Gerald Wallace Gains Respect and Recognition

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The Basketball Media Has Discovered Gerald Wallace

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For over five years, the Bobcats faithful have watched Gerald Wallace throw his body across the court, attempting to make the effort plays that few are willing to risk.  Anyone that’s ever played basketball understands how hard it is to run end-to-end on every play.  Imagine sprinting, leaping, sliding, diving and picking yourself up to do it all over again for the length of an NBA game.  Wallace’s athletic abilities should catch any basketball fan’s attention, but the effort he exhibits each game is hard not to admire.  “Crash” is finally starting to build a following outside of the small Bobcats cult.  This past week we’ve seen several major sports news outlets share some love for Gerald and his impressive play this season.

NBA Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak has helped to spread the word about #3 with an article about the small-forward’s uncanny rebounding streak.

“Gerald Wallace doesn’t see this as unusual. He just sees it as a necessity for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Wallace, 6-7, 215 pounds, is bidding to become the smallest rebounding champion in NBA history, an athletic small forward who has ventured into the land of the giants.”

“Gerald Wallace doesn’t see this as unusual. He just sees it as a necessity for the Charlotte Bobcats.

Wallace, 6-7, 215 pounds, is bidding to become the smallest rebounding champion in NBA history, an athletic small forward who has ventured into the land of the giants.”

More good vibes followed from Sekou Smith of NBA.com

“Charlotte small forward Gerald Wallace plays with a relentless force that cannot be matched by any of his peers. He’s not celebrated the way he should be. And Hang Time’s here to change that today.

We don’t need a straw poll, secret ballots or any other of clandestine method to determine the hardest working man in basketball.”

ESPN.com has another bit of praise from Matt Moore (of the True Hoop Network, not the Carolina Panthers)

“I’m not going to sit here and say with 100 percent certainty, “Gerald Wallace is a robot sent from the future to save mankind from opposing teams’ offenses.” I’m just saying I would be very interested to see the results of an X-ray. I’m beginning to think his missing time for a collapsed lung was just factory maintenance.”

Ultimately, we don’t know what it will take for Wallace to become an All-Star.  For three seasons, he’s been the most exciting and visible member of the Bobcats. Still, there’s just about zero chance that the fans will vote Gerald into the game as a starter.  Can the coaches (who vote for reserves) find a better option than a player that sacrifices himself on the court, continually improves each year, and won’t let bumps, bruises, tweaked knees, dislocated shoulders, concussions, or a collapsed lung keep him on the bench?

Oddly, each off-season we hear rumblings about possible trades that will dump Gerald’s contract.  It’s been hard to believe some of those trade rumors we’ve read from “insiders” over the years. There are plenty of bad contracts in the NBA, and Wallace is as good of a value as you’ll find in any pro league.  Earlier this season, when the Cats were scoring 30 pts. a half, I felt horrible for Gerald.  As much as I follow the Bobcats, I couldn’t help but think that Crash deserved more.  Finally, Charlotte has found their identity and begun to show consistent success.  Despite their early failures, Wallace never gave up.  Now, try to imagine the way Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, or Joe Johnson would conduct themselves on a team doing as bad as the Bobcats were in October/November.  The Bobcats have a gem in Wallace and if he does receive a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, those trade rumors will likely settle down this off-season.

-Mike

The Importance of Intangibles (or Turnovers)

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INTANGIBLES

Can Experience and Leadership Always Create Positive Results?

For the past year, there has been an emerging divide amongst the Bobcats fans. One camp views Raymond Felton as the undeniable leader of the team. The general view from this perspective rests upon Felton’s success as a college athlete and last season’s promotion to the starting point guard position. One of the biggest arguments for Raymond is that he’s shown leadership, “intangibles”, and holds much more experience than his backup. The other side of the Felton coin is given special attention by the so-called “Raymond Haters.” This group of fans sees Felton strictly for his statistics and his contribution to Charlotte’s losing nature over the course of his tenure with the team. The old bit about “the grass is always greener” seems to be the mantra of those hoping to see Raymond replaced.

Felton does provide leadership. For better or for worse, he stands as the struggling Bobcats’ most decisive offensive player. Unfortunately for the Tarheel, his pro career statistics have shown little to prove he should start at point guard at the NBA level. Like another local fan-favorite, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, Felton has received a load of praise about his demeanor, leadership in the locker room, and those ever-so-hard-to-describe intangibles.

Just like Jake, Raymond started off this season with a boat load of turnovers and very few passes leading to scores. The local football fans turned on Delhomme despite his great status as a teammate with stellar intangibles. The quarterback’s tendency to hand the ball to the opposition made him nearly impossible to watch. Now, the Bobcats seem to be enduring the same situation. Oddly, the expectations for this team are so low that no one is really that upset over the point guard’s high rate of failure.

NBA Starter or Reserve

Felton has shown promise as a solid pro player. He’s found ways to score and he’s been able to play defense up to Larry Brown’s high standards. The question mark for NBA fans of Charlotte is Raymond’s ability to truly lead such a desperate club as the Bobcats look this season. He’s shown grit, heart, dedication, and toughness but that only gets you so much.

So, one group of fans will inevitably ask “What’s so wrong with Raymond running the team’s offense?” The answer for this would be three-fold. First off, Felton is the leader of the worst offense in the NBA.  Secondly, a starter on an NBA team should not turn the ball over so much. Lastly, and most importantly, Felton’s hard work and intangible efforts still don’t make him a star basketball player (which is what this team needs).

It’s hard to define that frequent sports compliment of “intangibles” because you don’t really hear anyone talk about truly great players having “intangibles.” I don’t hear as much about Kobe’s “intangibles” as I hear about his scoring, his defense, and his rings. Having a lot of “heart” or determination might make the great players into legends, but it doesn’t do the same for those simply good-enough-to-go-pro guys. While folks used to love watching Jared Dudley overachieve here and there and score 4 or 5 more points than he should or get that extra “hustle” rebound, no one wants to build a team around Jared Dudley. When it’s time to make a deal, most of us would take a guy that can show us a career of solid stats over the guy that can only claim “intangibles.”

Bobcats Next Step

For Charlotte’s banker crew, let’s pose this question – “Are there any means to measure the value of a player, other than recorded statistics?” Looking at Felton’s numbers, would a speculator even bother considering this investment? Without a definition of the core intangibles that Felton seems to possess, it’s tough to have a proper debate about the pros and cons of #20 playing starting point guard for the Bobcats.

Next month, the Bobcats will have the ability to trade Felton (with his permission). Obvious needs have come to light early this season and the team will likely attempt to move any asset in order to improve.  Raymond Felton poses such a complex dilemma for the club.  The perpetually confused Bobcats organization must commit to a direction.  Will they reward Felton for his hard work or evaluate him based upon his production?

-Mike

Quick Start to Bobcats Preseason News

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It seems like the long drought of non-NBA action was so long ago now that NBA Preseason is underway.  The Bobcats have shown some good signs of growth as they’ve put together two competitive games so far against the Cavs (loss) and the Hornets (win).  For anyone who caught the last, local TV broadcast on the FS Carolinas nextwork, it may have seemed like a surreal Charlotte-NBA concoction.  The list of oddities is tough to summarize, but I’ll try –  The Hornets played against the Bobcats in Greensboro’s teal saturated arena, both wearing pinstriped uniforms, with Steve Martin and Dell Curry calling the game for the TV broadcast.


BOBCATS PRESEASON NEWS

  • Emeka Okafor has always presented himself as a great professional and has conveyed as much sophistication as any athlete.  He told reporters that we was surprised by the trade that sent him from Charlotte to New Orleans.  Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has more on Okafor’s return to NC this past Wednesday.
  • Brian Hendrickson of Sports Illustrated has written an encouraging piece about the Bobcats current situation.  Rarely does SI shed a positive light on the organization, but Hendrickson seems to see the team getting past all of those errors and obstacles.  Read it at SI.com.
  • The Bobcats have finally posted real images of their jerseys on the online team store.  I have to say that the home uniforms are looking great.  The road jerseys might take a little more time to settle in.  This Diaw jersey might be a good purchase.
  • Lastly, the free agent of much Bobcats Baseline adoration doesn’t look so glowingly perfect nowadays.  Memphis Grizzlies guard Allen Iverson looks to be sidelined for the entire Preseason after injuring his hamstring.  Iverson told the media that his leg “popped” when he “stopped on a dime.”  But wasn’t Dime where we read that Iverson had a deal with Charlotte?



NEXT GAME

Cavs vs Cats in Charleston, SC on Saturday night.  No Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler, Delonte West, or Jamario Moon. . . but there will be plenty of Shaq and Lebron for ESPN to show us afterward.

-Mike

No Offense, Who Will Get Traded?

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It seems to be understood that the Bobcats’ scoring troubles are going to be a major concern for the team’s progress next season.  NBA.com even featured an article titled “Bobcats Search For Go-To Scorer.”

Recently, it appeared that some sort of progress was just on the horizon, but now it’s not certain that “The Answer” will be the answer for these problems.  It looks as though Memphis is willing to provide Allen Iverson with an offer that the Cats can’t match, so the idea of a scorer coming to Charlotte seems less likely through free agency.  The Bobcats haven’t done a lot to improve their on court situation this off-season.  Some were concerned about the “locker room cancer” of Allen Iverson.  Still, rumors have been reported that fans usually pay to see what happens on the floor, not back stage.

Despite the arguments for or against Iverson, the club needs something or someone to push the team forward.  This week, ESPN had their basketball contributors collaborate to predict the Eastern Conference rankings.  Unfortunately, the Bobcats didn’t look too high on the list ( #11).  As they put it, the Bobcats are “stuck in purgatory.”  Actually, I would say that the fans are stuck in purgatory. . .  getting paid millions to play basketball sounds a lot more like heaven to me.  Getting back to the point. . .   If the offense proves to be an issue with the club, will Larry Brown push for more moves to remix the roster mash-up he’s already created?

If a trade were to be made to strengthen the offense, the Cats would have to look at their most valuable trade assets.

#1 GERALD WALLACE

His all-around basketball skills and raw talent have got him this far, and a season under Larry Brown has made him looked as polished as ever.

#2 BORIS DIAW

There aren’t too many power forwards with Diaw’s skills.  Thanks to  last season’s unspectacular point guard play, he was able to showcase his court-vision and ball handling skills .  His value has probably benefitted the most by getting a chance to start for Charlotte last season.

#3 RAYMOND FELTON

Starting Point Guards are in demand in the NBA.  Several teams still lack a solid starter, and Felton would be much more needed among several other rosters.  His lack of improvement over the past few years subjects him to the same argument made about Okafor’s lack of progress – solid stats, but no real up-side.

#4 RAJA BELL

Defensive specialist with an expiring contract – sounds like the kind of thing every contender is looking for.  What do you do when you don’t have Kobe, D Wade, or Vince Carter?  You get someone that can keep those guys below 30 pts a game.

#5 DJ AUGUSTIN

Based upon his potential as a point guard and his solid play as a rookie last season, there could be plenty of suitors for Augustin.  His rookie-scale contract is just the right price for any team looking for a rotation player.

Giving away any of these players would be tough, but it looks like there are several quality players on the trade market – Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudamire, Stephen Jackson, & Monta Ellis.  The major question is if the Bobcats have the capacity to make a trade in which they actually come out as a winner.

Bonus :  NBA.com gives a recap of their Top 10 Bobcats Plays

Bobcats Ownership Update

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Rick Bonnell recently posted a vague but welcome update on the Bobcats ownership situation…

The team’s financial decisions – both large and small – have been put on hold. Sources inside and outside the franchise anticipate the ownership question being resolved in the next two weeks.

The “question” being whether former Houston Rockets president George Postolos and his group of investors can stir up the dough to give Bobcat Johnson his just compensation.

Bobcats fans stand in waiting.

Update # 1:
Kelly Dwyer of (Yahoo! Sports) Ball Don’t Lie wrote a summary of the Bob Johnson era. Read it here.

Update # 2 :

Rick Bonnell delivered a new post on his (CharlotteObserver.com) blog about Bob Johnson possibly pulling the organization off the market.  Is he really going to hold onto this team?  Has Europe changed him?  Perhaps, Bonnell is only being fed a story to assist in his negotiations.  Then again, that’s assuming a lot about Johnson’s negotiating abilities.

Update #3:

There’s word that the sale of the Charlotte Bobcats will be a continuing process over the next few months, into next season.  News 14 posted this article on the status of the sale.

Who Is Florent Pietrus?

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As we continue to piggyback on the professional work of the Charlotte Observer’s Bobcats beatwriter Rick Bonnell,  it felt natural to expand on the story he uncovered earlier this week. While Bonnell can simply reach out and call Larry Brown (who may still be with the French team), the Bobcats Baseline crew can still do a mean Google / Bing search. . .

The latest post from Bonnell centers on Larry Brown’s interest in Florent Pietrus, older brother of Orlando Magic guard/forward Mickael Pietrus (you may have seen him in the NBA Finals). It’s not certain if this move would be motivated by Brown’s new love of French basketball and basketball players or if the Bobcats just want to join in on the “brother potential” movement (see Phoenix’s Taylor Griffin / Robin Lopez). If the Cats can loosen up some money, it’s likely they’ll bring in Florent Pietrus for a fairly conservative deal.  Pietrus has been waiting a long time to get interest from an NBA squad and would probably accept any offer that would allow him a chance to compete at the top level of basketball.

Here’s what we know about Florent Pietrus :
Florent, 28, began his pro career with one of the better French teams Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez. Then, he entered the 2003 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, he was not drafted and continued to play professionally for CB Málaga (Spain) from 2004-07. Pietrus currently plays with the club MMT Estudiantes (Madrid – ACB).

Luckily, he can dunk with two hands!
Two-Hand-Jam #1 »
Two-Hand-Jam #2 »
Two-Hand-Jam #3 »

The Mystery of The Silent Off-Season

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Larry Brown's Project

Much speculation and anticipation has rumbled amongst the foundation of hard-core Bobcats fans this off-season. So many NBA teams have made notable exchanges or additions that the current stagnant state of the Bobcats roster can only enhance the fanbase’s curiosity. As anxious as any other group of fans, the crew here at Bobcats Baseline has assumed several questions for the past couple of months.

Who will Charlotte sign? Who will be traded? How do the Bobcats keep up with the other mediocre clubs? While an answer to these questions could create headlines or at least drum up a bold reaction from a sports pundit, the Bobcats might not give us any such satisfaction.

Perhaps, the fundamental question that puts the off-season into focus would be this –
What roster position or positions do the Bobcats see as immediate needs?

After securing a reserve shooting guard with Gerald Henderson in the Draft, it seems that only one area of need will push the team to spend any more than they are already committed to drop on the next season. GM Rod Higgins has commented on the need of depth at the power forward position, but the club hasn’t made any drastic moves to overpay for a reserve.  Despite the reports from the team’s lone beat writer or speculative bloggers (like us), the Bobcats have really only made small mention of the power forward spot as a need for concern. So far, no one in the front office has gone into panic mode over signing a guy that will come off of the bench next year.

Could this be that the Bobcats might not really be that desperately concerned over filling out the back-up forward spot? It’s been suggested that Sean May could be reacquired to provide some depth behind Boris Diaw. Most of Charlotte’s fans would see this as a sad gesture toward improvement, but the team is definitely shopping with a tight budget. Additionally, some have assumed that the Bobcats were more likely to sign a D-Leaguer or an unaffiliated player that shows promise in Summer League play. A move like this probably won’t splash across the Sports Page, but it could fill their need just as much as an underachieving former NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. So, the Bobcats are likely to spend little to no cash to cover that one hole that seems so important to all of their most analytical fans this summer.

This may sound crazy, but maybe the Bobcats don’t really have a need for depth at the power forward position. Larry Brown is known to be a bit fluid with his rosters, and he’s definitely open about changes that he wants from the organization. Brown has yet to make any publicly clamorous requests for that all so rare talent that can play against the league’s other back-up forwards. The lack of noise from Brown or the front office could mean that they simply already have their reserve power forward in Alexis Ajinca.

Larry Brown saw something in the 7-footer Ajinca that caused him to push the team to trade for an additional pick in the 2008 Draft  (No. 20) in order to acquire the rights to the Frenchman. After only appearing in garbage time throughout the first half of last season, the Bobcats sent Ajinca to the D-League to keep his game active over the spring. After suffering through the experience of the Sioux Falls SkyForce, we can assume that Alexis has put his focus on improving his game in any way that he can to stick on an NBA roster. With Larry Brown’s insight and the open ear of Boris Diaw, shouldn’t we expect some degree of improvement in the lanky man’s second season?

For the fans expecting a blockbuster deal or a huge free agent signing Alexis Ajinca isn’t likely the answer. Though, for the financially ailing Bobcats organization, the possibility of Ajinca filling out his body, his potential, and the team’s reserve forward need would sure sound like a great answer.

-Mike