« May 2008 | Main | July 2008 »

June 29, 2008

Why Augustin instead of Lopez?

I've received a couple of emails this weekend, wondering how the Charlotte Bobcats could possibly justify drafting Texas point guard D.J. Augustin over Stanford center Brook Lopez.

I appreciate the concern. Typically, you take a big guy over a small guy. And highly as Lopez was initially ranked he thought he'd be gone by the fourth pick a month ago; he seemed like a steal when available with the ninth pick.

The Bobcats might have made a mistake, but drill into the details, and I can see their reasoning: You can argue whether Augustin or Arizona's Jerryd Bayless was the next-best point guard available. But generically, adding a point guard was this team's most urgent need. That would be true if Raymond Felton were the best point guard in the league.

Felton is the only point guard under contract here, and point guard is as hard a position to fill as any. They had to do something, whether it was through the draft or free-agency (where signing Chris Duhon would have made a lot of sense, and perhaps still does.)

My concern is more specific to Augustin: A scout I greatly respect wonders if, because of Augustin's size (6-foot, at best), he'll end up a career backup.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 29, 2008 at 07:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (117)

June 27, 2008

Bobcats' Felton appears safe - for now

Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins did his best Friday to pour water on talk out of New York that Raymond Felton would be traded to the Knicks.

Higgins said there was "no truth"

to a report in the New York Daily News that the Bobcats might swap Felton for forward David Lee.

Higgins got a lot of questions Friday about whether the Bobcats drafting Texas' D.J. Augustin meant Felton might be ticketed out of town. Higgins said he expects Felton to be this team's starting point guard heading into training camp; that while Augustin is probably ready to be the backup, there'a no reason to assume he'd pass Felton in the rotation anytime soon.

I don't think the Bobcats are looking to ditch Felton, but I'm confident that if the right deal crossed the team's path, Felton is hardly untouchable.

Posted by rbonnell on June 27, 2008 at 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Few exempt from trade discussions

It might be too strong to say the Bobcats' Gerald Wallace is being shopped. It sure wouldn't be too strong to say his name is in play.

The Bobcats were in serious discussions with the Toronto Raptors about a deal that could have swapped Wallace for T.J. Ford. It didn't happen, but that's the clearest indication yet how active the Bobcats are in seeing what their players might bring in trade.

I assure you Wallace isn't alone. Raymond Felton could be moved, and so could just about anyone else with perhaps the exception of Jason Richardson.

That's what happens sometimes when you make over the coaching staff. New management wants to start over, and the Bobcats ate up a lot of salary-cap room the past year to re-sign Wallace and Matt Carroll and add Richardson and Nazr Mohammed.

Stay tuned.

Posted by rbonnell on June 27, 2008 at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (63)

June 26, 2008

Nets' Jefferson heading to Bucks?

Sounds like a deal is done between the Nets and Bucks that sends Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee and Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons to New Jersey.

You don't have to be much of a conspiracy theorist to see where this is headed: Discarding Jefferson's $15 million salary for the 2010-11 season gives the Nets abundant cap room to be in the bidding war for LeBron James when he hits free-agency in the summer of 2010.

By the way, a minor Bobcats note: The team is picking up Jermareo Davidson's option at about $711,000  for next season.

Posted by rbonnell on June 26, 2008 at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (52)

answers to questions

we're having such technical glitches, so I'll just do my best to paraphrase your questions. Someone asked about the Cavaliers. They're trying to add veterans to max out their window of opportunity before LeBron James becomes an unrestricted free agent. Very much a win-now approach and Danny Ferry might have a blank check from the owner. The 19th pick doesn't do them much good, so I suspect they'd move that for a vet. Also, they're open to dealing Anderson Varejao, who expects a LOT of money once he opts out of his contract after next season

Any chance the Bobcats take DeAndre Jordan at #20? He's gonna be the surprise of the draft and then I wouldn't mind drafting Augustine with their first pick. This could be a good draft if they get Augustine and Jordan.

DeAndre Jordan = a poor man's Dwight Howard and a poor man's Dwight Howard = a pretty good player.

On DeAndre Jordan: If you draft him, be prepared for a long time horizon in getting anything out of him. Same with LSU's Anthony Randolph. You must have patience these days with draft picks because they're so young, but always keep something in mind about the Bobcats' situation: There's real economic pressure to make the playoffs sooner, not later

Someone asked a question about Roy Hibbert, calling him "soft'' No, he's not soft. He is non-athletic -- not much of a runner, not much of a leaper. His plus is genuine size, good hands (a fine passer) and a more sophisticated understanding of the game than most of these guys, after four years of college. He has flaws, and I'm not promoting him, but soft is an odd description.

From a reader:

Trade #9, #20, and Morrison to T-Wolves for #3. They get a shooter, and if they're obsessed with the 'stache, let them have him.

Then trade #3, Boykins, and May (both potential fits or, at the very least, expiring contracts) to the Heat for #2 and Mark Blount. That way, Miami can unload some cap money and still draft Mayo. We get Beasley, unload our overpaid underachievers, and get a backup C/PF.

Get a backup PG in the second round, or make a play for Beno Udrih or Jannero Pargo with the cap room freed up by the departure of Boykins, Ammo, and May.

Guys: This is the sort of stuff that might be fun in chat rooms, but it doesn't reflect NBA reality. For instance, Boykins is not under contract -- he's an unrestricted free agent -- so you can't trade him. Second, this has no reflection of balancing salaries, which is how NBA trades are done. And perhaps most importantly, why would another team consider players coming off year-long injuries (Morrison and May) valuable? Miami would have no more use for an injured May than the Bobcats would.

Question: think we should trade Okafor and the 20th pick to Minnesota for five towels and two bags of chips. I think we'd be making out like bandits.

I realize this is an effort at humor (barely) but why are people so down on Okafor? He was drafted second in the 2004 draft and he's been the second-best player (behind Dwight Howard). He's averaging a double-double, which isn't easy in the NBA. Is he worth more than what the Bobcats offered last summer? No, but that doesn't mean he's a stiff. It's hard to find goalies at the rim, and that's what he is. He's not going to get a lot better than he was as a rookie, but didn't we all kind of know that coming in? He was a finished product, with a limited upside.

Rick according to most analysts and experts, the bobcats most glaring need is point guard and a big center to take some of the pressure off Okafor. Currently the Bobcats sit at 9 and 20th overall in the draft. Do you think in staying at those positions the Bobcats will be able to select players that will satisfy those needs and make it over the hurdle next season and actually make the playoffs? or do they in most certaindy have to trade up to get a immediate impact player? and if that is the case is there a player that will be available that can do that? if so who?

Obviously point guard and big man are the places they need help. But if you're looking for immediate impact from a modern-day rookie, that's a reach. That's why last year's trade -- a lottery pick and a bunch of cap room in return for Jason Richardson -- worked out. But the Bobcats no longer have that kind of room under their cap.

With new reports suggesting that Miami will take Mayo or Bayless, do you think the Bobcats have any chance of sliding up and drafting Beasley?

Ira Winderman, a great reporter for the Ft. Lauderdale paper, has covered the Heat from day 1. He doesn't believe the Heat is angling to draft Mayo or Bayless No. 2. He thinks the Heat ran those workouts to cover their bases, should the Heat trade down.


Just curious if you think there is any chance we try to enter the Beasely sweepstakes? Whats the latest on potential trades that you have heard from the "sources"?

Beasley better be great, because to jump from No. 9 to No. 2, the Bobcats would have to bust up its team. Sometimes the deal you don't make is the best deal of all.

Hey Rick,

We've all been amused at how the Bobcats do the exact opposite of what you predict. Why do you still trust your inside source there?

You mean like my source telling me Larry Brown was knee-deep in the Bobcats job before they came out and fired Sam Vincent? Or the source who told me they were trolling for an extra pick in the early 20s? I'm president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association. I know what my peers think of me.

Hate to break it to you, but Hibbert is softer than McClatchy's ad revenue, and the idea of drafting him is more ill-conceived than this chat.

Few things are softer than McClatchy's ad revenue these days.

Rick, we saw in the spring a Panthers football organization that had an aggressive approach in the draft from the moment it began. Do you get the same feeling from the Bobcats with a new coach and a solid core in place that they are trying to make a legitimate run without detracting too much from what they have built up?

I think the Bobcats are being plenty aggressive; they already committed to giving up a future first for an extra pick this draft. The question isn't how hard you're trying, it's what you accomplish. And it's hard -- much harder than fans realize -- to pull off a consequential trade in the NBA with all the side factors, like salary cap, that get in the way.

Are the TarCats really this desperate?

Michael Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, writing on the paper's "Memphis Edge" blog.

Before trading for the 20th pick, the Charlotte Bobcats asked Memphis to take anyone on their roster for the No. 5 pick. It's something that hasn't been completely ruled out. Now that Charlotte owns the ninth and 20th picks, don't be shocked if the Griz agreed to take players plus the ninth and 20th picks for the fifth and 28th selections

Actually, it's Ron Tillery, and he's a good reporter. This is the time of year when a LOT is discussed. I do think that Charlotte's veterans are more available for the right price than management wants to let on. Three different league sources have told me in the past 24 hours that Bobcats worked the phones hard, assessing what these vets would bring in trade. Don't confuse that with a fire sale, but change is certainly possible.

Rick - seems like one question touched a nerve there....simmer down.

My question is this - are as many basketball execs as enamoured with getting the next "big star" out of the draft, at any pick #, as fans and basketball analysts are? If you look at the history of NBA drafts, teams are lucky to get really solid backups that they get real benefit from. I would venture to guess that even the solid backups are more productive at their second stop in the League. I don't understand why teams don't go for really good solid players instead of "potential".

Don't the best teams seem to draft solid players? Even if you take Love, or whoever is thought to be a solid long-term player (in Minnies case), at a spot higher than prognosticators say, aren't the odds in your favore of getting more value?

Fred: You sound like a sharp, reasonable guy. Let me tell you two truths about NBA drafts that fans seldom want to hear: 1. These guys seem better than they are because they're new -- "fresh'' takes on more value than it should. 2. An NBA draft typically becomes unreliable once you get in the 20s. Obviously there are exceptions -- a Gilbert Arenas, for instance -- but unlike the NFL draft, quality almost always trumps quantity. I can think of only one trade where a team dramatically helped itself by trading down. That involved the New Jersey Nets, and it worked because Richard Jefferson proved to be a much better player than the NBA at large anticipated.

See ya.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 26, 2008 at 01:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

first question

Why would Charlotte even consider giving up Wallace to move up only 4 spots AND a draft pick? His salary is a bargain by todays standard. Also, does Memphis want us to take back Brian Cardinals contract?

I agree that giving up Wallace to move up four spots seems like a reach, and I don't think I'd make that deal, although there would be other benefits to the Bobcats. The Grizzlies would be one of the few teams that could absorb Wallace's salary without sending something back, so it would help the Bobcats' cap situation. However, if you give up Wallace, you've discarded the player you developed from the expansion draft -- essentially the Bobcats' version of Dell Curry.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 26, 2008 at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


Hy, it's Rick Bonnell with you for the next hour, ready to field some things. There's no doubt the Bobcats are motivated to make another deal today and willing to give up a veteran and/or picks to make something happen. They've been talking to Memphis. Doesn't mean they will make a deal; so much gets discussed this time of year -- some of it in great detail -- without a deal happening. But there's no doubt there's a mandate for change with Larry Brown's arrival. Questions?

Posted by Observer Sports on June 26, 2008 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Would Wallace be part of Grizzlies deal?

I wrote in today's Observer that if the Bobcats are moving up from the No. 9 pick tonight, their most logical trade partner is the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 5.

If the Bobcats and Grizzlies do business tonight, I wouldn't be surprised if a deal could include forward Gerald Wallace.

The Grizzlies have the cap room to absorb Wallace's $9.5 million salary next season. He'd be attractive to the Grizzlies, who need to get tougher and be more energetic defensively.

Now, you have to ask yourself a question: Is giving up Wallace and one or more of Charlotte's first-round picks (ninth and 20th) worth the chance to draft Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love, plus get some salary-cap relief?

That's something Bobcats management should ponder long and hard before pulling the trigger.

Posted by rbonnell on June 26, 2008 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Trade veteran? Here's the scoop

The Bobcats have been assessing the value of their players in trade, a fairly common practice around draft time. Based on the impressions of several NBA sources, the following patterns have emerged:

  • If the Bobcats have an untouchable right now, it’s Jason Richardson. They have virtually no willingness to trade him.
  • They’re not nearly as interested in moving Raymond Felton as some Felton-bashers might think.
  • Gerald Wallace or Emeka Okafor could be had by another team (though with Okafor – a restricted free agent – that would have to be a sign-and-trade). That doesn’t mean either one is being shopped, but they’re available.
  • The injured forwards, Sean May and Adam Morrison, could easily be thrown into anything to make a deal work.

    Bottom line on all this: Other teams haven’t shown much enthusiasm for giving up much of consequence in trade for the Bobcats’ veterans.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 26, 2008 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

NBA Draft: Live Blog

Reporter Rick Bonnell will be available today from 1-2 p.m. to discuss tonight's NBA draft and answer reader questions. Just write your question or comment in the comments section below.


Posted by Observer Sports on June 26, 2008 at 03:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)