Baseline Observations: Three Games In

Standard

A few quick notes on what we’ve liked and what we haven’t EARLY in the Hornets’ rebrand season:

    • THEY COULD BE 3-0. Change just a handful of late game possessions and Charlotte could be undefeated. The Memphis loss came down to some atrocious 36% shooting and a few key 4th quarter defensive lapses. The loss in New York could’ve been avoided with an impartial ref and a healthy MKG. Encouraging stuff for a team that hasn’t really figured each other out quite yet.
    • LANCE + KEMBA. Two guards who love dribbling. Lance is a good one-on-one player who is under the impression he is great; turnovers ensue (3TOPG – YIKES!). Kemba started the season 10-37 from the field. If Coach Clifford is going to play these guys together in crunch time, Kemba will need to become a better catch and shoot player while Lance refines his drive and dish game. It’s either that or one sits in favor of Brian Roberts or Gary Neal.
    • FREE BIZ! I get Clifford’s reasoning for going Maxiell over Biyombo at the backup center. Maxiell is (theoretically) a better all-around player. He knows where to be on both ends. He (theoretically) has better hands and is more of a threat to actually hit a mid-range jumper as a safety valve. He’s a banger and a veteran. The problem is that A.) Jason hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with his shooting (3-7) or rebounding (1.7 per) and has already logged a 3 turnover game AND B.) the Hornets are giving up a way too much stuff at the rim (see Bradford’s tweet below). So if you’re going to play an offensive liability as Big Al’s backup, why not give Biz one more shot to prove himself? $100 says Charlotte trades for a two way backup center before the deadline.

    • WING ISSUES. Jeff Taylor really screwed the pooch. The team desperately needs another big wing who can guard oversized SFs and Taylor had the gig lined up until his Michigan Mishap. DV is no laughing matter so I’ll stick to discussing the incident’s impact on the court. Once MKG went down at the Garden, the Hornets had to rely on Lance as a Melo cover and it just didn’t work. Stephenson has the strength to guard big threes but lacks the length and has to save too much energy for the other end. Hendo gives up even more size. I’m not as high on Taylor’s upside as some but I’d love to have him for 10-15 minute spot duty against certain matchups.
    • THEY’LL GET BETTER. Let’s face it, these Hornets have no idea how to play together yet. But last year’s Bobcats started slow too. Once Clifford sorts out the Lance/Kemba dynamic and the team re-learns the defensive harmony that worked so well last season, the Hornets should take off. There is just too much talent for them not too.

-ASChin
@BaselineBuzz

Augustin, Hughes Push Bobcats Past Pistons

Standard

Charlotte Bobcats vs Pistons, 4/10/10


The Charlotte Bobcats survived a late Pistons push for a 99-95 victory at the Cable Box on Saturday night.  With Raymond Felton out due to flu-like symptoms and coach Larry Brown trying to limit the minutes of banged-up stars Gerald Wallace (33 minutes) and Stephen Jackson (28), the Cats needed their backup guards to pick up the slack.  DJ Augustin (13 points/9 assists in 40 minutes) and Larry Hughes (18 points on 6-10 FG/4-6 3PT, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals in 26 minutes) obliged.

AP recap here |  Box score here

With Raymond Felton scratched due to flu-like symptoms, DJ Augustin got the start and 40 minutes of playing time.  The Cats and Pistons played a pretty close first half, with the Cats coming out on top 50-43.  The Bobcats proceeded to build 11 point leads a couple different times during the third quarter, but the rest of the way the Pistons made it interesting.

Ben Gordon and Jason Maxiell led the Pistons on a 27-13 run over a 9 minute stretch spanning the 3rd and 4th quarters that culminated in an Austin Daye three for an 88-85 Pistons lead with 5:15 left.  The Pistons accomplished this against an odd Bobcats lineup of Hughes/Jack/Graham/Brown/Chandler that just wasn’t getting it done; so down the stretch Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw and DJ Augustin returned to the floor to restore sanity.

DJ hit a tough, fading jumper with just over a minute left to put the Bobcats up 96-95.  Some scrambling Bobcats defense and a little luck would make that lead hold up.

The ensuing Pistons possession seemingly lasted forever; for the record, it included 0-5 field goals (2 of them threes), 4 offensive rebounds, 2 Pistons timeouts, and accounted for almost a full minute of game time.  Gerald Wallace finally ended the fiasco with a rebound with 16 seconds left, but only hit 1-2 free throws to keep the Pistons hopes alive.

Fortunately, the Pistons would miss again; this time Larry Hughes secured the rebound, then hit 2-2 free throws to secure the win.

Tidbits

  • The Cats were rocking some awesome black warm-up t-shirts with “Clinched” across the chest — a blue version was available in the Team Store.  Well played, Bobcats, but still no match for our SarcophaCrash Gerald Wallace t-shirts, now on sale for the playoffs for $18!
  • Tyson Chandler was 9-10 from the free throw line — he added a tip-in for 11 points total.
  • Stephen Graham was solid-as-usual off the bench: 11 points on 5-6 FG/1-1 3PT in 20 minutes.
  • Ty Thomas sat out again with his bad thumb.
  • I saw this kid coming up the stairs near my section at halftime and thought, “Wow, that looks like NCAA Champion Jon Scheyer’s 16-year-old doppelganger.”  Eventually, after he posed for a few pictures with fans, I realized it was Scheyer himself.  Damn, I feel old.
  • Strange box score tonight: the Cats outshot the Pistons 53.8% to 45.6% and beat them at the free throw line 22-26 to 17-26.  Rebounds and assists were essentially even.  So how did the Cats almost lose this one?  2 issues, both concerning.  1) the Pistons nabbed 13 offensive rebounds and 2) the Cats coughed up 15 turnovers.  Can’t be giving up extra possessions in the playoffs like that.
  • The win pushes the Cats to 31-9 at home on the year.  Pretty amazing.
  • Technically, there’s still a chance the Cats could get the sixth seed.  If the Cats win out (away at New Jersey, home against Chicago) and Miami goes 1-2 to finish the regular season, we’d tie them at 45-37, and would get the nod due to winning the season series against them.  But the Heat have the Knicks, Sixers and Nets in their last three games, and figure to go 2-1 at the absolute worst.
  • The Cats get a day of rest on Sunday before taking on the Nets in New Jersey on Monday night (7:30 PM ET start).  In case you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, the Cats have turned in a couple of embarrassing performances in losing two in a row to the Nets, the NBA’s worst team this year.  Don’t count on it happening again on Monday.

-Dr. E

Rip and Tayshaun for Wallace and Okafor?

Standard

Rip and Tayshaun for Wallace and Okafor?

Some fans over at DetroitBadBoys.com posted some comments earlier today theorizing a potential Rip Hamilton for Emeka Okafor swap.  Then came a second hypothetical scenario in which the Pistons and Bobcats would also swap Tayshaun Prince and Gerald Wallace in the same deal with the Bobcats getting a little something back in compensation such as a prospect or a future Piston 1st Rounder.

At first, this deal sounds ludicrous.
You’d be dealing a 26 year old Top 10-15 center and a 27 year old face-of-the-franchise forward for a 31 year old shooting guard who’s owed over $48 million over the next four seasons and a wispy 4th option small forward whose biggest impact in the League came almost a half decade ago.

But then I started to think about it…

Why trade Okafor for Rip?

  1. Rip Hamilton is on the hook for $49.5 million over the next four seasons.
  2. Emeka Okafor is owed $62.7 over the next five.
  3. The Bobcats have two players behind Okafor who make the full mid-level and the team has recently inquired about the availability of Samuel Dalembert.  The other two centers (Gana Diop & Nazr Mohammed) are basically unmovable due to bloated contracts.
  4. Even though Rip will be 36 when his contract expires, his game and his build is much like that of Ray Allen or Reggie Miller.  He should be productive for at least the first three of those seasons, after which he turns into a huge expiring contract.
  5. The Bobcats desperately need scoring and since Larry Brown tends to favor players he’s coached before, it would not be a reach to suggest that a deal for Hamilton would be attractive to LB.

Ok, so that kind of makes sense but Wallace for Tayshaun!!!???

  1. Larry Brown likes defenders at the SF and likes guys that he’s familiar with.
  2. Tayshaun’s contract pays him $21.5 million over the next two seasons.
  3. Gerald’s contract pays out $41 million over the next four seasons.
  4. Over the past 5 seasons, Tayshaun has played in 82 games every one of those seasons.
  5. Over those same 5 seasons, Gerald has logged: 75/55/72/62/71 games played.

Yeah I know, Gerald is the face of the franchise and it would really suck to lose two of our home-grown guys for players whose prime may or may not be behind them.

But what if JoD sweetened the pot with this:

Nazr Mohammed’s contract for Jason Maxiell.

ESPN Trade Machine: Rip/Okafor PT1

ESPN.com Trade Machine: Rip/Okafor PT2

Could it be anymore perfect?

Although the Bobcats would take on an additional $250k in the deal, over then next five seasons, they’d save arond $35 million in payroll (which is apparently a good thing for a franchise up for sale).

In the meantime, Charlotte could compete immediately in the Eastern Conference with a balanced, veteran squad and would be in position to go after whomever they wanted in Free Agency during the summer of 2011.
With Hamilton on the roster, Raja would be expendable so there would be a potential for the ‘Cats to package Vlad Radmanovic and Bell together in order to complete the long rumored Dalembert trade (another big expiring deal in 2011).

Rip Tayshaun and Dalembert - First Unit

The first unit would feature five strong defenders and a dependable wing scorer (for once) in Hamilton.

Rip for Okafor - Second Unit

The reserves would feature two very promising younger players (Augustin and Maxiell), a potentially promising 1st rounder in Gerald Henderson and a dependable, defensive-minded center in Gana Diop.

A Win-Win Deal

From Detroit’s perspective, they hit a homerun.

  1. They get a HUGE upgrade at center in Okafor (to replace Kwame Brown).
  2. They get a dynamic wing player in Gerald Wallace to team with Charlie V and Emeka in a completed revamped frontcourt.
  3. Suddenly, Detroit’s core players go from early-mid 30s to all under 27.  Amazing.

It all sounds great but I’m still kind of torn.  If the Bobcats had decent (or settled) ownership, maybe it would be a better idea to hold on to Emeka and Gerald and build for the future.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the organization finds itself needing to make the playoffs and grow the fanbase while not adding to the payroll.
If the above scenario unfolds, those things just might happen.

-ASChin