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December 28, 2011

Bobcats' Augustin says he'll play tonight

After 1 1/2 days of treatment on a left ankle sprain, Charlotte Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin went through morning shootaround and expects to play tonight at home against the Miami Heat.

Augustin can't say with any confidence how effective he'll be. He says he can run straight-line fine, but lateral movement is more iffy.

This is the second aggravation of this sprain on the outside of his left foot. He originally hurt it while playing in Houston before the lockout ended. He aggravated it again in training camp, and then late in Monday's season-opening victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks guard Brandon Jennings ran into the back of Augustin's left foot, turning the ankle. Augustin sat out practice Tuesday, instead going through extensive treatment.

"A lot of stim (electrical stimulation), ultrasound, ice. A lot of Advil,'' Augustin described. "A lot of staying off of it and a lot of stability exercises to make the ligament stronger. It wasn't anything with my bones.''

"It didn't really swell up so much -- a little knot,'' Augustin added.

So how effective can Augustin be against the Eastern Conference defending champions?

"It's a big game. I don't want to sit out,'' Augustin said. "But if I feel like it's restricting me, and I can't play the way I know I can play, I'm going to have to come out.''

The Bobcats will again be without power forward Tyrus Thomas, also with a sprained ankle. Coach Paul Silas said there's no timetable for Thomas' return. That again moves D.J. White into the starting lineup.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (28)

December 26, 2011

Ex-Bobcat Stephen Jackson: "When Gerald left, I really left''

            Ex-Charlotte Bobcat Stephen Jackson, now with the Milwaukee Bucks, said he lost his love for playing here once the Bobcats traded close friend Gerald Wallace last February.

            “When Gerald left, I really left,’’ Jackson said at morning shootaround at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“Considering what we did (getting to) the playoffs, and then all those changes. To take Gerald away really took a lot out of me. I still was trying to do my job as best I can, but it was a lot harder.  When they got rid of Gerald, that let me know they didn’t want to win. I didn’t want to be part of a place like that.’’

Jackson and reserve point guard Shaun Livingston were traded to the Bucks on draft night in a package that acquired the seventh overall pick. The Bobcats used that selection to take power forward Bismack Biyombo.

Since the Bobcats were swept in the 2010 playoffs by the Orlando Magic, Wallace, Jackson, point guard Raymond Felton and center Tyson Chandler have all left the team. The Bobcats start their season tonight versus the Bucks in a major youth movement.

            “It was a surprise,’’ Jackson said of being traded, “considering that I brought this team to the playoffs and that hadn’t been done since the organization has been here. At the same time, it’s not the first time I’ve been traded. The first day is always a shocker, but the next day you wake up and you still have a great job and a great gift to play basketball.’’

            Any extra motivation tonight?

            “There’s not any bad blood,’’ Jackson said. “I know people are probably thinking, ‘He’s coming in wanting to get 50.’ I’m not that focused on this game.’’

            “I think I’ve got a better situation to get to the playoffs with the team I’m with now than being here. And that’s what I want to do. I hate to lose.

“If they’re going young, and they feel like they’re going to lose, it was the best situation to move me. I wasn’t going to be happy with just losing. I agree with them on that.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on December 26, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

December 25, 2011

Bobcats sign Cory Higgins

            Cory Higgins, Colorado’s all-time leading scorer, will fill the Charlotte Bobcats’ 15th roster spot.

            Higgins is the son of Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins. Cory Higgins was recently cut by the Denver Nuggets.

            At 6-5, Higgins fills what the Bobcats wanted from a fifth guard: A player with the size and skill set to play either guard spot.

            “One of the things I pride myself in is playing either position, and more importantly, being able to guard either position,’’ Higgins said after practice Sunday night.

            Higgins acknowledged he expects a little extra scrutiny, playing for a team his father assembled.

            “A lot of people are going to think I’m here just because of him,’’ Cory Higgins said. “That’s not the case. I worked hard to get here and I’m here to prove to everybody, and the coach staff, that I belong here and I keep this spot.’’

            Higgins finished his four years at Colorado having scored 2,001 points, tying him with Richard Roby for the school record. He ranks sixth all-time among Big 12 scorers.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 25, 2011 at 08:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

December 23, 2011

Nachbar or Moon as Charlotte Bobcat?

One of two NBA veteran small forwards -- Bostjan Nachbar or Jamario Moon -- could fill out the Charlotte Bobcats' regular-season roster.

Bobcats player-personnel chief Rod Higgins plans to bring in Nachbar and Moon for workouts Saturday.

            The Bobcats chose not to match a Memphis Grizzlies offer sheet on restricted free-agent forward Dante Cunningham. Doing so would have obligated the Bobcats to about $4 million in total guarantees this season and next.

            With long-range shooter Reggie Williams recovering from surgery to repair knee cartilage, Higgins would like another scoring option.

            A 6-9 Slovenian, Nachbar was the 15th overall pick of the 2002 draft, chosen by the Houston Rockets. He also played for the New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets before signing a three-year contract with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian league. His NBA average is 9.8 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game.

            Moon, a 6-8 forward who was not drafted, has played portions of four NBA seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers. His NBA average is 6.4 ppg., and 4.3 rpg.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 23, 2011 at 06:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (48)

Bobcats won't match Dante Cunningham offer

The Charlotte Bobcats have decided not to match the Memphis Grizzlies' offer sheet to restricted free agent forward Dante Cunningham, player personnel chief Rod Higgins told the Observer this morning.

Matching Memphis' offer sheet would have obligated the Bobcats to more than $4 million in guaranteed money total this season and next.

It is still possible the Bobcats could  look into other alternatives at the wing positions as they work toward the 15-man regular-season roster.

More to come later.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 23, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

December 20, 2011

Bobcats get Cunningham offer sheet

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Charlotte Bobcats received the Memphis Grizzlies' offer sheet on forward Dante Cunningham. The Bobcats have 3 days to decide whether to match.

Rod Higgins, the Bobcats' player-personnel chief, told the Observer the team will at least wait until Wednesday to make a decision.

The deal is for three seasons, the third season at the team's option. Cunningham would make $2 million this season -- roughly double the Bobcats' qualifying offer to restrict his free-agency -- and slightly more in the second and third seasons. So by matching, the Bobcats would be obligated to about $4 million over this season and next.

Cunningham came to the Bobcats from Portland as part of the package for Gerald Wallace. He played fairly well the second half of last season, mostly as a reserve small forward.

Since then, the Bobcats traded for Corey Maggette and signed free agent Derrick Brown at small forward. Brown had an impressive performance  Monday against the Atlanta Hawks, with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. 

Posted by Observer Sports on December 20, 2011 at 05:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (53)

December 19, 2011

Bobcats acquire B.J. Mullens

The Charlotte Bobcats are acquiring 7-footer B.J. Mullens from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Bobcats are giving up a second-round pick in 2013 and are receiving cash considerations.

Mullens, who played one year at Ohio State before turning pro, has played sparingly the past two seasons with the Thunder. He averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds.

Obviously the Bobcats need depth inside after Kwame Brown chose to sign with the Golden State Warriors.  Boris Diaw is scheduled to start at center.

Mullens makes about $1.3 million this season and $2.25 million next season.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 19, 2011 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (55)

Bobcats' Silas on Biyombo resolution

Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas said at shootaround this morning that rookie Bismack Biyombo won’t play tonight in the home exhibition vs. the Atlanta Hawks, even if he is signed before tip-off.

Biyombo should practice Tuesday, then would play in Atlanta Thursday in the second-and-last preseason exhibition.

            Biyombo worked out a settlement with his former Spanish team, Fuenlabrada, allowing the rookie to sign with the Bobcats. An Associated Press report out of Madrid said Biyombo will pay a $1.5 million settlement to Fuenlabrada to dissolve his contractual obligation to the team.

            The Bobcats did not make Biyombo available to media following shootaround. But Silas expressed relief that Biyombo -- the No. 7 overall pick in June -- is finally free to sign, a week into training camp.

“He was sitting over there just about as depressed as I’d ever seen anyone,’’ Silas said of the previous week. “Now, when I first walked in, he had his hands in the air and smiling. This is great for him and great for the team.

            What does Silas expect of power forward-center Biyombo?

“He’s a really good defender and rebounder and shotblocker. We just have to work on his offensive game, which he’s willing to do. He’s worked on it already, posting up and that kind of thing. He’s got to work on his shot from the outside. But the energy that he brings is what we really need.’’

            Silas said it’s unrealistic to think Biyombo got much from watching practice last week.

“If you’re just sitting over there, it’s almost impossible to get it. You’ve got to get out there and really do it.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on December 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Biyombo free to sign with Bobcats

Rookie Bismack Biyombo has worked out a settlement with his former Spanish team, allowing the power forward-center to sign with the Charlotte Bobcats.

The team, Fuenlabrada, contended Biyombo had a binding contract, which obligated him to pay a large portion of his worldwide earnings back to them. Biyombo sued the team, claiming breach of contract.

The dispute kept FIBA, basketball's international governing body, from issuing a letter of clearance to the NBA that would allow the Bobcats to sign Biyombo. The Bobcats drafted Biyombo seventh overall in June, after acquiring that pick in a three-team deal with the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks.

Biyombo had missed the first week of training camp due to the legal entanglement. It's possible he'll be signed with the Bobcats in time to participate in tonight's exhibition against the Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena. 

Posted by Observer Sports on December 19, 2011 at 08:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (45)

December 17, 2011

Observations from the scrimmage

            -- Words I heard constantly over the public-address system: “Personal foul, Gana Diop.’’ I suspect it will be the same come the regular season. At his current weight, it’s so hard for him to play any effective post defense. There was a play where D.J. Augustin drove the baseline. It would be hard under any circumstance for Diop to cut off that drive, but it looked impossible Saturday.

            -- As you’d expect, rookie Kemba Walker has such a knack for attacking the rim in transition,. If the ball is in his hands and the break is on, seldom will he come away with less than two trips to the foul line. Also, he’s going to get lots of long rebounds -- he had six boards Saturday.

            -- On the other hand, Walker had a couple of turnovers that looked classically rookie. This whole learning process is sped up by the truncated preseason, and it’s still apparent he’s learning where and when his teammates want the ball. (And in fairness, he was playing with the reserves versus the starters.)

            -- Gerald Henderson (10 points) was determined to improve his shooting range and it shows. In particular, he’s far better at shooting off the dribble in one fluid motion.

            -- Among the so-called “spares’’ -- guys trying to make this team without any guarantee -- I’m kind of intrigued by forward Ismail Muhammad (10 points). He’s a leaper and he’s also a savvy basketball player; he drives and passes with authority. I’m not predicting he’ll make the team, but he’s the guy on the outside who most looks like he belongs.

            -- Now-center Boris Diaw (nine points and three rebounds) continues to do what he does best -- handle the ball and hit open jumpers -- and that’s fine. Playing center is more a change on defense. it’s silly to expect him to suddenly become a pure post-up guy.

            -- It’s hardly a revelation this team will be challenged to score and Saturday didn’t make an argument to the contrary. It took five possessions between the two squads to score. There were a couple of shot-clock violations, which seemed absurd in an exhibition like this. Particularly so when coach Paul Silas is telling them to push the ball every possession possible.

            -- Forward Taylor Griffin played without a number on his jersey. I’m told he needed to switch squads, which left them scrambling for the right uniform.

            -- Corey Maggette again sat out with back spasms. Melvin Ely missed the scrimmage (and Friday’s practices) with dehydration symptoms. He flew cross-country when the team offered him a contract, and the long, sudden trip apparently threw off his system.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 17, 2011 at 06:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)