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Charlotte Bobcats

A Lakers fan’s guide to rooting in the 2014 playoffs

For the first time in nearly a decade, it’s late April and Lakers fans everywhere have nowhere to be. It’s a strange feeling for a fanbase that hasn’t seen a television set bereft of purple and gold more than a half dozen times in fifty years. Even as I sit and watch these incredible playoffs unfold, with titanic matchups like this spectacular Memphis Grizzlies/Oklahoma City Thunder series or the “no holds barred” battle between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, I know there’s still a very foreign feeling of basketball emptiness in the hearts of the Lakers fans everywhere.
 
I feel you, brothers and sister. I really do. So what is there to root for? Is there anything to root for? Why should we care after the worst season in Los Angeles Lakers history?
 
Well, that’s why we’re here, kids. After a couple of weeks reconstituting myself from too many minutes of Wesley Johnson throughout the year, I finally recollected all of my hoophead passion and redirected it towards all the hate and bile in my heart. No, there are no Lakers to cheer on this spring. However, that doesn’t mean that Lakers fans don’t have anything to root for.
 
Going through the playoff bracket, I found ways for us to be collectively emotionally involved with hate binding us together. Is this the most positive exercise in the world? No, it’s not. This is pretty much the worst thing we can do karmically. But my friends, the hate will sustain us through the long summer. Let’s hit it: who can Lakers fans root for in these playoffs?
 
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll)

 … Read more...

The NBA’s biggest surprises, halfway through the season–Part 1

There are only three teams over .500 in the Eastern Conference. Lance Stephenson is somehow not just a rotation player, but a…great one? I still barely know who Lance Stephenson is. The casualty list of serious injury to franchise cornerstones is higher than usual: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Russell Wesetbrook, Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez and Al Horford, amongst others. Derek Fisher is still getting major minutes for one of the best teams in the league.

It’s been a weird NBA season. Very weird.

Somehow, we’re almost at the halfway mark of the year and I’ve been astounded at every turn. Just to round up how we’ve gotten to where we are, here are some thoughts on some of the biggest surprises of the year:

The Brooklyn Nets are getting better, but have generally been pretty horrible

Pretty easy to summarize: a ton of injuries + a bad coach = a bad team.

However, what’s most surprising is how none of us saw this coming. Even this prestigious blog predicted the Nets would finish third in the Eastern Conference. I would have locked that in knowing just how completely barren they are of competent teams east of the Mississippi. Most of us figured that adding the defensive monstrosity of Kevin Garnett, the late game shot making of Paul Pierce and adding pieces like Jason Terry and Andre Kirilenko to the bench would make this one of the toughest, most physical teams in the league.… Read more...

From historically bad to just plain bad? Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

Starting five: PG Kemba Walker, SG Gerald Henderson, SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF Cody Zeller, C Al Jefferson
 
Key bench players: PF/C Bismack Biyombo, SG Ben Gordon, PG Ramon Sessions, PF Josh McRoberts, C Brendan Haywood
 
Offseason additions: Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million), Cody Zeller (4th overall pick)
 
Offseason subtractions: C BJ Mullens, PF/C Tyrus Thomas, C Desagana Diop, SG Matt Carroll
 
FACT OR FICTION: Will the Bobcats post under 50 wins in three years combined?
 
FICTION. Almost every franchise goes through a rebuilding period. There’s bottoming out, slowly rebuilding with young talent, going to the fringes of playoff contention and hopefully making a jump to a legitimate championship contender.
 
But what if your timeline was set much lower? What if your favorite team just didn’t seem like they were working towards…well, anything, really? Year after year, the team you watched night-in and night-out was mired in mediocrity. Things never seem to get better. The back court always featured under-sized guards that either couldn’t stop chucking shots with embarrassingly inefficient selection or couldn’t get the rock out of their hands fast enough. The front court, with rare exception, always featured long-term projects rife with gangly arms, insane athleticism and less polish than a shoe in Bratislava. As a supreme sign of their eternal stink, the team experienced a 14% increase in wins last season. That only resulted in 21 victories. 21!
 
What if the bar your team set for itself was to go from historically terrible to run of the mill terrible to almost not a joke?
 
That’s what you’d be dealing with if you were a Charlotte Bobcats fan. If anyone was a Charlotte Bobcats fan.… Read more...

(Not So Instant) Trade Analysis: Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors and the Jazz dumping salary

Golden State Warriors get: SF Andre Iguodala (four years, $48 million)
 
Utah Jazz get: SF Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins , G/F Brandon Rush, 2014 and 2017 unprotected first round pick (from GS), 2018 second round pick (from Denver), cash
 
Denver Nuggets get: G Randy Foye (three years, $9 million)
 
Atlanta Hawks get: PF Paul Millsap (two years, $19 million, via free agency)
 
Charlotte Bobcats get: PF/C Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million, via free agency)
 
If the two unprotected first rounders didn’t suggest it, the Warriors are in “win-now” mode. Duh.
 
The Warriors are going all-in with their current team after just their second winning season in almost twenty years. In a three team deal, the Warriors sent Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush (almost $24 million in salary for next season!) to the Utah Jazz, with Andre Iguodala coming to the Warriors and Randy Foye going to the Jazz, along with two unprotected first round picks. In two separate transactions, former Utah Jazz big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson will leave unencumbered from Salt Lake City, heading to the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats, respectively.
 
The Dubs will pay $39 million to just Stephen Curry, David Lee and Iguodala next year, without figuring in $9 million to Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, as well as $14 million to center Andrew Bogut. The roster is capped out for the foreseeable future, especially when taking into considering at Thompson will most likely sign a eight figure extension in the next year or so, and Barnes doing the same the year afterwards. … Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Kwame Brown

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
 
Contract: 2 years, $6 million
Signed by:
Philadelphia 76ers
Salary this season: $3 million
2013 Slash Line: 1.9/3.4/0.4 in 22 games
Expires: 2014
 
If you’ve ever seen Kwame Brown in person, you’ll know this same, overwhelming feeling I’m about to describe. As your eyes wander through the pregame lay-up lines trying to find the former number one overall pick, you’ll easily spot this gargantuan human being. All of 7 feet, 270 pounds, Kwame is built like a Greek statue. Though he’s become less of a specimen into his early thirties, Brown is still chiseled from head to toe. Most 7 footers are these gangly human train wrecks that look more like a random consortium of misappropriated body parts than anything a x and y chromosome could make. However, Brown resembles more of an over-sized professional wrestler than a willow tree—a fully filled out 7 feet tall. His arms are like the longest, most intricately detailed black marble you’ve seen in your life, which seem to be at odds with the design of his lower body. His legs are like two distinguished tree trunks, perfect for boxing out and destroying any opposing rebounder or defender that dare come at him in the paint. The only knock on Kwame’s anatomy are his curiously small hands that would look more suitable on a man one or two feet his subordinate. Overall, I always leave an in-person Kwame Brown experience thinking “if I had seen this guy when he was 18 years old, there’d be no doubt in my mind he’d be a star.” In this case, The 20/20 Experience is more than just an album full of jams.
 
There’s no doubt that Kwame Brown deserves a spot in this illustrious post series. In fact, he might be the charter member of the Bad NBA Contract of the Week Hall of Fame. But what I’m trying to say is that as much as I’m about to eviscerate Brown and any foolish manager that would sign him…I probably would have made the same mistake. But maybe not four times over.… Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Tyrus Thomas

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
 
Tyrus Thomas
 
Contract: 5 years, $40 million
Signed by:
Charlotte Bobcats
Salary this season: $8 million
2013 Slash Line: 4.8/2.8/0.7 in 18 games
Expires: 2015
 
You ever had your ass kicked by your dad? Not you know, getting bent over his knee and spanked as a kid. I mean straight up, full-on, gotten beat down by your father?
 
Probably not. You’re reading a yuppie sports blog about NBA contracts. Of course you haven’t.
 
But if you had ever faced a horrible situation like that, you’ll know what it’s like to be Tyrus Thomas, our newest nominee (and winner!) for Bad NBA Contract of the Week. Well, not entirely. The guy is making $8 million dollars this year. You’d only kind of know what it’s like.
 
At the end of the Charlotte Bobcats ill-fated 2011-2012 campaign where they set the record for the worst winning percentage in NBA history, 68 year-old head coach Paul Silas had endured the worst possible situation in his profession. The ‘Cats were an embarrassment for the league and its fans, much less the man leading the team. Silas had seen some staggering losses and losing streaks (plural) extending into 20+ games. Charlotte was severely lacking in talent and for the most part, young players with upside. That is, except for Tyrus Thomas.… Read more...

The Incompetent–and Unlucky–Draft History of the Charlotte Bobcats

To win a championship, an organization has to be two things: smart and lucky.
 
No team has ever stood in their locker room, soaked with champagne, screaming blithely into the air hugging an inanimate piece of metal without intelligent management at the helm and lady luck in their loins. It’s just never been done.
 
So what happens when a franchise doesn’t have…either? What happens when a multi-million dollar sports organization employs poor decision-makers at the head, only to have their incompetence exacerbated by circumstances outside anyone’s control? What happens when draft picks bust, trades go AWOL and injuries take their heavy tolls? What happens when everything goes wrong, year after year?
 
The Charlotte Bobcats happen.… Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Desagana Diop

(There are bad contracts in every league. There is no sports organization in the world that hasn’t  overvalued a player, had a superstar radically lose his luster or had a veteran get injured too soon. Millions upon millions get doled out every single year so that a few guys can throw a ball around to the delight of people they never met before. Just the other day, Jonah Keri of Grantland named the worst contracts in MLB, including Barry Zito’s 1 year, $26 million dollar salary, Carl Crawford’s 5 years, $100-plus million payday and Alex Rodriguez’s massive 5 year, $118 topping them all off. But the other players on the list? Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, John Lackey, Vernon Wells, Johan Santana, Brian Roberts and Adam Dunn. All former stars.
 
But it just seems that in the NBA, out of every sports league, seems to have the silliest contracts given to the most marginal of players. Sure, you’ll still have Gilbert Arenas on 2 year, $43 million dollar contract for a team he’s already been cut from, as well as Rudy Gay making superstar money (2 years, $34 million) to play well below that standard. However, you’ve also got guys on the fringes of NBA rotations, making $8 million dollars a year. Hell, there are guys making that much money to not play at all.

 
Which brings us here, to our first installment of Bad NBA Contract of the Week. In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals. We begin of course, with the great Charlotte Bobcats center, Desagana Diop.)
 
Desagana Diop
 
Contract: 6 years, $32 million
Signed by:
Dallas Mavericks
Salary this season: $7.3 million
2013 Slash Line: 0.6/2.3/0.6 in 19 games
Expires: 2013… Read more...

Nuthin to See in Charlotte – Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Kemba Walker, SG Gerald Henderson , SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF Bismack Biyombo, C Brendan Haywood

Key Bench Players: PG Ramon Sessions, G Reggie Williams, G Ben Gordon, PF Tyrus Thomas, C BJ Mullens

Notable offseason additions: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd overall pick), SG Ben Gordon, C Brendan Haywood, Head Coach Mike Dunlap


Notable offseason subtractions:
PG DJ Augustin, SF Corey Maggette

Let’s say you’re a long-suffering fan of the Washington Wizards. You’ve seen limited success in the last forty or so years of ‘Zards (nee’ Bullets) basketball. The prospects for the season aren’t that bright, though a postseason berth is getting closer to a dreamy reality. At the very least however, the hardcore District basketball fan can go down to the Verizon Center and say “Hey, you know, the Wiz Kidz might not emerge victorious tonight, but at least I get to see John Wall. Hell, maybe Nene will light it up tonight. And I’d really like to take a look at Bradley Beal–I heard that guy could be a star.”

It’s the same in Milwaukee (Brandon Jennings), Cleveland (Kyrie Irving) and New Orleans (Anthony Davis). Even in Orlando and Phoenix, you’re in state of the art arenas watching teams with a tradition of winning. Your favorite squad might not roll out a marquee season, but you have a reason to root and something to look for when you show up live. Hope, no matter how distant, is apparent and exciting.

Not so for YOUR…Charlotte Bobcats.
Looking at North Carolina’s only professional sports team’s 2012-2013 roster, there seems to be just about nothing to look for when attending a ‘Cats game. Charlotte is coming off of arguably the worst season in NBA history, finishing 7-59 and a .106 winning percentage that ranks as the most futile of all-time. They ended the year with 23 consecutive losses, including an 0 for April. As awful as the season was, the nightmare didn’t stop with their concluding 20-point L to the Knicks.

The silver lining to any awful team’s pitiful regular season campaign is the blessing (or curse) of the NBA Draft Lottery. In it, the Bobcats supposedly had the best chance of gaining the number one overall pick, a.k.a. the Final Four Most Outstanding player, new gold medalist and Frieda-Calo-Halloween-costume-ready Anthony Davis.

Charlotte ended up with the second pick. Womp womp. In this case, second place truly was the first loser. There no doubt was talent in the 2012 Draft other than Davis, but the talent gap, at least at the moment, seems canyon-like.

Looking at the team’s developing young core, future prospects aren’t exactly clear. Last year’s two lottery picks, G Kemba Walker and F Bismack Biyombo, showed very modest returns in their rookie seasons. Walker averaged just over 12 points and 4 assists a game, but at 36% shooting and a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Kemba was reminiscent of fellow Huskie Ben Gordon, but not so much in the ease at which he scored, but rather the streakiness at which did it. Biyombo flashed bits of his extraordinary defensive potential suggested by his tremendous athleticism, throwing down a nightly 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. However, Biyombo looked confused for the most part and overwhlemed by the speed of the NBA game. The most telling metric of their performance is that even on a team as weak as the Bobcats, the two rooks didn’t shine at all through the muck. Neither man was able to break through for 1st or 2nd All-Rooki… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats get: G Ben Gordon, 2013 Lottery protected first round pick

Detroit Pistons get: G/F Corey Maggette

On the surface, this looks like the classic “I’ll take your problem if you take my problem” bad contract swap. How could it not be? Corey Maggette has been a cap-killing, ball-stopping, shoot-first offensive threat and defensive succubus for years. Ben Gordon is newer to that label, but has fallen into disgrace after dropping 20 points a game off the bench for the Chicago Bulls before signing a massive five-year, $50 million dollar pact with the Detroit Pistons three years ago.

Both started off as significantly different types of players: Maggette as an athletic swingman whose combination of strength, size and shooting ability were supposed to turn him into the prototypical All-Star small forward of the future, while Gordon a offensive spark plug off the bench – think like a faster JJ Barea with a better stroke and athleticism. However, as I just mentioned, both men have morphed into the same type of garbagey cap ballast every GM has come to resent.


With a swap of the two, Maggette will fight for minutes on a Detroit team largely going nowhere. Aside from Greg Monroe and supposedly Brandon Knight, the rather unimpressive Pistons’ core will keep them languishing in basketball purgatory – not good enough to contend for a playoff spot, but not bad enough to effectively rebuild. Detroit seemingly can no longer do anything right, including the legendary defense that brought them a title, but haven’t gone back to since Chauncey Billups left town. Even going to Ben Wallace’s tomb, exhuming his body and letting the Lawrence Frank operate inside of it like some sort of creepy organic exo-skeleton hasn’t helped any. Maggette’s complete allergy to defense, passing and any other semblance of basketball fundamentals will fit in well with a Pistons team that has shown no effort to do the same. The upside to the trade for Detroit is that Maggette’s $11 million deal will expire after this season, while they would have owed Gordon over $25 for two seasons.

Ben Gordon, even in going to the team that just settled on the worst winning percentage of all-time, might be in a slightly better situation. Quite simply, the Bobcats need someone to put the ball in the hoop. Young players like Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo are still learning how to acclimate to the NBA game, and as underrated as SG Gerald Henderson is, he’s not the type of player to carry a team. Charlotte now has a scorer who may not be dependable in Gordon, but surely has a lot more rounds in the chamber than Corey Maggette; last season, Gordon went for 20 points seven times, including a 45-point outburst in March.  In that sense, the trade is a bit of a win for the Bobcats, in that they acquired a player that, while overpaid, can still produce at times.

For the Pistons, who will start their fifth season of rebuilding in November, giving up a first-rounder, no matter how lottery protected, might be a mistake. Next year the selection won’t go to the Bobcats if it’s in the top 14, top 8 after that, top 1 after that and then in 2015, unprotected. At this point with Joe Dumars still at the helm of the Pistons, I’d expect nothing better than a bottom 14 finish in 2014. Optimistically, the Pistons will make the playoffs on the development of their young players, and losing an upcoming pick won’t matter as much. Pessimistically, and perhaps more realistically, they essentially will h… Read more...