Weekend Links: Chris Paul Madness Edition


Chris Paul with Black Shoe

Chris Paul trade news/rumors continue to dominate the NBA news-and-blog-o-sphere as we head into the weekend.  But there’s still some other interesting stuff going on, including Gerald Wallace making a push to be included on Team USA’s final roster this summer.  Here’s your required reading for the weekend.

Chris Paul

  • ESPN’s Chris Broussard provides an update on Paul’s wishlist, along with the reality check regarding which teams on the list could actually come up with a decent package to return to New Orleans in a trade.  Broussard does mention that the Bobcats are one of the teams with interest in pursuing Paul — first time I’ve seen a national, mainstream, traditional media member acknowledge the Bobcats being in the mix.
  • Paul will be sitting down with new Hornets coach Monty Williams and GM Dell Demps on Monday to discuss his future with the team.  Peter Finney from The Times-Picayune opines on how Williams and Demps should approach that meeting.
  • Fresh off his run of blistering pieces critical of Lebron’s “Decision”, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski warns that Chris Paul has succumbed to too much influence from Lebron/Worldwide Wes/CAA/LRMR/etc. and needs to check himself before damaging his reputation.
  • NYT’s Howard Beck reports that Paul, perhaps cognizant of the above sentiment, has not yet hired James’ LRMR marketing firm — though my guess is that this is just semantics/a formality.

Stephen Jackson/Home Invasion

  • There are no new developments in the story of the home invasion/armed robbery at Stephen Jackson’s house Wednesday morning, but here’s the link from the Observer if you never got around to reading up on the story.
  • Rick Bonnell did offer a few additional thoughts on the story on his blog.  The whole thing is a shame — just when Jackson’s image was turning the corner after the Bobcats’ success last year, here comes bad news again.  Not suggesting that being targeted like this is in any way his fault, but you have to be concerned when trouble just seems to follow some people.  Also, nice job by ‘the gates’ in his gated community.  Strong work.  Here’s hoping that Jack’s wife is OK and that the bad guys get caught.

Gerald Wallace/Team USA

  • Gerald Wallace is still out in Vegas at the Team USA camp.  When he was initially named to the squad, I thought it was a nice acknowledgement of how far he had come as a player, but didn’t think much of his chances at making the final cut to represent the US at this summer’s FIBA World Championsips in Turkey due to his marginal outside shooting ability.  But with all of the Redeem Teamers begging off, Amare Stoudemire’s crip-eye, and injuries to David Lee and Robin Lopez, it’s starting to look like Gerald has a real shot.  ESPN’s Chris Sheridan feels that Wallace has the inside track to make the squad, owing largely to his size and defensive tenacity.  On the other hand, I asked Ric Bucher about Gerald’s chances on Twitter and he DMed me back “unlikely”.
  • Bobcats.com has a bunch of Gerald/Team USA content here, including video interviews with Coach K.  I have mixed feelings about Gerald making the squad.  First, as mentioned above, I personally feel he’s kind of a long shot due to his mediocre outside shooting — you just have to be able to knock down deep and midrange shots in international ball.  But Wallace’s primary competition in making the cut is probably Andre Igoudala, who isn’t exactly a deadeye shooter himself, so we’ll see.  Second, Gerald has played a ton of minutes over the past few years, and will no doubt be relied upon for big minutes again in 2010-11 for the Cats.  His ‘balls-to-the-wall’ style of play means potential injuries loom around every pick and attempted block anyways, and extended minutes means nagging injuries continue to nag, or even worsen.
  • Team USA sang Happy Birthday to Gerald yesterday as the team prepared for tonight’s intrasquad scrimmage that will be televised live on ESPN2 at 10pm ET.


  • Shaq is still a free agent, and has a list of preferred destinations as well.  As the Bobcats now only employ Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop (I’m assuming Dampier is not on the roster opening night) at center, and with last year’s stopgap solution Theo Ratliff off the market, there has been some sentiment around the Bobcats blogosphere that Shaq might be an acceptable short-term pickup.  NYT’s Howard Beck updates us on the ‘dwindling’ market for Shaq, with Atlanta, Dallas and Miami having passed on the Diesel.
  • Shaq reportedly wants a two-year deal for a good bit of money and a chance to compete for a championship.  He may have to settle for one or the other, and Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak is reporting that the Celtics are at the top of O’Neal’s wish list of destinations.  Boston would be nice, if only for the eventual Shaq-Nate Robinson buddy cop comedy that would grow out of it.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Score Decisive Win Over Cavs (Witness This!)


Charlotte Bobcats vs Cavaliers 2/20/10

Thomas, Ratliff Impressive in Debuts

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-93 before a sellout crowd at the Cable Box on Friday evening.  AP recap here, box score here.  After losing their initial matchup in the opening days of the season, the Cats have since defeated the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers three straight times.

The game was tied 50-50 at the half, but the Cats pulled away midway through the third and kept a double digit lead through the fourth quarter.  It was over when a Boris Diaw steal led to a Gerald Wallace fast break dunk to put the Cats up by 17 with just under three minutes left.

The lead storyline in this one has to be the relative performances of each team’s newcomers.  The day before the trading deadline, the Cavs traded for Antawn Jamison in a move that has been lauded around the league.  However, Jamison looked rusty and tentative in his debut for the Cavs, and probably cost them the game.  Jamison seemed passive, yet finished with the second highest FGA for the game with 12.  Furthering the problem, he didn’t hit any of them — yep, 0-12 FG.  Jamison had several shots blocked and had two airballs from three-point range.

Meanwhile, Bobcats newcomers Theo Ratliff and Tyrus Thomas probably couldn’t have asked for better debuts.  With Tyson Chandler (foot/ankle) and Gana Diop (knee) sidelined, Ratliff was pressed into early duty to back up Nazr Mohammed.  He entered the game with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter and within 90 seconds had recorded his first block for the Bobcats (on the aforementioned Jamison).  Ratliff went on to log 18 minutes in the game, mostly spent valiantly guarding Shaq and gathering rebounds.  Ratliff ended with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, no FGA or FTA.  Perfect line for the guy.

Tyrus Thomas entered the game for Ratliff a little later in the first quarter and quickly went about filling up the stat sheet.  He recorded his first block less than fifteen seconds after checking in, and went on to block 5 more.  By the fourth quarter, Thomas’ mere presence in the lane was affecting the Cavs’ decisions in the lane.  Thomas also swallowed up tons of boards, eventually totaling 12 in his 25 minutes of playing time.

If Larry Brown can work the same magic for Tyrus that he’s worked for Gerald Wallace, then we’ll be in great shape.  On second thought, “magic” is a poor choice of words there.  There’s nothing magic about what’s happened to Gerald’s game, or what needs to happen to Ty’s game — it’s just simple maturation, getting smarter about the game, picking your spots, slowing down a bit while maintaining necessary aggression, minimizing your weaknesses and highlighting your strengths.

Beneath his morose surface, you know Larry Brown is quietly pumped about the prospect of teaching Tyrus all that he’s never been taught about basketball.  I imagine the dynamic kind of like Stellan Skarsgaard and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting; only I hope this doesn’t end with Tyrus lighting Larry Brown’s playbook on fire, then going to cry in Phil Jackson’s embrace while the Zen Master repeats “It’s not your fault.”


A secondary storyline has to be what in the world the Bobcats are doing to Lebron James.  Lebron had a quiet 22 point, 9 assist game; he has averaged 22.5 points in the four games against the Cats this year, well below his 30 ppg average.

The Cats don’t seem to be doing anything too fancy to Lebron.  It helps that Gerald Wallace is the primary individual defender, of course, and that Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw are the guys that most frequently get switched onto him — all of those guys can at least hold their own.  But the key is more in the team defense that the Cats play — the traps in the backcourt, the aggressive help defense, the good rotations out to the jump shooters.

Odds And Ends

  • It’s unfortunate I’ve gotten this far without mentioning the guy who put the ball in the hole all night for the Cats; Stephen Jackson led the offensive charge with 29 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3PT, 8-10 FT) while also adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
  • Boris and DJ both had their best games in some time, looking confident and decisive.
  • The only downside I can see to Ty Thomas being a big part of the Bobcats down the stretch (other than the general combustibility and questionable basketball IQ, or course) is that Gerald’s rebounding numbers are probably going to drop.  Not that they were going to rise back to a league-leading level without him around, but still…
  • Tyson Chandler, we hardly knew ye…
  • Does anyone else think Shaq might be pushing 350 lbs?  And those awful Chinese shoes he’s wearing look like locomotives.
  • I hadn’t realized this until looking at the standings after the game, but due to their recent stumble, the Cats have fallen down to 8th place in the East.  Which means that if the season ended today, we’d face these Cavs in the first round.  Interesting matchup, huh?
  • Not only were the Cats on point all night, but so was the Cable Box’s WiFi.  Got lots of Tweets in — follow me!
  • Quick turnaround, as the Cats have a back-to-back Saturday night in Milwaukee, 8:30 PM ET start.  This one’s important, as the Bucks are the primary threat to jump into the playoff picture in the East.  Currently, they’re only half a game behind the Cats in the standings.  Furthermore, the Cats are 1-1 against the Bucks so far this year, with Saturday’s meeting and a late season tilt still to go.  A victory tomorrow night guarantees we wouldn’t lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with them if it came down to that at the end of the year.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Stop Lebron and Cavs for Third Straight Victory


Charlotte Bobcats vs. Cavaliers, 11/27/09

Please Let This Be Real

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-87, on Friday night at the Cable Box.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats improve to 6-9 overall and 6-2 at home.  After losing 7 straight — the last three of those with newly-acquired Stephen Jackson in the lineup — the Bobcats came home to Charlotte and have reeled off three straight wins.  In these three wins, the Cats are averaging 104.6 PPG while holding their opponents to 85.3 PPG.  Just sayin…

The Bobcats pulled away late in the first quarter and never trailed again as the Cavs could never get a sustained run going.  The Cats scored 94 points despite a meager 12-point 4th quarter and no field goals for the last 9 minutes; it was enough because they played fantastic defense throughout.

Gerald Wallace went for 31 points (9-14 FG, 3-7 3PT, 10-14 FT), 14 rebounds and 3 steals; in doing so he became the first Bobcat to get 30/10 in consecutive games.  This is even more special because he did it against Lebron.  Generally, Crash has been somewhat overwhelmed by guarding King James, often getting into foul trouble and being taken out of his comfort zone.  But Crash set the tone early with a big drive by and dunk on Lebron in the first quarter.  He kept it up from there, even hitting three 3s in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers

On the other hand, it was Lebron who got into foul trouble and looked out of his comfort zone.  Three considerations here: 1) Gerald Wallace was forcing him to play defense on the other end, 2) Bron came up with a gimpy foot/ankle after an early drive — maybe it continued to bother him, and 3) Shaq was back in the lineup for the Cavs, and he is not good for Lebron.  Seriously, when the ball goes in to Shaq, everything just stops for the Cavs offense.  He’s so big he clogs up the middle, thus preventing Lebron from operating there.

Now in the past, defending Shaq required sending a double-team.  This would obviously open things back up for a player like Lebron.  However, the Bobcats were steadfast and rarely sent a doubler, generally letting Nazr Mohammed guard Shaq by himself.  Shaq got a few buckets in the post (5-11 FG) but they seemed to be at the expense of letting Lebron (and thus the rest of the team) really get into the flow of the game.  I haven’t watched enough of the Cavs this year to know, but I’m guessing this “no doubling of Shaq” is a trend around the league.  Maybe explains why the Cavs are 5-1 without Shaq, but only 6-4 with him.

The Cavs do not have “the look” like they did last year.  Last year they were simultaneously loose as hell (the pregame pantomimed portraits) and super-intense, stepping on the throats of teams like the Bobcats and never letting up.

By the way, anyone notice that “Cavaliers” is one of those words that gets more and more strange the more you consider it, look at it, say it?  What percentage of NBA players could describe what a “Cavalier” is.  Wait, can I?  Are “Cavaliers” actually cavalier? And if so, why would you make your mascot a Cavalier?

Various And Sundry

  • Officially this one goes down as a sellout, but there were numerous empty seats around.  Having said that, the atmosphere was awesome and the game was more fun than the Curb finale.  And I love nothing more than sending bandwagon and transplanted fans of Boston, Cleveland, etc. home with a loss.
  • In addition to extending their winning streak to three, the Cats also broke a seven game losing streak to the Cavs.
  • Boris Diaw looks to be fading as Stephen Jackson becomes more acclimated.  Maybe it’s better for Boris to not be counted on for so much, maybe he’s got a nagging injury, or maybe he becomes trade bait if this keeps up?
  • The Tyson Chandler/Nazr Mohammed situation continues to be an interesting conundrum.  Tyson got an early hook after picking up a quick foul in the first quarter, then didn’t start the second half.  His back is clearly still bugging him, and he finished with just 2 points, 3 rebounds and 4 fouls in 18 minutes.  Nazr continued his strong play with 13 points (5-7 FG) and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes.  Nazr had a far better game, right?  Check the +/-, though: Tyson with a +9, Naz with a -6.  Wha?
  • Derrick Brown continues to get minutes (20 tonight) and, aside from some shaky free throw shooting (2-6 FT), continues to show promise.
  • Ambien + alcohol = what happened to Tiger.  Bet me.
  • Reminder, follow me and ASChin on Twitter.  Between the two of us, we’re live-tweeting most of the games as well as adding other Bobcats-related thoughts when you least expect it.
  • Speaking of ASChin, he’ll be at the helm for recap duty tomorrow night as the Bobcats head to D.C. to face the Wizards (7 PM ET).

-Dr. E