The Morning After

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Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer (Click to go to an Observer slideshow of Gerald Wallace: The Bobcat Years))

To recap, at yesterday’s trade deadline, the Bobcats:

  • Traded Gerald Wallace to the Trailblazers for Joel Pryzbilla, Sean Marks, Dante Cunningham, New Orleans’ 2011 1st round draft pick and the Trailblazers’ 2013 1st round draft pick.
  • Traded Nazr Mohammed to the Thunder for Morris Peterson and DJ White
  • Waived Derrick Brown, Sherron Collins and Dominic McGuire to make room on the roster.  It is anticipated that Marks and Peterson may eventually be waived as well.

The Wallace trade is admittedly hard to swallow.  It’s difficult to write about him without sounding histrionic.  Forget that he was the last “original Bobcat” from the inaugural season of the franchise or that he had become its “face”.  The face is superficial.  Wallace embodied the franchise.  Underappreciated, grinding away to overcome obstacles, sacrificing to offset shortcomings, eventually achieving a modicum of success and respect, only to reach a plateau that wasn’t high enough, Wallace’s arc mirrored the Bobcats’.

Though I’d been an advocate of rebuilding, I’d harbored a fantasy that that the Cats could keep Wallace around and do more of a “reboot” on the fly by moving Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and/or Mohammed.  Ultimately, it seems as if the market for those guys wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it might be.

And so faced with a bloody bottom line, a capped out roster, and no better than a 50% chance at making the playoffs this year (indeed, statistical models pegged it as more like 25%), Jordan made the difficult but correct decision to initiate a rebuild by trading the most beloved player on the team for the financial relief he needs and the draft picks this team requires for the future.

Pryzbilla’s contract expires after this season, so the Bobcats effectively saved the $21 million that would have been due Gerald Wallace over the following two season.  And most importantly, the Bobcats get two first round draft picks.  Yes, both of these picks will likely be mid-late first round.  Yes, the 2011 draft doesn’t look particularly strong.  Yes, the Hornets pick won’t come around until 2013.  And yes, Jordan’s history with the draft is anything but sterling.

But the object is to build a winner.  Building a winner in the NBA takes stars.  And small-market teams have only one way to get stars — the draft.

After trying the Larry Brown team-building model for a couple of years, it appears that Jordan has come around to the above reality.  It was time, folks.

Notes

  • So the Bobcats will get a look at two young power forwards.  Dante Cunningham is signed to a minimal deal through the rest of the season, while DJ White is on his rookie contract through next year, with a reasonable qualifying offer for the 2012-13 season.  White is the better prospect, having been selected late in the first round in the 2008 draft, but has been saddled with injuries and caught in a numbers game at the 4 spot in Oklahoma City when healthy.
  • Speculation now turns to the coming offseason and whether Stephen Jackson and/or Boris Diaw can/will be traded as the next step in the rebuild.  Frankly, now that Gerald Wallace is gone, I’d just as soon prefer the Cats go ahead and do that.
  • The Bobcats will face Wallace and the Trailblazers next Saturday, March 5th in Portland.  Then the following Friday, March 11th, the Cats will host Wallace and the Trailblazers here in Charlotte.

-Dr. E

POLL : What's your reaction to the Gerald Wallace trade?

  • Anger: Screw MJ, I'm done as a fan of this team! (14%, 23 Votes)
  • Sadness: I can't even talk about it... (16%, 26 Votes)
  • Acceptance: I'm disappointed, but understand. (51%, 83 Votes)
  • Shoulda been Jack. (19%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 162

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Bobcats To Cut Derrick Brown, and Teammates

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Yahoo! Sports has posted a report that the Charlotte Bobcats will waive reserve Point Guard Sherron Collins, in addition to Forwards Derrick Brown and Dominic McGuire.

The team is set to receive veteran guard Morris Peterson and Forward D.J. White from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for veteran Center Nazr Mohammed (who holds an expiring contract). With replacements arriving at their positions, the Bobcats will discard the young talents of Derrick Brown( Forward) and Sherron Collins (Guard). While Derrick Brown showed a few glimpses of ability, the other pair of Bobcats rarely fit into the team’s rotation. McGuire was valued to previous head coach Larry Brown, but had made little impact after the coaching change.

While Charlotte sent fan-favorite Gerald Wallace on to a winning club in Portland and Mohammed to a contender in OKC, the team is set to cast off Brown, Collins, and McGuire in order to make room for the load of unimpressive ballers. It’s unknown if the team will retain or has plans to resign any of the waived players in the event of a retirement or buy-out of newly-acquired Center Joel Pryzbilla.

Link: Yahoo! Sports Story on Bobcats Trades

Bobcats Fall to Hawks as Losses Pile Up

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AP Photo/John Bazemore

Without an injured Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats fell to the Atlanta Hawks 90-85 on Friday night at Phillips Arena.  Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Marvin Williams led a balanced Hawks attack with 16 points each.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  GameFlow |  Highlights

The Bobcats never led, but were able to stay within spitting distance.  They closed to within 3 points with under two minutes left on two Stephen Jackson free throws.  But a Hawks 20 second timeout, followed by a Williams layup off a Horford assist, then a Stephen Jackson missed three-point attempt would effectively end the game as the Cats fell to 3-11 on the road and 9-17 overall.

Observations

  • Stephen Jackson suffered an right elbow injury in the first half.  It’s unclear exactly how/when it happened, but he was in enough pain to get x-rays at the half, then suggest after the game that he shouldn’t have played in the second half after the x-rays proved negative. Obviously, the injury will be re-evaluated over the weekend.
  • Boris Diaw led the Cats with 22 points (10-15 FG), 7 rebounds and 3 steals.  DJ Augustin also had 22, but it was off of 9-19 FG, which includes 1-7 3PT.  Ouch.  Dominic McGuire played 40 minutes, grabbing 17 rebounds but shooting 3-12 from the floor.
  • The Bobcats have now lost seven in a row to the Hawks at Phillips arena.
  • In just the latest red flag about this team, several of their postgame comments were positively rosy after shooting 38% and never leading. Coach Larry Brown and Stephen Jackson were encouraged by/satisfied with the effort, particularly on the defensive end, while Nazr Mohammed felt like the Cats were starting to develop an identity, and that he could at least sleep after this game (relative to the recent blowout in Memphis).
  • Next game is Tuesday night in Charlotte versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Tipoff is 7 PM ET.  It’s unclear as to whether Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson will be available.

-Dr. E

Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown

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One of the most frustrating things about Coach Larry Brown’s decisions lately is his substitutions. It seems two young players are competing for the same minutes: Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown. Arguments can be made for either side, but before I tell you who I prefer (though if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know), we’ll look at each player’s weaknesses and then their strong points. Let’s begin.

Weaknesses

Dominic McGuire – He can’t score. That’s not the worst thing ever except that it seems he doesn’t know it. He doesn’t meet many shots he doesn’t like, which is troublesome considering he somehow hasn’t learned he has no jumpshot. As many have noted, his shot looks pretty — going up — but rarely does it land. In fact, according to HoopData.com, McGuire hasn’t made a single shot from outside of 10 feet from the rim, despite taking 44% of his shots from beyond 10 feet. If someone could just drill it into his noggin that he should avoid jump shots unless the shot clock is winding down, he could be much more efficient and this argument wouldn’t be so necessary. Dominic’s scoring offense should just be limited to easy looks in the paint, layups, etc, ie. high percentage short shots.

Derrick Brown - Underdeveloped, marginal jump shot. I was going to put “mistake-prone” instead of “underdeveloped,” but then I thought better. If you give this kid some more time throughout the season, expect his errors to fall. What types of errors? The silly ones, like rebounding with only one hand instead of two, etc. Larry Brown is supposed to be all about teaching, right? Experiencing something in the field can be the best teaching. That’s why people do internships, right? To dip their toes in the water? Let the kid dip his toes in the pool so he can get more and more acclimated to the NBA game. It’s called developing a young talent. Maybe Larry could try that sometime with the young’uns? Well, let’s move on. Ah yes, Derrick’s jump shot. It’s not bad or anything. He just doesn’t take many mid-range shots. And yet, he take more three point shots than mid-range shots. Why is this? Well, I think when Derrick is left open at the arc, he’ll take the open three, but when he’s left alone inside that line, he’ll drive to the hoop. But we’ll get to that stuff a little later.

Strengths

Dominic McGuire – Rebounding. McGuire is one of those bench players that brings energy on every play. On offense, this energy results in being trigger-happy, but one area that his energy does help is in rebounding. Rebounding is not a glamorous factor of the game. There aren’t AND 1 mixtapes of big guys with colorful nicknames cleaning the glass. Energy and tenacity can go a long way to grabbing boards and getting your team extra possessions – just look at Gerald Wallace. However, the benefits of these extra possessions are nullified when McGuire turns the ball over through his poor shooting.

Derrick Brown - Getting to the rim and upside. As I was saying earlier, Derrick Brown enjoys taking the ball straight to the hoop. I get the feeling he takes pride in dunking on grown men. He gets to the cup and and gets there with fervor. And while Derrick Brown might be OK at other parts of his game, I can see him developing and become a starter on a good team at some point in his career.

This isn’t to say that these are these guys’ only strengths. They may just need to be developed.

Decision:

While McGuire may be a marginally better rebounder, Brown does nearly everything else better or at the same level. And where he doesn’t excel, he can improve through learning by playing more minutes. While the two players we’ve discussed are similar in talent level right now, Brown has great upside, whereas McGuire may be near his ceiling.

The Effect of Benching Brown: Not playing Derrick Brown could cause problems in the future development of Brown for the Bobcats. Obviously benching Brown hurts Brown’s future by refusing to let him develop his game against NBA players. It shows that Larry has a lack of confidence in Derrick Brown. In fact, against the Celtics, the following players got put in the game before Brown: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, D.J. Augustin, Nazr Mohammed, Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston, Dominic McGuire, Matt Carroll, and EDUARDO NAJERA. How you can get a good vibe from your coach when he puts in Mexican Don Draper before you?

What do you think, dear readers?

- Cardboard Gerald

(All stats via hoopdata.com: McGuire/Brown)

Don’t forget to follow Dr. EASChin, and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

Bobcats Outplayed by Depleted Bucks

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The Bobcats go into Milwaukee against a short handed Bucks team without core players Andrew Bogut and Corey Magette and manage to lose their tempers and the game 104-101 despite another excellent effort from D.J. Augustin (26 points, 6 assists) and a stellar performance from the bench. Bobcats fall to 6-11, Bucks improve to 6-10.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • Captain Jean Luc Richard Mbah a Moute frustrated Gerald Wallace all evening. Crash couldn’t get anything easy from the post or on the break as Richard was all over him. You won’t see it in the box score (6-12 for 19 points and 5 boards) but Wallace was simply a non-factor for most of the game.  Worse yet, Crash left the game at the :07 second mark with a hyper-extended elbow.  Great.
  • I’ve been writing about it for weeks and it finally happened Saturday night. The refs are openly baiting Stephen Jackson with egregious no-calls. It’s been going on since opening night and JAX finally bit at the 4 minute mark when Eli Roe tossed him. The incident in question was pretty blatant and Jackson was valid in arguing for it. Two Buck players made contact on a JAX post move while Roe stood just a few feet away. I don’t know what the answer is going forward but Larry Brown needs to make a call and send a tape to the League office about this issue pronto. This needs to be discussed.
  • It would be wrong to blame D.J. Augustin or his predecessor for their roles in the Brandon Jennings Explosion. The second year point guard has owned the Bobcats for most of his young career and did so again tonight, going for 32 on 10-21 from the field including 6-13 from deep. For one, Jennings is a very good player and he feasts on many outside of the orange and blue but secondly, Larry Brown’s strict man to man D opens the door for ultra-quick, unlimited range PGs like Jennings to wreak havoc. Fortunately for the Bobcats, there aren’t many human beings on the planet who fit that criteria. Fortunately for the Bucks, one of them is their starting point guard.
  • Big night for the Bobcats second unit as they combine to score 56 points in spite of an off night from Tyrus Thomas (3-7, 8 points). Both Shaun Livingston and Dominic McGuire log around 30 minutes each and notch 16 and 13 points respectively. McGuire was an absolute BEAST on the boards with 15. Between McGuire and Derrick Brown, the team is much better prepared to be without Gerald Wallace than Stephen Jackson as the dropoff from JAX to Matt Carroll is just too significant.
  • I tweeted a trade idea on Friday and I’ll elaborate on it here today: As Al Jefferson is fitting in with his new Utah team like jazz in Salt Lake City, why not send Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera to Utah for Big Al? Utah could get out from under Jefferson’s lengthier deal and place a much better pick & role player like Diaw into the rotation with Paul Milsap. Meanwhile, Jefferson does for the Bobcats what Zach Randolph has done for Memphis: provide a bonafide post scorer (albeit of the black-hole variety) who opens up the three and demands a double team down low. I also can’t think of a better long term frontcourt mate for Tyrus Thomas than Al.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Weekend Preview and… James Johnson?

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With an away-home back-to-back in Detroit tonight and hosting Orlando Saturday night, it was already shaping up to be a busy weekend for the 1-3 Bobcats.  Now we can add a trade rumor to the mix.

Friday Night at Detroit

The Cats are in Detroit tonight looking to build on their first win of the season against the Pistons, who are making a nice case for being the worst team in the league.  The Pistons have been in all of their games except the loss to the Celtics, but are nonetheless winless at 0-5.

What’s worse is that the two biggest Pistons stories of the season are finger-pointing between players and coach over a lack of leadership and Charlie Villanueva’s tattling on Kevin Garnett’s over-the-line trash talk.

The latest scuttlebutt is that in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, coach John Kuester benched Rodney Stuckey.  Head over to Detroit Bad Boys for the latest on the Piston’s struggles.

Gametime is 7:30 PM ET and the game will be televised on SportSouth (in HD for Time Warner customers on channel 1510! — a quick check last night showed that 1510 had been added to my channel lineup!).

Saturday night vs Orlando

From one extreme to the other.  The Magic are 2-1, having only played three games because their Tuesday night tilt with the Knicks was postponed due to asbestos in the Garden (weird to type that), but are clearly one of the most dominant teams in the league.  Their loss was an ugly one to the Heat, but their two wins were both absolute throttlings of the Wizards and T-Wolves, by 29 and 42 points, respectively.

The Cats will be looking for a small measure of revenge after getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs last spring, but look no better equipped to combat Dwight Howard and company now than they were then.

Gametime is 7:00 PM ET at the Cable Box.

James Johnson

When Michael Jordan asserted in a recent interview that the “roster churn” was most likely over, we at Bobcats Baseline were skeptical.  The shaky 1-3 start has only reinforced that.

One of the main problems has been mediocre play from Nazr Mohammed (ahem), and a lack of depth behind him.  But with Kwame Brown and Dominic McGuire getting ready to return from injury, I figured Larry Brown and company would at least give those guys a run before making a move.

So I was a little surprised to wake up this morning and see the Bobcats once again leading off Hoopshype.com’s Rumors page.  Via Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Bobcats and Bulls have been talking about James Johnson.

Johnson is a big, tough 6’9″ 250 lb forward in his second year in the league.  He was drafted 16th overall by the Bulls in the 2009 draft out of Wake Forest and averaged almost 12 minutes per game last year.  He was decent as a rookie, but was looked at as somewhat expendable in the offseason after the Bulls acquisition of Carlos Boozer.

But with Boozer’s preseason boxer’s fracture putting him out for the first several weeks of the season, and Johnson coming into camp in fantastic condition, his future in Chicago was temporarily looking a little brighter.  Johnson’s 2011-12 option was recently picked up by the Bulls after a good preseason, and he had a nice 19 minute/8 point/9 rebound/4 assist/3 block/2 steal/+24 PER night against the Pistons last week.

But with Taj Gibson playing pretty well, Boozer’s return around the corner, and new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looking to make his mark on the team and take them deep into the playoffs, Johnson is apparently available again.

What would Larry Brown and the Bobcats be seeing in Johnson?  Probably George Lynch, or Dominic McGuire with a higher ceiling.  Here’s an excellent breakdown of Johnson’s game from Bulls Confidential.

A better question is: what would the Bulls be looking for in return?  They need upgrades at SG and backup PG, but I can’t see the Bobcats being able to accommodate that.  Any ideas, Baseliners?

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter


The New Guy On The New Guys

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Hello there, loyal Bobcats Baseline readers and Charlotte Bobcats fans. If I may introduce myself, I am Cardboard Gerald, the newest contributor to this fantastic website. As you may have noticed, the website has undergone some intense changes (of which I am a big fan). Accompanying these innovations, the Baseline’s major contributors have decided to add me to the writing staff. I am excited to have this opportunity to write for one of the best Bobcats blogs out there. Originally I was supposed to be Senior Headline Writer and G-Force Cardboard Specialist but I guess the Baseline guys see some real talent in me.

In fact, I owe these guys a lot. They were the first to really notice me and my friend back when they wrote the article about us and our signs. Somehow it made it to Deadspin, where a multitude of readers apparently thought we were so awesome that they felt they had to make aggressive projective comments to make sure people didn’t think they were uncool.

Anyway, from there it kind of blew up to a minor degree, including a picture on the front page of the Charlotte Observer’s business section.

But considering I’ll be writing in this space on a regular basis, let me tell you about what I’m like and who I am.

I love this game. I have a serious love/hate relationship with Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball” because I don’t think it’s passionate enough.

I like to think I’m funny. I may or may not be, but that’s for you to decide. Regardless of your opinion, I’ll be using lots of satire, puns and my specialty, sarcasm.

I am a sneakerhead. I don’t even particularly like that name for sneaker enthusiasts but it’s the best name to describe the sub-culture. Feel free to chat me up on twitter (@CardboardGerald) or wherever about sneakers.

I love ultra-athletic forwards. Shawn Kemp in his Sonics years is my favorite player of all time. Gerald Wallace follows a similar mold and adds the perseverance and determination that wins over just about any basketball fan. To say I was a huge advocate for bringing in Tyrus Thomas last year would be an understatement. I love his style of play. Yes, it still needs some refining, but you can’t tell me he’s not headed in the right direction with the Bobcats.

I despise most rosterbation. Of course, like any NBA fan, I love the idea of some trades and get excited about some when I read rumors. However, when I’m reading through some comments on other blogs and I see stuff randomly shoehorned into the comment section like, “Hey, let’s get So-and-so! [Insert link to espn trade machine here],” I can’t stand it. Why? Most of it is stupid, thoughtless garbage and has a .000015439 percent chance of happening. The Trail Blazers are not going to ship us Greg Oden and his knee for Nazr Mohammed or DeSagana Diop. What, does Oden have Ebola? Okay, soapbox over.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the new guys on the Bobcats roster. This new group hasn’t exactly been lauded by the rest of the sports community, to say the least. So let’s take a look: there’s Shaun Livingston, Dominic McGuire, Eduardo Najera, Matt Carroll, Sherron Collins and Kwame Brown.

Shaun Livingston (KNEE MAN!)

I am ecstatic to see Livingston on our team. Maybe I’m a sucker for the underdog story of a guy who fell from being a much-hyped kid coming straight out of high school to an injury prone journeyman but I think he can be a decent contributor to the Bobcats in his first year. At this point I would like to give Livingston a nickname. I shall from now on call him, “Knee Man.”

Knee Man brings some great things to the table for the Cats. Now, we all know that Larry Brown likes his players lean and athletic. Knee Man certainly follows in this mold. His size cannot go unmentioned. The man is 6 feet 7 inches tall – huge size advantage over most point guards. You’ll be sure to see a lineup with Knee Man at the point where everyone on the court for the Bobcats are 6 foot 7 or taller. Also, he has a terrific post game. If you don’t believe me, watch this highlights video from his previous season with the Wizards. If you do believe me, watch it anyway: it’s pretty good. He’s also an incredibly efficient passer. Last season about 30 percent of his possessions ended with an assist (hoopdata) which, to put it in comparison, was one percentage point higher than Raymond Felton’s.

However, Knee Man does have his shortcomings. The most concerning is his injury status. Should an injury come up (knock on wood), Sherron Collins would be our backup point guard. You hear that? All of Bobcats Nation just took a gulp. Another problem is that Knee Man has no outside shooting. But that’s not a big deal considering his above-average post game. Knee Man is pretty efficient scorer though. He doesn’t score a lot, though he had a great field goal percentage last year. He also doesn’t get to the line often and his defense will more than likely be a drop down from Felton although Larry Brown could improve that.

As a final note on Knee Man, don’t worry about his game last night against the Mavs. It looked a little disjointed, but that should be expected when you sit out the whole preseason and much of training camp. If he’s healthy, expect Knee Man to get more comfortable and to get back down around a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

Dominic McGuire

I don’t really know what to say about this guy. Does anyone? If I may use some terminology from ol’ Donald Rumsfeld, he’s an ‘unknown unknown.’ He’s 6 foot 9 forward who Larry Brown says “can handle it, pass it, [and] he’s athletic.” Another one of LB’s projects, McGuire is raw potential. Of course, that’s just what Larry loves. McGuire describes himself as “do-it-all type” and a point-forward. “People will see I can pass the ball, I can bring the ball up-court. I’m very athletic, and I get to the rim and play defense” (Observer).

I haven’t been able to see him play because of a lack of preseason television broadcasts and an inability to pick up the radio station broadcasts. McGuire is out for about 5 more weeks with a stress fracture in his left shin.

Matt Carroll

The Charlotte Bobcats prodigal son returned this offseason in a trade with Dallas. I won’t go into much detail since his game is pretty simple and most of us know what he can do. He’s a shooter pure and simple. He’ll hustle his butt off but he’s not a great defender and he has trouble getting to the hoop, which isn’t good for a Larry Brown team. I have heard that he can dunk though!

Eduardo Najera

Najera is a power forward who is probably best described as Mexican Don Draper trying to be Rasheed Wallace. But he wasn’t always like that. I don’t know what happened the summer of 2007 but Najera went from taking no more than 21 shots from downtown to 147 in 2007-08 alone. He combined for 24 three point attempts in the two season prior with nearly identical minutes. Someone please call Leonard Nimoy.

Anyway, Najera is known as pure hustle guy. That held true during the Hawks preseason game I attended. He got some garbage time and played hard. However, he also proceeded to jack long jump shots that he missed.

Sherron Collins

I believe Sherron Collins is a genuinely decent point guard. He’s short (5’11”) and has some weight issues right now but that’s nothing a documentary on Sean May can’t cure. I think he has some decent court vision and passing skills. He isn’t a terrible shooter either. The one major concern is his height and weight. He needs to lose weight to be able to stay with the ultra-quick point guards of the NBA.

Kwame Brown

Here it is: the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Kwame Brown. Like McGuire, I see him as a bit of an ‘unknown unknown.’ He’s a big body, which the ‘Cats need so at least he can get some rebounds. Of course his main problems, as they’ve been with him his whole NBA career, are small hands and poor footwork.

The one thing I can’t figure out is the reasoning behind this move. There were lots of other big bodies available when we signed Kwame. Why would Jordan want to okay a move to bring back his most notorious failure unless they saw something in him? Maybe I’m way, WAY off base here, but my Spidey Sense tingles concerning that roster move.

But of course, Kwame is still out with his severely sprained ankle for at least two more weeks.

-Cardboard Gerald