have warned me that I was in for a bumpy Bobcats game that would end with them losing 103-88, ending the Bobcats’ three-game road win streak.

The real damage was done by Blake Griffin tonight, as everyone should have known. Coming into the game, I was a little worried that the Bobcats didn’t have a power forward as strong or athletic to defend Griffin.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers in the first half with an array of highlights, including an eye-popping 360 degree, reverse layup en route to 19 first-half points. The tired Bobcats simply couldn’t keep up and fell behind to a huge deficit in the third quarter. Then, like the young team they are, the Clippers let the Bobcats make a comeback effort, led by the bench. However, after the lead reached 11 points, L.A. regained their focus and beat the weary road opponents (JUST AS I PREDICTED).

Boris Diaw and whoever else tried to defend Griffin just could not control him. Whether it was Griffin’s strong post moves, his quickness, or his amazing leaping ability and fervor for getting rebounds, no Bobcats player could defend him at all. In fact, most of his mistakes were unforced, including a huge missed dunk. He would end the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 11-23 shooting. Admittedly, it’s not the most efficient stat line, but his presence was felt on every play. The Bobcats began to double-team him – in the second quarter. He was that good. And the only player who had a good shot at defending him was injured (Tyrus Thomas).

But I can’t just put all of the loss on Griffin’s night. The Bobcats were on the tail end of a back-to-back with this being their fourth game in a six-game road trip. The Clippers, on the other hand, last played on Wednesday. The effect was enormous. Charlotte came out at a decent clip, but faded fast, unable to keep up with the Clippers’ pace and energy. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, when Silas let loose the bench players, that the Bobcats regained any type of offensive scoring.

The Bobcats starters were simply atrocious, except for Stephen Jackson, who seems to have emerged from his January slump. Jackson went for 15 points on 5-11 shooting from the field, but the rest of the starters combined for 9-30 FG and 29 points. The fatigue was obviously overwhelming, considering the Bobcats had just finished an overtime thriller the previous night. Many shots were short and the Bobcats were lazy with their passing. D.J. Augustin, who has been outstanding as of recently, finished with four assists and three turnovers. As a team, the Bobcats had 17 turnovers.

The bench played admirably, reeling in a 25-point deficit to 11 with 7:37 to go in the fourth, but L.A. regained their focus and squished the Bobcats like an annoying mosquito. Gerald Henderson continued to show his talent, pouring in 14 points on only six field goal attempts. Shaun Livingston just had an awful night, hitting no shots from the field and turning the ball over three times. However, he did get to the line for six free throws, all of which he made. Derrick Brown had five points and five rebounds and Matt Carroll scored eight points all in garbage time. Nazr Mohammed was also effective off the bench with five points and 5 rebounds.

The Clippers were also led by Baron Davis (12 points, 11 assist, 6 rebounds), Randy Foye (21 points, 4 three-pointers, 4 steals, 2 blocks), and Ryan Gomes (6-8 FG, 3-4 3P, 18 points).

The Bobcats continue on their six-game road trip on Monday against the Utah Jazz.

By the way, get your tickets for the Clippers when they come to Charlotte now.

DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS, TRUST ME. (AP Photo)

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.