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July 29, 2009

Chandler's blog: Bobcats moving 'in right direction'

New Bobcats center Tyson Chandler says in his blog that he's excited about coming to Charlotte, but sad to be leaving his former teammates in New Orleans, especially guard Chris Paul. But Chandler says he thinks the Bobcats are moving "in the right direction" and will be in Charlotte on Thursday to meet with team officials and take a physical. -- David Scott 

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2009 at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

July 28, 2009

Live updates from Tyson Chandler Q&A, 4 p.m.

We'll provide live updates from the media teleconference with the newest Charlotte Bobcat, center Tyson Chandler, scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Chandler was acquired from the New Orleans Hornets in a trade for Emeka Okafor. Once the teleconference starts, you'll have to hit refresh to get the latest information.

-- Conference call scheduled to begin at 4. We're waiting for Tyson Chandler now.

-- Teleconference starting.

-- Chandler says he's thrilled and excited about opportunity, and chance to play for Larry Brown.

-- Says he's feeling better than he did on the court. Had toe and ankle surgery after the end  of the season. Cleaned up both areas. Says he has good movement in toe, looking to gain confidence in ankle.

-- Doesn't believe physical will be a problem.

-- Always admired Larry Brown going against him, and quality of teams he put together. And says he has ESPN Classic, so he's seen him there.

-- Talked to Brown this morning, expressed his passion for the game.

-- Sees himself fitting in well. Style of play under coach Brown, more uptempo and playing hard, fits his style. 

-- Says team needs to get rid of mentality of losing and gain confidence, and understand that it's supposed to win in this league.

-- Exciting to play with Boris Diaw, knows how well he passes and how unselfish he is. Has also watched two young point guards, Felton and Augustine. Looking forward to getting up and down the floor.

-- Technical difficulties, we've lost Chandler.

-- He's back.

-- Chandler says Brown discussed way he coaches, day-to-day expectations. Says he knows what Brown demands, was not necessary to discuss. Says his effort is every-night.

--  Chandler says Bobcats have a chance to make the playoffs. He discussed with Brown need to develop winning mentality and intensity, and he intends to bring that attitude.

-- Entered same situation in New Orleans, brought in Chris Paul, David West, himself, and developed winning mentality to reach playoffs. Did not accept losing, which meant working hard every day in practice and believing in each other. Next couple of years, became championship contenders.

-- Challenge of Dwight Howard, etc.? Accepts that challenge, respects their games, but looks forward to coming in and making an impact in the Eastern Conference.

-- Timing on surgery, right after season in May, he thinks May 7. Started just ankle, doctor discussed options, surgery should make him 100 percent for this season.

-- Rehabbing and strengthening all summer.

-- Just starting to kick in gear and work on post moves and other basketball activities. Already doing bike, needs to move to agility drills.

-- To work on this summer, touch around the basket, hook shot with both hands, post moves. Also working on strength, free throw shooting.

-- Doesn't want to explore his weaknesses with callers.

-- Says he has to work on footwork, and wanted to do that in summer. Injury and surgery delayed that.

-- Excited to be healthy and working on things again.

-- Being on trade block didn't irritate him. Means other teams think highly of his talent. Lot of teams out there who wanted him and wanted to trade for him.

-- Teleconference has concluded.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2009 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Live updates from Bobcats teleconference, 2 p.m.

We'll be providing live updates from the teleconference with coach Larry Brown and GM Rod Higgins starting at 2 p.m. here. Once the teleconference starts and we begin live posts, you'll have to hit refresh for the latest information.

-- It's 2 p.m., and we're waiting for the teleconference with Larry Brown, the Bobcats' coach, and Bobcats GM Rod Higgins to start.

-- They'll be discussing the trade of Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats' first-ever draft selection, to the New Orleans Hornets for center Tyson Chandler.

-- Still waiting for teleconference to begin. Welcome to the exciting world of sports journalism.

-- Teleconference starting now.

-- B.J. Evans of Bobcats Communications hosting.

-- Larry Brown, on Chandler and injury concerns. "I don't think we'd make a deal if we weren't sure he was healthy."

-- Brown: "He's long and can play multiple positions."

-- Higgins: "Emeka was a contributor from the start of the Bobcats, so we wish him well."

-- Higgins: Chandler had surgery on ankle in early May, anticipate a full recovery.

-- Higgins: Chandler has two years left on contract. And on '10-11 he has a player option on his contract. Emeka has five years left. You can see where opportunities lie going forward.

-- Higgins: Our goal is to be a better basketball team, so this trade does not mean there won't be other moves in trades or free agency. Says team will continue to try to improve.

-- Brown says Chandler, Muhammad and Diop could all potentially start at center. Says Chandler can play more than one position, giving team more depth. Athletic enough, quick enough to guard perimeter.

-- Brown says he thought Emeka made unbelievable progress, and said he would work on his game in offseason.

-- Gave up a starting center, expects they got a starting center in return, Brown says.

-- Brown: This was a basketball decision. Okafor did everything he asked.

-- How quickly did the trade materialize? Higgins:Conversations all year, but took a turn over the weekend, when both sides began to feel comfortable. Moved quickly after that. Got legs in the media last night.

-- Tyson's defense? Brown expects Chandler to be able to press and get up and down the floor, which Bobcats would like to do. "Maybe, in some ways things that Emeka does, Tyson can't do. But there are things that Tyson can do that might be a plus," Brown says. 

-- Expects Chandler, Boris Diaw, Gerald Wallace to all play multiple positions. Mobility on perimeter is key to way Brown expects and wants to play.

-- Chandler feeding off Chris Paul? Brown: Anybody playing with Chris Paul is going to benefit. Believes with Felton, Diaw, etc., Bobcats have players who can pass the ball as well. -- Says Chandler has skills to dribble to start the break. That will be a skill that will help team run. 

-- Chandler's playoff experience a factor? Brown: We want to acquire talent. Whole league has gotten better, cites Washington and Toronto. 

-- Brown: You  can't afford to stand pat. -- Expect Chandler in town end of the week to develop plan for rehab and development.

-- Update on negotiations with Felton? Higgins says no, letting water settle after initial conversation. Definitely have time, will continue to have open communication.

-- Trade still pending physicals.

-- Higgins says Bobcats are still looking to improve the basketball team.

-- Conference call has concluded.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2009 at 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Okafor-for-Chandler trade is official

   The Charlotte Bobcats' trade of center Emeka Okafor to the New Orleans Hornets is official.

      Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins announced that the team has acquired 7-1 center Tyson Chandler from the Hornets for Okafor.

     "We looked at this trade as an opportunity to improve our team,” Higgins said. “Tyson brings that unique level of athleticism in a 7-footer that puts us in a position to compete night in and night out with the other quality centers in the league.”

      Okafor, who is 6-foot-10, averaged 14 points and 10.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Bobcats, averaging a double-double in each of those seasons.

      In 197 games with New Orleans, Chandler averaged 10.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He missed 29 of the team’s final 44 games last season because of left ankle injuries.

       Chandler has played eight NBA seasons, for Chicago and New Orleans, and has career averages of 8.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He has shot .554 from the field (1,671-3,014).

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2009 at 12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (36)

July 17, 2009

May has multiple options, post-Vegas

A quick update on ex-Bobcat Sean May's auditions in Las Vegas:

May emailed me to say he worked out for Cleveland, Chicago, Sacramento, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers. He says that resulted in multiple contract offers that he and his agent (Arn Tellem) are considering.

Talking to others who saw him in Las Vegas (where most of the NBA's 30 teams have converged for summer league), May is in good shape -- trimmed down both in terms of weight and body fat. Many of you don't want to hear this, but I think May understands he's running out of chances to restore his reputation as an NBA player. Wherever that next stop is, I think he'll take it very seriously. May is one of the smarter people I know, as NBA players go.

This is just my educated guess -- not inside information -- but if I were May, I'd give Sacramento every consideration. The Kings aren't close to playoff contention and they need more big men. So there's playing time available, and May needs every opportunity to prove he's ready to contribute. He's no longer a former lottery pick; he's a guy in search of work. 

Posted by Observer Sports on July 17, 2009 at 04:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (59)

July 16, 2009

Portland a factor in Felton talks?

 Chances are, the Bobcats have leverage in these negotiations with restricted free-agent point guard Raymond Felton. That could potentially change -- emphasize the word "potentially'' -- if the Utah Jazz chooses to match the Portland Trail Blazers' offer sheet to power forward Paul Millsap.

If Millsap goes back to Utah, then Portland starts shopping again. The Blazers would be one of the few teams with considerable salary-cap room this summer and GM Kevin Pritchard has acknowledged some interest in Felton.

I don't know if Felton would be next on Portland's wish list. And even then, would the Blazers value Felton enough to offer him more than the Bobcats would match to retain him? All good questions, because it's hard to gauge how the Bobcats' financial issues affect what they would or wouldn't do to maintain their core talent.

Recall managing partner Michael Jordan saying he didn't see any situation "where (Felton) is not with us.'' It would be interesting to see some other team test that presumption.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 16, 2009 at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (44)

July 14, 2009

Felton agent positive entering meeting

Raymond Felton's agent, Kevin Bradbury, says he "absolutely'' thinks things are moving positively toward Felton re-signing with the Bobcats.

Bradbury said he is scheduled to meet with Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins in Las Vegas Tuesday night. While I don't anticipate that meeting being any make-or-break event in the Bobcats retaining their point guard, it's encouraging that Bradbury has positive vibes about the on-going talks.

Felton, a restricted free agent, wants a long-term deal. He's made it clear his first preference is to stay with the Bobcats.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 14, 2009 at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (36)

July 13, 2009

May auditioning for four teams in Vegas

 The Bobcats might be skipping Las Vegas this summer, but Sean May is out there, looking for employment.

May told me via email Monday night that he'll work out for Portland and Sacramento Tuesday, Cleveland Wednesday and the Clippers on Thursday. Most NBA executives are in Las Vegas this week for the annual summer league. So with May saying he's in good health and conditioning, it's logical for him head to Vegas for some informal auditions.

May became an unrestricted free agent after the Bobcats chose not to make him a $3.6 million-plus qualifying offer. However, with the Bobcats still needing a backup power forward, general manager Rod Higgins has said he's open to the idea of re-signing May.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 13, 2009 at 11:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (51)

July 10, 2009

Don't panic in July about Felton

I got an email Thursday from a reader wondering what the hold-up is in Raymond Felton re-signing with the Bobcats. The inference was there's something amiss if Felton isn't already under contract.

I submit there'd be something amiss if Felton was already under contract.

I'm on record as saying the Bobcats have, at times, been too quick to use up payroll. If you read me regularly, you know what I think of trading two expiring contracts for Nazr Mohammed's deal or exercising the option on Adam Morrison's contract last fall.

In contrast, the Bobcats have a history of dealing wisely with restricted free agents. They made offers to Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, and when those initial offers were rejected, they advised the agents to go shop their clients, knowing full well they'd have the option to match any offer sheet.

And ultimately, Wallace and Okafor signed back with the Bobcats, rather than accept a one-year qualifying offer.

It doesn't matter whether Felton re-signs in July or September. What matters is that the Bobcats and Felton's representatives find common ground before the start of training camp. That's a long way off. So don't lose any sleep about Felton not being signed at mid-summer.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 10, 2009 at 12:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

July 08, 2009

Bobcats sign rookie Henderson

The Charlotte Bobcats confirmed that they have signed rookie Gerald Henderson, the No. 12 overall pick in the NBA draft, to his rookie-scale contract.

That guarantees him this season and next with two one-year team options.

Since the Bobcats are not fielding a summer-league team, Henderson will play in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rick Bonnell

Posted by Observer Sports on July 8, 2009 at 06:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)