Weekend Links: Chris Paul Madness Edition

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Chris Paul with Black Shoe

Chris Paul trade news/rumors continue to dominate the NBA news-and-blog-o-sphere as we head into the weekend.  But there’s still some other interesting stuff going on, including Gerald Wallace making a push to be included on Team USA’s final roster this summer.  Here’s your required reading for the weekend.

Chris Paul

  • ESPN’s Chris Broussard provides an update on Paul’s wishlist, along with the reality check regarding which teams on the list could actually come up with a decent package to return to New Orleans in a trade.  Broussard does mention that the Bobcats are one of the teams with interest in pursuing Paul — first time I’ve seen a national, mainstream, traditional media member acknowledge the Bobcats being in the mix.
  • Paul will be sitting down with new Hornets coach Monty Williams and GM Dell Demps on Monday to discuss his future with the team.  Peter Finney from The Times-Picayune opines on how Williams and Demps should approach that meeting.
  • Fresh off his run of blistering pieces critical of Lebron’s “Decision”, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski warns that Chris Paul has succumbed to too much influence from Lebron/Worldwide Wes/CAA/LRMR/etc. and needs to check himself before damaging his reputation.
  • NYT’s Howard Beck reports that Paul, perhaps cognizant of the above sentiment, has not yet hired James’ LRMR marketing firm — though my guess is that this is just semantics/a formality.

Stephen Jackson/Home Invasion

  • There are no new developments in the story of the home invasion/armed robbery at Stephen Jackson’s house Wednesday morning, but here’s the link from the Observer if you never got around to reading up on the story.
  • Rick Bonnell did offer a few additional thoughts on the story on his blog.  The whole thing is a shame — just when Jackson’s image was turning the corner after the Bobcats’ success last year, here comes bad news again.  Not suggesting that being targeted like this is in any way his fault, but you have to be concerned when trouble just seems to follow some people.  Also, nice job by ‘the gates’ in his gated community.  Strong work.  Here’s hoping that Jack’s wife is OK and that the bad guys get caught.

Gerald Wallace/Team USA

  • Gerald Wallace is still out in Vegas at the Team USA camp.  When he was initially named to the squad, I thought it was a nice acknowledgement of how far he had come as a player, but didn’t think much of his chances at making the final cut to represent the US at this summer’s FIBA World Championsips in Turkey due to his marginal outside shooting ability.  But with all of the Redeem Teamers begging off, Amare Stoudemire’s crip-eye, and injuries to David Lee and Robin Lopez, it’s starting to look like Gerald has a real shot.  ESPN’s Chris Sheridan feels that Wallace has the inside track to make the squad, owing largely to his size and defensive tenacity.  On the other hand, I asked Ric Bucher about Gerald’s chances on Twitter and he DMed me back “unlikely”.
  • Bobcats.com has a bunch of Gerald/Team USA content here, including video interviews with Coach K.  I have mixed feelings about Gerald making the squad.  First, as mentioned above, I personally feel he’s kind of a long shot due to his mediocre outside shooting — you just have to be able to knock down deep and midrange shots in international ball.  But Wallace’s primary competition in making the cut is probably Andre Igoudala, who isn’t exactly a deadeye shooter himself, so we’ll see.  Second, Gerald has played a ton of minutes over the past few years, and will no doubt be relied upon for big minutes again in 2010-11 for the Cats.  His ‘balls-to-the-wall’ style of play means potential injuries loom around every pick and attempted block anyways, and extended minutes means nagging injuries continue to nag, or even worsen.
  • Team USA sang Happy Birthday to Gerald yesterday as the team prepared for tonight’s intrasquad scrimmage that will be televised live on ESPN2 at 10pm ET.

Shaq

  • Shaq is still a free agent, and has a list of preferred destinations as well.  As the Bobcats now only employ Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop (I’m assuming Dampier is not on the roster opening night) at center, and with last year’s stopgap solution Theo Ratliff off the market, there has been some sentiment around the Bobcats blogosphere that Shaq might be an acceptable short-term pickup.  NYT’s Howard Beck updates us on the ‘dwindling’ market for Shaq, with Atlanta, Dallas and Miami having passed on the Diesel.
  • Shaq reportedly wants a two-year deal for a good bit of money and a chance to compete for a championship.  He may have to settle for one or the other, and Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak is reporting that the Celtics are at the top of O’Neal’s wish list of destinations.  Boston would be nice, if only for the eventual Shaq-Nate Robinson buddy cop comedy that would grow out of it.

-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

Observations: Knicks @ Bobcats 10/30/09

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Could there be a more perfect cure for an offensively offensive team than to play against Mike D’Antoni?

Bobcats ache out a win against the Knicks tonight in double overtime 102-100.

1. Ugly, ugly, ugly win for the Bobcats and the problems that we witnessed in Boston didn’t get any better, the competition just a lot weaker.

Not much more to say when both teams shoot 38% from the floor: Cellar Dweller MANIA!
Knicks are supposed to be an offensive team but looked completely lost until the 4th quarter when Nate Robinson, Chris Duhon and David Lee Jared Jeffries got it going to bring the Knicks back from 20+ down to tie the game with around 2 minutes to go.  Danilo “Big Bright Shooting Star” Gallinari looked good in limited minutes scoring 16 on 6-11 shooting before sitting down with foul trouble and a bad back.

As for the Bobcats…where does one start?  The team played a great first half, scoring 51 points (just 8 shy of Wednesday’s total in Beantown), spreading the ball around and looking confident on offense.  The D was spectacular, limiting the Knicks to just 37 first half points.  Then came the second half…

2. The Bobcats Have Two Options: Find a Reliable Scorer OR Play the Knicks 80 More Times This Season.

The ‘Cats only managed 31 points in the 2nd half – which is basically what they averaged in the Opener debacle against the Celts – and amazingly were outscored 27-13 in the decisive 4th quarter.  The game should have been over in the third quarter but Charlotte reverted to its “Hot Potato” ways of old with no one stepping up to take and make shots.

In an embarrassingly desperate strategy, the Bobcats repeatedly went to tertiary star Gerald Wallace in the post or on the wings to “will them a basket” with no one in the organization realizing that Crash is not in the least bit equipped to play that role.  Not since Scott Baio left Happy Days has a supporting cast member struggled so mightily to carry his own show.  Maybe Gerald has a Charles in Charge 2nd Act resurgence in him later this season.  Let’s hope so.

We’ve been blogging about it all season and I’ll mention it here briefly again: The Bobcats need a go-to scorer.  Period.  It will take them from 11th in the East to 7th or 8th.  Worth the gamble.

3. Right now, Raymond is The Man.

By the end of the first overtime, Raymond Felton was seriously flirting with the first Triple Double in team history.  A minor ankle injury may have sabotaged the effort by keeping him out for a few possessions but Felton still finished with a very solid 22pts, 9asts, 8rbs on 8-18 shooting.  Those shooting numbers would’ve been higher had the team not insisted on running the famously hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss “Raymond Does Dallas” iso drive nine or ten too many times throughout the game.  Ray nailed his last three driving layups though to lead the team to victory so expect to see a whole lot more of those errant layup attempts until the team gets some more offensive help.

4. Pleasant Surprises.

Stephen Graham played out of his mind (in terms of Stephen Graham) scoring 14pts on 6-9 shooting, including a CLUTCH drive late in the second overtime to put the ‘Cats up.  His defense was superb and I was impressed that he hit that clutch drive late after sitting on the bench for most of the second half.

D.J. finally started spinning in the 2nd half scoring all 15 of his points after the break.  Augustin had a few very smooth, feline drives and scoops to the hoop.  He also hit a clutch three in overtime.  Good to see him back to form.

5. Not Ready For Prime-Time Players.

Diaw and Chandler are still not in game shape.  Chandler worse so than Boris.  Tyson looked like “Emeka Okafor Gone Horribly Wrong” fumbling a couple of easy layup/dunk attempts in the first half.  In the second he got it going a little bit and threw a couple down.  He still looks slow and he has no hops so until he gets in game shape, he’s basically a Jahidi White type foul magnet.

Diaw’s rust shows in his shooting.  While 17pts/6asts/11rbs isn’t a terrible line, 5-15 shooting is.  He also looks slow on defense.  Can’t wait to see both of these guys back to their old ways.

IN CONCLUSION:

At the end of the day, a win is a win.  Unfortunately the competition isn’t going to get much worse than the Knicks so if your team requires 2-count ‘em-2 Overtimes to beat what might be the worst team in the conference AT HOME, well, then you might want to figure out how to improve the roster just a bit.  Cavs up next.  See ya there.

-ASChin