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March 28, 2012

NBA wants advance notice when Stephen Silas coaches Charlotte Bobcats

The NBA wants to know in advance which Silas is the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach for any single game.

Coach Paul Silas told me at shoot-around this morning that the league has asked the Bobcats for a heads-up whenever lead assistant Stephen Silas is taking over the team for a game. With the front office’s blessing, Paul Silas is having his son coach about once a week the rest of the season as a training exercise.

The likely next game Stephen Silas will coach is Saturday, on the road against the Detroit Pistons.

It makes sense that the league office wants to inform that night’s officiating crew in advance that Stephen Silas is in charge. Referees give head coaches more latitude – to stand throughout the game, to argue calls, to ask for interpretations – than they do assistants. So it makes sense for refs to know how to delineate between Paul’s and Stephen’s roles.

What Paul Silas is doing with his son isn’t unprecedented. Former Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson used to let assistants Avery Johnson and Keith Smart coach games on occasion. Johnson now coaches the New Jersey Nets. Smart now coaches the Sacramento Kings.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 28, 2012 at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

March 21, 2012

Boris Diaw, Charlotte Bobcats agree to buyout

Power forward Boris Diaw and the Charlotte Bobcats have agreed on a buyout of his remaining contract that should be completed in time for Diaw to be eligible for another team’s playoff roster.

Bobcats vice president of basketball operations Rod Higgins confirmed that early Wednesday morning to the Observer. The buyout, which should be completed sometime today, would make Diaw a free agent in time to sign with a contender. Meanwhile the Bobcats open one of 15 roster spots and save some of what’s left of Diaw’s $9 million salary.

It’s not known just how much money Diaw agreed to give up for his freedom.

Diaw played only twice in his last eight games with the Bobcats and has had a strained relationship with coach Paul Silas, who was quite critical of his effort.

Silas described his frustration with Diaw on March 7 before a home loss to the Utah Jazz.

“I like a player who is really committed to not only the team but to himself and then doing the best he can as a player,’’ Silas said. “Some of the things that would go on, like not shooting the ball, passing all of the time’’ were unacceptable.

“I needed hoops and he could put the ball in the hoop. When that wouldn’t happen it was very disturbing. I think if he had played all out, the way he should have, it would have been a much, much better club.”

Diaw came to the Bobcats in a December, 2008, trade with the Phoenix Suns, along with Raja Bell and Sean Singletary, in exchange for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley. Diaw instantly became the facilitator then-coach Larry Brown wanted to make the offense run more smoothly.

He played in and started his first 258 games as a Bobcat (both franchise records) before Silas benched him on March 6, a win over the Orlando Magic. Diaw didn’t play at all against the Magic and was inactive the next three games. He played briefly – 13 minutes or less -- in road losses to the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets.

The coaching change from Brown to Silas definitely diminished Diaw’s status with the team. Brown overlooked Diaw’s inconsistent effort and unreliable conditioning because he had such a wide skill set. Silas saw Diaw as an underachiever.

By agreeing to a buyout now, Diaw can be waived in time to potentially sign with a contender and be eligible for a playoff roster. San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, Diaw’s close friend and French national-team teammate, recently said on a French radio program that Diaw would be welcome with the Spurs.

“He’s in shape,’’ Parker reportedly said. “I’m the first to make fun of him when he gains too much weight, but right now it’s not the case. We’re very interested to get him.’’

Diaw also might have had an opportunity with the New York Knicks, but that was likely scuttled when Mike D’Antoni, who coached Diaw in Phoenix, lost his job in New York.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 21, 2012 at 08:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

March 15, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats' Rod Higgins on trade deadline

The Charlotte Bobcats discussed numerous proposals with other NBA teams leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. But in the end, nothing they heard was worth chipping away at their future salary-cap space.

“The last thing we wanted to do is make a trade just to say we made a trade,’’ Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins told the Observer. “The last thing we want to do is deal away our cap flexibility for an older player, past his prime, making $8-$9 million’’ a season.

Sitting out the deadline was a departure from the past three years. In successive years they moved ex-lottery pick Adam Morrison to the Los Angeles Lakers, acquired Tyrus Thomas from the Chicago Bulls and – most recently – dealt the last original Bobcat, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trail Blazers.

This year, despite wide-spread discussions involving Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin, the Bobcats stood pat. That preserved what could be anywhere from $5 million to $21 million in salary-cap flexibility next summer and potentially in the summer of 2013.

Were the Bobcats close to anything?

“I don’t know if I’d classify anything as close,’’ Higgins said. “We had good conversations and a lot of activity. But most of what happened (around the league) was late in the game.’’

Diaw and Augustin were both in play for different reasons. Diaw has an expiring contract with a $9 million salary figure this season. That was attractive to teams looking to create future cap space. But naturally teams looking to acquire Diaw wanted to send players with multi-season guarantees to the Bobcats.

Nothing those teams offered in the way of a draft pick or young prospects was sufficient to part with cap flexibility. Now, with Diaw playing little for coach Paul Silas, it might make sense to negotiate a buyout that would allow Diaw to sign with a playoff team. Spurs guard Tony Parker has said Diaw would be welcome in San Antonio.

Higgins indicated any buyout discussions would happen in the next few days, if at all. Diaw would have to be waived by March 23 to be eligible for a playoff roster.

Point guard Augustin becomes a restricted free agent in July, and he and rookie Kemba Walker are similar in size and skill set. Sources indicate the Bobcats spoke with the Blazers, Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, among other teams, about possibly dealing Augustin.

“D.J. Augustin is our starting point guard and we like him a lot,’’ Higgins said. “We tried to extend (his contract) back in December. Now, on July 1, he’ll be a restricted free agent and that will dictate what happens next.’’

Along with Augustin, power forward D.J. White will be restricted this season. That means the Bobcats would have the right to match another team’s written offer for either one. If Augustin and White choose to play under their qualifying offers, they would be tied to the Bobcats through the 2012-13 season before becoming unrestricted free agents.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 15, 2012 at 05:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

March 13, 2012

Would trade push Stephen Curry further from Charlotte Bobcats?

Just a gut impression, but I feel whatever chance the Charlotte Bobcats had of signing Stephen Curry narrowed Tuesday with this Golden State Warriors-Milwaukee Bucks trade.

Among the key players, guard Monta Ellis becomes a Buck and center Andrew Bogut becomes a Warrior. Curry is too classy to ever say this, but that’s a switch that should make him very happy.

Back when former Davidson star Curry was a rookie, Ellis made the incredibly self-serving statement that Curry and he could never form a viable backcourt. He’s right that they’re too similar in size, but that’s not the point; in an effort to strike out at the front office, he savaged a rookie who had done him no harm.

Curry did the classy thing, shutting his mouth and writing this off as a learning experience. Now Ellis has effectively been exchanged for a great scoring center. Bogut is hurt a lot, but no one questions his ability. With Bogut and power forward David Lee around, Curry should have a ball running all sorts of pick-and-rolls going forward.

Curry would become a restricted free agent the summer of 2013 and – if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal – unrestricted the following summer.

There would obviously be some appeal to Curry in coming home; he’s already bought an off-season home in Waxhaw. But this trade has to make the Warriors that much more appealing. Beyond that, the Warriors’ new owners have deep pockets and are determined to become relevant in the Western Conference.

I have to believe a big contract extension is in the offing, and that Curry has good reason to sign it.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (46)

March 12, 2012

Video: Anthony Davis a lock if Bobcats draft No. 1? Yes, and here's why ...

If the Charlotte Bobcats get the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, will they choose Anthony Davis? CineSport's Noah Coslov & the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell discuss this & the PG battle.


Posted by Observer Sports on March 12, 2012 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

March 08, 2012

VIDEO: Why Bobcats have given up on Boris Diaw

Paul Silas has made it clear that he doesn't want Boris Diaw in a Charlotte Bobcats uniform any longer. CineSport's Tara Petrolino turns to the Observer's Rick Bonnell for his thoughts.


Posted by Observer Sports on March 8, 2012 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

March 07, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats deactivate Diaw; Paul Silas explains why

The Charlotte Bobcats didn’t activate forward Boris Diaw for Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz, and based on the tone of coach Paul Silas’ comments, Diaw might never play here again.

"I think if he had played all out, the way he should have, it would have been a much, much better club,” Silas said, when asked why Diaw has fallen out of the rotation entirely.

Diaw was active, but didn’t play vs. the Orlando Magic, breaking a string of 384 consecutive game appearances. Diaw’s agent has contacted the Bobcats about a buyout, but the team would only consider that after the March. 15 trade deadline.

Diaw was not in the locker room during the 45-minute period pre-game when media have access.

Silas was quite direct in describing his dissatisfaction with Diaw’s play this season. The forward is averaging 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds and shooting 41 percent.

“I like a player who is really committed to not only the team but to himself and then doing the best he can as a player,’’ Silas said. “Some of the things that would go on, like not shooting the ball (and) passing all of the time... I needed hoops and he could put the ball in the hoop. When that wouldn’t happen it was very disturbing.’’

Asked if Diaw would ever play again for the Bobcats, Silas replied, “We just have to wait and see.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on March 7, 2012 at 06:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

March 06, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats, Boris Diaw need to part ways

Boris Diaw and the Charlotte Bobcats need an amicable divorce.

There’s nothing left to tie Diaw and the Bobcats except the remaining guarantee on a $9 million salary. Diaw’s contract expires after this season and the chances of him playing here beyond that are slightly better than me guessing Wednesday’s winning Powerball numbers.

I’m sure he’d love a reunion with former Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, as a New York Knick. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind returning to Phoenix, where I believe he still owns a home.

Any relocation would be beneficial, because Diaw isn’t doing much to help the Bobcats on the court, and that will no doubt be reflected in his playing time the rest of the season.

Diaw will be 30 at the end of this, his ninth NBA season. The rebuilding Bobcats have two younger power forwards in Tyrus Thomas and D.J. White. Getting Thomas out of his slump and further exploring White’s potential are both better investments, long-term, than continuing to play Diaw for long stretches in the last 30 games.

Former Bobcats coach Larry Brown loved Diaw’s wide skill set (he might be the most versatile player in Bobcats history). That meant Brown looked past Diaw’s nonchalance. Whenever I asked Brown about Diaw’s lack of intensity, Brown would shrug and say, “He’ll never change.’’

Now-Bobcats coach Paul Silas is less forgiving of Diaw’s laissez-faire approach. Diaw and Silas have never had good player-coach chemistry, and I can’t see that changing, certainly not between now and the season’s conclusion in late April.

There are two ways to handle this: The Bobcats could make a deal between now and the Mar. 15 trade deadline, exchanging Diaw for a draft pick or a young player. That’s difficult because the other team would likely have to send a salary similar to Diaw’s back to Charlotte. The Bobcats are protective of their salary-cap room this summer, so they’re not going to take on a burdensome contract just to trade Diaw.

In the alternative, Diaw could offer to give up some of his remaining salary in return for the Bobcats waiving him. That, in NBA terminology, is a buyout, and Diaw’s agent has already broached the subject to Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins.

That would have to happen soon after the trade deadline. Diaw would have to be waived by Mar. 23 to be eligible for another team’s playoff roster. Presumably, he’d be doing this to sign with a playoff team. And presumably only playoff contenders would be looking to rent him for the rest of the season.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 6, 2012 at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)