Bobcats Say Goodbye to Sean May

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Sean May Released by the Charlotte Bobcats

Today the Charlotte Bobcats lightened their payroll and said goodbye to a huge weight that would have dragged on the team over the next season. General Manager Rod Higgins released word that the Bobcats would not offer a qualifying offer contract to Sean May for next season. This ends a difficult period for both May and the organization. After selecting Sean with the (lucky) 13th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the team had hoped he would continue to progress after receiving the Most Outstanding Player recognition for his sensational play in the 2005 NCAA tournament.

Unfortunately, May played only two months of his pro career before experiencing an injury that signaled a pattern for the remainder of his contract with the Bobcats. Last season’s embarrassingly public coverage of May’s weight and conditioning issues made his return to the team highly unlikely. Still, the Bobcats have been in the hunt to strengthen their roster at the reserve Power Forward position. There was speculation that May could have returned for the 2009-2010 season, but Higgins’ comments show that the Cats are looking to head in a new direction. May’s release comes just months after the Bobcats were motivated to move another former lottery pick in Adam Morrison last season.

As the  NBA Draft approaches, two questions are presented with the news of Sean May’s release.
1. Do the Bobcats see a replacement at Power Forward in the Draft or through trade?
2. Considering the Adam Morrison & Sean May projects, should the Bobcats trade their pick in order to avoid another mistake?

Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 1

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State of the Roster & Team Needs

Starting Five

Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in some pleasantly unfamiliar territory.  Not only does the team have a lot of proven NBA talent, they also have fewer question marks than ever before.  With the team very likely to re-sign PG Raymond Felton, the Bobcats will begin the ’09–’10 NBA season with last season’s starting lineup intact with all but Raja Bell entering their prime playing years.

The Charlotte Bobcats Reserves

The Bobcats second unit also brings back at least three quality regular rotation players – one of which, second-year point guard DJ Augustin, could start for a half-dozen teams in the League.

Alas, as good as it is in Bobcat-land this offseason, it’s still not perfect.  There are several major personnel questions that the team must address during the draft and free agency.

1. $104 million, 5 years, 3 players and 0 All-Stars

The Bobcats have committed a whopping $104+ million over the next five seasons at the center position alone.  This wouldn’t be such a nightmare if Yao Ming or Dwight Howard were patrolling the middle but the platoon of Emeka Okafor, Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed hasn’t even a single All-Star selection amongst them (though Okafor may finally break through this season).
It’s nice to have depth in the middle but a small-market-for-sale franchise like the Bobcats can’t have this type of money tied up at one position.  There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about the “inevitable Nazr Mohammed trade” but maybe we’re all looking in the wrong direction.  Given Larry Brown’s series of thinly veiled rips on Okafor in the local media added to the fact that Emeka’s status as a base year compensation player is now over and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Okafor was shopped hard this offseason.  He’s by far the most attractive of the group – with a decent contract, good game and a great attitude – and given his large cap number could be the center of a major deal that returned another big-time player, ideally a dynamic shooting guard with a shorter contract.
Maybe a deal that sends Okafor to Detroit for Rip Hamilton makes some sense with Diop stepping in as the starting center.
In fact, if an Okafor trade like this were to happen during the summer, you could argue that the earlier Diop trade was part of the organization’s greater Master Plan.  Of course, that would require you to believe that the the Bobcats organization actually plans things.

2. Ten seconds left on the clock, who’s the man?

Well, it sure as hell shouldn’t be Raymond Felton.  We appreciate your effort Raymond, seriously, we do.  But your inability to get anything done on the offensive end when it matters most was so damn infuriating that it almost made us forget about all the things that you are good at.
If a deal like the one mentioned above can be worked out in order to bring in a ballsy scorer in from another team then the Bobcats should pounce on it because their current lack of a crunch-time scorer will be the difference between them winning 38 games or 50 games.
If a trade can’t be worked out, then there’s only one option.  Iverson.  Period.
There’s nobody in this draft (save maybe Stephen Curry) who could be the man this year.  It may require the team to part with Okafor, DJ Augustin or their lottery pick but a go-to scorer is their most pressing need for certain.

3. Who backs up the Phoen-Ex Suns?

Charlotte’s strong playoff push ostensibly ended with Raja Bell’s calf injury in early April.  With Bell out, the Bobcats had to play too small and too young with DJ Augustin and Cartier Martin.  The Bobcats clearly need to find some depth at the 2-guard and if a trade like the one mentioned above can’t be made then the Draft has a few quality options.
The Bobcats can either hope one of the “upside” guys like Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan falls to them at pick twelve or try to hit a solid double with Duke’s Gerald Henderson (the “Emeka Okafor” of shooting guard prospects).  We’ll have more in-depth previews on all of the collegiate players in our next post.

The same goes for the other ex-Sun, Boris Diaw.  The Bobcats were lucky that Boris stayed healthy following the trade because there wasn’t much depth behind him and the team seemed to have finally made good on their promise not to play Gerald Wallace out of position.  Coach Brown seemed to be impressed with Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair during his recent workout with the team and the big man could be there at twelve when the Bobcats pick.

We also shouldn’t forget the other overweight power-forward with bad knees, Mr. Crab Bread himself, Sean May.  If the team and May’s agent can come to an agreement in which May hits the unrestricted market and re-signs with the team for a league minimum one or two year contract, then a motivated, healthy Sean May could be the nice surprise in ’09–’10.

It’s all good.

The fact that I can type “The Bobcats are only a piece or two away from 50+ wins” with a straight face means that there has been considerable progress.  Putting aside five years worth of questionable draft selections, poor business decisions and overt cronyism, the ‘Cats find themselves now with one of the League’s best coaches, the promise of new ownership, a lottery pick, a little cap space and a few solid assets to play with during the offseason.  For Bobcats fans, the future’s never been brighter.

-ASChin

The Lottery is Over: Higgins Doin’ Work

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Bobcats GM Rod Higgins has some work ahead of him this summer
Bobcats GM Rod Higgins has some work ahead of him this summer

Now that the light drama of the 2009 NBA Draft Lottery is behind us, GM Rod Higgins can finally put to rest those dreams of Blake Griffin decked out in orange & blue and get back to reality.
With five weeks to go until Draft Day the Bobcats have some work to do.

“We’re broke.”

It’s no secret that the ‘Cats have been hemorrhaging cash since their ill-conceived inception 5+ seasons ago. You know how it goes: When you’re broke there are two things you can do. Save More Money + Make More Money.

SAVE MONEY ACTION STEP #1a: Unload Nazr Mohammed by bundling him with the 12th Pick.

Bonnell tossed out the idea this morning as being “crazy.” Yeah, it’s crazy if you’re the GM of another franchise and accept this deal. No way the Bobcats get so lucky as to have somebody take Mohammed’s $13.2 million in exchange for a low lottery pick in a weak draft.

#1b: Unload Nazr Mohammed by trading him for another Financial Eyesore.

Since the Bobcats admit to needing more depth at PF and SG, perhaps the ‘Cats could shop Mohammed’s relatively short deal in conjunction with a 2nd-rounder or two for someone like Sacramento’s Francisco Garcia who the Kings owe $23 million plus over the next four seasons.
You could also throw out an offer of Mohammed and the 12th Pick to Phoenix for Leandro Barbosa and see if cash-strappedCheapskate” Robert Sarver would bite in order to save $14 million big ones.
And then there’s the pesky Jamaal Tinsley rumor that just won’t go away. Ugh. While the salaries match up okay and it’s always nice to have depth at the point, do you really want another poor-shooting-shooting-first PG on the team? Especially one with a questionable reputation like Tinsley’s?

Of course, there’s always the “#1c” strategy of keeping the pick, finding a gem in the late-lottery and holding onto Mohammed until next year until he becomes a much more enticing expiring contract but given the odds of finding a decent player at number 12 and given the Bobcats inability to draft properly, I think we’d all be much better off if they just moved the pick.

SAVE MONEY ACTION STEP #2: Re-sign Sean May at the League minimum with a team option for a second year.

This is good deal for Sean and he owes the organization big for stealing a multi-million dollar paycheck for 4 years. Next season will be Sean’s second back from micro-fracture surgery and IF he can get into decent physical shape this offseason, there is no reason why he can’t be a solid backup PF for the ’09-’10 Charlotte Bobcats.

MAKE MONEY ACTION STEP #1: Sign Allen Iverson to a mid-level deal.

Is it controversial? Yes.
Could he endanger team chemistry? Yes.
Will he make the Bobcats relevant in the national media? Yes.
Will he sell tickets and jerseys? Absolutely.
This is a no-brainer for the organization. Since when does a household name player come along at such an attractive price in a buyer’s market? We’ve talked about it before here at the Baseline. Iverson in blue & orange next season sells jerseys, season tickets, gets the team nationally televised games and, more importantly, Iverson becomes the scorer that the ‘Cats have needed since Day 1.  No more hot-potato as the shot clock winds down, just give the ball to AI and get back on D.

-ASCHIN

Mathematical Elimination Approaches

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EASTERN CONFERENCE WON’T LET BOBCATS INTO THEIR “TOP EIGHT”

On Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls beat the Philadelphia 76ers to pull into the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference.  Detroit is now .5 games behind Chicago, but maintain a solid grasp on the 8th seed with Charlotte 3 games back.  It would be hard to argue that Charlotte has a better team than Detroit, so in all fairness the Pistons should land that final Playoff slot.  Still, if things get ugly for Rasheed and the crew – the Bobcats could slip past them with four consecutive wins to close out the season.  Tonight, the Cats visit OKC aim to score a win against the Thunder before heading on to Chicago after the game.  The Chicago match-up doesn’t mean much as they’ve now widened the gap too far for the Cats to catch them. Nevertheless, Charlotte needs a win.  The final two games are on the road at New Jersey (Monday) and Orlando (Wednesday). Obviously, it’s tough to close the season on the road.  As the composition starts to take shape, it’s clear that the Playoffs aren’t impossible – only highly mathematically improbable.

Note : To those planning to watch the final games on TV, they’ll not be offered in HD. 

 

THE GOOD NEWS:

• Imagine a Cavs–Pistons Playoff Series where Detroit has no option but to pull AI off of the shelf to face Lebron. . .  Serious drama.

• Charlotte will finish with their best record so far – thus, creeping toward relevancy.

• The Bobcats won’t be wearing the green uniforms again this week!

• Raja Bell is getting a longer off-season that usual.

• Alexis Ajinca and Sean Singletary will return to the team this week.  Certainly, they’ve got to be elated that Sioux Falls’ D-League season is finally over.

 

NEXT :

If the Cats lose tonight or Saturday, we’ll see a lot of the bench.  Larry Brown will need to evaluate guys with a few games left to see who gets an invitation (and millions of dollars) to return to training camp next season.  Sean May and Raymond Felton are the more familiar names, but what will happen with Juwan Howard, Sean Singletary, or Cartier Martin?  Howard might be the most obvious player to resign after his solid contributions this season.

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Raptors 3/16/09

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1.  The Bobcats end their three-game skid with a thorough beating of the Toronto Raptors, 112-86, on Monday night at the Cable Box.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats improve to 29-38 overall, 19-16 at home, and more importantly, stay afloat in the race for the 8th playoff spot in the East.

2.  As the pics above show, the Raptors wore green unis in honor of St. Patty’s Day.  I’d love to relentlessly bag on them, but they actually looked pretty good.

Also, check Voskuhl in the background of the Gerald Wallace alley-oop shot sporting the warmup: a white longsleeve with green “Raptors” and a shamrock.  Red Auerbach is spinning in his grave right now.

3.  Save for a couple of minutes early in the first quarter, the Cats led this one from wire to wire and looked pretty good doing it.  Unlike the first two times these teams matched up back in November, Chris Bosh was held in check tonight.  CB4 only had 18 points (5-12 FG, 8-9 FT), but did dominate the boards with 14.  Overall, the Raptors shot poorly (38%, including 3-16 3PT).  (This morning’s film session must have helped.)

4.  Both Bosh and Calderon picked up technical fouls arguing calls.  Overall, the team looks like they were ready for the season to be over weeks ago.  And, so sad to see The Matrix like this: 12 points on 4-8 FG, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.  If Marion is Dirk Diggler, then this stint with the Raptors is definitely the “The Heat Will Rock You” segment.  Maybe next year will be like the scene where they try to rob/scam Alfred Molina.  Roko Ukic can play the little Asian boy with the firecrackers.

5.  I was honestly stunned to see that Andrea Bargnani had only 11 FGAs when I looked at the box score after the game.  It seemed like he was shooting the ball every other time down the court in person.  I would have bet a C-note that he shot over 20 times, yet the box score says only 11.

6.  For the Bobcats, everyone played pretty well.  A 16-4 run midway though the third quarter broke the game open, leaving the Cats with a 75-56 lead that they wouldn’t squander.  The Cats shot 49% from the field and 18-19 from the free throw line.  32 of the 44 baskets were assisted, versus only 12 turnovers on the night.  Pretty solid.

7.  Gerald Wallace led the way with 25 points (8-13 FG, 1-3 3PT, 8-8 FT), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block.  Augustin led the bench crew with 15 points (6-10 FG, 3-4 3PT), 6 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal.

Despite shooting 1-7 3PTs, Radmanovic led the team with a robust +27 +/- in 31 minutes.  The 9 rebounds and 4 assists he notched probably had something to do with that.

8.  With the Bobcats in control early, Cartier Martin got some meaningful run in this one (9 points in 15 minutes).  Juwan Howard and Nazr Mohammed also got off the bench for a few minutes as well.  But the biggest applause was reserved for Sean May, who logged 3 minutes at the end of the game.  The fans ate it up as May went on a mini scoring binge of five points in garbage time.

In all seriousness, May looked OK out there — noticably thinner than he’s been in a long time.  And it was nice that none of the starters played 40 minutes.  In fact, only Felton and Wallace played over 30.

9.  New Jersey lost to Denver Monday night to fall to 2 full games back, while the rest of the 8th seed hopefuls were idle.

So Milwaukee and Chicago are tied for the 8th spot.  The Bobcats are 1 full game back, the Knicks 1.5.

10.  Next game: hosting Sacramento Wednesday night at 7 PM ET.  Go Cats!

-E

Bobcats Trade Rumor: Felton to Dallas?

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What Felton and May get you these days...

Another month, another weird trade rumor.  This one has some serious legs apparantly as the ‘Cats were all but ready to send Raymond Felton, Sean May and Nazr Mohammed to Dallas in a three team deal that would return Thunder backup PG Earl Watson and Mavs backup C Desagna Diop to Charlotte.  ESPN.com’s Mark Stein reports that the deal is currently “dormant” and that once DJ Augustin returns from his “abdominal strain/sports hernia” the deal may go down.

Some quick thoughts on the potential trade:

1. I really hate to keep bringing this up but if Felton/May get dealt together in this trade, we’re basically saying that instead of trading the two (as the 5th and 13th pick in the 2005 draft) for Portland’s #3 pick that year (your choice of Chris Paul or Deron Williams), we’ll instead hold on to them for four modestly-to-completely unproductive seasons and then unload them to Dallas for DeSagna-freakin’-Diop.  You gotta love being a Bobcats fan.

2. That said…this deal could turn out to be somewhat positive for the Bobcats.  If DJ is your man at the point for the future, then you could do a lot worse than Earl Watson.  The 29 year old has pretty much equaled Raymond’s PER over 7 years in the League and is more accustomed to playing in a backup capacity.  At $6.2mil and $6.4mil over this season and next, he’s paid about $2mil more this year than Raymond but he’ll come off of the books completely before the summer of 2010.  Yeah, Earl won’t provide the “heart” that Ray Felton has brought over the last four seasons in Charlotte but he won’t provide any of the “I’m going to drive to the hole at the end of the game indescriminately and throw up a shot and see what happens” as well.  We all like Raymond but his leaving the team won’t be as big of a hole as some might think.

3. DeSagana Diop coming to the ‘Cats is both a plus and a minus.  On the plus side, he provides a very good defensive presence in the lane as a backup C or together with Emeka when the team plays against the likes of the Cavs, etc.  Yeah, his offense sucks, but I’ll take 82 games of Diop playing defense and altering shots over Nazr laboring and incessantly fouling any day.  On the minus side, Diop’s contract is for roughly the same amount per year as Nazr’s but with 2 MORE additional seasons.  Not sure if I want to be paying my one-dimensional backup Center $7mil per in 2012 but hell, the world’s going to end in 2012 anyway so may as well go out in style.  Plus, Diop’s only 26 so we’ll only be paying him until he’s 30.

4. Sean May gets to eat all the Tex-Mex his heart desires.  And he can try out East Texas Burger.  As J.T. from “Planet Terror” would say, “Best in Texas, heh-heh.”

5. The minute that the JRICH/Diaw-Bell trade went down everybody from the local Charlotte online forums all the way up to the major sports networks trashed MJ and Coach Brown.  But guess what, since the trade the ‘Cats have played .500 ball, have looked more balanced, hungry and overall more like a pro-team.  So I’m giving LB the benefit of the doubt on this one.  He clearly sees that DJ is PG to run the show when the game is on the line and that getting another 7′ foot/280lb shot-blocker in the process is going to make the team that much more defensively capable.

Take a look at Boris Diaw’s post trade numbers btw.  Bell‘s too.  Now compare that to JRICH.

The Suns are getting around 17pts, 4 boards, and 2.5 assists per.  The ‘Cats get back a combined 25pts, 7.5 assists and 10 boards.  Not too shabby.

6. DIRECTION:  With all of this, we’re still looking at the ‘Cats building around Okafor, Augustin, Diaw, and (if he doesn’t get traded) G-Force.  They’ll have a decent bench with pro-depth and around $20mil to spend come 2010 if they can recruit someone to come play in Charlotte.  Hardly “State of Suck” worthy in my estimation.

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Pistons 12/13/08

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LB Frustrated

1) Bobcats lose to the visiting Pistons last night 90-86.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.  Bobcats drop to 7-17, Pistons improve to 13-9.

2) Had to give up my tix for this game, as fellow Baseliner Deesdale picked Saturday night to have his White Elephant Gift Holiday Party.  I brought a Darth Tater, but of course ended up with something decidedly less cool.  I initially stole this “Big Daddy Pimp Cup” from someone; but it was quickly stolen away from me.  I ended up with this crappy Christmas Carol Clock, which, unsurprisingly, was not stolen away from me.  Oh well, great party anyways, Deesdale.

3) The story of this game was the 4th quarter run the Bobcats put on to make the score respectable.  After a predictably ugly first two and a half quarters (Bell and Diaw started despite not even getting in a practice with the team yet; Gerald Wallace was back and rusty after missing 3 games this week due to the death of his grandmother; the Pistons led 51-33 at the half) the Bobcats got into a little groove late in the third quarter and eventually cut a 29 point lead all the way down to 1 with under a minute left in the fourth.

The Cats did this primarily with a lineup of Felton, Augustin, Morrison, Wallace and Hollins against the Pistons reserves: Bynum, Afflalo, Herrmann, McDyess and Maxiell.  With five minutes left, Michael Curry had seen enough and put Stuckey, Rip, Prince and Sheed back in the game – Curry was understandably angry with his reserves after the game.

In a curious move, as the Pistons put their starters back into the game, Larry Brown removed Gerald Wallace, who had been keying the comeback.  No matter, as DJ and Raymond kept the run going.  Raymond hit a tough jumper to cut the lead to seven with under three minutes left, and the crowd was on its feet from then on.  Then with just 30 seconds left, Raymond hit a driving, scoop layup to cut the lead to one.  On the next possession, though, Sheed got an open look at the top and drained a three to put this one away.  Sheed rightfully walked back to his bench giving the “SHHHHHHH” motion to the crowd he had just silenced, and that was that.

4) In his Bobcats debut, Boris Diaw went for 27 minutes, 7 points on 3-10 FGs, 9 rebounds (4 offensive), and 5 assists.  He misfired on a number of jumpers, but otherwise looked strangely aggressive and motivated – something I haven’t seen much from him in years.  The assists were nice – he had a particularly nice feed to Okafor for a dunk.

Though Diaw looks as puffy and untoned as Sean May, he is clearly much quicker.  He is already an upgrade over the struggling and hurting May; and if he can keep rebounding like he did last night and get in sync with the team over the next couple of weeks we might have a decent solution to our PF problem.

5) Speaking of May, he was inactive and looks to be back in injury/doghouse purgatory.  He has tendonitis in one of the knees and has been a bit gimpy this week.  It’s been said that the tendonitis is not necessarily related to the ongoing rehab from his microfracture surgery, but I find that hard to believe.  It’s at least indirectly related to the fact that, from a holistic sense, the dude’s got bad knees, and his bulky body type and inability to modify that will keep his knees bad.  His already borderline NBA-level of athleticism is going to continue to decline on bad knees, so I fear that he could just be on a downward spiral.

With Diaw and Juwan Howard joining the team, Hollins playing well in limited minutes, and Brown looking committed to giving Ajinca minutes, you have to wonder if May might have a lot of DNP-CDs in his future.

6) Raja Bell logged 26 minutes; his jumper was as off the mark as Diaw’s was.  He ended up with just 4 points on 2-9 shooting.  Like Diaw, he also seemed to be a bit overly aggressive and nervously energetic in his Bobcats debut.  Let’s watch as he settles down in the upcoming weeks and settles into his role.

7) Some terrible news this morning, as Bobcats beat writer Rick Bonnell reports that Gerald Wallace’s father has passed away in Alabama.  As noted above, Wallace missed the road trip this week to be with his family in the wake of his grandmother’s death, and now this…

Wallace looked rusty early on this game, but eventually got his rhythm back and finished with a great line: 22 points (7-14 FG, 8-9 FTs), 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 1 block.  Despite the line and the big role in the late comeback, his body language was a bit off most of the night.  I initially attributed this to the trade, the ongoing trade rumors, and the death of his grandmother.

Now we have to wonder if he also had his father’s health weighing on his mind.

Gerald will likely miss another game or two next week; our thoughts are with him during this difficult time.

8. Two back-to-backs for the Bobcats this week, all four games have to be considered winnable: Monday night at the Hawks, Tuesday night hosting Chicago.  Then a small break, followed by Friday night at Memphis and Saturday night at home versus the Warriors.

-E