Bobcats Sign Shaun Livingston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Dr. E


POLL : What Should Bobcats Do With Erick Dampier?

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

Total Voters: 224

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Lazy Sunday Links

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Sitting around waiting for a goal to be scored in the World Cup final on this sweltering Sunday afternoon?  Lucky for you, as is often the case on Sundays, there’s some pretty good reading out there.

LebronWadeBosh

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst offers a must-read on how the stage was set for these guys to join forces in “South Beach.”  As the Sports Guy has pointed out, there’s way more to this story that will hopefully come out in time, but this is a great start:

Now that the move has been made, the veil of secrecy is being raised to a degree as people are beginning to talk. The Plain Dealer talked to numerous sources to piece together a picture of how James ended up in Miami.  It is still a somewhat fuzzy picture, but here are the broad strokes…

And if you haven’t had a chance to read any of the overwhelmingly negative national reaction to Lebron’s decision, here are two excellent pieces from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Deadspin/New York Magazine’s Will Leitch.

Felton to Knicks

Details of Raymond’s deal with the Knicks are out.  Apparently the deal is for 2 years/$15.8 million.  There is a third year team option for a similar figure which could bring the deal in the neighborhood of $25 million over three years.  Raymond’s decision to pass up the Bobcats’ long term offer last summer is looking worse and worse from his perspective.  Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish his career back in Charlotte as a backup down the road.

Here’s Bonnell’s story for the Observer and some more quotes from a South Carolina paper.  You can tell it’s a South Carolina paper because of the headline: “Felton looks forward to bright lights of the Big Apple”.  Good grief.

Orlando Summer League

We’ve given the Bobcats’ mostly positive turn in last week’s Orlando Summer League short shrift here at the Baseline, but it’s not for lack of caring.  Look for a post on the subject in the coming days.  In the meantime, here’s Bonnell from the Observer with some thoughts:

Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown can be trusted with bigger roles next season… It’s dangerous to put too much weight on summer-league performances — you’re supposed to excel against D-Leaguers — but it was obvious Henderson an Brown are figuring out what it takes to be productive on the NBA level.

The national media outlets pay less attention to the Orlando Summer league relative to the bigger and better Las Vegas Summer League; and when they do cover Orlando, the rookies (Philly’s Evan Tuner and New Jersey’s Derrick Favors in this case) get most of the attention.  Despite that, there were several mentions of the Bobcats young vets looking good.

Michael Jordan in Charlotte

Scott Fowler has a nice article in today’s Observer on Michael Jordan’s increased presence in the city of Charlotte and the Bobcats front office since he, you know, bought the team:

In the three months or so since Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson and became the team’s majority owner, Jordan’s visibility both in the community and in the Bobcats’ offices has increased dramatically.

Jordan has bought a home in uptown Charlotte five minutes from Time Warner Cable Arena and plans to start living there part time in September…

There’s also a slideshow of pictures from the Bobcats Fantasy Camp mentioned in the article.  As I write this, the article is currently the “Most Viewed” on the Observer’s website, and I’ve already been part of an email thread amongst friends discussing it.

Clearly, people care about how engaged Jordan is with the city of Charlotte.  The Bobcats are aware of it; they included questions about “how important” it was to me whether or not Jordan purchased a home here in a survey sent to season ticket holders recently.  Seriously.

Hopefully, people at least see Jordan’s level of engagement with the city an indicator of how engaged he is with the team.  If so, fine.  I suppose it’s a reasonable proxy.

But I guess I’m just a different kind of fan (clearly, I have a blog).  I could care less whether Jordan buys a house in Charlotte, or bowls and eats at the Epicentre.  I don’t need to put on a “Jordan Brand” t-shirt and drool over him at a “fantasy” camp.

I’d be much more happy if the team made sound financial/personnel decisions, stopped whiffing on draft picks, and thus consistently put a competitive basketball team on the court.  They’ve had trouble doing that over the history of the franchise.

2010’s playoff experience was undoubtedly a positive thing, but I’m still dubious of the Cats’ chances for on-court success in the medium-term due to salary cap issues and a lack of elite young talent.

Don’t sell me a bunch of sizzling Air Jordan “value-added” side dishes when the main course needs work.

-Dr. E




Bobcats Blow Fourth Quarter Lead In Loss To Raptors

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Raptors, 3/29/10


The Charlotte Bobcats dropped another winnable game to the Toronto Raptors, 103-101, on Monday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats led by six points to start the final period before falling behind.  A mad scramble in the closing 90 seconds resulted in one last chance for the Cats, down two, to tie or win.  However, Raymond Felton couldn’t connect with a cutting Tyson Chandler and the ball bounced out of bounds to ensure the loss.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Things looked pretty good for the Cats after three quarters.  No one was playing extraordinarily; instead it was a pretty well-rounded effort.  The Cats had contained Chris Bosh, and kept Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu very much in check.

But some issues lurked.  Stephen Jackson was in full-on “I’m more interested in barking at the refs instead of beating the Raptors” mode after being in foul trouble all game.  The Cats had not been able to turn the Raps over very much (10 Raptor turnovers, only 7 fast break points for the Bobcats).  The Cats were outrebounded 38-31.

Furthermore, the Cats had not taken enough advantage of the Raptors notoriously bad defense (only 24 points in the paint).  Being without the high-flying antics of  Tyrus Thomas (ankle) and the low-post scoring of Nazr Mohammed (back, still) didn’t help here, but the Raps also usually give up more penetration into the lane than the Cats were able to manage.

These shortcomings allowed the Raps a chance to make a few clutch shots in the decisive fourth quarter and overcome the Cats.  Jarrett Jack, Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu all hit big threes.  Jarrett Jack then added three free throws after drawing a foul on Raymond outside the arc to push the Raps lead to 100-93 with just under 3 minutes left.

From there, Stephen Jackson’s five straight points and the Raptors’ 3-6 performance from the free throw line conspired to make the finish interesting.  With 13 seconds left, the Cats got the ball down two.  With Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace camped out along the three-point line for the kickout, Raymond Felton drove into the lane, moving from right to left.  As the defense collapsed on Raymond, Tyson Chandler cut to the basket.

If you want to blame it on Tyson, say that he didn’t take a great angle to the basket on his cut (or that he probably wouldn’t have caught the pass if it came right to him — probably true).  If you want to blame it on Raymond (more appropriate) say that he flat-out threw an errant pass.

Whatever you choose, they didn’t connect.  The ball bounced out of bounds with a couple seconds left, leaving the Raps to simply complete an inbounds play to steal the win.

Tidbits

  • I’ll keep my bitching brief, because “he is who he is” and on balance, he’s been a big positive for the Cats.  But if Jack could channel half the vitriol he directs at the officials towards his opponent, he’d get that All-Star recognition he supposedly covets so much.  The Cats would also probably get an extra couple of wins over 82 games.  In the third quarter, after fouling Bargnani, getting under his skin and drawing a tech on the Italian, and hitting the technical free throw, Jack couldn’t stop yapping at the ref about the loose ball foul that started it all, eventually garnering a tech of his own.  Pointless…
  • Tyson Chandler rolled an ankle in the second quarter and left for the the locker room.  After a retape (I presume) he did return.
  • Owner Michael Jordan was back in his benchside seat and got into it with the refs in the fourth quarter when the Raps were taking the game over.  Didn’t help…
  • Shame about that last turnover for Raymond — before it he had played another really nice game with 18 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 3PT), 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
  • The loss drops the Cats to 38-35 and 7th place in the East.  We’re 1.5 games behind 6th place Miami and 2 games ahead of 8th place Toronto.  Tonight’s loss gives Toronto the season series at 2-1, should we finished tied with them.  Hollinger’s playoff odds are currently predicting that we’ll finish in 7th place, 1 game behind Miami.
  • 9 games left: 5 home, 4 away.  Next one is Monday night at home against the 76ers — follow me on Twitter for in-game tweets.

-Dr. E

Larry Hughes To Sign With Bobcats

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hughes

Adam Fleischer of SLAM Magazine broke the news last night on Twitter that Larry Hughes will be signing with the Bobcats in the coming days.  This morning, Rick Bonnell is confirming the news, presumably from a team source.

Hughes is a 12-year NBA journeyman who experienced the best stretch of his career in the early-to-mid 2000s when he was a major cog for the Washington Wizards.  In 2002-03, a budding Hughes was signed by Michael Jordan to relieve His Airness and his balky knees.  That season didn’t go so well, but after Jordan was fired in the offseason, Hughes came back to post the best marks of his career in 2003-04.

He, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas combined to become the highest scoring trio in the league that year and led the Wizards to a 45-37 regular season record and a first round playoff victory over the Chicago Bulls.  Hughes averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game and was named to the All-Star Team and the All-Defensive 1st Team that year.

That performance bought Hughes a huge free-agent contract in the 2005 offseason, as he was signed by the Cavs to a 5-year, $70 million dollar deal to be LeBron James’ first big sidekick.  Unfortunately, injuries and an overall declining game contributed to things “just not working out” in Cleveland.  This stint resulted in a Cavs fan creating the blog Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots, which amazingly was still being updated with Larry Hughes news as recently as last month.

Hughes’ minutes and scoring average have generally fallen every year since then, as he has bounced around between the Knicks and Bulls.

Hughes has had two career lowlights in the past few seasons.  The first came almost exactly two years ago, when Hughes, then a Bull, made comments to Cavs beatwriter Mark Windhorst that his goal as an NBA player was not necessarily to win, or win a championship.  Instead, Hughes indicated that he could be just as happy collecting his check and playing the way he preferred, which presumably was to be running the wing and jacking up a lot of shots — even if that didn’t translate to winning.

The comments essentially amounted to sacrelige and Hughes’ reputation has suffered greatly since then.  It hasn’t helped that his production has continued to decline, either.

Hughes second lowlight came earlier this season when he suffered the ignominy of riding the bench for the New York Knicks.  Now we may have to look back upon this from a slightly different angle as Mike D’Antoni’s wunderkind “7 seconds or less” reputation as a coach is increasingly taking a beating as time goes on, but the fact remains that Hughes was essentially deemed useless by a 22-44 team this year.

On February 18th, the Knicks sent Larry Hughes to the Kings as part of the Tracy McGrady trade.  At the time, Hughes was out with a broken finger, but was expected to be waived or bought out regardless.  On February 23rd, he was indeed waived, which freed him up to sign with any team down the stretch once his finger healed.  Which brings us to this weekend…

Life As A Bobcat

Hughes is a 6’4 or 5″ combo guard who will essentially fill Flip Murray’s role.  This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Larry Brown is currently without his beloved “veteran third point guard” and couldn’t have been expected to go on much longer without such a trope/security blanket.

Beyond the fact that Michael Jordan brought Larry Hughes to the Washington Wizards back in 2002, Hughes has even deeper connections to the Bobcats — Larry Brown drafted and coached him to start his career in Philadelphia, and per Wikipedia, Hughes is a childhood friend of rapper and Bobcats minority owner (still?) Nelly.

Whether Hughes has anything left in the tank, or whether he’s willing to sublimate his ego enough to play spot minutes as a combo guard (sorta the role he bristled at in Cleveland) remains to be seen.

Perhaps most concerning for Bobcats fans is that the departure of Flip Murray has been associated with the rejuvenation of DJ Augustin and the emergence of rookie Gerald Henderson (maybe “emergence” is a bit strong, I know).  If Hughes’ presence results in any regression for these two young players, Bobcats fans will certainly be up in arms.

More likely than not, though, Hughes simply represents a cheap “insurance” option for the Cats, should Felton or Augustin suffer an injury down the stretch, or Henderson prove to be completely unprepared for even short stints of playing time in a pressure-filled playoff game.  Here’s hoping we don’t have to rely too much on him, though.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Get By Clippers; Wallace Leaves With Sprained Ankle

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Clippers 3/12/10

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their fifth straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night.  Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats with 24 points (9-21 FG) and 6 assists.  The Clippers actually outshot the Cats 57.5% to 54.2%, but committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Cats 36-30.

AP recap here |  Box score here

The Cats built a 61-45 lead by halftime, then coasted through the second half, withstanding a half-hearted fourth quarter push by the rag-tag, Eric Gordon-less Clippers.  With the win, the Cats move to 33-31 overall, 6th place in the East, and ensured their best ever home record with their 24th victory at the Cable Box.

But it was a play right at the end of the first half that will be causing Cats fans consternation in the coming days.

Crash

With the Cats already on a 6-0 run and causing the Clippers all sorts of problems closing out the first half, Gerald Wallace poked the ball away from Baron Davis.  Wallace had been dominant in the first half, with 17 points (7-8 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The loose ball went to Stephen Jackson, who flipped it ahead to Wallace, already at full speed.  Gerald flew down the court with just seconds left on the clock, a step or two ahead of Baron.  But as Gerald took off and glided towards the basket, Baron caught up enough to make some contact.

Most of the contact he made was basically a cheap push in Gerald’s lower back with his left hand.  Gerald was fully extended and essentially defenseless, and was sent careening towards the basket support in a manner that we’ve certainly seen in the past, but not this season.  Gerald landed awkwardly on his left ankle and immediately grabbed for it.

Larry Brown soon made his way over as Gerald rolled around on the floor.  The rest of the bench was up and visibly upset. Raymond Felton fretted with both hands on his head; assistant coach Phil Ford angrily slapped some rolled up papers against his other hand.  Angry boos rained down; Baron’s perfunctory concern for Gerald and the fact that a flagrant foul was called was enough to prevent a minor incident.

Gerald was eventually able to get up and hit one of the two free throws to give the Cats 61-45 halftime lead, but headed straight back to the locker room with the trainers after that.  He reportedly had negative x-rays on the ankle, but did not return to the bench (or the game) for the second half.

With the Bulls having fallen off a cliff without Joakim Noah (and now without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose), there’s no longer much danger of the Cats finishing out of the playoff race.  But we can hardly afford to be without Gerald for too long as we try to jockey for the 6th seed and the right to play Boston (or possibly Atlanta) in the first round.  7th or 8th place buys us a matchup with the Magic or Cavs, respectively.  This season’s victories over the Cavs notwithstanding, both of those series would probably result in the Bobcats getting swept or nearly swept.

6th place or bust — Get Well Soon Gerald!

Lotsa Tidbits

  • David Stern has rubber-stamped Michael Jordan’s purchase of the Bobcats; all that remains is for the league’s board of governors to agree sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In something of a surprise, Stern indicated that the purchase price was around $275 million (not $175 million as had been rumored last week) and that Jordan put up all of the money.  He apparently is still trying to line up minority investors, but still…
  • Gana Diop was apparently planning to dress for tonight’s game, but had dizzy spells after a Thursday workout and will miss several games while getting worked up.  Check the first comment under the post in that link, it says all you need to know about this story — Cats fans are already fantasizing about a career-ending heart condition for Gana and the salary cap relief it would provide.
  • After giving up and selling the Bobcats, Bob Johnson is mercifully killing off his stupid horse-jumping competition.
  • Tyson Chandler had another solid game off the bench: 13 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Here’s some food for thought for the weekend from the Wall Street Journal: there is a 50/50 split in the NBA between teams who employ dedicated statistical/data analysts.  The teams that do have a 60% winning percentage this season, while the teams that don’t are at 40%.  Now I was pretty sure that the Bobcats don’t, but a line in the story seems to contradict that (the line about only the Suns, Hawks and Jazz being the only playoff teams that don’t).  Anyone know for sure if the Cats do?
  • Larry Hughes, anyone?
  • Next game is Sunday evening at 6 PM in Orlando versus Superman and the Magic.

-Dr. E