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July 24, 2012

Bobcats' Gordon trade draws positive reviews

                One of the pluses of spending 10 days at the Las Vegas summer league is you network with people you hardly see the rest of the year: Coaches, scouts, general managers, other media. There’s time to chat because everyone isn’t rushing to catch a plane to the next game.

                I heard a lot of impressions from a variety of sources, but here’s the one that resonated: People were impressed what a good deal the Charlotte Bobcats got, acquiring Ben Gordon and a protected first-round pick for Corey Maggette.

                The Detroit Pistons’ motivation for moving Gordon was obvious: They rid themselves of $14.7 million in salary obligation over the next two seasons (the $1.5 million difference in Maggette’s and Gordon’s salaries this coming season, plus the $13.2 million player option Gordon will undoubtedly exercise for 2013-14).

                But here’s what I heard again and again: Gordon is younger, healthier, coming off a better season statistically, and fills a screaming need the Bobcats had for 3-point shooting. So, why. I kept hearing, did the Pistons have to compensate the Bobcats with a first-round pick to make this swap?

                I assume the Pistons were just that motivated to clear some payroll, knowing their future rides on re-signing Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell down the road. In any case, it’s not often I hear such consistent positive reviews of a Bobcats trade.

                Since I haven’t seen a ton of Gordon the past couple of seasons, I asked scouts their perceptions:  I heard that he won’t play much defense and he doesn’t have the ballhandling to be more than a-few-possessions-a-game point guard. But he’ll attack as a scorer in just the way no Bobcat did consistently last season. And he’ll stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting (42 percent last season) in the way new coach Mike Dunlap identified as a top need.

                Some other thoughts, post-summer league:

                --I was mildly surprised the Bobcats didn’t use the amnesty clause to free up more cap space, but once Kris Humphries and Antawn Jamison chose to go elsewhere, there wasn’t the same imperative for room to sign players. I’ll be curious if Gana Diop ($7.3 million-plus) and Matt Carroll ($3.5 million) become trade chips as expiring contracts.

                --Rookie Jeff Taylor, taken 31st overall, might end up being the most cost-effective draft pick in Bobcats history, particularly if his 38 percent 3-point shooting from summer league is indicative of his skills. The guy defends and he can play either small forward or shooting guard. They Bobcats look pretty deep at the wing spots.

                --I get why some of you were frustrated with Kemba Walker shooting 35 percent at summer league. But that isn’t the only pertinent statistic: Over 158 minutes, he took 36 trips to the foul line and made 29 assists. He played more like a point guard – penetrate, and either get himself fouled or find an open teammate – than at any time his rookie season.

                --Did Byron Mullens miss a bunch of 3-pointers at summer league? Sure did. But I liked him grabbing 29 rebounds in 131 minutes. Also he was more engaged defensively – particularly in the pressing defenses Dunlap has installed – than he was last season.

                --I ran into Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle in an Italian restaurant, and he went out of his way to say Brendan Haywood will work out well for the Bobcats. Carlisle said Haywood is a good teammate who will play hard so long as you accept his limitations. Sounds a lot like Kwame Brown, who worked out well here that one season.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (99)

July 16, 2012

Antawn Jamison chooses Lakers over Bobcats


                LAS VEGAS – The Charlotte Bobcats have lost out on free agent Antawn Jamison, who will sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Observer has learned.

                The Bobcats were recruiting free agent Jamison as both a power forward and a veteran mentor to a young team. Jamison was torn between the chance to play for his hometown team or to pursue a championship with what figures to be his last NBA contract.

                The Brooklyn Nets were also in the running for the two-time All-Star who played for
Providence High before starring at North Carolina.

             The Bobcats are still pursuing Kris Humphries and Carl Landry in free-agency, to address the power forward position.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 16, 2012 at 07:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (75)

July 12, 2012

Source: Charlotte Bobcats, point guard Ramon Sessions agree to terms

    The Charlotte Bobcats have an agreement in principle to sign veteran point guard Ramon Sessions, an informed source told the Observer Thursday.

               A contract signing is expected soon, as Sessions was traveling Thursday and unavailable to finish paperwork. The Observer first reported the Bobcats’ interest in signing Sessions Wednesday night.

               Sessions, a native of Myrtle Beach, will be playing for his fifth NBA team. The 6-foot-3 point guard has averaged 11.1 points and five assists over his NBA career, shooting 45 percent from the field.

               He finished out last season with the Los Angeles Lakers following a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round in 2007. He’s also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

               Sessions has had the occasional spectacular game: He holds the Bucks record for assists in a game with 24 (along with 20 points and eight rebounds) in a 2008 game against the Chicago Bulls. He also scored 44 points in a 2008 game against the Detroit Pistons.

               Sessions, who played college ball at Nevada, is known primarily for his driving ability; his jump shot is weaker by comparison. He figures to be a backup to second-year point guard Kemba Walker, offering a slightly taller alternative at the position.

               The Bobcats have yet to resolve what to do with point guard D.J. Augustin, a restricted free agent. There’s been talk of a possible sign-and-trade involving Augustin going to the Indiana Pacers. But it’s also possible the Bobcats could rescind their $4 million qualifying offer to Augustin, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 12, 2012 at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (55)

July 11, 2012

Coach Mike Dunlap: Bobcats who stay together...

LAS VEGAS -- Any NBA coach would be pleased with veterans flying in to practice with the summer-league team.

               But the arrivals of shooting guards Gerald Henderson and Reggie Williams Wednesday also served a subtler purpose for new Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap. He wants to create an off-season culture where 15 guys don’t scatter in 15 directions.

               Dunlap doesn’t just want players in the practice gym at Time Warner Cable Arena; he wants them there at the same time each day, interacting and driving each other. So Henderson and Williams flying to Vegas and working out with summer-league guys set an encouraging tone.

    “We’re always ready, whether it’s at nine at night to give a guy a burn, or with our group in static hours,’’ Dunlap said of the coaches’ availability over the summer.

    But Dunlap prefers a group setting “where they can go twos, threes or fours, running up-and-down.’’

    The difference?

    “One, camaraderie. Two, technique and improvement. Three, there’s a family atmosphere you want to create,’’ Dunlap said Wednesday. “It’s peer pressure, in a way, where, ‘Hey, this is the road we travel to be good.’ Confidence is always built on a base of ‘How many reps did I get in and how hard did I work?’ ’’

Posted by Observer Sports on July 11, 2012 at 06:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

July 09, 2012

Bobcats summer league roster



No.    Player                            Pos.    Ht.       Wt.      Born         Prior to NBA/Home Country      Yrs   Last Team

    0    Bismack Biyombo          F       6-9      245     8/28/92    Fuenlabrada (Spain)/DR Congo    1        Charlotte Bobcats  

3    Carlon Brown                  G      6-5      215     10/4/89    Colorado/USA                                R       Univ. of Colorado

11    Cory Higgins                   G      6-5      180     6/14/89    Colorado/USA                                1        Charlotte Bobcats

    7    Paris Horne                     G      6-3      189     8/6/87       St. John’s/USA                               R       Goettingen (Germany)

    6    Othello Hunter                 F       6-8      225     5/28/86    Ohio State/USA                              2        Azovmash Mariupol (Ukraine)

14    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist   F       6-7      232     9/26/93    Kentucky/USA                                R       Univ. of Kentucky

22    Byron Mullens                 C      7-0      275     2/14/89    Ohio State/USA                              3        Charlotte Bobcats

    8    Hamady Ndiaye             C      7-0      235     1/12/87    Rutgers/Senegal                            2        Guangzhou (China)

    9    Josh Owens                     F       6-8      240     12/7/88    Stanford/USA                                 R       Stanford Univ.

55    Ralph Sampson III         C      6-11    241     1/5/90       Minnesota/USA                              R       Univ. of Minnesota

    5    Patrick Sullivan               F       6-9      215     7/9/88       SE Louisiana/USA                        R       Hapoel Holon (Israel)

44    Jeffery Taylor                  F       6-7      225     5/23/89    Vanderbilt/Sweden                       R       Vanderbilt Univ.

15    Kemba Walker                G      6-1      184     5/8/90       Connecticut/USA                           1        Charlotte Bobcats



2012 Charlotte Bobcats Summer League Schedule:

July 13              Charlotte vs. Sacramento           10:00 p.m. ET

July 15              Charlotte vs. Cleveland              8:30 p.m. ET

July 17              Charlotte vs. Minnesota             10:30 p.m. ET

July 19              Charlotte vs. Denver                  10:30 p.m. ET

July 20              Charlotte vs. Memphis               6:30 p.m. ET

Posted by Observer Sports on July 9, 2012 at 09:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

July 07, 2012

Bobcats sign No. 2 pick Kidd-Gilchrist

            The Charlotte Bobcats signed No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Saturday, which will allow the rookie small forward to participate in summer-league practices and games starting Tuesday in Las Vegas.

            Under the rookie pay scale, salaries for first-round picks are slotted based on draft position. Kidd-Gilchrist will make about $4 million this season. His contract is guaranteed this season and next, and then the Bobcats will have two one-season options, based on the collective bargaining agreement.

            The Bobcats have yet to sign second-round pick Jeff Taylor, a small forward from Vanderbilt. Taylor was the first pick of the second round, 31st overall.

            The two rookies are expected to play in Las Vegas along with Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, who were rookies for the Bobcats last season. The Bobcats will practice in Las Vegas Tuesday through Thursday and then start playing games Friday.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

July 03, 2012

Playing for hometown Charlotte Bobcats is appealing to Antawn Jamison

Fourteen seasons removed from him being drafted into the NBA, Charlottean Antawn Jamison could finally make a homecoming with the Bobcats.

An unrestricted free agent, Jamison is scheduled to visit the Bobcats Thursday, according to a report on Yahoo Sports. A source close to Jamison confirmed to the Observer he'll meet with the Bobcats, but that source was uncertain whether that meeting will happen Thursday. 

Jamison has expressed interest in playing for the Bobcats and at least one Bobcats executive has said the team needs a veteran/mentor. Jamison would seem to fill that bill.

In a January interview with the Observer, Jamison said, “That’s always been a dream of mine – to be home. To have my parents there (at home games), to have my kids there.

“Having the kids come to the games with me all the time? That would be great.’’

Jamison has built a large home in the Charlotte area, where his family lives. He has two young children – 6 and 2 at the time of that January interview – and Jamison didn’t want to uproot them by moving the family to Cleveland the past three winters.

Assuming the Bobcats make a competitive offer, Jamison will have to balance the ties to home agaisnt the chance to join a title contender late in his career. He has played for a number of losing teams.

Jamison grew up in Charlotte, starring at Providence High before moving on to North Carolina. He was drafted fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1998, then quickly traded to the Golden State Warriors.

The Bobcats have abundant room under the salary cap this off-season. Jamison (6-foot-8 and 223 pounds) has played both small forward and power forward over his long NBA career. Last season he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in a similar veteran role with the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bobcats vice chairman Curtis Polk was asked last month for various ways the team might use its cap space. Polk told the Observer the front office would like to add a veteran presence in the locker room.

“A really classy guy who could also be a teacher and mentor. And he comes here for two years at $5 million a year,’’ Polk described. “And then we get the (cap) room back after that.’’

Jamison said in January he anticipated playing two or three more NBA seasons.

While Jamison was productive last season, his field-goal percentage has declined. Three seasons ago he shot 48.5 percent from the field. Last season he shot a career-low 40.3 percent.

hould he sign here, the Bobcats would become Jamison’s fifth NBA team. He played his first five seasons for the Warriors before one season as sixth man for a Dallas Mavericks team that won 52 games.

Jamison then spent six seasons with the Washington Wizards. Four of his five seasons averaging 20 or more points were in Washington. He was dealt to Cleveland in 2009 in one of several attempts by Cavs management to surround LeBron James with talent before James left for the Miami Heat.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)