Magic Complete Sweep Of Bobcats


Charlotte Bobcats vs Magic Game 4, 4/26/10

AP/Chuck Burton

The Charlotte Bobcats were swept out of the first round by the Orlando Magic 99-90 on Monday night at the Cable Box.  Again, the Cats were able to limit Dwight Howard’s minutes due to foul trouble, and again it really didn’t matter.  Again, the Cats got decent play from a couple of starters and one reserve, and again it was not nearly enough to contend with the Magic.

AP recap here |  Box score here

It’s late and the season is over, so I’m going to keep this relatively short and sweet.  The Bobcats came out and competed, forcing Dwight Howard into foul trouble and taking a two-point lead into halftime.  But the rest of the Magic (particularly Lewis, Carter, Nelson and Pietrus) again picked up the slack, while the Bobcats continued to struggle to score whether or not Howard was in the game.

Despite the continued struggles, the Cats were in in this one until halfway through the final period.  After Tyson Chandler hit two free throws to pull the Bobcats to within one at 77-76,  Michael Pietrus drained a three.  On the ensuing possession, Dwight Howard snatched a DJ Augustin layup out of the air.  While the crowd and the Bobcats benched yelped about the lack of a goaltending call, Pietrus drained another three.  The sequence took less than a minute and completely took the air out of the the arena.

And if you were hanging on to any hope that the Bobcats could come back from seven down with six minutes left, two missed free throws by Gerald Wallace, followed by another Jameer Nelson three to put the Magic 86-76 with under five minutes left was enough to convince even the most optimistic Cats fans.

The Bobcats were actually led by Tyrus Thomas, who rang up 21 points on 9-12 FG and added 9 rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.  Tyrus had the baseline 12-15 footer going early and was actually 8-8 from the field at one point.  But just as in the first three games, no other Bobcat produced off the bench.


  • Stephen Jackson picked a terrible time to have a bad night — Jack was 2-11 FG and 0-3 3PT for just 8 points.
  • Seeing the Heat take a game from the Celtics this weekend and the Bucks tie up the Hawks tonight just reminds you how important the regular season is.  Those losses to the Nets and Pacers come back to haunt.

The Elephant In The Room

And now the Bobcats enter what is shaping up to be a very difficult offseason.  Michael Jordan’s mettle as owner will certainly be tested.  We’ll certainly be writing more about this in the coming days and weeks, but here’s a quick primer:

  • Larry Brown, having partially restored his reputation by getting the Cats to the playoffs, is probably gone back to Philadelphia for a front office position.  Let the coaching search begin.
  • Raymond Felton, fresh off getting toasted in this playoff sweep, is an unrestricted free agent.  Hopefully, Miami will come along and make Raymond a Godfather offer with the money they have leftover after resigning Wade and getting Boozer or Bosh and we won’t even be tempted to match it.
  • Tyrus Thomas has shown inconsistent flashes in his couple of months with the Bobcats.  Kinda similar to how he showed inconsistent flashes to the Bulls for three or four years.  He’s a restricted free agent.  Keeper or not?
  • The Cats have no draft picks this year (both were traded away in prior deals) and very few assets that have any trade value around the league.

-Dr. E


  • YES
    (32%, 59 Votes)
  • NO
    (68%, 127 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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Bobcats Can’t Handle Magic; Go Down 0-2


Charlotte Bobcats @ Magic Game 2, 4/21/10

The Orlando Magic scored another definitive victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, 92-77, in Game 2 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night.  Stephen Jackson led the Bobcats with 27 and keyed a fourth quarter rally that briefly made things interesting late, but the Magic ultimately led wire to wire, putting all five starters in double figures.

AP recap here |  Box score here

This one had an even uglier start than Game 1.  8 minutes into the first quarter, the two teams had only combined for 16 points; problem was, the Cats only had three of those.  Fortunately, the Cats got a few buckets to make the count a not-quite-as-embarrassing 18-14 after the first quarter.

But frankly, the damage had been done.  Orlando’s zone-ish defense rendered the Cats offense (not exactly potent to begin with) into a bogged-down, turnover-filled mess.  The Cats finished the game with 21 turnovers, and no one outside of Stephen Jackson ever figured out how to score.

The fact that the Bobcats  play some pretty good defense themselves kept the game reasonable; the Cats were only down 11 at the half, and cut the lead to 8 with 3:15 left in the game before succumbing.

The Magic simply had too many weapons tonight.  Though Dwight Howard was held to a modest line (15 points on 5-10 FG/5-12 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) he was absolutely dominant for a stretch early in the third quarter that set the tone for the rest of the second half.

Vince Carter, infamous for shrinking into a jump-shooter when the going gets tough, had smooth sailing into the paint all night long, resulting in 9-11 free throws.  (As a team, the Magic shot 35 free throws.)

Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson were solid and reliable, if unspectacular, while Mickael Pietrus and Ryan Anderson provided an onslaught of threes off the bench, combining for 5-7 from distance.

There were almost no silver linings for the Bobcats in this one.  The late run that cut the deficit to 8 was intriguing for a minute, but rationally you knew it was too little, too late.  Nazr did show some signs of life (5-6 FG for 10 points in 16 minutes).

But basically, I’m grasping at straws here.  The only one that may be worth a damn is simply that the Cats have played much better at home this year and Games 3 and 4 are in Charlotte.  The Cats had the biggest home/road record differential amongst all the playoff teams this year, for no reason that anyone could logically explain.  At this point, I’d give up trying to explain it if I could just see it for Games 3 and 4.


  • Apologies for recycling my Twitter posts, but is anyone else getting the same feeling they used to get watching Jeff McInnis a couple of years ago when watching Larry Hughes these days?
  • Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw have been frustratingly ineffective, as have Hughes and Tyrus Thomas off the bench.
  • The Cats have a couple of days to stew on this one.  Game 3 is on Saturday afternoon at 2PM ET at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

The RaymondHater Manifesto


A couple of notes before we get started:  1) I originally started writing this as a comment to my colleague’s “RaymondHater” post from earlier today, which itself was a comment on Rick Bonnell’s weekend story from the Charlotte Observer that briefly ran down the different options for dealing with Raymond Felton.  But my comment quickly got way too long, so I just decided to keep going and make it a post of its own.  Be sure to check out that original post, especially for the awesome photoshopped banner pic.

And 2) Please be assured that I am not really “hating” on Raymond.  I use the term facetiously.  As discussed earlier this week by Simmons, the word has been beat into the ground.  Anyways, I really like Raymond.  His heart, durability, and overall “good-guy-ness” are off the charts, yet don’t show up in any statistics.  A strong argument could easily be made that we’d have been better served drafting Brook Lopez, clearing a little cap space this year (instead of adding salary) and resigning Felton to be the long-term point guard.

Alas, that hasn’t happened, so we’ll now proceed with my long-winded defense of trading Raymond.


It must suck to be Bonnell and have to write these pithy articles aimed at the mainstream/casual fan about really complicated decisions.  (Then again, it must be pretty cool to be Bonnell and get to cover basketball for a living.)

Though the long term salary cap ramifications are THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS underlying the decision about what to do with Raymond, there is precious little mention of them in the article.

The fact of the matter is that, between Wallace, Okafor, Diaw, Diop, Mohammed and Radmanovic, this team has tied up a trememdous amount of their salary cap for the next several years.  Go ahead, click on that link — it takes you to the Bobcats salary page on HoopsHype.  Then tool around a bit and sample some other team’s payrolls.  Not many teams have so much money committed that far out in the future.  And if they do, they are playoff teams with superstars.

The economics of the NBA, especially for a small market team trying to avoid the luxury tax, dictate that young players on their rookie deals who show signs of panning out be given every opportunity to develop and contribute.   Simply put, such players are cost-effective and locked in to the team that drafted them for four seasons.  The Bobcats have such a player: DJ Augustin — he’s making 2.2 million this year, and gets incremental increases up to 3.2 million in his fourth year, 2011-12.

Statistically, the rookie Augustin is already a better player than Raymond:  DJ’s Assist Ratio (percentage of a player’s possessions that result in an assist) is only slightly lower than Raymond’s: 23.5% to 28.4%.  DJ’s Turnover Ratio (percentage of a player’s possessions that result in a turnover) is better than Raymond’s (though only nominally): 11.4% to 11.7%.

More importantly, DJ’s True Shooting Percentage (which takes into account FG, FT and 3PT shooting) is SIGNIFICANTLY better than Raymond’s: 57.2% to 47.2%.  And by overall PER (Player Efficiency Rating, which takes into account these and other advanced metrics), DJ is better than Raymond: 14.45 to 13.20.

Keep in mind, DJ has accumulated these stats as a rookie, and almost always playing either with the second unit, or out of position as an undersized 2 guard with the first unit (i.e., when DJ and Raymond play together, DJ generally guards the other team’s PG on defense, but more often functions as the 2 on offense).  We can only speculate how much better he’s going to get.

DJ needs to be given the reins.  Keeping Raymond around will not only kill our cap, it will impede DJ’s progress; just like having Brevin Knight and Jeff McInnis around in recent years likely impeded Raymond’s development a bit.  Let’s not make the same mistake again, people.

It would be great to be able to keep Raymond around as a backup — maybe as a 6th man who can play the 1, or the 2 against smaller lineups.  But on the open market, he will demand a starter’s salary (probably 8-9 million per) from a team desperate for a decent PG.  He should and will take it, and the Bobcats shouldn’t match.  Doing so would give us a ridiculous fifth player (in addition to Okafor, Wallace, Diaw and Diop) making 7 million plus in 2011-12; or to look at it another way, 3/4 of our cap would be taken up by five guys, 2 of them (Felton and Diop) non-starters and none of them superstars.  That’s not how you build a playoff team.

The only thing that gives me pause is that we’re learning more and more about how much financial trouble some teams and owners are in.  The salary cap will likely be reduced in the coming years, as opposed to the incremental raises we usually see.  It means that this is a pretty miserable time to be a free agent.

Might we be able to keep Raymond for significantly less than we figured at the start of the season (maybe like 6 million per)?  And maybe for a shorter deal than otherwise would be customary?  What we’ll likely see is that young veterans, like Raymond, will be looking to sign shorter deals than usual, in hopes that the economy will have turned around in time for their next contract year.  So I suppose it’s a possibility.  But in the spirit of “either shit or get off the pot” I think it’s a bad idea.

What I would rather see the Bobcats do is to improve the long-term prospects of the franchise by trading Raymond now.  Not only will DJ benefit, but we might be able to pick up some cap relief, and extra draft pick or two, or even a reasonably priced rotation player.  This is obviously contingent on finding a team that is somewhat desperate for a short-term solution at PG; or a team that wants to audition him before bidding major money on him in free agency.

Orlando (ready for a playoff run, but with their PG Jameer Nelson likely done for the year) or Dallas (in need of some depth behind an aging Jason Kidd and an injured Jason Terry) might fit the bill.

What would/should we be looking for in return?  Ideally, we package Nazr Mohammed and his awful contract (2 more years remaining after this one, at 6.5 and 6.9 million, respectively) with Raymond for cap relief and flexibility.  If a team was willing to take Mohammed, all the Bobcats would likely be happy to take back a pu-pu platter of expiring contracts and draft picks in return.

If no one is desperate enough to take on Mohammed (very likely in this economic climate), we’d probably do good enough to just get back a rotation player who’s signed to a nice deal.

I think Orlando might be the most likely partner here.  All indications are that Jameer Nelson will have surgery on his busted shoulder and be done for the year.  That leaves Orlando with Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue at PG.  Now they certainly could just roll  into the playoffs with that, and risk getting embarrassed in the first round, but wouldn’t Raymond be better for them?  At least they get to the second round with Raymond, and everyone benefits from the playoff experience.

But would Orlando be willing to part with enough to do this?  Raymond Felton for rookie SG Courtney Lee (plus Brian Cook to balance the salaries) works, but it’s hard to imagine Orlando giving up their promising rookie.

What about Raymond for Mickael Pietrus (Charlotte would have to add in Alexis Ajinca for this to work).  Orlando has already shown that they are fine without Pietrus, as they played well when he was out with an injury earlier this year.  And for Charlotte, he’d be a great option to take over at SG for Raja Bell, who is aging and getting brittle, and only singed through next year.  Pietrus is signed to a very reasonable deal (5.3 per through 2011-12) and would be a perfect long defender to pair with DJ in the backcourt for years to come.

So there you go; thanks for reading.  And if you can make a more convincing case for tying up our cap with Raymond for 4-5 years at 6-9 million when we have a better option available in DJ at less than half that… please do.