Bobcats Sign Shaun Livingston

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Shaun Livingston (Jose Argueta/Wizards Photos/Wizards.com)

The Charlotte Bobcats signed free agent point guard Shaun Livingston to a two-year, $7 million dollar contract today.  Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Cats will hold a team option for a third season.  Here are links for the AP story and Bonnell’s for the Observer.

Livingston is best known for the horrific knee injury he sustained in 2007 while playing in his third season for the Los Angeles Clippers.  Sadly, getting to “S-h-a-u-n L-” in a google search gets you suggestions of “Shaun Livingston” followed by “Shaun Livingston injury”.

After coming into the league straight from high school and seeing limited playing time his first two years, the skinny, 6’7″ point guard had begun to fulfill his potential during the 2006-07 season, averaging 9 points and 5 assists in almost 30 minutes a game.

However, disaster struck on February 26, 2007 as the Clippers were hosting (ironically) the Bobcats.  After Raymond Felton made a clean challenge on his breakaway layup attempt, Livingston landed awkwardly.  His left knee buckled medially, shredding his ACL and PCL and completely dislocating the joint in the process.

I remember being up late watching that game and cringing.  Video is readily available on the internet, as is a particularly gruesome photo that’s worth seeking out if you’ve ever wondered what the distal end of your femur looked like.

Livingston spent the 2007-08 season out of basketball rehabbing.  Since then, he has bounced around from the Heat to the Grizzlies to the Thunder before winding up with the Wizards late last season.  It was there where Livingston seemed to get his groove back.  He played in 26 games down the stretch in Washington’s lost season, starting 18 while averaging 25 minutes, 9 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Prior to today’s signing, the Bulls had shown interest in Livingston this summer, while there was sentiment in Washington that he should be resigned to back up John Wall.

Livingston makes sense for Larry Brown.  Whether it’s horrific injuries or horrific off-the-court troubles, LB loves a reclamation project.  He also likes long players who see the court well.

And there’s no question that the Cats needed some point guard depth, but Livingston’s signing is curious nonetheless.  We now have two backup-quality point guards on the roster, both being paid backup (and not “end of the bench emergency third point guard”) money.  I don’t think it’s too pessimistic to say that we are in trouble if we enter this coming season with DJ and Livingston battling it out to be the starter, nor can we realistically afford to pay one of them what they are owed for being the third point guard.

What I’m trying to say is that I think Jordan is still in the market for a starting-caliber point guard, and that the writing may be on the wall for DJ here.  Just sayin…

And here’s a couple other tidbits before I hit the sack:

  • Here’s a quick note by Bonnell regarding a small hitch in how we can use Dampier’s contract in a subsequent trade.  Essentially, Dampier’s contract can be traded anytime, but it can’t be packaged with another player/contract for 60 days.
  • Larry Hughes says he’s talked to the Bobcats about returning, but that he’s “waiting for the right situation to come up.”  Replace “the right” with “any” and I think the statement will be more accurate…

-Dr. E



POLL : What Should Bobcats Do With Erick Dampier?

  • Waive & Save $13 Mill
    (16%, 35 Votes)
  • Waive & Resign
    (12%, 26 Votes)
  • Trade For Point Guard
    (55%, 124 Votes)
  • Trade For Draft Picks (17%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 224

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Offseason Prescriptions for the Capped-Out Cats (Part 1)

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capped-out

Chapter I: Diagnosis

First Number of Interest: $680,000.

It’s the number you get when you take the Bobcats $69.24 million in salaries for the ’09-’10 season and subtract it from last year’s $69.92 million luxury tax threshold.  Six hundred and eighty K.  That’s approximately how close the Bobcats came to paying the luxury tax last season.  I say approximately as I’m basing the figures on Hoopshype’s excellent salary database — a database that doesn’t included Derrick Brown’s two year rookie contract.  (For the sake of this column, I’m estimating his cap figure to be equal to Milwaukee’s Jodie Meeks, drafted one spot behind Brown in last year’s second round.)

Second Number of Interest: $1.6 million.

That’s how much NBA teams are expecting to come off the cap next year.  You read that right, the Salary Cap will shrink next year and with it the luxury tax threshold.  According to ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan, the tax line will lower to around $68 million in ’10-’11 which would put the Bobcats at less than $8 million under the tax threshold before re-signing starting PG Raymond Felton (unrestricted), PF Tyrus Thomas (restricted) or valuable role players Stephen Graham and Theo Ratliff (click chart to see a larger image).

BobcatsCurrentCapSituation

Looking at next year’s salary commitments, three things are glaringly obvious:

1. THE CENTERS OF ATTENTION

The Bobcats have $27.5 million (roughly half of their cap space) committed to the center position and the last time I checked, none of those guys were named Howard, Duncan, Ming or Gasol.  Years of poor financial decision making have finally caught up: overpaying Emeka Okafor when they didn’t have to (Chandler), overpaying Matt Carroll when they didn’t have to (Diop) and bailing out Joe Dumars with the expiring contracts of Walter Herrmann and Primoz Brezec (Mohammed).
THE BAD NEWS: With the a possible lockout on the way in 2011, none of these guys are moveable unless the team is willing to take on another equally bad (if not worse) contract in return.
THE GOOD NEWS: Over $19 million will come off of the books for good in the summer of 2011 if the ‘Cats just hold tight and let Mohammed and Chandler play through their contracts.
Somebody take Larry Brown’s mobile phone privileges away pronto!

2. TYRUS THOMAS AND THE POISON PILL

The Bobcats didn’t send Chicago a future first round pick just to rent Tyrus Thomas for three months.  The intention was always to retain him for at least another season but given the Bobcats’ cap situation that might not be so simple.  As a restricted free agent, Thomas could command a salary north of the $6.2 million qualifying offer he’s due based on his rookie deal.  A team intrigued by Thomas’ potential and armed with enough cap space could offer Tyrus big money up front, signing Thomas to the dreaded “poison pill offer sheet” (see Milsap, Paul) during the summer.  Such a contract could offer Thomas $8 million in year one, $6 million in year two and only $4 million in year three.  The Bobcats would have the right to match but in doing so would essentially be “luxury-taxed-out,” unable to sign any other players (including a starting PG) without paying the dollar for dollar tax penalty — which is something Michael Jordan has repeatedly said that he will not do.  With so many teams flush with cap space this summer, the Tyrus Situation could get tricky.  Watch out for it.

3. WHO’S THE POINT?

Ray Felton is the best point guard available in a weak PG free agency class.  Again, it is entirely possible that a team flush with cap space could offer him $18 million or more over three years and in that situation the ‘Cats would have to fold.
Doubt that the team would let it’s starting point guard walk this summer?  The organization fiercely pursued a T.J. Ford trade during February’s trade deadline and weren’t even close to coming to terms on a long-term offer with Felton’s agent last summer.  If Raymond was a better shooter from outside and could finish with a little more consistency inside (not to mention stay in front of Jameer Nelson) maybe the team would go out of it’s way to sign him but I just can’t foresee it happening.  The ‘Cats will most likely have to acquire a starting PG via trade or from the free agency discount rack.

Yes, Bobcats fans, your team is in a major salary cap quagmire.

To further complicate the issue, the Bobcats can’t afford to simply allow their free-agents to walk and replace them with low-cost scrubs or cheap rookies.  The team doesn’t have any draft picks (instead they have Alexis Ajinca) and from a business perspective, the organization must improve their on-court product (or at least repeat last year’s success) in order to expand fan support and capitalize on their inaugural Playoff run.

TEAM NEEDS:

The Bobcats head into the summer with three major needs:

STARTING POINT GUARD
D.J. Augustin is clearly not ready to start and the Bobcats are too capped out to pay Raymond Felton market value.  They’ll need to make a trade or find an undervalued bargain replacement in Free Agency (see Blake, Steve).

LOW POST SCORING/REBOUNDING
Boris Diaw has a few low post moves but plays mostly on the perimeter and doesn’t concern himself very much with the art of rebounding.  Tyrus Thomas (if he’s re-signed) is a solid rebounder but has limited abilities as a post scorer.  The team will need to either trade for or sign a traditional low-post power forward to team with Thomas or Diaw.

CONSISTENT PERIMETER SCORING/SHOOTING
Larry Hughes turned out to be an inconsistent version of Flip Murray.  Sure, Hughes was a better defender but what the Bobcats really needed was offense from the bench.  Murray has said that he’d happily return to Charlotte next season.  If the ‘Cats could bring him back for a similarly low priced deal next season, they should.

THE PRESCRIPTION:

So how does a Capped-Out team retain talent and, dare I say it, even improve heading into next season?

Part II: Prescription A (Simple and Clean) — Coming Soon
Part III: Prescription B (Not for the Faint of Heart) — Coming Soon

-ASChin

Close, But No Cigar; Magic Go Up 3-0

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Magic, Game 3, 4/24/10

Playoff basketball returned to Charlotte on Saturday, but the inspired Bobcats still couldn’t quite get over the hump and fell to the Orlando Magic 90-86.  Jameer Nelson continued his domination of the Bobcats with another 32 point effort.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Game 3 is usually the lower-seeded team’s best chance to steal a game in round one of the NBA Playoffs (e.g. the Bulls and Thunder earlier this week) and this was no exception.  A fired-up, sellout crowd donned giveaway Jordan Brand Bobcats t-shirts and waved towels for a “whiteout” that drove the Cats to an improved performance relative to Games 1 and 2 in Orlando.

The Cats got off to a decent start per the scoreboard, trailing the Magic just 29-27 after the first quarter.  But if you look back on it, that first quarter can really serve as a microcosm for the whole game.

  1. Dwight Howard got into early foul trouble (2 in the first quarter) and had only moderate effect on the game early; things stayed that way the rest of the way and Howard eventually fouled out with 3:31 left in the fourth after having only played 26 minutes.
  2. Jameer Nelson picked up the slack with 19 first quarter points, including four threes and a four-point play to close the quarter as he continued to outplay Raymond Felton.  This trend would also continue through the rest of the game, as Nelson would finish with 32 points (12-21 FG, 5-9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists — and had a big bucket down the stretch to fend off the Cats.
  3. The Cats and the crowd fed off each other in the first, fueling an 8-0 run that had the Cats up by four late in the quarter.  This would happen a couple more times in the game: a 9-2 second quarter run had the Cats up 41-33 briefly and a longer 19-9 stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter had the Cats up 77-73 halfway through the final period.
  4. But just as the Magic ended the first quarter strongly to take the lead (the aforementioned four-point play by Nelson), they ended the game with a show of experience and dominance as well.  After the Felton three-point play that fouled Howard out with 3:31 left put the Cats up 80-79, the Magic outscored the Cats 11-6 by hitting clutch shots and getting to the free throw line.

The Cats had a chance, though.  Down one with 31 seconds left, Larry Brown used a full timeout, then added another 20-second timeout to draw up what must have been the world’s most complicated basketball play.  It worked, too.

Early in the set Stephen Jackson popped off a screen at the three-point line and had a wide open look.  Some will criticize the fact that the first option on the play was a look at a three-pointer when the Cats were down just one with 30 seconds left, but let them criticize.

This is one of the best basketball minds in the world, a master at drawing up plays in timeouts we’re talking about, teamed up with Stephen Jackson, Mr. “I Make Love To Pressure”.  A three probably would have won the game.

Unfortunately, Jack did not come through.  The shot was short, Orlando grabbed the rebound, the game, and any remaining hope that the Bobcats could make this a series.

Tidbits

  • Lack of bench production has plagued the Cats in every game thus far.  In Game 1, only Tyson Chandler was helpful off the bench.  In Game 2, Nazr Mohammed was alone in contributing off the bench.  In Game 3, it was Larry Hughes who played well, with 14 points (5-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes.  The lack of signficant contributions from DJ Augustin and Tyrus Thomas continues to hurt.
  • A couple of my in-game Tweets:  “I think D Howard might bitch to refs more than Stephen Jackson. Impressive feat.” and “I’d be stunned if Ty Chandler didn’t lead the league if offensive fouls due to bad screens. Another here early in 4th”
  • Raymond Felton.  How can I say this diplomatically?  Let’s just say his agent won’t be using video of this series in his contract negotiations this summer.  And the Bobcats need to keep it in mind when Miami or New York makes an offer that the Bobcats consider matching.
  • Lots of celebs at the game: Jordan was there, obviously.  Commissioner David Stern observed the proceedings.  Legends Robert Parish, David Thompson, and Muggsy Bogues were in attendance, as was coach Tubby Smith.  And lest we forget, Bobcats minority owner Nelly sat courtside.
  • Game 4 is Monday night at 8 PM ET at the Cable Box.  I would expect some golfers courtside with the Quail Hollow starting up next week.  Maybe even this famous Magic fan and friend of MJ?

-Dr. E

Bobcats vs. Magic Playoff Preview Part II

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Bobcats Magic 2010 Playoff Preview Bobcats Baseline

Bobcats have hit the Bigtime and are going up against last year’s Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic.

If you missed part one of our preview, check it out here.

ASChin: One more thing that I wanted to touch on before we get to the wings and guards:  We’re dealing with the League’s second best offense (behind Phoenix) going up against the League’s best defense (points allowed).  If defense does indeed win championships, the Bobcats might be able to pull an upset in this series.

On to spots 1-3…

Dr. E: Out on the wings, we’ll have Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes matching up against Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and JJ Redick.  Barnes is a solid player who brings some much-needed toughness to the otherwise soft Magic.  But he’s not going to intimidate Gerald Wallace.

Wallace broke through this season as the Bobcats first All-Star, but is still not appreciated much beyond hardcore NBA fans.  A playoff series against the Magic would be the perfect opportunity for Wallace to insert himself into mainstream basketball consciousness.  Obviously, the Cats need Gerald to play well in order to make the series interesting.

ASChin: Crash is great and we all love him but I’m really hoping that the big stage doesn’t intimidate him like it did during All-Star weekend.  I’m tempering my expectations until I see Wallace handle the higher stakes of the postseason.  Fortunately, Wallace’s ability to settle into BIONIC ROLE PLAYER mode when his shot’s not falling will at least allow him to pull down a dozen boards and alter a few shots until he can ignore the butterflies.  On talent alone the Bobcats win this matchup but if you’re measuring experience, then the Magic’s combo of Barnes and Pietrus trumps here.

Dr. E: I like Pietrus a lot.  On the Magic, he’s a bit redundant; another soft wing who loves the three-pointer (which is why the tougher Barnes starts).  I’d love to see what Pietrus could do on another team where he’s not just encouraged to stand 25 feet away from the basket and launch threes.

PlayoffRoster_1Unit

ASChin: The shooting guard matchup should be fun.  You have Vince Carter, famously maligned for his Playoff dissappearances going up against Mr. Makes Love To Pressure himself, Stephen Jackson.
Carter’s Playoff numbers don’t look so bad at first glance it’s only when you factor in his 42% FG percentage and some of his late game fades that you realize why he’s earned the reputation.  Jackson’s Playoff averages are actually much worse than Carter’s (39% in 54 games) yet JAX has two major notches on his postseason belt: Winning a Championship with the Spurs in 2003 as a starter and then leading the 8th seeded Warriors past the top seeded Mavs in 2007.
I see these two guys negating each other during the series.  With Vince getting most of his points early in the game and JAX contributing a little more towards the end.  The real battle might be with the backups as sharpshooter JJ Reddick has come on in the second half of the season.  If he can provide a much more consistent bench scoring threat than Bobcats new addition Larry Hughes, the ‘Cats might be in some trouble

Dr. E: In addition to getting Howard into foul trouble and Gerald Wallace being Gerald Wallace, one of the other breaks that the Bobcats need to make the series interesting is for Vince Carter to do what Vince Carter does in the playoffs: underwhelm and shrink.  Bill Simmons mentioned this in his NBA regular season wrapup/playoff preview column, and it bears repeating: last year, down the stretch, the Magic put the ball into Turkoglu’s hands to make a play and he was great at it.  Will Vince, when the pressure’s on, be able to deliver like Hedo did in that role?

I can’t wait until Redick enters game 3 in Charlotte for the first time.  By the way, why do we say that someone was “booed lustily”?  It doesn’t make much sense.  I can understand staring lustily, like Sean May does at crab bread, but booing lustily?  Strange adverb choice.  Whatever the case, Redick will be booed lustily.

ASChin: And the sad part is is that JJ is a much better pro than 2006 #3 pick Adam Morrison will ever be.  Ugh.

PlayoffRoster_2Unit

Dr. E: And at the point, we have Jameer Nelson vs Raymond Felton.  I have to admit, I was stunned to look at Jameer’s numbers this season and see how far he’d fallen off. His FG% and 3PT% are way down, as is his scoring average, and he’s only playing 28 minutes a game.  I know Jason Williams has been a pleasant surprise at backup PG for the Magic, but jeez.  What happened?  Anyways, the diminutive-but-not-super-quick Nelson is a good matchup for Raymond Felton.

Felton is easily having his best year as a pro — a contract year too, how nice.  Now, the sharps know that Raymond’s improved stats/PER are mostly due to the fact that Stephen Jackson is now around to take all of the tough shots.  Raymond has been able to be much more selective in the shots he attempts, and his FG% has accordingly improved significantly.  But I still worry that he’s already made himself a lot of money this year — more money than the Bobcats might be able to pay.  A strong showing in the playoffs could give a team like New York or Miami googly eyes for Raymond.  I hope Raymond’s not thinking too much about that, but he’s human, so…

ASChin: Hey, now.  I thought this was a Playoff Preview not a 2010 Free Agency Breakdown.  Felton has proven himself to be a solid starter in the League and I imagine that he’ll do well in this series.  He’s played in big games in college (winning a championship with UNC) and (at least according to 82games.com) he’s been the Bobcats best offensive player in the clutch.  He’s bigger and stronger than both Jameer and White Chocolate and still has the speed to beat anybody down the court.  If Ray can keep his shooting percentage up, turnovers down and play his usual solid D, I could see him being the series’ most valuable player in a potential upset.

As for DJ Augustin, I almost don’t want to write anything about him.  He had a terrible sophomore season until finally coming around in April.  I hope he’s figured it out because the Bobcats will need all the scoring (especially outside shooting) they can get.

-DrE & ASChin

Augustin, Hughes Push Bobcats Past Pistons

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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

JAX-less Bobcats fall in Houston

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Houston 4/9/10

The Bobcats had a lot more to gain than the Houston Rockets in this one.  With Miami dropping a surprising loss against the Pistons on the same evening, Charlotte could have inched within a game of the East’s sixth seed with a win in Texas but the Rockets had other plans.  Behind a tremendous fourth quarter scoring burst from PG Aaron Brooks, Houston sent the Bobcats packing 97-90.  Bobcats drop to 42-37, still two games back of Miami.

AP recap here | Box score here

They Just Aren’t The Same Without Him

Stephen Jackson has his well-documented faults (not to mention a very suspect, very expensive contract) but this was another game that shows us just how valuable JAX is to the Charlotte Bobcats success.  For all of Gerald Wallace’s efforts this season (All-Star selection, rebounding boost), Stephen Jackson is clearly Charlotte’s MVP.

Coach Larry Brown made good on his promise to rest Jackson as the team closes in on the postseason.  Brown stated that he wasn’t worried about Playoff seeding now that they’ve clinched, he’s more worried about being effective once they start playing.  I can’t argue with that logic.  Seeing the team play without Stephen Jackson tonight was a nice reminder.

Bobcats also rested Tyrus Thomas (thumb) and didn’t dress Theo Ratliff, who is still away on a personal matter.  Charlotte will need them all healthy and ready for the Playoffs.

A Few Positives From a Tough Loss

  • Tyson Chandler.  As terrible as Tyson was for four fifths of the season, he’s picking an awfully good time to return to form.  Chandler with another big defensive game: 12 rebounds and 5 blocks to go along with 7 points.  Two of those points were collected on, you are not going to believe this, a NON-DUNK!  I saw it with my own eyes, folks.  First points of the game.  Tyson backs in Luis Scola, turns and rattles in a fadeaway 5-footer.  In related news, an image of Jesus was seen in a Smuckers jar last night in Bessemer City, NC.
  • D.J. looks confident.  His numbers weren’t as good as they were against New Orleans but I like the body language.  He had a nice open court stop & pop in the first half that wouldn’t have taken much less made earlier in the year.
  • Larry Hughes looks better.  Hughes stepped in and did a decent job as Jackson’s replacement going 5-13 for 16 points.  My take on The Great Hughes-Graham Debate of 2010 goes like this: Coach Brown knows what Graham is going to give him.  He’s a given.  Brown is intrigued enough with Hughes and his abilities as a proven dynamic NBA scoring guard that he’s willing to gamble with him now in order to have another major scoring asset come Playoff time.  That’s a good gamble to make because the ‘Cats will need all the scoring they can get.

Some Rockets Observations

  • Shane Battier wore a green Masters jacket on the bench.  I swear I’m not making this up.  Something gives me the feeling that Battier and Ron Artest never hung out in the offseason.
  • I wonder how strange it is for Rick Adlemen to watch Gerald Wallace today, almost ten years after he let the raw draft prospect languish at the end of Sacramento’s bench?  Did Adlemen ever guess that this guy might one day be an All-Star, a legitimate post threat and one of the League’s top rebounders?
  • Chase Buddinger = Adam Morrison gone right.  In fact, Buddinger shouldn’t even be compared to white wing players at all.  He’s got incredible athleticism that allows him to go to the basket when his outside shot isn’t falling.  After Chase elevated and threw one down on Tyson Chandler, Chandler seemed more confused than upset.  It was like he just witnessed a Pug best a Cheetah in a footrace.
  • The Rockets must lead the league in “Undersized Players.”  It seems everybody on the team is giving up a few inches or a few pounds at their respective positions: Kurt Lowry, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, Kevin Martin, etc.
  • Speaking of Chuck Hayes, he’s officially listed as the team’s starting center and he’s a maximum 6’5″ although he’s listed an inch taller but he’s built like a cement truck.  Always a fan of undersized big men.  Charles Barkley, LJ, and now Craig Smith and Hayes.  Gotta love ‘em.

Only three games left and then we got Playoffs baby!

Until next time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

CP3 in CLT?

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MJ hangs with an interesting crowd

This Can Still Happen

Back in the June of 2005, the Bobcats had an opportunity to draft local legend Chris Paul with the third pick in the draft.  The Blazers held the pick and offered the selection to Charlotte for the 5th and 13th choices in the draft.  The ‘Cats turned them down and the rest is history: Blazers dealt the pick to Utah, and New Orleans (picking 4th) scooped up the the NBA’s best under-30 PG.  It was rumoured that Paul wanted to play in Charlotte.  He was from Winston-Salem and had played college ball just up the road at Wake Forest.  The Bobcats needed a point guard.  They needed a star.  This can still happen.

Watching the New Orleans game on Wednesday night, it struck me: Chris Paul is going to be traded.  Maybe this summer.  Maybe sometime during next season but soon.  Here’s why:

  1. New Orleans is a small market team that’s losing money almost as fast as the Bobcats.
  2. George Shinn is in “SELL“-mode.
  3. Chris Paul is due $49 million over the next three seasons.  His replacement against the Bobcats, rookie phenom Darren Collison, is due just $5 million in the same time span.
  4. The Hornets have more than a couple of holes on their roster to fill.
  5. Hometown hero D.J. Augustin is way “OVER” (You bet he’s Over) with the local crowd.
  6. Anybody ever seen those Nike Air Jordan CP3s?

So what kind of a deal could the Bobcats put together to entice New Orleans to let go of their superstar???

The Trade

Well, from a salary perspective, the ‘Cats are going to have to return a few things in exchange for Paul’s $14.9 million dollar cap number.  They’ll also have to offer the Hornets some attractive pieces in exchange.  Here’s my proposal:

  • D.J. Augustin.  Again, hometown hero.  Still on a rookie deal until ’12-’13.  While not remotely in Chris Paul’s league, D.J. could form a great combo with Collison and help stretch the floor with his long distance shooting.
  • A Sign & Traded Tyrus Thomas.  Something like 3 years, $18 million sounds about right.  Another local product (high school in Baton Rouge, later LSU).  Thomas not only turns the local turnstiles, he would be a welcome athletic addition to a fairly unathletic frontcourt (Emekatron 2000 and David West).  The Hornets could then shop West (who has a great contract that declines in salary) for a physical starting two guard.
  • Gerald Henderson.  Let’s face it.  If Larry Brown is coaching the Bobcats, The Sequel is never seeing any PT and that’s not good for a young player’s game (just look how Darko’s skillz atrophied in Detroit).  The Hornets need a tough, defensive minded 2-guard to pair with Marcus Thornton and Gerald Henderson just may be that guy.
  • Salary Relief.  New Orleans currently has $73 million committed in salaries for next season.  This before factoring in any draft picks or filling out the roster.  The assumption around the league is that the luxury tax will lower to around $69 million.  By trading Paul for Thomas, Augustin and Henderson, the Hornets will save $4.5 million next season (putting them under the tax threshold).

From a Bobcats salary perspective, this trade would put them at EXACTLY the tax threshold ($69.8 million) with only eight players under contract.  The question is, would Michael Jordan spend an extra $5-$10 million if it meant bringing in a superstar like Chris Paul?  I think he just might.  The Bobcats would enter next season with:

  • PG: Chris Paul
  • SG: Stephen Jackson
  • SF: Gerald Wallace, Derrick Brown
  • PF: Boris Diaw, Alexis Ajinca
  • C: Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, Gana Diop

Now, there’s obviously a crowd at Center but the good news is that both Nazr Mohammed ($6.8 million) and Tyson Chandler ($12.75 million) represent expiring contracts in a year in which those will be very, very valuable (free agent summer ’11 looks like it’ll rival summer of ’10).  Could the Bobcats trade Mohammed for someone like Kirk Hinrich?  Maybe.  Take one or both centers off of the roster and run a platoon of a re-signed Theo Ratliff, Gana Diop and a (hopefully) developed Alexis Ajinca and then resign everyone’s favorite utility players Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes to veteran minimum deals and you have:

  • PG: Chris Paul, Kirk Hinrich
  • SG: Stephen Jackson, Larry Hughes
  • SF: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Graham
  • PF: Boris Diaw, Derrick Brown, Alexis Ajinca
  • C: Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Theo Ratliff

Not bad.  And considering that Larry Brown will run basically an eight or nine man rotation throughout the season, 10-14 depth isn’t that big of an issue.  This team could go deep into the Playoffs and finally bring star power to the CLT.

-ASChin