The Bobcats returned home on the tail end of a back-to-back and lost to the Hornets 88-81, sputtering to the end after keeping it close for most of the game. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson who though shot poorly (15 points on 15 FGA) had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hornets were led by a dominant offensive performance by David West who had 26 points on 19 shot attempts and 8 boards.
As I mentioned above, the game was close, most of the time, with the lead never going above 6 points for either team until the closing minutes. However, with 2:38 left in the game, Tyrus Thomas pulled down a rebound over Emeka Okafor and swung his arms, intentionally elbowing Okafor in the face. The refs gave him a flagrant-2 and two technicals which amounts to an ejection. Aside from throwing the momentum fully to New Orleans, it gave Emeka Okafor two free throws and also possession of the ball after the free throws. The result: a four point lead doubled and Bobcats never recovered and began fouling like a blind Darryl Dawkins. It turned a possible win into a more than likely loss.
Gerald Wallace – Fifteen points on 5-13 FG with a perfect 5-5 from the stripe. Eh, not great. His three turnovers were major problems as were his four shots that were blocked. Gerald has always had a slight problem with inside shot selection, but getting blocked 4 times is some Earl Boykins stuff. Moving on, his three rebounds leave much to be desired, but it seems his slack was picked up by Boris and Jackson (9 and 8 rebounds, respectively) as opposed to the Hornets. The Bobcats did out-rebounded the Hornets 43-34 (numerical palindromes, hell yeah!). Oh and Gerald had an outstanding coast-to-coast play. So there’s that (see below).
Boris Diaw – He was mediocre on offense, with 9 points from 4-11 shooting with one from downtown. The real problem was his defense (or lack thereof) on David West. West’s mid-range ability frustrated Diaw the whole night.
D.J. Augustin – His ability to distribute continues to impress me, as well as his consistency (7 assists) and his lack of turnovers (1 tonight). If only his shooting could get more consistent. he shot 3-10 from the field tonight, but at least he did get to the line for 4 four free throws.
Kwame Brown – Kwame was excellent tonight, both on offense and defense. He effectively shut down Okafor for most of the game and he rebounded really well (14 rebs) and he was efficient on offense with 5-6 FG. Too bad his free throw shooting is still bad (2-5). But I can deal with that with the rest of his performance.
Tyrus Thomas – He was decent, with 2-6 shooting and 4-4 FT for 8 points and 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Buuuuuut, he did have 3 turnovers and he screwed up big-time with the elbow to Okafor’s cranium. The one major problem I have with Tyrus is his recklessness. I love that he jumps out of the building for rebounds, but with the ball in his hands, he can get too out of control. This leads to picking up his dribble on the baseline and trying to make a nearly impossible fadeaway jump shot or throwing the ball away on bad passes.
Anything I missed, Baseliners?
Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers, in Philadelphia on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with the early start time at 2 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
Save for some banter in the comments and the occasional tweet (oh, and this post from back in April), we’ve tried to treat the Chris Paul “rumors” with a healthy dose of skeptisicm here at Bobcats Baseline. As my colleague ASChin noted (biting Owen Wilson in the process): What in Jordan’s history in the front office makes you think he’s capable of something like that?
But this story refuses to die. First, Rick Bonnell elevated it from “internet rumor” to “semi-legitimate story” with this piece from the weekend that was widely linked to around the intertubes:
Chris Paul as a Charlotte Bobcat isn’t crazy. It’s unlikely. It’s undoubtedly problematic…
But it’s doable, and I’m told it’s a twinkle in the eyes of this team’s decision-makers.
Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday. “He wants out,” said the person…
Now never mind that Berger also reveals that Paul’s list of preferred destinations “consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers.” What we Bobcats fans know that Berger doesn’t is that Paul really wants to play in his home state, for the founder of the Jumpman brand he endorses, and for Larry Brown. And that we have cap relief in the form of Dampier’s contract waiting.
And that Carmelo Anthony is coming next. For Gana Diop. To complete Team Jumpman. With World Wide Wes as special advisor.
P.S. Typing in C-h-r-i-s-P-a-u into Google gets you “Chris Paul” followed by “Chris Paul to bobcats” as the top two suggestions. Ridiculous…
Back in the June of 2005, the Bobcats had an opportunity to draft local legend Chris Paul with the third pick in the draft. The Blazers held the pick and offered the selection to Charlotte for the 5th and 13th choices in the draft. The ‘Cats turned them down and the rest is history: Blazers dealt the pick to Utah, and New Orleans (picking 4th) scooped up the the NBA’s best under-30 PG. It was rumoured that Paul wanted to play in Charlotte. He was from Winston-Salem and had played college ball just up the road at Wake Forest. The Bobcats needed a point guard. They needed a star. This can still happen.
Watching the New Orleans game on Wednesday night, it struck me: Chris Paul is going to be traded. Maybe this summer. Maybe sometime during next season but soon. Here’s why:
New Orleans is a small market team that’s losing money almost as fast as the Bobcats.
So what kind of a deal could the Bobcats put together to entice New Orleans to let go of their superstar???
Well, from a salary perspective, the ‘Cats are going to have to return a few things in exchange for Paul’s $14.9 million dollar cap number. They’ll also have to offer the Hornets some attractive pieces in exchange. Here’s my proposal:
D.J. Augustin. Again, hometown hero. Still on a rookie deal until ’12-’13. While not remotely in Chris Paul’s league, D.J. could form a great combo with Collison and help stretch the floor with his long distance shooting.
A Sign & Traded Tyrus Thomas. Something like 3 years, $18 million sounds about right. Another local product (high school in Baton Rouge, later LSU). Thomas not only turns the local turnstiles, he would be a welcome athletic addition to a fairly unathletic frontcourt (Emekatron 2000 and David West). The Hornets could then shop West (who has a great contract that declines in salary) for a physical starting two guard.
Gerald Henderson. Let’s face it. If Larry Brown is coaching the Bobcats, The Sequel is never seeing any PT and that’s not good for a young player’s game (just look how Darko’s skillz atrophied in Detroit). The Hornets need a tough, defensive minded 2-guard to pair with Marcus Thornton and Gerald Henderson just may be that guy.
Salary Relief. New Orleans currently has $73 million committed in salaries for next season. This before factoring in any draft picks or filling out the roster. The assumption around the league is that the luxury tax will lower to around $69 million. By trading Paul for Thomas, Augustin and Henderson, the Hornets will save $4.5 million next season (putting them under the tax threshold).
From a Bobcats salary perspective, this trade would put them at EXACTLY the tax threshold ($69.8 million) with only eight players under contract. The question is, would Michael Jordan spend an extra $5-$10 million if it meant bringing in a superstar like Chris Paul? I think he just might. The Bobcats would enter next season with:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Stephen Jackson
SF: Gerald Wallace, Derrick Brown
PF: Boris Diaw, Alexis Ajinca
C: Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, Gana Diop
Now, there’s obviously a crowd at Center but the good news is that both Nazr Mohammed ($6.8 million) and Tyson Chandler ($12.75 million) represent expiring contracts in a year in which those will be very, very valuable (free agent summer ’11 looks like it’ll rival summer of ’10). Could the Bobcats trade Mohammed for someone like Kirk Hinrich? Maybe. Take one or both centers off of the roster and run a platoon of a re-signed Theo Ratliff, Gana Diop and a (hopefully) developed Alexis Ajinca and then resign everyone’s favorite utility players Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes to veteran minimum deals and you have:
PG: Chris Paul, Kirk Hinrich
SG: Stephen Jackson, Larry Hughes
SF: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Graham
PF: Boris Diaw, Derrick Brown, Alexis Ajinca
C: Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Theo Ratliff
Not bad. And considering that Larry Brown will run basically an eight or nine man rotation throughout the season, 10-14 depth isn’t that big of an issue. This team could go deep into the Playoffs and finally bring star power to the CLT.
The Charlotte Bobcats fell 104-99 to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night at the Cable Box to fall back under .500. AP recap here, box score here.
The Bobcats came in on a couple of days rest after a modestly successful (3-3) West Coast road trip. The Hornets came in a night after dropping the first game of a back-to-back and with major injury problems. With Chris Paul already out for several weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery and pleasant rookie surprise Marcus Thornton on the shelf with a sore back, the Hornets had to sign former Bobcats and all-around NBA journeyman Jason Hart to a 10-day recently.
It was a perfect opportunity for the Bobcats to get back on track after the road trip and post another home win — and the Bobcats acted like it was just going to happen. But the defensive effort was rather lacking, no one could get it cooking on the offensive end, and Darren Collison did a pretty good Chris Paul impression to give the Hornets the unlikely win.
Collison was rather impressive in setting a new career high with 24 points on 9-17 FG, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He was frequently able to get by the Bobcats’ perimeter defenders and finish at the rim. And after Stephen Jackson had cut the Hornets’ lead to 102-99 with 30 seconds left, it was another driving layup that secured the win and gave Collison his career high.
Never mind the questionable strategic call to not start fouling to extend the game at that point, the fact that the Bobcats didn’t defend or play with energy for the entire game is the more concerning issue here. Let’s hope it was a one-game aberration and not a trend.
I didn’t get to the game in time for the “town-hall meeting” for season ticket holders, but was just in time to snag a Gerald Wallace action figure — pretty boss.
The real life Gerald had a quiet game — maybe still bothered by the hamstring?
The Cats missed 9 free throws (Flip missed 4 in the fourth quarter alone). If we’d hit half of those, we might be talking about how the Cats scrapped their way to a win even on an off night instead of this gloominess.
The Hornets were resplendent in their alternate “Mardi Gras” uniforms — seriously, those things are cool.
Emeka Okafor got a nice hand from the Cable Box crowd, and had a pretty Emeka kind of game: 16 points on 6-10 FG with 7 rebounds.
Poor game from Boris: 2-9 FG and looked timid as hell on the offensive end, passing up shots and committing turnovers. Someone needs to show him some tape of Magic Johnson taking and making big shots.
Decent night for DJ: 13 points on 5-6 FG and 5 assists off the bench.
DNP-CD for Derrick Brown tonight — strange, when we could have used a spark out there. Maybe LB was worried about him having to guard David West?
Next game is Tuesday night, hosting the Wiz at 7 PM ET.