What If George Postolos Owned The Bobcats?

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Postolos giving Gerald Wallace financial advice

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

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

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

Coaching and Other Staff

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

General Outlook

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

The Team/Players

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

The Team’s Image and Marketability

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

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

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

- Cardboard Gerald

Charlotte Bobcats™ © MJ Basketball Holdings, LLC

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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

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Boozer Demolishes Bobcats, Sale Imminent? Hughes Signing Soon?

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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

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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

All-Star Saturday Wrap-Up

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Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Slam Dunk Contest

Along with former Bobcats Shannon Brown, Gerald Wallace was eliminated in the first round of the least memorable Slam Dunk Contest in years on Saturday night.  After a missed attempt, Gerald threw down a two-handed, double-pump reverse jam for his first dunk, garnering a 38 from the judges.  On his Flip Murray-assisted second dunk, Gerald again missed his first attempt.  On a second try, Gerald took a bounce pass from Flip while flying from right to left underneath the basket, eventually throwing it down one-handed.  That one got a 40 and ended Gerald’s night.  Oh well, here’s a nice profile on Gerald from the Observer’s Scott Fowler anyways.

Nate Robinson and DeMar DeRozan went on to the finals, where Nate finally finished off the yawnfest with a “pretty great for a little guy” reverse jam after a toss off the backboard.  Good for Nate, as it’s a record-setting third Slam Dunk Championship for him; but unfortunately Charles Barkley stole the show with his sarcastic “maybe no one will win” comment while they were waiting for the internet votes to be tabulated.  Good luck to the league as they will undoubtedly be looking into ways to spice up the Dunk Contest next year (if they don’t kill it off altogether).

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Taking Care of Business

Two interesting stories that concern the Bobcats emerged from David Stern’s media availability.  First and foremost, Stern confirmed that the Bobcats sale will most likely go through within the next sixty days.  It’s been reported in the past that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos is leading a group that has made a respectable offer; it’s also known that current minority owner Michael Jordan has some kind of right to match any offer.  What isn’t known at this point is whether or not Jordan is rounding up the partners to match said offer.  He probably is — at the craps table at Atlantis.

The other interesting story is the ongoing quest by the NBA and the Players Union to come up with another Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Stern projects almost $400 million in losses league-wide this year, which does not bode well for the players as the current CBA has less than a year to go.  One thing that would help the Bobcats (and other small-market teams) in the new CBA would be some kind of revenue-sharing agreement, and both Stern and players’ rep Billy Hunter have mentioned strengthened revenue-sharing as a likely component of the next CBA.  Donald Sterling cannot be pleased.

Trade Rumors

The Wizards have finally begun their demolition, dealing Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Dallas for Josh Howard + flotsam + jetsam.  This should start to loosen everyone else up, and things will likely be fast and furious on the transaction front between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.  The next piece to fall into place may be Amare Stoudemire to the Cavs.

The Bobcats are almost certainly still on the lookout for a power forward, with DJ being the likely bait.  I haven’t seen any new published rumors, except for the tidbit that the Cats rejected the Wizards offer of Andray Blatche for DJ.  Easy call, we’re looking for someone that will help us in the playoffs this year, not a young guy who still has a ways to go.

All-Star Game

The big game is at 7PM ET on TNT, live from Cowboys Stadium.  I’ll be tweeting as Gerald Wallace will become the first Bobcat to play in an All-Star game, and we’ll be back with some postgame thoughts either later tonight or tomorrow morning.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Baseliners.

-Dr. E