Who Is Florent Pietrus?

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f-pietrus

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

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

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

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

The Mystery of The Silent Off-Season

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Larry Brown's Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Mike

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.

Basketball Karma?

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Basketball Karma Affects the LA Lakers

Karma is action, and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction.  Within four days, quite a bit happened.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum just received word that his knee injury will keep him out for over two months.  Andrew Bynum was hugely responsible for sending Gerald Wallace to the hospital for the majority of last week, so it’s going to be tough to feel bad for the guy.  Bynum’s injury occurred when Kobe Bryant crashed into him after a driving miss against Memphis on Saturday night.  From the video, it appears that Bynum failed to react before Bryant came down into his leg.  He was simply in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  Was this some type of universal calibration of the basketball world back into balance?

As an NBA fan, it’s not good to see anyone get hurt.  So, let’s just hope Gerald Wallace returns to form and Bynum can bounce back by the end of the season, as well.

Phil Jackson should understand and accept the universe at work with his roster.  Perhaps, there are only so many championship rings one can carry with them along the journey of life.  It appeared during pre-game warmups that Bynum had worked out the hitch in his Ch’i and the injury was mostly due to the misalignment of Kobe Bryant’s chakras while going to the hoop.  Although, Jackson was unavailable for comment, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama responded via text message that “a quality Center is necessary to the two concurrent triangles that exist in LA’s version of the Triangle Offense.”* Gerald Wallace’s absence nearly eliminates the Bobcat’s hopes of a Playoff berth, but the Lakers will desperately need Bynum back if they want to contend for another NBA Title.

*Not at all factual

 

How to Cope with the Loss

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Losing J Rich isn't easy

Sure, Bobcats fans know plenty about losing. It’s almost some sort of masochism to be a Bobcats fan. To understand that the good teams win and bad teams lose, is fundamental. Yet, Cats fans still tune in or hustle down to the arena to see their team prove that they are not a good team. Over the franchise’s brief history, Bobcats followers and fanatics have learned to accept losses on the court.

With the latest trade of Jason Richardson, the fans suffered a new feeling of loss. J Rich was a quality player and the fans of this team had not experienced anything like this with the Bobcats before. His departure is our loss (and his gain). Now, we have to move on. While we can’t forget the past, it’s time to begin the healing process.

Step 1.
Put together the Grieving Playlist : Track 1 should be Boyz II Men‘s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” Make sure to purchase the reissue of Cooleyhighharmony, so that you can also listen to “End of the Road.”  If you’re coming to grips with things, it might be nice to get nostalgic with Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”  Don’t even try it if you’re not ready, though.  Throw in “Mo Money Mo Problems” to understand the motivation behind all of this, and you’re inching toward mental health.  Finally, your mix should end with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Crossroads.”  Actually, watching the video will help you accept that some things are beyond your mortal grasp.

Step 2

Don’t let Sean May convince you that eating will solve this.  Sure, Bobcats fans are upset over the trade. But, you can’t chew away the pain.  Even if it is delicious crab bread. It’s time to reach out to others that have experienced the same loss and lean on them for support.

Step 3

Donate your J Rich Nascar Night Jersey to the local Goodwill.  Forget how much you enjoyed alley oops, fade-away three pointers, insane dunks and fast breaks.  The new Bobcats are going to be like a fundamental machine.  Combined, they’ll operate like a Voltron Tim Duncan.

Seattle, Charlotte Feels For You.

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Charlotte Coliseum Marquee 2008

After all of the headlines have passed and while the new OKC NBA team is on the verge of creating a new name, the supporters of NBA Basketball in Charlotte should recognize what has happened to Seattle. We’ve been through this. Somewhere in the days following the Charlotte Hornets achievement of credibility, and several seasons after the town hosted the All-Star game, things began to sour for the franchise. The Hornets’ owner was despised and refused to sell his franchise to any locals. It was made clear that our NBA team was only in town to serve as profit for the owners. Nothing more, nothing less. Does that sound familiar Seattle?
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Pritchslapped?, Free Agent News, and Vegas, Baby!

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Apologies for the lack of posting from me in recent days. I’ve been completely consumed by a relocation — back to the Charlotte area! Anyways, poor timing for such an interruption, as there has been an abundance of Bobcats news in the past couple of days. Let’s recap with links and comments.

  • First, as this story is now almost a week old, is a must-read link from the excellent Portland Trailblazers blog, Blazer’s Edge. Here is the original post, as well as the follow-up. Essentially, the story goes like this: on draft night, a rumor was started, and actually posted on Blazer’s Edge, that Charlotte had picked DJ Augustin for the Blazers. The Blazers would have sent back the #13 pick, Jarrett Jack and likely another young player. Now this isn’t some off-the-wall rumor site. Blazer’s Edge was ensconsed with all of the other Portland media covering the Blazers draft and many outlets were running with the rumor (thought it’s unclear exactly how it got started). Blazer’s Edge was apparently the only outlet to actually post it online before the actual Portland trade was confirmed (sending the #13 pick, Brandon Rush, and Josh McRoberts to Indiana for the #11 pick, Jerryd Bayless). This has led to some speculation that the Blazers’ wunderkind GM, Kevin Pritchard, was stringing Charlotte along by floating the possibility of a trade for Augustin, when he really was targeting Bayless all along. See, allowing Bayless to slip to Indiana at #11 means he has to give up less from his own roster than if he were to have to trade with the Bobcats at #9. Blazer’s Edge contends that this would amount to a “Pritchslap”. Awfully diabolical, great fun to blog about, but ultimately way too complicated to have actually taken place. I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I just can’t imagine Pritchard would employ such a convoluted scheme and risk pissing off his old college coach, Larry Brown, just to avoid giving up an extra player in a deal.
  • One piece to the above puzzle that Blazer’s Edge offers in support of the “Pritchslap” theory is that Augustin just doesn’t make any sense for the Bobcats (hence he must have been picked with a potential trade in mind, right?). In the hours and days following the draft, I was inclined to believe the same thing. As a Raymond Felton supporter/apologist, I feel that he has earned the right to be the starting PG this season and will have a great opportunity to raise his game to the next level under Larry Brown. So why bring in competition? And if Augustin is meant to be a backup, then isn’t #9 a bit too high to be picking a backup? Shouldn’t you be going for a guy with potential to be a star? Upon further consideration, though, I’ve changed my tune. I’ve come to believe that there were really only a couple of players that fit the Bobcats’ need for a power forward in this year’s draft: Michael Beasley (no way we could have moved up high enough to get him) and Kevin Love (ditto, plus he duplicates Sean May’s skill set a little too closely). With both of those guys long gone by #9, the Bobcats’ front office simply turned their attention to our other position of need, backup PG. Even if #9 seems a bit high for taking a guy you intend to use as a backup, it’s not a terrible strategy. Just conservative and boring.
  • On the free agent front: Bonnell reports that the Bobcats had some interest in DeSagana Diop; however, the Mavs have already taken him off the market. Meanwhile, Bobcats.com is reporting that the team has picked up next year’s option on Jermareo Davidson (sure to make my colleagues here at the Baseline happy) and that offers have been extended to restricted free agents Emeka Okafor and Ryan Hollins, thereby opening negotiations with both. Obviously, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Okafor negotiations. After the Clippers big spree (congrats to Clippers fans, by the way — that’s exciting) only the Warriors, Grizzlies and Sixers have significant cap space. Might the Grizzlies be interested in Okafor? Or will his decision to spurn the team’s offer of an extension last summer come back to bite him in the wallet? Here’s hoping that we can get him signed without things getting contentious.
  • After doing Summer League in Salt Lake City last year (and Orlando before that, right?) the Bobcats will join most of the rest of the NBA in Las Vegas for Summer League ’08. Play begins next Friday, July 11, but the Bobcats won’t take the court until Saturday the 12th against the Clippers.
  • The Bobcats’ Summer League roster hasn’t been announced/released yet as of this writing. Obviously, Augustin, Ajinca and Weaver will be there. It would be reasonable to expect that Jermareo Davidson will be as well. Much more interesting is that Bonnell is reporting that Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Jason Richardson will all be present in Vegas as well. None are expected to take the court for the official games, but all are said to be looking to participate in practices and drills with the new coaching staff. Nothing like getting in good with the new boss, right? I’d love to be a fly on the wall at practice if Raymond Felton has a chance to go at DJ Augustin. Whatever the intentions of the front office were with the Augustin pick, Felton has to be itching for a chance to establish alpha male status in the backcourt.
  • A separate report reveals that Sean May will also join the team in Las Vegas next week. The great news is that he has been cleared medically for basketball activity; the bad news is that he is still experiencing some pain in the knee. Like the other veterans, May plans to only participate in drills, as opposed to playing in the games: “after eight months, I’m not going to just jump out here, get it all back in one day.” The buffet at Mandalay is also hoping that May doesn’t try to just jump out there and get it all back in one day. Sorry, had to. I’ll get out of here on that one…

-E