As promised, here is the second edition of "The season according to" presented by Andrew Lail. Keep in mind that none of us have discussed what we thought of the season. Take note of where we have similar views, and where we differ. Those points alone could spurn future Claw2Claw debates.
It seems only a short while ago that I was speculating on whether we would be a 5th seed or a 6th seed in the playoffs this year. I suppose that's what every fan is supposed to feel and believe. I had seen the team that competed last year in the playoffs, and I truly believed that DJ Augustin would make a massive difference. I spent most of the summer scouring every tidbit on the Bobcats, moves they made, and even rumors that might have materialized. You guys will get to see some of my looking this summer as well. Really, I only care for basketball, so a summer of baseball is not my cup of tea. At any rate, we all had witnessed a very promising summer league showing by Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown. We heard that we picked up Shaun Livingston and Kwame Brown as well. At that point, I felt in my heart and mind that THIS would be the year we made an impact. Shortly after my feeling, Kwame suffered a severe ankle sprain. Coach Brown's discussions made it sound as though Kwame might be just what we needed in our team to fill a need at C. We also didn't get to see any of Shaun Livingston as he had some soreness in his surgically rebuilt knee. After summer camp ended, I was shocked to hear that Sherron Collins was signed to the team. I mean, was there a need for another PG under 6'? By the way, who is Dominic McGuire? Again, in LB I trusted. I mean, he worked his magic last season, so why doubt him this season?
Well...there was reason to doubt. It became very apparent that LB was insistent on the guys playing HIS way, and no other way. Coach Brown sucked all of the fun out of the game itself. In the process, he also surgically removed confidence from every single player on the team. We were looking at guys like Dominic McGuire getting playing time over Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson, and we were all shaking our heads. It did come out that Hendo had soreness in one of his knees, so that was why we were not seeing any playing time for him. "Crash" wasn't playing anywhere near the intensity level that he was last season. Our all-star Gerald Wallace was eventually on the bench with a sprained ankle (the bone bruise on that ankle was what kept him our so long). We were all watching a team take the court that was lifeless, and a coach who repeatedly claimed that he just didn't know what to do to motivate the team. That was a red flag. At that point...I honestly believe that Larry Brown should have been fired (Late October to early November). You have a hall of fame coach saying that he doesn't know what to do to wake his team up. Instead, we limped along, losing game after blowout game, until finally, LB stepped down...or was fired...or he fired himself...or he fired the team from his presence...whatever it was, LB was gone.
Enter Coach Paul Silas, a resident of Charlotte who is a former pro basketball player, former Charlotte Hornets coach, and loved by the community. Could this be a recipe for success? I viewed it as being similar to a fan getting to be a coach. Coach Silas was coming out of retirement for the only reason he said that he would; to coach the Charlotte Bobcats. Well, almost immediately, the team started gaining something that the first portion of the season lacked. Silas injected confidence andfun back into the Charlotte Bobcats. We were winning games. Some of the wins, we blew out our opponents instead of the other way around. Along the way, DJ Augustin was running the point with one of the lowest assist to turnover ratios of all of the PGs in the league. We did have Gana Diop playing up to what we knew he was capable of, and, might I add, playing much better than the prior season. Unfortunately, Gana ruptured his Achilles tendon, andwe lost him for the season. That's a big blow to the team, considering we already had a fairly thin group of centers. I mean, we had Tyrus Thomas to cover, right? Oh yeah, torn meniscus in his knee had him riding the bench as well. The team was playing as a team though, with confidence being at an all time high. We beat Boston, we beat the Lakers, then we lose to a sub .500 team. That has always been the way of the Bobcats, so no surprise there. The nice part was that in a weak Eastern conference, we were flying up on the 8th seed in the playoffs. We continued to teeter on the brink of a secondplayoff appearance as we traded wins for losses with the Indiana Pacers.
As the trade deadline approached, it appeared that all were safe for the season, but as the clock wound down, Gerald Wallace and Nazr Mohammed were jettisoned off for picks andplayers. Jordan still believed that with the talent we got back, we still had the tools to make a solid run for the 8th seed. Some of the players were throw ins to make salaries work and others were actual diamonds in the rough. DJ White was buried on the bench in Oklahoma, andDante Cunningham was not seeing any time in Portland. Joel Pryzbilla was a nice big to pick up, but unfortunately his surgically repaired knee was not healing enough to give us a 2nd option at center for very long, so the remainder of the season was played by executing small ball for many games, in order to give Kwame Brown his rest during games. Our biggest blow came late in the playoff push as Stephen Jackson, our leading scorer, strained his left hamstring andTyrus Thomas, who returned in March, was back out with soreness in that surgically repaired knee. Unfortunately the only way for those injuries to heal is via rest, andwhen you're pushing for the playoffs, rest is not available. We limped our way through the remainder of the season with Gerald Henderson stepping up and getting some weight put on his shoulders. He handled the pressure well, and gained much needed experience for next season. We were in the fight up until the last stretch of games of the season, and we just could not beat the final teams we were facing. Up side is that we saw lots of promise from our bench. I believe that Dante Cunningham andDJ White will both be keepers for next season while Dominic McGuire's services will no longer be needed.
We have draft picks to utilize this year. We also have Boris Diaw's $9 million contract as trade material. I personally feel that depending on the direction we take, Boris will not be with the team this coming season. I could see him paired with a pick to either get another much needed "veteran" (2nd to 4th year) player, or to possibly move up in the draft. If a trade is made to move up in the draft, I would watch what player it is. That could determine what draftee we are wanting. We will just need to see who is ahead of us in the draft, weigh the amount of youth they already have, look at their needs, and see what we could offer to benefit us. All of that is "to be determined" though. Do I think this season was a bust? Not by any means. I really hated to see Wallace go, but you just have to look at the big picture. He is GREATLY missed from the team as he was the "face" of the franchise. Sadly, in order to move forward, we sometimes have to take a step back. Couple the bad contracts we have with the looming collective bargaining agreement talks between the players and the owners, who knows what the future holds (a lockout possibility would just HAVE to happen when Trade Street Post gets season tickets...). I really think that for the 2012-2013 season, MJ has us in line to actually sign some REAL free agent talent. Do I think he will spend the money? I absolutely believe he will. There will be names like Paul and Howard in the mix. Just watch this year's playoffs. If New Orleans and Orlando are sitting at home after the 1st round, you'll see other teams begin to move pieces instead of resigning them. For now, wait for it.
I still fully believe that we make playoffs next year. We just need a healthy season. Keep injuries down, get decent picks, and we already have an awesome coach in place.
Stay tuned Bobcats fans. The best is yet to come.