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May 31, 2010

Would you do Turkoglu for Diaw?

Based on what my buddy in Toronto, Doug Smith, is writing http://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/article/816425--smith-if-turk-wants-out-it-s-time-to-say-goodbye it sounds like Hedo Turkoglu and the Raptors might be headed for a quickie divorce.

Makes me wonder: Would Turkoglu-for-Boris Diaw be a good swap for the Raptors and Bobcats?

The salaries are fairly close so you could do a deal without too much trouble. The upside and downside for each team:

The Bobcats would likely improve offensively, and the playoffs demonstrated they need that. Like Diaw, Turk gives you an extra ballhandler at the forward position. Unlike Diaw, Turk can be a consistent scoring threat.

That's the upside. The downside is the Bobcats would be worse defensively for this swap .Diaw can guard all five positions and generally without fouling out. Often the Bobcats' best lineup was going small with Diaw at center. He's always going to be frustrating for his seeming lack of passion, but Diaw's versatility at both ends would be missed. Replacing Diaw with Turk would force Gerald Wallace back into the role of guarding a lot of power forwards.

The most obvious upside for the Raptors would be moving a player who doesn't want to be there and who is owed a lot of money. Beyond that, the Raptors would improve defensively, and they're just about the worst defensive team in the NBA. Also, Diaw would provide some insurance at the power forward position should Chris Bosh leave in free-agency.

The downside? Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo knows all of Diaw's flaws from Colangelo's days running the Phoenix Suns. So he'd know Diaw looks better the first six months after you trade for him than he does two years later. And he'd know Diaw can be moody when he doesn't touch the ball as much as he'd like.

I don't know if such a trade will be discussed, but it seems like something worth kicking around. 

Posted by Observer Sports on May 31, 2010 at 09:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (38)

May 21, 2010

Hey, Cousins: Back away from the buffet

Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins, a possible top-5 pick, might want to keep his distance from the Golden Arches between now and the NBA draft.

The NBA released its weights and measures at the pre-draft combine, and Cousins has an absurd 16.4 percent body fat. I'm reminded of similar results a year ago for Wake Forest's James Johnson, who declared he was swearing off chicken burritos.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 21, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

May 20, 2010

Point guard has never been more valuable

 Is it possible point guard is replacing center as the most coveted position in the NBA?

Probably not:  If the team with the top pick had the choice of a can't- miss center or a can't-miss point guard, I think the 7-footer would still be the pick. But this is more of a decision than ever before.

The last two rookies of the year -- Chicago's Derrick Rose and Sacramento's Tyreke Evans -- were point guards. And even if you think Evans wasn't the best rookie, the alternative -- Golden State's Stephen Curry -- was also a point guard.

Coincidence? No. The position with the most potential for immediate and sustaining impact is point guard. That's partially because of how important the position has always been and partially how the rules now skew in a point guard's favor.

Larry Brown took two years off between being fired by the Knicks and returning with the Bobcats. In the interim, the NBA chose to strictly enforce the no-hand check rule. If you push a point guard in any way when he's dribbling the ball, it's now a foul. That was a reaction to how teams like the Pat Riley-era Knicks used to play hockey on a basketball court.

Brown was struck by how dramatically that changed the game and made the speed-dribblers -- Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Rose and most recently Brandon Jennings -- such weapons.

That's a factor in why Kentucky's John Wall is the favorite to be the first pick. I'm not saying Wall wouldn't be anyway. But, believe me, Wall's skill set is more valuable now than ever before.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 20, 2010 at 11:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Might Bobcats trade into the draft?

Right now the Charlotte Bobcats have no picks in the June 24 draft. Don't be surprised if that changes between now and draft night.

I'm at the NBA's draft combine in Chicago, and I hear the Bobcats are at least subtly investigating what it would cost to trade in -- maybe late into the first round, but more realistically into the second. If they do acquire a pick -- and it's not that hard to trade into the second round -- a name to keep in mind is Alabama point guard Mikhail Torrance.

Torrance said at a media session today that he's scheduled for a job interview here with Bobcats management. That makes some sense. He's a big kid for his position -- roughly 6-5 -- who can play some at either guard spot but has demonstrated the decision-making and defense to be a pro point guard.

Bobcats coach Larry Brown likes to have at least one reserve point guard who is big and can slide over to shooting guard in a pinch. Torrance roughly fits that description and with Raymond Felton entering unrestricted free-agency, this team isn't as deep at the point as it once appeared. 

Posted by Observer Sports on May 20, 2010 at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

May 19, 2010

NBA veteran Scheer joining Bobcats

I hear Carl Scheer, the first general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, is joining the Bobcats in some sort of marketing role.

Good move. The Bobcats got their footing in the community by reaching the playoffs and resolving the ownership issue this spring, but there's still a lot of work to do. Scheer knows the NBA and he knows Charlotte.

His experience goes all the way back to the ABA Carolina Cougars, when he was Bobcats coach Larry Brown's general manager. He's worked for the NBA and several franchises, twice with the Denver Nuggets. He got an arena built in Greenville, S.C., and ran Charlotte's minor-league hockey team, the Checkers, as a part-owner.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 19, 2010 at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

On Magic-Celtics and more

-- Vince, versus Hedo? Nope.

I've always had misgivings about Vince Carter. He didn't have to dump two free throws for me to think he offers numbers, without victories.

And now the Magic is 0-2.

Hedo Turkoglu is not working out so well in Toronto. But he was better for the Magic. He could create his own shot, plus make things happen for others. He fit in a system where you have to guard Dwight Howard and everything else is spacing. Vince was available, he was from Florida, and Hedo was leaving.

But the Magic is less for this substitution.

- A long time ago - a LONG time ago, because the Hornets were still Charlotte's NBA team -- Bob Bass said with conviction that Paul Pierce was, by far, the best player in the 1998 draft.

Bass was the Hornets' GM back then, and I can tell you all the ways he had blind spots. But he had an exceptional eye for talent. And he was beyond right about Pierce.

-- Speaking of the Hornets, if Larry Brown leaves, Michael Jordan is making a huge mistake if he doesn't look up to Lake Norman to talk to Paul Silas about this job. I'm not saying Paul is perfect as a coach. He's not a great X-and-O guy. But he's exceptional managing people. He gets it how 82 games wears down players.

Story that describes Silas' ability: Elden Campbell wanted a day off, late in the season. He never called in, pretty much disappearing and drawing a fine.

Paul checked in, to make sure his starting center hadn't gone AWOL, then fined him. And when I asked Paul about all that, he said if Elden had only had the maturity to ask for a day off, he would have granted it.

That's a guy to interview for a job.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 19, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

May 16, 2010

Bobcats laid down the plan

 If the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic -- I don't see that happening, but go with me here -- then Doc Rivers owes Larry Brown a thank-you note.

Bad as that first-round series was -- the Bobcats shouldn't have been swept -- the strategy with the centers was valid. The Bobcats didn't have a single center who could play with Dwight Howard, but they had a bunch of guys they could sacrifice to frustrate Howard. And Howard is easily frustrated. The Bobcats got that. And don't tell me that wasn't a factor in how the Celtics guarded Howard in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

I saw Rasheed Wallace acting rough/borderline dirty. Sheed is very smart -- not necessarily wise, but smart -- and he would get that the Magic need Howard so much more than the Celtics need Wallace. That becomes hard fouls, smack-talk, etc. It's savvy.

All that goes back to the depth (though certainly not strength) the Bobcats had at center. And that's why I suspect Doc saw something in the first round that mattered two rounds later.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 16, 2010 at 06:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

May 14, 2010

Playing the Brown waiting game

 How long would you wait for Larry Brown to decide?

I've written -- and I certainly believe -- that Michael Jordan is playing this right by giving Brown plenty of time to sort out his family situation before deciding whether to return for a third season as Charlotte Bobcats coach. Sometimes doing the right thing is also doing the smart thing. The more understanding Jordan is, the harder it will be for Brown to walk away. The loyalty Brown feels for Jordan is real.

Having said that, there has to be a point when being in limbo becomes a liability. Larry said at his end-of-season media availability that he doesn't want to drag out this decision. Good.

You don't need a decision in a week or maybe even in a month (since the Bobcats don't have a draft pick). But I should think this has to be resolved before the Bobcats assemble a summer-league team for practice, leading up to games in Orlando after the Fourth of July.

At some point, the problem would be a dwindling cast of viable candidates. Jordan has made some bad coaching hires in the past (actually, one terrible coaching hire in Sam Vincent). So if he's looking for a replacement, I'd at least like to know he's not searching for strawberries in a picked-over field.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 14, 2010 at 08:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

May 11, 2010

LeBron moving on? Job's not done in Cleveland

-- If the Celtics beat the Cavs -- it's not over, but wow they got stomped at home -- you're going to read a lot, appropriately, about whether LeBron James will move on to somewhere else with a lot of cap room and maybe a better chance to win a championship.

I will never criticize a player for saying, 'It's my career, I'm a free agent, and I should do what's best for me.'' Fans never consider what they would do in the same situation, given the options truly great players possess.

However, if I were James, I'd give some consideration to the Jack Kennedy line. Maybe James should worry first about what he's done for his team (Kennedy used the word country), rather than what his team has done for him.

I won't apologize for being a Danny Ferry fan. Good person, smart guy. It seems like Ferry's efforts, combined with his owner's money, has given James all kinds of opportunities to excel so far. You could make a legitimate argument that James has failed the Cavs more than the Cavs have failed James.

I'm simply saying this is one of those "What I learned in Kindergarten'' things: Clean up your messes before moving on.

-- I think some of you believe the Bobcats might be better off had they never made the trade with Phoenix. That's a real knee-jerk.

I like Jason Richardson. I think a ton of Jared Dudley, the best pick (relative to the spot of selection) in Bobcats history. But if you think they'd be better off with Richardson and Dudley than Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw, you're hallucinating.

Richardson -- and I've heard this from someone at each of his stops -- is a guy whose numbers are more impressive than his effect on wins and losses. He needs to be the third-best player on a really good team -- that's Lamar Odom on the Lakers --rather than a go-to guy on a team on the rise.  Jackson is as good a scorer night-in/night-out and a dramatically better defender/passer/ballhandler.

Dudley is a really good complementary player. I'd still rather have Diaw, with all his lack of passion, but a broad skill set. You find me a team willing to trade a great power forward, and I'll move Diaw.  But that doesn't mean I'd trade Diaw for Dudley.

No need to chronicle all the chess moves that effectively turned Richardson and Dudley into Jackson and Diaw. Not saying it's simple. But that ultimately became the deal in a "How they make sausage'' way.

-- With every day that Orlando sweep of the Bobcats looks less embarrassing. Not saying it's NOT embarrassing, just that it's not nearly as silly as it looked two weeks ago. The Magic is the best team in the NBA, AT THIS MOMENT. And for all the reasons described before the first round: A great physical force at center, surrounded by four 3-point shooters, and a coach who knows defense.

Put it this way: Mike Woodson looks much sillier in four blowouts than Larry Brown looked in one beat-down and three respectable losses.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 11, 2010 at 11:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

May 07, 2010

Some thoughts

-- It's quiet on the Larry Brown front, and that's not a bad thing. The longer this stretches, I submit, the more likely it is Brown is back next season as Bobcats coach. Not saying this is a done deal. I am saying this really will come down to a life choice (as opposed to a rationalization to take another coaching job).

I think Michael Jordan has shown great patience and savvy (and there are plenty of ways I think Jordan has lacked savvy), by giving Brown all the time and options to make this call. I have a feeling Brown is more likely to come back than to run away.

-- I've read some snarky comments about Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley, and how these playoffs somehow show the Bobcats blew it by trading them away.


 I think J-Rich is a great guy and a talent. I think Dudley is one of the great over-achievers in NBA history. But if you follow the chain of trades the Bobcats have made, you see that they don't have Stephen Jackson and they don't have Boris Diaw without the deal they made with Phoenix.

Aside from what you think of Diaw (and, believe me, I see his too-cool flaws), ask yourself this simple question: For all of Jackson's baggage, would you trade Jackson for Richardson?


-- In 20-some years of covering the NBA, I've just once covered a team without picks in the draft  Ironically (and conveniently) that was the year the draft was in Charlotte and Wake Forest's Tim Duncan was the indisputable No. 1 pick.

It's going to feel odd in late June when the Bobcats aren't part of the party, particularly when free-agency in July could make them weaker, rather than stronger.

-- I don't fault Bill Rhoden for filling his space in the New York Times with a column suggesting LeBron James should take the mid-level to work for Michael Jordan. It got attention, it was entertaining, it made a point.

But none of you took that seriously, right?   

Posted by Observer Sports on May 7, 2010 at 10:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (50)