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September 30, 2009

Yes, the Bobcats really will run

Hey all,

Some of you contacted me, mentioning how some Bobcats were talking about running more this season and wondering if this was for real, or the way NBA teams always talk in the preseason.

Good question. I looked into this -- http://www.charlotteobserver.com/bobcats/story/978401.html -- and I found it fascinating. I'll tell you that NBA teams talk all the time about running, but the grind of 82 games turns most teams into the same team, playing at a mid-level pace.

I think the Bobcats are sincere in looking into this for the reasons in the story; they have the personnel to run and the need to run. Y'all talk about how the Bobcats can't score and I do, too. So Larry Brown exploring ways to get some easy baskets and buying himself a few extra seconds in the halfcourt offense is precisely why he's the right guy for this job.

Some other thoughts, off two days of two-a-day practice:

-- Vlade Radmanovic looks good, in that he has to be more fluid than he was as a Laker. The triangle offense turned him into a specialist, as in "You stand over there while Kobe does his thing, and sometime the ball will rotate to you for a jump shot.'' Brown expects Radmanovic to roll to the basket, to be more athletic than he's been in a long time. And he's trying like crazy to make it work.

-- Brown is beating up on Lex Ajinca and Gana Diop in practice. He's roughing them up about their sloppy screens and slow recognition of what's going on around them. Good. The Bobcats are shaky inside, with Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw watching from the sideline. So Brown is coaching these guys up to turn them into NBA players.

This is different from what Brown did last season with Jermareo Davidson and Ryan Hollins. Those guys weren't going to make it, and Brown saw that coming. He knows Ajinca and Diop have major potential, if they get their acts  together. So he's testing that now, before the games that count begin.

-- Gerald Henderson made perfect sense as the Bobcats' lottery pick. He filled a huge hole at shooting guard, he's tough and he's been well coached.. But I wonder if second-round pick Derrick Brown is just as good, with more long-term potential.

Brown has intelligence and versatility and those are the qualities that get Larry Brown excited. He's a long way from belonging on an NBA court in the regular season, but that kid can play.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2009 at 08:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Chandler, Diaw out for 4 exhibitions

   Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown said Wednesday he doesn’t anticipate using center Tyson Chandler or power forward Boris Diaw in any of the first four preseason exhibitions.


  Chandler is coming back from off-season ankle and toe surgery, performed before the trade to the Bobcats. Diaw sprained an ankle while playing for the French national team earlier this month.


  Neither injury is considered serious. In fact, Chandler says he feels better than he anticipated, after participating in a few drills in the first two days of training camp. But Brown will take the conservative approach with two projected starters.


“They won’t probably be playing until we go to L.A. (in mid-October) -- that’s the target date. And if they didn’t (play) in L.A., we still have three games’’ before the season-opener in Boston Oct. 28.


The trip to Los Angeles is for the Lakers’ preseason tournament. The Bobcats play the Lakers Oct. 17, then either the Clippers or Utah Jazz Oct. 18.


 “I want us to be cautious’’ with the injuries, Brown said, “but you also don’t want them to be way behind.’’


  Diaw sat out the first three practices. Chandler hasn’t yet been cleared for full-speed, 5-on-5 drills.


  “I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on his rehab,’’ Brown said of Chandler. “He’s such a conscientious kid that after we practiced yesterday, he grabbed the rookies to go over the plays.’’


Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2009 at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

September 29, 2009

Brown on replacement referees

-- Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown has been around long enough to have experienced replacement referees twice in the NBA. He's hoping to avoid a third such experience.

The league has locked out its refs in a labor dispute, and the NBA is gathering up replacements from the developmental league, the WNBA, etc. Brown says you don't realize how good NBA refs are until they're absent.

"If you talk to all the players and all the coaches, we might have differences (with certain referees) but you realize how good those guys really are. They work their (butts) off to be great at it,'' Brown said. "So it's a very difficult thing for me, personally. I've been with a lot of those guys my whole career. I've watched them get better.

 "If we're going to get young (refs) coming in, I don't know if they're ready -- just like our (rookies).''

 -- The first practice of training camp Tuesday morning wasn't nearly as grueling as Raymond Felton anticipated. Maybe Brown took it easy on them or maybe it's that most of them now know the conditioning that's expected of them by this coach.

 -- Felton and others are talking a lot about running more this season. This is a team with the speed to run the break, particularly when you add Tyson Chandler's athleticism at center. Brown is all for that, if the wing players are motivated to get out in front of the point guard to make running efficient. We'll see.

-- Chandler, coming back from ankle surgery, will be worked in slowly. They don't want him scrimmaging yet, so for now he's limited to drill work.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Brown vents -- but he's subtle

Larry Brown is trying to be a team player, but it's not easy these days.

During his media availability Monday, Brown was asked about what the Bobcats could have done for a backup power forward. Brown mentioned that Drew Gooden was available. Brown mentioned that Hakim Warrick was available. Brown mentioned that Antonio McDyess was available.

You'll notice that none of those players are on the Bobcats roster as training camp starts here Tuesday morning. What does that tell you about the Bobcats' commitment to winning?

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2009 at 01:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

September 28, 2009

Brown fires a zinger at Ajinca

 When Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown sends a message, it's seldom ambiguous. Case in point: What he said Monday about the lacking effort Alexis Ajinca showed this summer in tryouts for the French national team:

"I was going (to France) to drink the wine and eat the food. After watching him, nothing tastes good,'' Brown said of his second-year big man. "He showed no interest in making their team or playing hard. It was almost like he didn't think he had a chance to make the team, didn't understand why he was there. I looked at that as a wonderful opportunity. Boris (Diaw) approached it that way and played for 10 weeks'' over the summer.

Ajinca moped occasionally over not playing much as a rookie and was eventually sent to the Bobcats' development-league affiliate, then in Sioux Falls, S.D. Now there are abundant minutes available behind Diaw at power forward, and Brown doesn't want Ajinca squandering this opportunity.

"I think he has an understanding of what we want and he certainly has the talent,'' Brown said. "He has to allow us to coach him. If not, instead of being in Sioux Falls, S.D., he'll be in Portland, Maine.''

Portland is the Bobcats' new D-League affiliate.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2009 at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

September 25, 2009

More on Murray and Bobcats

-- Coach Larry Brown says the effect of Raja Bell's late-season injuries last spring was a factor in the Charlotte Bobcats' desire to add Flip Murray to the backcourt.

"When Raja got hurt, it was telling that we were in trouble,'' Brown said of the late-season fade that took the Bobcats out of playoff contention.

This is about Murray's versatility -- he can play either guard spot, so he adds versatility to a backcourt that needed that kind of security. Brown's ideal roster always includes three players who can handle the ball. Murray can do that, but he can also score, either as a point or shooting guard. The Bobcats didn't have a player -- particularly a veteran -- quite like that last season.

-- The Bobcats didn't make Murray any promises about playing time, but they also aren't limiting him. Brown says it's wrong to niche Murray as the fifth guard in the backcourt mix.

-- Murray's agent, Mark Termini, said the Bobcats' willingness to pay Murray the bi-annual exception (just under $2 million this season) was a key factor in him signing in Charlotte. Brown called it "mind-boggling'' that a player of Murray's ability was still available days before training camp.

-- You might remember me blogging recently that small forward Stevie Graham looked likely to be a training-camp invitee. Count on it. The remaining open question is what to do for a backup power forward.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 25, 2009 at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

September 24, 2009

Murray appears headed to Charlotte

Just got confirmation from an NBA source that the Bobcats are close to a deal with free agent Flip Murray to be their third point guard.

This makes great sense, since Murray can play both guard positions in a pinch. He's a better fit that way than Rashad McCants might have been and coach Larry Brown always prefers to have three point guards on his roster.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 24, 2009 at 10:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

McCants would have been a Bobcats luxury

I can't say I'm surprised Rashad McCants signed with the Houston Rockets, despite his obvious interest in being a Charlotte Bobcat.

McCants needs a place to land that keeps him in the NBA. And while the Bobcats can always use scoring, a third shooting guard would have been a luxury here. Raja Bell played well last season when healthy and the Bobcats used a lottery pick on Gerald Henderson. So I don't know where McCants minutes would have been. And it's always been coach Larry Brown's leaning to have a third point guard over a third shooting guard.

In other words, McCants signing the same non-guaranteed contract with the Bobcats that he signed with the Rockets just might have gotten him cut at the end of the preseason. 

Posted by Observer Sports on September 24, 2009 at 05:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

September 23, 2009

Felton signs Bobcats qualifying offer

The Charlotte Bobcats and Raymond Felton's agent both confirmed this morning that Felton has signed the one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer for this season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

This amounts to an acknowledgement that the team and Felton couldn't work out a long-term deal. Agent Kevin Bradbury said Felton isn't upset by that and wants to remain in Charlotte.

"Everybody understands the (economic) climate. – what the Bobcats are going through right now,'' Bradbury told the Observer. "He wants to be part of something – he believes the team had good momentum from last season and can be a playoff team. He’s purely focused on his loyalty to the Bobcats and to coach Larry Brown.''

With training camp opening Tuesday, Bradbury said Felton wanted this settled.

"He doesn’t want to be a distraction. He doesn’t want this to get in the way'' of a successful season, Bradbury said. "This summer we were dealing in business, and now he wants to turn to the business of basketball.’’

Felton had little leverage this summer, in the absence of another team offering him a lucrative offer sheet, which the Bobcats would have had the option to match. Assuming Felton plays well this coming season, he'll have far more leverage as an unrestricted free agent.

The difference is next summer, the Bobcats would retain no right to match other team's offers.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (47)

September 21, 2009

Some chatter 7 days 'til Bobcats camp

 -- There were just nine players available for pick-up games Monday, so the Bobcats (plus ex-Bobcat Brevin Knight) played a single game of 4-on-4. Best play I saw was center Nazr Mohammed, bounce-passing around his back to point guard D.J. Augustin, cutting to the basket for a layup.

 -- Rookie Gerald Henderson looks very much as I anticipated -- he plays long for a shooting guard and has good defensive instincts. His offense is limited; oponents are going to challenge him to make jump shots, knowing his strength is driving to the rim.

 -- Don't be surprised if Stephen Graham, twin brother of Toronto Raptor Joey Graham, is in training camp with the Bobcats. After playing for the Indiana Pacers last season, Graham has been working out here, and coach Larry Brown likes the kind of mid-size athlete Graham is.

 -- Many of you anticipate former North Carolina shooting guard Rashad McCants being in Bobcats training camp. I'm not saying that won't happen, but keep this in mind: Brown's ideal roster includes three point guards. So if Raymond Felton, Augustin, Henderson and Raja Bell are all here, the logical use of a fifth guard spot is a playmaker, preferably a big one.

 -- I'd place the odds at 60-40 that Felton plays this season on the one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

 -- At last check, the Bobcats still didn't have a local radio home for the coming season. I think the most logical landing spot is WFNZ, but that was also the case in past seasons. Working out an arrangement with WFNZ is complicated by pre-existing commitments to North Carolina and Charlotte 49ers broadcasts.

 -- One of you emailed me recently, asking about the future first-round pick the Bobcats owe, as compensation for getting Alexis Ajinca. Specifically, the question was whether the NBA would allow the Bobcats to trade another future first, since the league bars teams from dealing away first-rounders in consecutive years.
 The answer: The league would allow the Bobcats to deal a future first, but only with trade language that the second pick would be conveyed at least two seasons after the first. Getting another team to agree to such conditions could be difficult. 

Posted by Observer Sports on September 21, 2009 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (38)