What To Do with Dampier? – Part 1 (Addendum)

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Jose Calderon - Tres Points, Bee-octch!

Before I get to my second Dampier Solution, I want to throw one more possible option into the “Waive Him” category.  Last week we heard from NBA.com’s David Aldridge that the Bobcats were trying to get involved in the Houston/NO/NJ/INDY four team trade.  The ‘Cats wanted to squeeze yet another team into the mix (the Raptors) in order to send Dampier’s expiring contract to the Pacers for the Rap’s Jose Calderon.  Aldridge is and has been a top notch NBA beat guy for decades so I’ll take him at his word: The Bobcats are still interested in acquiring Calderon.

Here’s the thing that I don’t get: Jose is at best an overpaid part-time starter for the Lottery bound Raptors.  At worst he’s a salary cap albatross who’s paid like a top 10 point guard and will probably start the season on the bench behind the average Jarrett Jack.  So why are the Bobcats trying to trade a real deal asset (Dampier’s immediately expiring contract) for him?

The answer, of course, could be that the front office is clueless (and there are many signs that undeniably point that way) or perhaps this is just a smokescreen leaked by Toronto management in order to try to raise Calderon’s value throughout the League.

A Better Deal for Calderon

If in fact the Bobcats are interested in Calderon then why not offer up a more palatable combination of Gana Diop and D.J. Augustin?  Diop’s contract matches Calderon’s in length with Jose due around $6 million more over the next three seasons.

Sure, Gana hasn’t done a damn thing to prove he’s worth the League minimum (much less a full midlevel) contract over the past year but he’d be the biggest body on the Raps thin roster and he’s still young enough (28) to contribute.  Meanwhile, D.J. would add another shooter and speedster to Toronto’s open court game.  He’s also an expiring contract or a cheap trade chip if the Raps don’t want him back after next season.  On the surface, Diop’s deal would be hard to swallow but I’m not sure if Toronto will see a better offer for Jose and his 3 years, $30 million than this one.

For the Bobcats, the trade would be a solid double.  Calderon has his flaws and is flagrantly overpaid but a combination of Jose and Livingston at point guard could work.  Both players have size (Jose is listed a 6’3″) and Calderon’s shooting will come in very handy when Shaun struggles with his perimeter shot.

Diop’s absence (combined with the eventual waiving of Dampier and loss of Tyson Chandler) heightens the team’s need for depth at center.  With Shaq signing on with the Celtics for a little over the League veteran’s minimum, I can’t see a 36 year old Erik Dampier walking away from a two year $6 million dollar offer from Higgins & Co.

Ironically, taking on Jose’s $30 million would help the Bobcats with their financial situation.  By unloading a bad deal for a bad deal, the ‘Cats could solve their point guard depth while staying safely under the League’s tax number.  The team would still have another two million dollars or so to pickup a street free agent or veteran via trade for depth (see Ratliff, Theo) this year and be around $9 million under next season’s tax line.

But if I’m Rod Higgins and MJ, I don’t stop there.  It’s time for a double down.

Double Down Trade

In what would be perhaps the League’s biggest two player trade (on a pound for pound basis), the Bobcats could then ship Boris Diaw (recently spotted doing a Biggie Smalls impression at the World’s) coupled with Eduardo Najera to the Knicks for “Disorderlies” body double Eddie Curry.  From a talent perspective, this is a coup for the Knicks.  Sure, they’d have to sacrifice $11 million in cap space for next season (even with Diaw and Najera on the roster, they’d only have $33m committed) but D’Antoni would reunite with one of his favorite players from his Phoenix days and Boris, when in shape, is one of the most uniquely skilled players in the League.  The reason the Bobcats make this trade is to clean up their books for next season.  Curry’s $11 million deal expires  next summer and the ‘Cats would go into the 2011-2012 season (if there is one) $11 million under the cap and nearly $20 million under the tax line.

Bobcats Baseline - Salaries (Post Curry/Calderon Moves)

In the event that Eddie Curry gives a crap about continuing his NBA career, I can’t think of a better place for him than Charlotte.  Teaming with Mohammed and Dampier, Larry Brown will utilize Curry’s low post scoring in ways that D’Antoni’s system can’t.  Pairing Curry with an athletic power forward who operates from the perimeter like Tyrus Thomas or Derrick Brown would also help.

Bobcats Baseline State of the Roster - Calderon/Curry - Addendum

In Conclusion

Ultimately, this roster isn’t going to win the Conference Finals.  They could however push the team a few games up in the standings and make a run at the Second Round while giving the organization some breathing room to make some moves and build the team while remaining competitive for the next three to four seasons.

Until next time, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

What To Do with Dampier? – Part 1

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Mo Williams ©2010 NBA

Michael Jordan bragged openly last month that the team had acquired the League’s “most valuable contract” when they sent bust Tyson Chandler to Dallas in return for Erick Dampier and a couple of overpaid 12th men.  How valuable exactly?  MJ and GM Rod Higgins will have at least another month and a half to mull over the decision as they wait the mandatory 60 days before Damp, Eduardo Najera or Matt Carroll can be traded again in a package.

So what will they do with all of this “value”?
In order to answer the question, we need to first look hard at the team’s present situation.

Continue reading

THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: Jordan’s Approach to Building a Winning Team in Charlotte

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THE PLAYERS (AKA THE MISFITS):

It starts with the city itself.  Once a shining example of the NBA’s ever-growing popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Charlotte finds itself today as a middle aged divorcee six years into a rebound marriage, unsure if it was ever cut out for this pro basketball city thing to begin with.*

The team’s first All-Star and only remaining original member was a bargain bin castoff selected in the expansion draft.  Young Gerald Wallace was worth less to the Sacramento Kings than shedding $1 million from their bloated payroll.

Even though he is only one of a dozen or so current NBA players who can score twenty points a night while preventing his opponent from doing the same, Stephen Jackson was exiled from Golden State for what amounted to a $5 million expiring contract and a poor shooting, non-rebounding Eastern European caveman.

Once universally revered, hall of fame head coach Larry Brown arrived in Charlotte a tarnished brand.  In a League where head coaching vacancies are filled annually by the same retread Temp Agency, Brown had to practically reach out to an old friend in order to secure a job and begin rebuilding his reputation.

And finally there’s Jordan.  A man who could do no wrong on the court is now the man who can barely do anything right off of it.  Joining the names Ehlo and Russell in the MJ ethos are new ones like Kwame and Morrison.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Michael Jordan has something to prove in the game of basketball.

A BRIEF, PAINFUL RECAP

Successful small market teams (OKC, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, Orlando) use the same formula and we all know it: BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT.  Draft stars to cheap rookie deals, treat ‘em well, sign ‘em to big contracts before they hit free agency and keep drafting young talent and signing mid-level free agents to pair with them.  Rinse and repeat.

The Bobcats are currently the worst drafting franchise in the NBA.  It’s not even up for debate.  In six plus years of existence, not once has one of their draft picks sniffed an All-Star game – and the ‘Cats have had more lottery selections than anyone else in that span.  Indulge me for another brief and painful recap:

2004: Emeka Okafor.  GRADE: a solid double. Could have had more picks and taken Big Al or Iggy if Bob Johnson had a clue about running a business, “hmm, buy a pick from Phoenix for $2 million to draft Jefferson, Deng or Iguodala or build a brand new cable sports network from scratch?  What’s the main draw you ask?  Charlotte Bobcats basketball of course!  Brevin Knight every night!”

2005: Ray Felton/Crab Bread May.  GRADE: a sacrifice bunt. Felton a below average starter for a few years, May on his way to hosting Man vs. Food: EXTREME CARBS!
2006: Adam Morrison.  GRADE: whiff.
Not only a whiff but a McGwire Whiff.  The kind where the guy is on ‘roids and whiffs so hard that he blows out both knees in the process.  Embarrassing.
2007: Jason Richardson/Jared Dudley.  GRADE: RBI single. Could have been worse.  At least realized that they didn’t know how to draft and received a couple non-bust assets in return.

2008: Augustin/Ajinca.  GRADE: whiff. Not as bad as the Morrison knee blowout but a close second.  Passed on Brook Lopez and threw away a future first rounder in order to select Freedom Fries.  Jordan was on record as saying that the team sat out the 2010 draft because “Tyrus Thomas was our first round pick.”  No, Michael.  Alexis Ajinca is your 2010 first round pick.  Ugh.
2009: Henderson/Brown.  GRADE: promising single right up the gap.
Henderson looked good in some late season action and is at least athletic enough to belong in the League–although his complete lack of an outside shot scares me.  Derrick Brown has the Gerald Wallace “I’m not intellectually capable enough to realize I shouldn’t be any good” gene – and this is no insult to Crash, look at how the book-smarts have hampered Okatron 2000’s career.  Higher grade for this draft if LB actually plays them next year.
2010: Ajinca by proxy.  GRADE: Freedom whiff.

So there you go folks, somehow with all of this draft day carnage in their immediate past, the Charlotte Bobcats attained a winning record in 2009-2010 and stole the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  So how in the hell did they do it?

GIVE US YOUR UNDER-PERFORMING & YOUR OVER-PAID

Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw.  What’s the single thread that ties these players together?  Why, it’s the fact that their former teams handed them massive contracts and then immediately realized that they’d made a mistake.  “Oh crap, we just signed Joel Pryzbilla to a nine year $80 million contract.  Quick, get Jordan on the phone!”

So in a silly season which saw half of the League’s teams trade away wins for cap space, the Bobcats “philosophy” of taking on bad contracts to win now was just wacky enough to propel them into the postseason.  While other GMs plotted for future dynasties, Jordan mortgaged the farm on the more modest and attainable goal of simply making the Playoffs.  It worked.  The ‘Cats finished the season as one of the Association’s top 15 teams.

Could it be that MJ and crony Rod Higgins are sharking their peers by making fiscally questionable deals to upgrade the team’s talent pool?  Have the ‘Cats created a new “Freakonomics” meets “Moneyball” model that challenges the importance of the amateur draft and free agency?  Is Michael Jordan stealthily playing checkers while the rest of the League plays chess?  Or will all of these questionable contracts and draft day screw-ups eventually cripple the team, making future trades difficult and free agent additions impossible?**

If Jordan and Higgins are intent on foregoing the tried and true paradigm for small market success and continue with their merry spending ways, then I present to you, without further ado…

THE SUMMER OF 2010’s MISFIT TOY CANDIDATES:

What makes a Misfit Toy candidate?  Simple: you have to be way overpaid and way underperforming.  If you fit this description then I hope you like pulled pork BBQ ‘cause your probably coming to Carolina!

Ben Gordon 4 yrs: $47 million

Y’think Joey Dumars is just a tad bit regretful for signing a 6’3” sixth man shooting guard to a $60 million deal?  Gordon is way overpaid for his production but could be exactly what the doctor ordered on a team like the Bobcats: Electric bench and fourth quarter scoring.  The ‘Cats are desperate for it.  That said, Dumars is notoriously tough to trade with.  Wonder if a combination of Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson might get this done.

Monta Ellis 4 yrs: $44 million

We’ve been speculating on this one for years.  Ellis hogs the ball and jacks up shots at an unprecedented rate.  Not good on a team with lots of offensive options like Golden State but could be an absolute godsend for the Bobcats, who spent the vast majority of last season spastically passing the ball around on offense like it was a live hand grenade.  Again, wonder if Diaw and Henderson or Chandler’s expiring could get this done.  The W’s are a mess in the front office right now, Higgins could potentially steal something else in return (pick, prospect).

Baron Davis 3yrs: $41 million

A blast from the past, a former home grown product entering the end of his career.  Still has the size and offensive firepower to occasionally dominate a game.  Couldn’t be any worse than Felton and is so overpaid that the ‘Cats could conceivably unload Diop’s longer deal in exchange.

Al Jefferson 3yrs: $42 million

Not sure exactly why Big Al is being shopped so fiercely this summer.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of David Kahn.  If the rest of League’s GMs are playing chess to MJ’s checkers, then Kahn is playing badminton.  Al would be a huge upgrade at the PF spot for the ‘Cats but not quite sure what the T’Wolves would want in exchange.  I’m praying that Kahn would ok a deal that would send out Jefferson and Ramon Sessions (Andre Miller: The Next Generation) for Tyson and Nazr’s expirings (plus a future first rounder).

Emeka Okafor: 4yrs, $52 million

Tied with two others on this list (see below) for the worst contract in the League.  Obviously, it was the Bobcats who signed him to it.  Was such a poor fit in New Orleans that Charlotte actually won the trade by taking back 6ppg/6rpg, semi-crippled Tyson Chandler in exchange.  Hate the contract but could live with ‘Mek’s 16 + 10 if the Hornets threw in Darren Collison.  Diop/Mohammed/Augustin for Okafor/Collison anybody?

Rashard Lewis: 3yrs, $65 million

Sole possession of 2nd Worst Contract in the League.  He’s paid over $20 million a year over the next three.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rashard should gift half his salary to Dwight Howard every season.  Without D-Ho backing him up in the lane, Lewis’s skinny frame and lack of defensive skills would make him an absolute liability.  Don’t think the Magic would trade him (they’re firmly in “go for broke” mode) but his offensive skills and outside shooting would fill a need for the ‘Cats.

Elton Brand: 3yrs, $51 million

Here we go, a good old fashioned back to the basket All-Star power forward.  Only problem is that Elton hasn’t been the same since an achilles injury derailed his career a few seasons ago.  He’s a round peg in a square hole with fast paced Philly but could regain dominance in Larry Brown’s grind it out half-court offense in Charlotte.  Would Diaw/Mohammed (expiring) be enough to get it done?

Hedu Turkoglu: 4yrs, $43 million

We’ve been hearing this rumor for a solid month now.  Hedu and Jack to Charlotte for Boris, Diop and D.J.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense mainly because Hedu can only play small forward, doesn’t defend or rebound well and is essentially not very good.  He’s basically Boris with a worse contract and poorer defense.  Jack and Ray Felton may as well be the same player.  Dud.  Oh and Hedu is one of the other “Worst Contract in the League”ers.  The other one?

Gilbert Arenas: 4yrs, $60 million

I’ve already written about this in length so I won’t rehash it here.  If MJ could swing a deal featuring Diop, Diaw and Mohammed for Gilbert and an asset (prospect or pick) then do it.  It’d be the biggest gamble in MJ’s tenure but he’s shown that he’s most definitely the gambling type.  An Arenas/JAX/CRASH/Tyrus/Chandler core could win 50 games this year as long as everybody stays relatively healthy.  The team would also retain the young talent on the roster and pick up either a pick or a young player like Javale McGee or Blatche from the Wiz for their troubles.

Allen Iverson: free agent.

We couldn’t leave out good old AI.  He’s a free agent and has declared himself ready take on the League again.  The dude has hit rock bottom.  If you’re gonna take a flyer on him then now is the time to do it.  If he would accept a smaller (possibly bench) role and play nice with his new teammates then I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career than with his old coach in the Queen City.  He’d also come cheap.  Think: Flip Murray Advanced.

IN CONCLUSION

Don’t be surprised if Jordan pulls off a deal for one of these misfits sometime between now and the end of next month.  MJ sat out the draft and one gets the sense that both he and Trader Larry are chomping at the bit to make yet another move for an overpriced toy in need of a new home.

Until then, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

*I find it ironic that throughout Charlotte’s twenty plus years of NBA basketball history the vast majority of the city’s successful players have come via trade or as castaways: Monster Mash, Eddie Jones, Mase, Vlade Two Packs, Easy E Campbell, P-Whipped Rice, Curry 1.0, Don’t Tell Me No Bogues, Crash and JAX.  Doesn’t that sort of represent how the city’s success was built as well?  Sure, there are some shining examples of homegrown talent but the vast majority of the Queen City’s brain pool came here from somewhere else looking for a new start.  Buffalo, Rochester, Jersey, Pittsburgh, WV, Ohio, represent BABY BABY!  UH!

**The good news is that the team drafts so poorly that they’ll never have to worry about re-signing their own talent on the open market.  “What’s that?  Raymond is an unrestricted free agent?  He might sign with another team?  Huh.  Anyways, so you’re telling me that a poached egg is actually boiled?  I always wondered how they did that…”

Maybe The Bobcats Know What They’re Doing?

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no-iverson

Fans Felt That Allen Iverson Was The Answer.

Coach Larry Brown, Owner Michael Jordan, and GM Rod Higgins just might be smart enough to run an NBA team.

Before the start of the season, almost anyone with a casual awareness of the Charlotte Bobcats had an opinion about the possible addition of Allen Iverson. Days before Iverson signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, steady rumors streamed the possibility that The Answer would reunite with Coach Larry Brown in Charlotte or find a spot with the Heat in Miami.

As the Bobcats headed into their training camp, Charlotte’s local media covered the news to capitalize on the buzz around the first relevant player to ever be associated with the Bobcats. Several sites (like this one) relayed each syllable of news related to the potential signing. Steadily, the predictably Charlottean (risk-averse, investment-minded) reaction toward Iverson’s “attitude problem” was pushed to the side by basketball fans wanting to see a star-caliber player that would entertain them with his on-court merits. While the public opinion may have been swayed, the Bobcats front office wasn’t. Reader polls may have shown that the serious ‘Cats enthusiasts wanted A.I. over team chemistry, but Larry Brown and company seemed to think otherwise.

Best Answer = No Answer

For a few weeks, Coach Brown delivered a consistent and diplomatic response when asked about the potential signing of Iverson, telling reporters that he didn’t think they could give him a respectable offer. Most of us didn’t see it at the time, but Brown was making it clear that the Bobcats were not going to sign Allen Iverson. Perhaps, it was entirely based upon Larry’s past experience coaching Allen in Philadelphia that told him that it wasn’t the right move for his team. Maybe, Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan dialed friends around the league (Detroit or Denver) and learned something that negated any marketing buzz that Iverson would have delivered to Charlotte. Despite the factors that affected their judgement to pass on the NBA’s 6th all-time scorer for a bargain contract, no one could have expected how the year would unravel for Iverson.

Fans from sites like this one, with much generous wisdom to share, would have ordered Bobcats GM Rod Higgins to draw up a contract for Allen Iverson on the first day of free agency. Instead, the team passed on the 34 yr-old shooting guard at the end of the summer. As the season began, Charlotte’s offense looked absolutely horrible. The Bobcats were on pace to become historically inept at scoring. At that early stretch of the season, The Answer seemed to be the obvious piece missing on the team. Quickly, Charlotte saved their season with a brilliant trade for another “difficult” shooting guard in Stephen Jackson, a player that brought the offensive skillset that the team lacked and the defense effort that Larry Brown required.

Disintegration may be a good term to summarize the contrasting situation for Iverson. Just as the talking heads warned, A.I. stepped into the Fedex Forum after signing with the Memphis Grizzlies and rubbed everyone the wrong way. The owner had several one-on-one meetings to discuss the situation and Iverson took a leave from the team nearly a week after the start of the season. Days later we was released, the Memphis marriage was annulled and the Grizzlies seemed improve right away. Briefly, Allen went into a short lived retirement. A good bit of the season passed before Iverson’s agent was able to secure a contract for the nearly untouchable player. Philadelphia brought A.I. back for a homecoming and the fans loved the story of his return. Unfortunately, the Sixers continued to struggle and Iverson performed like half the player he had been before. Injuries and family issues kept him away from the team at the mid-season mark. Although he had been voted in as an All-Star, Iverson declined to play so that he could tend to a family matter (presumably a child’s illness). Surprisingly, Allen had made his way to Charlotte for the CIAA tournament and after-parties rather than family matters during this stretch.  Then, in early March, Iverson left the 76ers and news reports surfaced that his wife had filed for divorce on the same day. Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen A. Smith, who is said to be a fan of  The Answer, wrote an article to publicly out Allen’s gambling and alcohol issues a week later.

It’s tough to hear about how the news and private information all went public so quickly, but it’s likely that this was the culmination of a pattern of troubled behavior. It just might be that the guys in charge of running Charlotte’s NBA franchise  had just enough familiarity with Allen Iverson to keep themselves out of harm’s way.

Links:

Bobcat’s Jordan Said No To Bringing In Iverson (Yahoo! Sports)

Charlotte Still An Option For Iverson (Summer 2009)

Allen Iverson & Bobcats Team Chemistry

Iverson Needs More Than a Prayer (Stephen A. Smith)

Iverson Going Through Tough Times (Yahoo! Sports)

Wikipedia – Allen Iverson

Which Bobcats Reserve Has Been Most Crucial?

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Bobcats Front Office Should Get Credit For The Team’s Deep Roster Talent

The Reserves Have Made The Difference This Season

The Reserves Have Made The Difference This Season

The Bobcats are closing in on their most successful season in team history, headed toward a spot in the NBA Playoffs and operating under new majority owner, Michael Jordan. The success is largely due to the leadership of Coach Larry Brown, and a roster upgraded with a collection of talent far above what Bobcats fans were used to seeing during the club’s first 5 seasons. The combination of Larry Brown’s prodding, Michael Jordan’s gambling, and Rod Higgins’ hard work has pulled this squad from unwatchable to a true Playoff team.

Considering all of the new players on the roster this season, Stephen Jackson has clearly made the biggest impact as a newcomer. Dealing Vladimir Radmanovic and (injured) Raja Bell to Golden State for “Jack” was a gamble and a potential public relations risk but the on-court effect was a huge steal for the Bobcats.  Too often, it seems that we hear Charlotte’s success has been due solely to Jackson’s arrival. It could be argued that the depth of talent on the Bobcats’ bench deserves just as much credit for the team’s consistent effort and defensive presence.

Since last summer, Coach Brown, Air Jordan, and Rod Higgins have all been working on tuning the roster. The latest addition of Larry Hughes shows that the team is still tinkering, filling in the gaps in order to secure their first Playoff bid.

Who Has Been The Most Important Reserve For The Bobcats?

While the jury is still out on 2010 lottery pick Gerald Henderson and the recently signed Larry Hughes, we should take a look at the most important “role players” for the Bobcats so far this season.

Stephen Graham

Offseason Free Agent Acquisition: Signed 1 year contract at $885,000.
Reserve Small Forward

Why He’s Most Valuable Reserve Material:
Undeniably, Graham’s greatest strength has been his professional approach and consistency while dealing with Coach Brown’s erratic rotation patterns.  Lord Stephen Graham has played very well in spot duty throughout the season ranging from ten minute cameos in relief of Gerald Wallace to 35 minute starts during Crash’s week long absence in March.  Graham played so well in that stretch (notching consecutive 19 point performances) that it’s not difficult to imagine the team bringing the veteran back next season to play a similar role.

Baseline Scouting Report:
Stephen Graham’s physique stands out even among NBA players.  When the season started, I first commented, “While other players spend the offseason working on jump shots and post moves, Stevie Graham worked on his delts.”  The dude is a beast.  Fortunately, this extra weight doesn’t seem to hamper his speed while defending opposing threes.  Graham is a solid if not spectacular defender and shows a surprisingly nice touch on the offensive end when shooting from the outside.  Not a great three point shooter, Graham knows his limits and won’t launch many.  Good for at least a couple of highlight dunks every month, Graham can catch defenders off guard around the baseline for a post & spin move to the hoop.  Graham was billed as a “George Lynch” clone early in the season and that’s exactly what he’s been, a solid NBA frontcourt reserve.

Derrick Brown

Rookie Draft Selection (2nd Round): Signed 2 year contract, details undisclosed
Reserve Power Forward/Small Forward

Why He’s Most Valuable Reserve Material:
Although Brown hasn’t been getting much burn during the second half of the season, his early work should (rightfully) raise fans’ expectations going into next season.  The four year forward from Xavier was labeled a 2nd round sleeper on draft day and in spurts Brown has lived up to the billing – his potential was on full display during an 18 point performance against the Suns back in January.

Baseline Scouting Report:
Derrick Brown’s size and athletic ability at his position will keep him in the League for at least a few more seasons.  He’s an excellent open court finisher and a decent mid-range shooter.  At 6’8″, Brown has excellent height for a SF which accounts for a high rebound rate at the position and has also allowed the team to play Brown at PF for stretches before acquiring Tyrus Thomas in February.  With more seasoning, it’s possible that Brown could crack Larry Brown’s rotation for good next year but he’ll need to cut down on the mindless fouls and missed assignments that plagued him during the second half of his rookie campaign.

Flip Murray

Offseason Free Agent Acquisition: Signed 1 year $1.9 million contract, traded mid-February
Reserve Shooting Guard / Point Guard

Why He’s Most Valuable Reserve Material:
Gone but not forgotten, Flip Murray proved to be exactly as billed: a scoring force off the pine, a strong personality with the cajones to take and make shots when others wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Murray’s bench scoring (over 12ppg) provided a major boost during Charlotte’s dominating 12-4 run in January and his presence was immediately missed as the Bobcats went 2-5 following his trade to Chicago.  Eventually, things returned to normal for both Charlotte and Murray as the Cats started winning again while Flip dropped 12.5 in 26 minutes per game with the Bulls in March.

Baseline Scouting Report:
Flip Murray is gonna get his.  Period.  Flip will shoot (and make) half of his team’s shots while he’s in the game and for a team in desperate need of second unit scoring, Murray is a godsend.  What he gives up at the other end of the court on defense he more than makes up for on offense.  During a loss against Orlando back in November, Murray dropped 31 points in 36 minutes – that’s probably more Flip Murray than you really need though.  He’s at his best in a 20-24 minute scoring role while the team’s starters have a rest.

Tyrus Thomas

Trade Acquisition: Currently on the final year of his rookie scale contract ($4.7 million), Bobcats can extend qualifying offer next season for $6.2 million or negotiate a long term contract
Reserve Power Forward/Center

Why He’s Most Valuable Reserve Material:
Bobcats fans were a little disappointed that the team didn’t pursue a veteran backup PF during the offseason.  One by one, quality backups like Drew Gooden and Hakim Warrick were picked up by other clubs and the ‘Cats entered the ’09-’10 season without a legitimate PF to play behind starter Boris Diaw.  While acquiring another big man was inevitable, no one believed that the team would be able to bring in a player like Tyrus Thomas, a 6’10” super-athlete with as much untapped potential as any young power forward in the League.  Still only 23, Thomas stepped in and stepped up his game instantly and is averaging over 10 points, 6.5 boards and over a block in just over 20 minutes a game for the Bobcats since the trade from Chicago.  His presence has allowed the Bobcats to offer different looks, as Coach Brown has played a small frontcourt Thomas, Wallace, and Diaw for stretches against smaller, run & gun squads.
Although the price was steep (giving up a future 1st round pick along with Murray’s bench scoring), Thomas’ potential is worth the gamble.

Baseline Scouting Report:
At 6’10”, it’s a little surprising that Tyrus Thomas has almost no post moves whatsoever.  His offense comes mostly on thunderous putbacks, open court dunks or on unexpectedly sweet 15 footers.  While his rebound and blocked shot rates are off the chart, Thomas isn’t exactly the world’s best defender.  He’ll often be forced to foul or make a spectacular block from behind once his man has beaten him in the post.  Still, Thomas has both age and situation on his side.  Larry Brown mentored a similarly raw specimen in Gerald Wallace to an All-Star selection in just two seasons, it’s not hard to believe that Thomas could walk the same path if he’s willing to work on his game.
BONUS: Having Thomas on the roster will give the Bobcats some flexibility heading into next season.  As long as Tyrus’ contract demands aren’t outrageous, the team will definitely extend him or at least sign him to the qualifying offer for a year, making Thomas an expiring contract or a moveable asset should the team choose to go another direction.

Theo Ratliff

Trade Acquisition: Signed a 1 year $1.3 million contract
Reserve Center : Currently Starting

Why He’s Most Valuable Reserve Material:
I don’t want to skew the voting here folks but c’mon, has there been anyone more valuable to the Bobcats late season success than Theo Ratliff?  When Ratliff arrived mid-February from San Antonio (in exchange for very distant 2nd rounder) three of the four Bobcats centers were injured and the fourth was playing hurt (Nazr Mohammed).  The 36 year old veteran showed up as an afterthought, a worst-case scenario insurance policy, and then proceeded to average 6 points, 4 boards and a block and a half in just over 20 minutes of action a night.  The numbers don’t do Ratliff’s impact justice.  Opposing players are aware of his presence on every possession that he’s out there and when the Bobcats trot out Ratliff, Thomas and Crash together on the frontline, there’s a one in three chance that a shot will be blocked.  Simply amazing.  The spry, second coming of Mutumbo has another unexpected trick up his sleeve: he shot 87% from the FT line in March (32-37), making him a little more valuable on offense.  With Tyson Chandler finally healthy and playing well and Nazr Mohammed coming back soon, Coach Brown will have to reconfigure his rotation at center and that might mean reduced minutes for Theo.  Doesn’t matter, Ratliff’s play in March propelled the Bobcats to an 11-6 record for the month, all but sealing the team’s first Playoff berth.

Baseline Scouting Report:
Theo Ratliff is never going to win any battles down low with brute strength.  He’s more of shot blocker, shot alterer and does this with ease.  Technically, he’s a solid defender who can hold his own against the League’s top centers (see the March victory against the Magic in Orlando).  On offense, Theo should be barred from ever touching the ball more than six feet outside of the basket.  In fact, the semi-dashed circle underneath the basket that the officials use to determine blocking fouls versus charges should also be used by Theo Ratliff in determining whether or not he should take the shot.  Look down, if he’s outside the circle, pass.  In, dunk or get fouled and go to the line.  Simple as that.

-ASChin


Vote For The Role Player You Think Has Most Helped The Bobcats This Season.

POLL : BOBCATS MOST VALUABLE RESERVE 2009-2010

  • Stephen Graham
    (28%, 39 Votes)
  • Derrick Brown
    (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Flip Murray
    (19%, 26 Votes)
  • Tyrus Thomas
    (28%, 39 Votes)
  • Theo Ratliff
    (23%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 137

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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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Gerald Wallace T-Shirts @ Cavs Game + More Trade Links

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Hello Baseliners — no rest for the weary.  After a crazy trade deadline day, we’re already looking ahead to Friday night’s big matchup with Lebron, Antawn, Shaq and the Cavs at the Cable Box.  I’ll be there, Tweeting live from the game as long as the arena’s WiFi plays nice with my phone.

The Cavs lost at home in overtime to the Nuggets on TNT Thursday night to end their 13-game winning streak, so they’ll be looking to start a new streak on the second night of a back-to-back.  Antawn Jamison did not suit up for the Cavs on Thursday night, but is expected to be activated for the matchup with the Bobcats.

In addition to seeing the big game, you’ll also have the chance to check out our Gerald Wallace “SarcophaCrash” t-shirts on Friday night, and even pick one up at a discount if you’re so inclined.

I’ll be bringing a handful of t-shirts and will be outside the arena early from about 6:00 to 6:30 PM.  Look for me to the left of the big crush at the main entrance with the lines and ticket scalpers.  I’ll be a little further around the building, close to the season ticket holder’s entrance, sporting the t-shirt.

With shipping, the t-shirts end up being around $28 via the website here. In person, they’ll be $25, so you’re saving a few bucks — please bring correct change. See you there.

Last but not least, here’s a few more links to wrap up the trade deadline madness from Thursday:

-Dr. E