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August 31, 2009

Little movement in Felton-Bobcats talks

 Raymond Felton and the Charlotte Bobcats aren't much closer to a long-term deal, with a month left until training camp.

"It hasn't changed much for the better,'' Bradbury said of negotiations with the front office. "We've had conversation and we hope we'll reach agreement...

"There hasn't been a ton of movement.''

Bradbury maintains that Felton, the team's starting point guard, wants to be in Charlotte for the long haul. Felton could sign a one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer that would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. But Bradbury said they wouldn't consider doing that until long-term options are exhausted.

It's Bradbury's understanding that the earliest the Bobcats could hypothetically rescind that qualifying offer is Oct. 1. I'd find it unlikely the Bobcats would do that, since they'd lose the option to match any other team's contract offer to Felton.

I'm sure it's neither side's preference for Felton to play out this season and reach unrestricted free-agency. But I wouldn't be surprised if that's what ends up happening.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2009 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

August 26, 2009

Iverson: Grizzlies make an offer

 Allen Iverson said on his Twitter account that the Memphis Grizzlies made an offer this week. While Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace wouldn't address that specifically, Wallace told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, "We have a strong level of interest in him and we've made that clear to him.''

We know the Bobcats are also interested in Iverson, but I doubt the local NBA team is in position to get in a bidding war. As coach Larry Brown indicated last week, something else would have to happen to open up minutes and salary to sign Iverson.

Wallace told the Commercial-Appeal he anticipates Iverson picking a team in the "next couple of weeks,'' so it doesn't sound like Memphis is pushing Iverson for a quick decision. 

Posted by Observer Sports on August 26, 2009 at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

August 22, 2009

Iverson's 'Practice' rant still follows him

          Allen Iverson was a You Tube classic long before You Tube was invented.

          The year was 2002. The Philadelphia 76ers' season had just concluded, and coach Larry Brown had made some blunt remarks about Iverson's practice habits. More specifically, his lack-of-practice habits.

          Then it got ugly. And intensely entertaining.

          This is the "Practice? We're talking about practice!'' rant. Iverson, unplugged: How he brings it every game, how he sacrifices his body, how silly it is tell him what to do in the time between games.

          Then someone asked if he understood that practicing with Iverson – the best and least replaceable player on the Sixers' roster – might benefit his teammates.

          "How the Hell,'' Iverson replied, "can I make my teammates better by practicing?''

          There you have it; what the Charlotte Bobcats would get if they go ahead and sign Iverson. Iverson isn't a bad guy, and he's the fifth-best scorer in NBA history. But if you're looking for a leader, a nurturer, someone who will raise the character or intensity of your locker room, you've wasted your time.

          Iverson is Manny Ramirez when he went from the Red Sox to the Dodgers: A great talent who some teams – many teams, actually – would consider more trouble than he's worth. He'll be a mercenary; someone with such talent you overlook the pimples.

          There will be pimples if he's a Bobcat. He's a Hell-raiser, and now-Bobcats coach Brown knows that.  Brown sees what a good locker room the Bobcats have, and must figure they can manage Iverson's quirks.

          My buddy, Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News, once explained all this: A superstar is supposed to make his team better, but the Sixers made Iverson better that year they made the NBA Finals.

          Here's why – they were all he wasn't. Between Eric Snow, Aaron McKie and George Lynch, they compensated for Iverson's flaws. They allowed him to do what he does without imploding.

          I hope Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton – the leaders in the Bobcats' locker room – can be all that. But that's quite a burden to lug.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 22, 2009 at 09:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

No deal yet, but Iverson-to-Bobcats viable

Dime Magazine's web site reports that Allen Iverson and the Bobcats already have agreed to terms on a contract that will be signed within a week.

I'm told by a great source that's not true. However, that doesn't mean Iverson won't be a Bobcat. It sounds like there's a good chance that will happen. My source says definitively that Iverson's first choice is to play for Larry Brown again in Charlotte, and that there have been serious discussions about making that happen.

However, there are complications. As Brown told me and ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan, the team's payroll and roster both stand in the way. With the Bobcats inching toward the luxury-tax threshold, it's problematic to make Iverson a fair offer, even in a depressed economy. Minutes are another issue: With Raja Bell, D.J. Augustin and restricted free agent Raymond Felton on the roster, where would Brown find sufficient playing time for a nine-time All-Star who averaged nearly 42 minutes his first 12 NBA seasons?

If any guard is traded, I'm guessing it would be Bell, whose contract expires following the coming season.

The attraction of Iverson is obvious: You'd be adding a great scorer to a team that was last in the NBA in scoring and you'd be adding a star to a team struggling to sell tickets and create a buzz.

But there are plenty of challenges, too. The net effect of replacing Bell with Iverson would be making the Bobcats smaller and weaker defensively. Let's say, just to play this out, that Felton and Iverson are this team's starting backcourt, backed up by Augustin and rookie Gerald Henderson. That means Felton would usually have to defend the opposing team's shooting guard. Is it workable to ask him to guard Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson on a nightly basis?

Also, there's the chemistry issue. I believe Brown when he says he'd enjoy coaching Iverson again, but obviously Iverson's history is high-maintenance. The Bobcats have great locker room chemistry; Felton and Gerald Wallace are fine leaders and there's a genuine understanding among the players that they're all vested in each other's success

.You'd be betting Iverson would respect and assimilate into all that.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 22, 2009 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (61)

August 19, 2009

Brown: 2 obstacles to signing Iverson

Larry Brown says he'd favor coaching Allen Iverson again, but says the Bobcats' current salary-cap and roster issues would make it difficult to sign Iverson right now.

"We've got a couple of issues -- major issues. One is the money; we wouldn't want to make him an offer that would insult him. And with three small guards (Raymond Felton, Raja Bell and D.J. Augustin) already on the roster, he wouldn't get to play the minutes he deserves. Until one or both of those things changes, I don't see it'' happening.

Iverson, an unrestricted free agent, has sent out several Twitter messsages of late, suggesting the Bobcats are on his short list of teams and that he anticipates signing with some team soon.

Brown, who coached Iverson in Philadelphia, said he'd be all for coaching him again.

"He's done a lot for me, and if we could work it out -- the money, the opportunity to play -- I'd be all for it,'' Brown said. "He's always been good, always been there.''

Posted by Observer Sports on August 19, 2009 at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

Johnson might pull team off the market

How's this for a new twist to the story that never ends: Now I'm hearing Bob Johnson might take the Charlotte Bobcats off the market.

I don't think a final decision has been made, but it sounds like Johnson has misgivings, either about whether to sell or what he's been offered. So it's possible he'll still own controlling interest when the season starts this fall.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 19, 2009 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

August 13, 2009

Bobcats will face Okafor in exhibition

The Bobcats won't wait long to match up with Emeka Okafor - the ex-Charlotte center's new team, the New Orleans Hornets, will face the Bobcats in a preseason exhibition at Greensboro Coliseum Oct. 8.

That will be the second of seven exhibitions for the Bobcats in October. They open the preseason in Cleveland Oct. 6, then get a rematch with the Cavaliers (and LeBron James) Oct. 10 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

The annual "Cool School'' exhibition for middle-school students is Oct. 23 against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Bobcats will again be part of the Los Angeles Lakers' two-night tournament Oct. 17-18.

The schedule (based on a release by the NBA Thursday): Oct. 6, at Cleveland 7 p.m.; Oct. 8 vs. New Orleans at Greensboro Coliseum, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 10 vs. Cleveland at North Charleston Coliseum, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 at Atlanta, 7 p.m.; Oct. 17-18 at L.A. Shootout (vs. Lakers on 17th, vs. Jazz or Clippers on the 18th); Oct. 20 vs. Milwaukee, Time Warner Cable Arena, 7 p.m.; Oct. 23 vs. Memphis, 10:30 a.m. ("Cool School'' exhibition for local middle-school students).

-- Rick Bonnell

Posted by Observer Sports on August 13, 2009 at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

August 12, 2009

Brown may present Robinson

 I hear Bobcats coach Larry Brown -- already a hall-of-fame inductee -- may be the presenter for former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson, next month in Springfield, Mass.

Brown already planned to attend the ceremonies (Sept. 10-12), with Bobcats managing partner Michael Jordan also being inducted. It's a high-profile class, with former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton and coach Jerry Sloan among the inductees.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 12, 2009 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 11, 2009

Like Hornets, Bobcats choose pinstripes


It's not 1988 anymore, and it's no longer the Hornets, but pinstripes are back for the local NBA team.

Entering season No. 6, the Charlotte Bobcats are changing their uniforms.

Based on a jersey worn by rookie Gerald Henderson (above right), the new style will include orange pinstripes on the white home uniforms. The design became public about a month before the team intended, when a trading-card company released a video of rookie photo-shoots.

Bobcats spokesman B.J. Evans said the team is still doing a final review of the new look, but that the Henderson picture is as "close as it's going to get'' to how they'll appear. The road uniforms will use blue (rather than orange) as the primary color; the team has been transitioning that way since introducing a blue "alternative'' road uniform a couple of years ago.

The then-Charlotte Hornets introduced teal-pinstriped jerseys when they debuted here in '88. At the time, those pinstripes were distrinctive in basketball. The now-New Orleans Hornets have returned to that look.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 11, 2009 at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (67)

August 10, 2009

On Pietrus, Felton and money


 I just got off the phone with Bobcats coach Larry Brown, who confirmed a report in the French sports daily L'Equipe linking Florent Pietrus (above left) with the Bobcats.

Florent Pietrus is a 6-7 forward and the brother of Mickael Pietrus of the Orlando Magic. If the two brothers play at all alike, I can see why Brown would be interested; he loves strong, physical swingmen. Brown saw Pietrus with the French national team this summer, while monitoring Bobcats Boris Diaw and Alexis Ajinca.

"A lot of interest,'' Brown said, when asked about Florent Pietrus. "But right now we're really focused on Raymond (Felton, the team's unsigned starting point guard). That affects everything else.''

I'd pay close attention to the second half of Brown's statement: The Bobcats are very cost-conscious this summer, particularly in the absence of knowing Felton's salary number. They still need a backup power forward, and were out-bid for players like Hakim Warrick and Drew Gooden to fill that need.

I also spoke with Felton's agent, Kevin Bradbury, who said nothing has changed in those negotiations, but there's still a lot of time until the start of camp in late September. Bradbury believes it's in Felton's and the team's best interest to work out a long-term deal. He said Felton signing the $5.5 million qualifying offer -- making him an unrestricted free agent the summer of 2010 -- would be a last resort.

If the Bobcats don't sign another power forward, I assume Brown will have no choice but to try Ajinca in the rotation. That would be an interesting experiment in whether Ajinca is strong enough to guard NBA big men without quickly fouling out.

(Photo: France's Tony Parker, right, reacts as his teammates Florent Pietrus, left, looks on during the Euro 2009 basketball qualifying round France vs Finland, in Pau, southwestern France on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009. AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Posted by Observer Sports on August 10, 2009 at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)