TSP Andrew: Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to present to you a second installment of "Help Defense". As the title states, what IS behind curtain #3? Is your interest peaked? Do you want to take the jump to see what is behind the curtain or would you prefer what I have in this sealed envelope?? Come on now...take the curtain...I don't even have an envelope...
Back by popular demand from their mothers, here’s the next installment of "Help Defense," where two best friends who are avid Bobcats/Hornets fans exchange emails about the pressing topics of Bobcat Nation. Together, they almost make up a single, competent basketball fan.
Kyle: In a shocking turn of events, the third annual "Race to Rebuild" coaching search ended yesterday with the Cats hiring Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford. I think I had the same reaction as most when news of this hire got to me: "Wait, who is that?!" He's been assisting around the league for quite a while my research has told me, so that's a step up from The Artist Formerly Known as Dunlap. I know he wasn't your #1 choice Alvin Gentry, but what are your thoughts on the hire?
Brad: I have to be honest I was a little disappointed when the Bobcats decided not to hire Alvin Gentry. I could have written five thousand words about why he was a horrible hire, but I digress. I am actually pretty happy with the hire of Mr. Clifford. Like you mentioned before, he has been around the Association for a very long time, as he served as an assistant under Jeff Van Gundy with the New York Knickerbockers as well as with the Houston Rockets. I know what you’re thinking: who else was on those staffs? Why, I’m glad you asked, as it was none other than current Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau! As a matter of fact, Thibs won as many games his first year coaching the Bulls as the Cats have since the Bulls hired him. We can only hope the Big Red Dog has half of the success that Thibodeau has had so far as a head coach. He also received a ringing endorsement from my favorite of the Van Gundy clan, Stanley, who he was a top assistant for the year the Magic snuck into the Finals. How do you feel about Clifford as a head coach and do you have any better nicknames we could give him?
Kyle: Firstly, I have to address “The Big Red Dog.” C’mon son. We’re published authors now, you gotta step your nickname game up! Secondly, that would be pretty spectacular if our man Steve could have the turnaround success that Thibodeau has had in Chicago. Every team that Coach Cliff has been on the bench for has made it to the playoffs, even the Hollywood Horror Show this year, so you could definitely consider him a winner. Needless to say, that is something that hasn't been seen around these parts since the Larry Brown era. I know that you and I have both thrown around the brothers Van Gundy names when it comes to coaches we'd love to have roaming the sidelines of The Cable Box, so the fact that he's coached under both of them definitely makes me feel good about the hire. (Fun fact: Cliff's last coaching job before he got brought up to the big time was as an assistant at none other than East Carolina University!) Many things interest me about Coach Clifford. The top of that list has to be the possibility of an assistant coach named Patrick Ewing. I've been driving the bandwagon for The Beast of the East for our head coaching position the last two years, so the fact that there's a good chance he's coming as the top assistant is great news to me and any Bobcats/Hornets fan. A close number 2 on my list would be his great relationship with soon to be free agent Dwight Howard. How would you feel about the Big Whiner in the paint with The Biz?
Brad: Man, you brought up so many good points I don't even know where to start. The Patrick Ewing angle is a really interesting one. I have always been a fan of Ewing as a player, as well as a coach, and I believe he can really help the development of Biz, and Byron Mullens if the front office decides to re-sign him. I think you know I am a huge fan of The Biz, but to say he is offensively challenged might be the understatement of the century. I believe Ewing can definitely help him develop his offense in the post. Let’s not forget how big of an impact he could have in terms of helping to develop a big man if the Cats go that way in the draft. The other point that you brought up that really caught my eye was the Dwight Howard angle. I did not know Clifford had such a strong relationship with Howard and it would be great to finally have a legitimate superstar in the Queen City. Having said that, I believe our Cats have little to no chance to steal Dwight Howard from the NBA's most storied franchise, but in the NBA, you never know. If the Cats did somehow get Howard, I would like for every negative thing I have ever said about him stricken from the record. Everything that I have heard and read about Clifford seems to be positive and one of his major strengths appears to be player development, which is really good for a young roster like the Bobcats.
Kyle: The last 2 coaching staffs, regardless of how short their tenure was, never could seem to help Biz on the offensive side of the board. Having Ewing on board will help volumes. That was a great point Brad. For a team that finished second to last in the league in terms of rebound differential last season, bringing in two of the guys who helped make Dwight Howard into the All Star center that he is could really be the thing this team needs. It would be nice to transform from being perennial cellar dwellers, to a legitimate and competitive contender. I’ve also heard that Clifford will be huge in helping to develop our young roster. He seems to have a lot of confidence in what he’s working with here, and after the debacle of last year, that’s a huge plus for me. Either way you look at it, it seems to me like we are both big fans of the hire, which is definitely a change of pace from the last two seasons. I know that I can speak on behalf of both of us when I say: Coach Clifford, welcome to Charlotte…and for the love of elevation don’t you dare run a zone defense.