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Bradleiu
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« on: October 02, 2007, 10:33:23 pm »
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Post any articles,movies,interviews ect Bobcat related here
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2007, 10:35:27 pm »
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CHARLOTTE — There was no hesitation, no hint of a contract dispute or even a worry about his future. Emeka Okafor said Monday he was “positive” he’d soon be signing a long-term extension with the Charlotte Bobcats.

“I’m positive that it’s going to happen,” Okafor said during the team’s annual preseason media day. “You just have to be patient and let things work out for themselves.”

Okafor can be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign with the Bobcats by the end of this month. But he’s eligible to receive as much as a five-year, $85 million extension — or what Orlando has given Dwight Howard, the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA draft in which Okafor was chosen second by the Bobcats.

Neither Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan or general manager Rod Higgins would comment on the negotiations. But team spokesman B.J. Evans said Jordan and Higgins told him they were as committed to signing Okafor to a long-term contract as they have been since last spring, when Jordan said Okafor was a team priority.

A phone message to Okafor’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, on Monday was not returned.

Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace also was confident Okafor would be signed to a long-term contract, but said he hoped it was done before the Oct. 31 deadline so it wouldn’t drag into the season. Wallace signed the Bobcats’ largest contract thus far in their franchise this summer, when he was inked for six years at $57 million.

Okafor, the 2005 NBA rookie of the year, has averaged 14.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while playing in 166 of 246 games during his three-year career.


Anderson re-signed
It went up to the start of training camp, but the Bobcats re-signed veteran swingman Derek Anderson to a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum of $1.22 million on Monday.
Anderson, a 10-year veteran, was signed as a free agent by the Bobcats in November 2006 and averaged 8.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 50 games.

“I was just comfortable staying here,” said Anderson, who also received interest from Atlanta, Utah, Milwaukee and Denver. “I know what this was about and I thought that, given the opportunity, I could help out here.”

Anderson is hopeful of getting into coaching in the future and was thankful former Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff, now Charlotte executive vice president of basketball operations, and new coach Sam Vincent will give him more experience in pursuing that goal.

“I’ve learned from all kinds of people,” Anderson said. “I learned from Bernie last year and I’ll be able to learn from a young coach this year.”


May, Harrington updates
Vincent wouldn’t rule out signing another veteran post player in case Sean May and Othella Harrington’s knee injuries cause them to miss playing time.

May was to see a knee specialist Monday night in hopes of being cleared to practice at least once during the Bobcats’ seven straight scheduled two-a-day practices. And Harrington will be out until at least the start of the regular-season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Sept. 24.


Roster additions
In addition to adding Anderson on Monday, the Bobcats signed 7-foot center Marcus Campbell and 6-11 forward-center Jameel Watkins to non-guaranteed free agent contracts. Their additions give the Bobcats 20 players on their training camp roster — with 15 players under guaranteed contracts.

Campbell spent the 2005 preseason with Charlotte before playing the last two seasons in the National Basketball Developmental League. Watkins played in the NBDL for two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03) and has participated in summer leagues or training camps for six other NBA teams. Last year, he played in Korea.


Bouncing back
Charlotte native Jeff McInnis has worked out all summer in hopes of bouncing back from one of his worst pro seasons.

McInnis was acquired from the New Jersey Nets in January, but hadn’t played in nearly a year. The layoff hurt his numbers for the Bobcats last season — 4.3 points and 3.3 assists per game and 39.2 percent shooting.

“People can say you’re in shape,” said McInnis, who played at West Mecklenburg and West Charlotte high schools. “But basketball shape is always different. I didn’t realize that until last year. But I’ve improved and I’ve got something to prove this season.”

article about okafors extension,roster,derek anderson resigning. Hopefully we can lock up Okafor for the long term like what Wallace got however unlikely that may be
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2007, 03:41:36 am »
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I think Oka4 will be looking for Howard money. He shouldnt get it but probably will- the new cba at least makes 'max' contracts for young guys relatively cap-friendly.
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2007, 05:51:09 am »
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LOS ANGELES -- Charlotte Bobcats reserve forward Adam Morrison is likely done for the season after an MRI exam on Sunday revealed a torn ligament in his left knee.

Adam Morrison

Morrison

The injury occurred with about 5½ minutes left in the third quarter of Saturday night's 113-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Morrison was attempting to defend Luke Walton on a drive to the basket and crumpled to the floor in severe pain while clutching his left knee.

"Our medical staff has had a chance to review the MRI, and they're saying right now they believe there is some sort of tear," coach Sam Vincent said Sunday, about an hour before the Bobcats took on Phoenix in the second day of the annual Staples Center shootout.

"Until they get in there and do whatever they do, who knows? But they are saying there's a good chance he will be out for the year. So I'm not counting on him playing," Vincent added.

Morrison, the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, was the top scorer in college basketball two seasons ago with Gonzaga -- averaging 28.1 points. As an NBA rookie, he averaged 11.8 points in 78 games. He was expected to play a significant role in a smaller lineup Vincent was going to employ once the season began. As one of the first two players off the bench, Morrison was expected to play about 20-25 minutes a game and contribute 14-16 points.

"I talked to him before the coaches and players meeting this morning when he had just gotten back from taking the MRI, and he pretty much knew the results," Vincent said. "He's obviously down."

Morrison remained at the team's hotel Sunday. He will fly back to Charlotte with his teammates on Monday and be re-examined by team physician Dr. Glenn Perry. A date for surgery will be determined once the swelling in Morrison's knee subsides.

"It's disappointing with Adam going down -- especially because he's been putting so much effort in during the summer, trying to pick up our system and improve his defense," said Vincent, who will distribute Morrison's minutes among Derek Anderson, Walter Hermann and Matt Carroll.

Morrison is being paid nearly $3.25 million this season after making $3 last season under terms of the NBA's rookie pay scale. The team has the option to renew the contract in years three and four of the deal.


Props to Lakerdynasty i didnt have to find this myself
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2007, 10:21:42 pm »
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look at the kings dunk on the second one
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2007, 12:38:12 am »
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An opposing team's scout sizes up the Bobcats

This team has too many unknowns. They have an unknown coach in Sam Vincent -- and I mean really unknown. He coached one year as an NBA assistant last season with Dallas. I can't imagine they're going to be good enough to make the playoffs because none of the teams that made the playoffs in the East last year have suffered significant drops in talent, while Boston is a lottery team that got significantly better ...

This is going to be either a really good or really bad experiment with Sam. I'm not opposed to taking a chance on new people rather than recycling your head coach from the same group of candidates. But when you take a chance on somebody who is a complete unknown, it had better work out. The Jump Man [minority owner Michael Jordan] himself has not had great success being a leader of a team other than when he was on the floor ...

So why hire Vincent? I don't know if it was because of finances, or if Michael thought Vincent was somebody he could manipulate -- which would be very interesting if true, if Michael was effectively overseeing the team from up in the skybox. I know nothing about Sam. But there has to be some substance to the guy, because for a former NBA player to go overseas (to Africa and Europe) to coach men and women for a decade, that's something you don't do unless you really want to accomplish something ...

There are so many weaknesses on this team, starting with Raymond Felton, who I think should be a backup in the league. I don't think he's good enough -- a little too offensive-minded, a little slow. I know he was regarded as a fast player when he came out of North Carolina, but when I watch him I don't see him making enough plays, and he looks on the slow side. He's more of a power player than a speed player, somebody who is stronger than he is fast. He uses his body, he gets inside, but then he doesn't get to the rim as much as he pulls up. He loves to pull up for jumpers. Look, I understand it's hard to argue with a guy who averaged 14 points and seven assists, but my gut feeling is that if he's your starting point guard, then you have a below-average team. But if he's your backup, then you've got a high-level team ...

I would think they're going to miss Brevin Knight as their backup point. He was more of a vocal leader on that team, and also he was a little more dangerous. When you see Felton shooting 40.7 percent from inside the three-point line and 33 percent outside it, that kind of inconsistency tends to invite the defense to collapse and make you earn your points. Brevin was more dangerous in transition and in the pick-and-roll, where he could get to the rim every single time. Taking a veteran off a young team with very little leadership will hurt on a day-to-day basis, though it's also fair to say that Brevin's absence could force those other guys to grow over the long term by forcing more responsibility on them ...

Jeff McInnis is going to be their backup. He's a Charlotte native, which always seems to be important to this franchise. He doesn't have the greatest reputation. But they must be OK with him after spending [four] months with him last season [after acquiring him from New Jersey]. He competes, he plays hard and he challenges people. If you want to be a tough team, you've got to have people like that, though again you have to be worried about a guy who's been on a lot of different teams like he has ...

It will be interesting to see what kind of style they play for Vincent. They were in a lot of games the last few years. There wasn't a lot of flash on that roster and they had to grind it out playing the Bernie Bickerstaff way, which was to never let them off the hook. He coached them the same when they were up 20 or down 20. Bernie's defensive style was that you'd better defend your own man. Because they knew they had Emeka Okafor back there protecting the rim, it allowed some of them to get a little careless defensively on the perimeter. It's funny how few defenders actually take advantage of having a good shot blocker behind them ...

I don't know if they're talented enough to play a faster style. Did Bernie hold them back or did he get the most out of them? I think the latter is true. I'm sure Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson will want to play fast, but Emeka Okafor, Primoz Brezec and Matt Carroll aren't transition players. If you look at their roster as a whole, it has no single identity ...

Look at the problems they're having marketing that team in Charlotte. I don't think you can market a city like that to hip-hop, because the tickets are being bought by corporations and families. But they also screwed up their own TV network, and then they couldn't get the right cable package to televise their games. So they didn't exactly get off to a good start reintroducing themselves to the fans there after taking over from the Hornets ...

Now it looks like they're trying to win over the fans by finally spending the money to bring in Jason Richardson as a legitimate NBA scorer. But can he carry a franchise in that way? He's never been an All-Star. But there's no doubting that he's an upgrade for a team that has never had a consistent scorer and shooter. Richardson has changed his game a great deal in six years. He used to be nothing more than a slasher and a transition two-footed-jumping dunker. He's become a three-point shooter and a very quick-shooting perimeter player who can score off the dribble and off catch-and-shoot. He's not afraid of taking the big shots, which was another thing they needed desperately. A lot of times it was like a hot potato around that place at the ends of games because they basically had four or five guys who were all average or above-average players, which meant no one knew who should be trying to win the game. At least now Richardson will be that designated guy, though he's going to find that it's harder to get open looks now that he has fewer weapons around him in Charlotte than he had in Oakland ...

The biggest disappointment on the team has to be Adam Morrison [who is expected to miss the season with a torn knee ligament]. The game looked too fast for him as a rookie last year. The thing I hear -- and this really surprises me -- is that he doesn't work enough on his game, that he puts in the effort during practices, but when practice is over, he's gone and he does not put the extra work into his game. He was really, really struggling to get shots last year. I think he needs to be the kick-out guy, where you reverse the ball to him and give him a chance to set his feet before shooting. He cannot put the ball on the floor: He's a charge or turnover waiting to happen. He may eventually have to find his niche as a pick-and-pop player, or he may even have to bulk up and move to power forward someday, which I know sounds crazy. But it's hard for me to envision him learning to put the ball on the floor because everybody else in the league looks so much quicker and stronger. He has a long way to go ...

Another guy I bet they were worrying about -- even before he was lost for the year with microfracture knee surgery -- was Sean May. I wonder how much he really loves the game. Maybe the worst thing to happen to him was staying in North Carolina, because there he'll always be the Tar Heel. It might have been beneficial for him to get out of there and have to prove himself all over with a new team that didn't care so much what he did back in college. He always has weight issues ...

But Wallace is a bright spot for them, a fringe player who has become a day-in, day-out contributor and probably the best player on their team. Look at the variety of options he creates: He can score in transition, shoot the three, post up in the block, slice to the basket off the dribble. It's shocking to see how complete his game has become. He competes, and he's more prideful than I would have imagined him being as a raw athlete coming early out of college. He blocks shots, he gets to the free throw line. While he isn't a pure three-point shooter, it's another phase of his game that you have to deal with. Plus, he produces steals as a very good defender with good length and size. Sometimes he doesn't make good decisions, and he will cheat, which can lead to some breakdowns. But athletically he is disruptive ...

Okafor is going to be a solid NBA player -- and I mean solid, nothing special. He has some limitations, and yet he gets the most out of his game every night as a defensive presence, a shot blocker and a rebounder. He's an adequate low-post scorer, and I don't see him getting a great deal better offensively. I see him playing at this level the next 10 years. And that's no knock: What's wrong with a guy hitting a double-double every single night? He's getting everything out of himself that he can. But he just doesn't have the scoring mentality, and the proof is that his team doesn't go to him a lot down there because they know what he can and can't do ...

Walter Herrmann came on at the end of the year because I think they realized he's a guy who has to play minutes and work himself into the game. You can't just put him into the game and get instant offense from him. But overall I see him as a marginal NBA player who doesn't have enough variety to his game ...

Carroll was another resurrection, coming up from the D-League. He's a very good catch-and-shoot guy. You can shut him down with lot of attention, but if you forget about him, he can hurt you ...

The bottom line is that I don't see them going anywhere unless Sam Vincent has one of those magical first-year coaching things where he comes up with an unorthodox approach that catches everybody by surprise. Otherwise they're still going to be a team of young players that doesn't have a lot of upside.


Another negative Media perception of the Bobcats.
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Bradleiu
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2007, 06:55:15 pm »
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 1, 2007 -Sam Vincent made history earlier this year when he became head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Vincent, who spent three seasons as a head coach in the D-League with Fort Worth and Mobile, became the first former D-League coach to become the head coach of an NBA team. WIth the Bobcats' Friday night season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks just a day away, D-League.com's Matthew Brennan caught up with Vincent to talk about his NBA experience and how the D-League helped him get to Charlotte.

 

Sam Vincent lends some instruction to fellow D-League alum Matt Carroll.
Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images  
Coach Vincent, you are the first former D-League coach to become an NBA head coach. How excited are you about reaching this milestone?

Vincent: "It's an extremely exciting milestone, to be able to work through the trenches in the D-league, and see the fruits of all that hard work become an opportunity to coach on what I believe is the best level of basketball in the world. It's very fullfilling and very exciting and I am obviously looking forward to tomorrow's game against the Bucks."

How does the D-League help coaches improve and reach the next level?

Vincent: "I think mainly because you are so short staffed, you end up wearing so many hats at the D-League level. It really gives you a broad understanding operationally of a lot of different things that go on. I think when you get to this level, even though you have a much broader support staff, you have a much greater feel for what people should be doing or are doing. So I think it really helps to prepare you in a very broad range."

Is there a big adjustment to make between coaching in the D-League and the NBA from a basketball standpoint?

Vincent: "The basketball standpoint, a lot of the x's and o's are the same. You just have to make adjustments faster because the game moves a lot quicker. The game is taking place faster, the athletes move faster, and because of that you have to make adjustments on the floor quicker with your coverages, offensively and defensively. It just requires you to see things a little bit quicker, just like it does for a player. Other than that, things aren't very different. You are running down screens, pick and rolls, so a lot of the action is still the same."

Has there been a lot of communication between the Bobcats and your new D-League affiliate (Sioux Falls Skyforce) so far?

Vincent: "I am obviously a big advocate of the D-League and our affiliated team, but one thing I've realized sitting in this seat is how much work is involved and how little time you have. So I haven' had the time yet to reach out to the people in Sioux Falls, but I know our assistant coach Lee Rose has, and we would like to extend them a warm welcome to be involved and to talk to us. Obviously we will have whatever kind of communication we can have regarding players. To this point my hands have really been full with getting up to speed with the first year of the head coaching position."

A majority of your coaching staff has also coached in the D-League. Is that going to be a big help when it comes to working with the D-League?

Vincent: "I think that all of these guys understand what the D-League is all about and are big supporters. Myself, Mike Sanders, Paul Mokeski, and Lee Rose (consultant). We are all sensitive to that. We are trying to get our main job accomplished, which is getting the Bobcats on a winning streak, but at the same we are very supportive of whatever D-League issues come up."

You are going to be coaching 2004-05 D-League MVP Matt Carroll in Charlotte. Is he a great role model for players trying to work their way up to the NBA?

Vincent: "I think Matt is a guy that most players can take a look at it, and obviously see that he has been very succesful. He came from the D-League as an exceptional player and made it the NBA, and now has had the chance to sign an extended contract. I think he is a little bit of a road map that guys can follow to get to the next level, and not just get here but also be successful."

You coached two players (Kelenna Azubuike and Ime Udoka) in Fort Worth during the 2005-06 season that have succesfully made the leap from the D-League to the NBA. Talk about how they have developed over the past two years.

Vincent: "I think that they are obviously a true testament to what the league is all about. Guys who for whatever reason dont make it on their first opportunity for whatever reason, if they continue to work hard and get to the D-League, they will get a chance for people to see them and to get back into the NBA. I think that both Kelenna and Ime are great testaments to that philosophy."

In 2005-06 the Fort Worth team that you coached reached the D-League Championship Game. Is there anything in particular that you recall about that season?

Vincent: "That was the first year that the NBA started sending players down to us, so it changed things from the years earlier in Mobile, where we were sending players up but none were coming down. I think that whole dynamic of the D-League where you have players coming up and down is so interesting, and you create a place where there is great competiion and practices. You really develop a strong hunger for guys to make it to the next level, which is why you see so many of them making the move to the NBA."

What are your main goals heading into your first season with the Bobcats?

Vincent: "Continuing to get better, of course winning more games is a given, but we want to see progress with the team. Individual player development is a strong goal for us, we want to see guys improve and be able to chart their progress, whether it be field goal percentage or assists, we want to see progress from our players. As a coach, this is going to be a great year for me, a new experience with new guys in an incredible league, and I just want to grow as a coach. If those three things can happen at the end of the year I will be pretty excited."



Sammy V interview
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2008, 08:20:14 pm »
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Chalk Talk with General Manager Rod Higgins


 
Prior to Saturday’s game with the Detroit Pistons, Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins joined fans in Lowe’s Home Court for a pregame chalk talk. Fans had the opportunity to pose questions regarding the team this season and the outlook for the future. Read Higgins’ responses to their questions below.
(On if the Bobcats would consider using their open roster spot)
Normally what happens is you have 15 as a maximum number for roster spots. We currently have 14. If we would consider using it, of course we would, particularly now that we have injuries that are starting to surface. Our point guard position is very important to us. We don’t have to wait until the trade deadline to use it. We could use it today. We could bring up a D-League player or sign someone who’s a free agent. As the trade deadline approaches, which is in the middle of February, on the third Thursday in February, we are going to look at any opportunity to improve our basketball team.

(On if the strong play of Nazr Mohammed will have any affect on the contract negotiations with Emeka Okafor)
I think those are two different, separate entities. With Mohammed, he is playing well for us, which is key because we made the trade a couple of weeks ago. I think he’s fitting in very well. With Emeka, we want to keep Emeka. We want to have the opportunity to sign him to a long term contract. But neither has an affect on the other. Emeka is very important to us and to our success. Emeka’s production is going to determine what his contract status will be.

(On why the Bobcats traded Walter Herrmann)
When you have the opportunity to improve your basketball team, you have to give up a quality player. Walter was part of the equation. The Pistons wanted Walter. Unfortunately Walter wasn’t getting an opportunity with us, so it was a good deal. Sometimes it’s tough giving up on young players. I think Walter is a tremendous basketball player. I hope he doesn’t hurt us tonight, but that’s part of the equation.

(On Adam Morrison and Sean May’s progress with regards to their injuries)
Adam as well as Sean are progressing very well. In terms of Adam, he’s a little further along. With his surgery, he can get more involved with his rehab. He can get on the water treadmill, he can move on the court a little bit more. With Sean, it’s more of a tedious rehab. You have to be really careful with how you proceed with him. With those microfracture surgeries, you just don’t know. He’s young enough and the medical staff corrected (the injury). I think it’s going to enable him to come back 100%. I think those guys are going to be big for us next year.

(On Ryan Hollins’ potential)
Ryan Hollins is going to have a huge opportunity to play tonight because Detroit plays big at their spots. We need as many big players as possible and we’re shorthanded. I think for Ryan, he has the opportunity to be a good basketball player, but he has some flaws in his game. I think for him, he’s going to have to continue to improve his body, work in the weight room, but on the other side, on the offensive side, he can probably do some things that other players can’t do with his jumping ability. He’s also going to have to learn how to stay out of foul trouble. Sometimes he makes some fouls that he really doesn’t have to make. Those are things he has to get away from if he wants to stay on the basketball court.

(On if the Bobcats would consider signing Walter Herrmann as a free agent in the offseason)
The one thing with Walter is he’s a restricted free agent. That means that his team, the Pistons, will have the opportunity to match any deal he gets with another team. I don't know (if the Bobcats would consider signing him). I think in the summer we will evaluate all players who are free agents, whether they are restricted or unrestricted free agents.

(On what positions the Bobcats will be looking to improve at in the offseason)
I think for us, we are going to have some positions we are really going to have to think about. I think the point guard position is going to be one. Jeff McInnis is going to be an unrestricted free agent. That position is such an important position for success. Anytime you can get a big player, like a center or a power forward, you always want to look at it. I think our strength is going to be our 2’s and 3’s with Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and Adam Morrison coming back.

(On the Bobcats trying to cut down on 24-second shot clock violations)
Those are things the coach tries to address night in and night out. I can’t argue, because there are times when I see the same thing. We have to do a better job of getting up the court, past halfcourt and into our set. A lot of times, we have a continuity offense where we try to do certain things and move certain people around and if doesn’t work we find ourselves behind the eight ball in terms of the shot clock being on our back. For our team, we have some pretty good players and nobody wants that shot clock to go down and we get bad shots.

(On if the Bobcats have considered bringing in a free throw shooting coach)
No. These guys have shot free throws as young people and grown up through the professional ranks being very good free throw shooters. Free throws are so much more mental as opposed to physical. We continue to improve. Gerald (Wallace) is shooting a better free throw and Jason (Richardson) is shooting a better free throw. We are starting to figure it out. It’s such an emotional thing for a free throw shooter as opposed to some coach trying to come in here and put his stamp on it. They shoot free throws every day. I’m at practice everyday and these guys shoot 100’s of free throws.

(On what the Bobcats future plans are for Sean May and Adam Morrison)
We plan for those guys to come back and be very good for us. When they suffered those injuries early on, disappointment kind of spread through our organization because we envisioned both of those guys playing 20 to 30 minutes on any given night and being very good players. The plan is to start training camp and those guys are going to come in (ready to play). They are chomping at the bit right now. It’s going to be like we’re getting two draft picks when they come back. It’s going to be good for us.

(On taking Cleveland to double overtime)
Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but more importantly, it was a great effort on the part of our guys. I think they hung tough. We made some crucial mistakes down the stretch, but when you make those mistakes, what you want to do is learn from them. I think tonight will give us the opportunity to play against a good quality team, a championship-caliber team, so we’ll see how it goes tonight.

(On the state of the team headed into the Detroit game)
Unfortunately tonight for us we are going to be without both our point guards. Jeff McInnis and Raymond Felton suffered injuries last night. They’re not going to be able to play tonight, so that’s a huge blow for us. There’s no crying in professional sports though. You have to put your gym shoes on, lace them up and go out there and compete. The other team’s not going to feel sorry for you. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. Opportunities are going to be there for guys who haven’t had opportunities to log a lot of minutes. That’s the important thing.

(On his background)
My mom brought me up in Chicago and I had the opportunity to play some very good quality basketball in high school. I had the great opportunity to get a scholarship to Fresno State University and that was probably one of the best decisions I have made. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here if I hadn’t done that.


Higgins interview from Bobcats.com no surprise that he says Morrison is furhter ahead in progress than May
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2008, 08:37:24 pm »
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Bobcats still building from bottom up

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By Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review-Journal 12 hours, 37 minutes ago

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LAS VEGAS – In their four-year existence in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats have been a nonfactor.

Four consecutive losing seasons. Questionable drafts and trades. Perennial visits to the lottery.

General manager Rod Higgins is trying to change that culture.

He shuffled the deck on his bench, replacing Sam Vincent with veteran Larry Brown. He picked up an extra first-round pick in last month’s draft to bolster his roster. He even decided to change the Bobcats’ summer league destination from Orlando, Fla., to Las Vegas.

In Charlotte, change is considered a good thing. And given the team has a .332 winning percentage since it entered the NBA in 2004-05, it can’t hurt to go in a different direction.

“This is our fifth year as a franchise, and we’re trying to build through the draft and do it the right way,” Higgins said as he watched his team defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 81-66 in its NBA Summer League debut Saturday at Cox Pavilion. “For us, being here in Vegas is probably more important than most teams because we’re so young and we’re building for the future.”

Sitting with Brown and player personnel director Buzz Peterson, Higgins had to like what he saw from D.J. Augustin, the 6-foot point guard from Texas whom the Bobcats selected with the ninth pick at last month’s draft.

Augustin, who left the Longhorns after two years, played with confidence and improved as he became more comfortable on the floor. He finished with 14 points but had only two assists.

“I started out a little slowly, but I was able to settle down,” Augustin said. “I think we’ve got a lot of talent here, and I’m glad to be in Charlotte.”

Along with Augustin, the Bobcats are counting on 7-foot French center Alexis Ajinca, whom they used their 20th pick on, and second-round selection Kyle Weaver, to contribute sooner rather than later.

While preaching patience to the fans is easy, it’s harder to sell that notion to the team’s managing member of basketball operations.

That would be Michael Jordan. Patience is not one of his virtues, and he wants the Bobcats to move on a faster track toward respectability.

It was one of the reasons Brown was brought on board, to see if he could extract the most out of the talent on hand before he suffers another flameout and moves on.

Brown didn’t want to be interviewed Saturday but he made a brief assessment of Augustin before leaving the arena.

“He’s going to be special,” Brown said. “I really liked what I saw.”

Saturday was the first time he saw Augustin in a game setting. The Bobcats never worked out Augustin before the draft, never brought him in for a personal interview.

It appeared that Augustin would go to Sacramento or Portland, both of which liked him.

But Higgins, Peterson and the rest of the Bobcats’ staff believed they had done enough homework on Augustin to draft him at No. 9.

“I was a little surprised they took me given I didn’t work out for them,” Augustin said. “But I’m glad I’m here. I’ll learn a lot from Coach Brown. He’s a great coach and a proven winner.”
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2008, 08:40:45 pm »
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Bobcats in Las Vegas
Bobcats' 7-footer Ajinca has room to grow
First-rounder has potential to expand his game.
By Rick Bonnell
rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com
Alexis Ajinca (left) works with Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown
AP
Alexis Ajinca (left) works with Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown during a practice in Las Vegas on Tuesday, July 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Marlene Karas)

LAS VEGAS --
Bicycle racing? Sure. Swimming? Absolutely.

It was no secret back in France that Alexis Ajinca was a jock. The question was which sport he'd best grow into…

Or grow out of.

The kid's long legs came in handy at age 9, when he started getting national notice as a swimmer. His greater passion back then was BMX bicycle racing. But at some point those legs grew so long it must have been tough adjusting the bike seat high enough.

That's when a cousin told a 12-year-old Ajinca that his ever-lengthening body belonged on a basketball court. He ended up in a Paris-based sports academy, grew beyond 7-foot and, last month became the second of two Charlotte Bobcats first-rounders.

Ajinca does something each day in summer practice – swishing a jump shot from the top of the key or finding a teammate with a subtle pass across the lane – that shows he has skills many NBA 7-footers lack.

Call it a cultural exchange. Ajinca doesn't post up like Kevin McHale or block out like Dennis Rodman, but with soft hands and solid footwork, his future is promising.

“He shows the signs,” coach Larry Brown says. “He makes shots, he makes passes, he's got great hands. I just think the physical part of the game is still tough for him.

“And he tells me a lot of the things that I say, it takes him a while to comprehend what we're doing. We just have to figure that out.”

While American basketball jargon is sometimes lost in translation, Ajinca speaks strong English and seems remarkably mature for 20.

Mature emotionally, anyway. Physically, he's still 500 protein shakes short of a load. His 220 pounds, stretched over such a long frame, is painfully skinny, particularly through his legs. He might have a 9-foot, 7-inch standing reach, but that length only counts for something if he isn't thrashed around the lane.

“We're going to have to do an awful lot to get him stronger,” said Rich Sheubrooks, the Bobcats' director of global scouting.

It's worth every diet supplement the Bobcats can find, Sheubrooks says, because true athletes of those dimensions are rare.

“I know this is going to sound crazy because he's got a long way to go,” Sheubrooks says from Spain on Friday, “but that body is like Wilt Chamberlain coming out of high school.”

Euro-ball

That Chamberlain analogy might be lost on Ajinca, because he wasn't raised on the game. Still, he learned enough about the modern NBA to see this – and not Euro-ball – was his best avenue to excel.

“I want to be K.G. (Kevin Garnett). I want to be Tim Duncan,” Ajinca says.

“In Europe now, there's big money and some people prefer playing there over the NBA. But the games are different. In France it's such a system. You don't get as much chance to play one-on-one (isolation plays). That's U.S. basketball.”

Most big men in Europe are face-up jump shooters. True back-to-the-basket post-up scorers are rare because European teams rely heavily on zone defense. They'll converge in bunches when the ball is thrown into the post, and European refs tend not to call many fouls that close to the basket.

“In Europe you can't get an open shot” in the lane, Ajinca says. “On a post-up, they're all around you. In U.S., there's more space because you have to guard everybody.”

It's also the culture of Euro-ball to rely heavily on veterans, regardless of younger players' potential. That, Sheubrooks said, helps explain why Ajinca never started for his French team, Hyeres-Toulon, yet was drafted 20th overall by the Bobcats.

International competition

Ajinca played just 26 games as a European pro, taking 89 shots, but that wasn't the extent of Sheubrooks' scouting access. He began monitoring Ajinca's progress four years ago, after hearing the French sports academy “INSEP” had a promising big man.

“I probably saw him play 30 to 40 games, including twice at the Hoop Summit,” an exhibition pitting International teenagers against young U.S. players, Sheubrooks says.

Ajinca was even skinnier then. Sheubrooks saw him add 22 pounds in a year by changing his diet. France has strong basketball – NBA veterans Tony Parker and Boris Diaw both developed there – but big men aren't typically that country's strength.

“He controlled the game defensively, and that's pretty rare over there,” says Sheubrooks. “There was one game I saw where he had 10 or 11 blocks and at least five more changed shots.”

Sheubrooks says the size and skill set are obvious. The subtler thing that caught his attention was Ajinca's personality. He's sensible and reliable.

“It's the way he handles himself – extremely accommodating, extremely polite,” Sheubrooks says, telling a story from Ajinca's pre-draft workouts.

It seems one NBA team (Sheubrooks wouldn't say which one) forgot to pick up Ajinca at the airport. Rather than pitch a fit, Ajinca hailed a cab and worked with the driver to find directions to that team's practice facility.

“I know players who speak perfect English, and they wouldn't (have the life skills to) do that,” Sheubrooks says.

“He's the kind of guy who looks you straight in the eye, shakes your hand, and it's no con job,” Sheubrooks says. “If we'll be patient with him, we'll get a really nice player.”
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2008, 08:44:25 pm »
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Bobcats Team Report

Yahoo! Sports Jul 12, 5:04 pm EDT

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Getting Inside

Just maybe, Emeka Okafor gained some leverage as a restricted free agent this week.

First, Elton Brand chose to leave the Los Angeles Clippers for the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving a hole at power forward and an abundance of salary-cap space behind for his former team. Then it was reported Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut will sign a five-year, $72.5 million extension with his current team.

The offer Okafor turned down last summer—more than $12 million a season—looked generous on the Bobcats’ part. However, Bogut’s average annual salary—$14.5 million—trumps what looked like a fair price for Okafor and they look like comparable big men. (About $60 million of Bogut’s contract is guaranteed.)
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The Bobcats still have great control because Okafor is a restricted free agent. That would allow them to match another team’s offer, and reduces the bidders. But it’s quite possible Okafor would sign the one-year qualifying offer (about $7 million next season) to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2009.

As Brand’s escape from Los Angeles to Philadelphia illustrated, reaching unrestricted free agent shifts the power back to the player.

Notes, Quotes

• Several Bobcats veterans (Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace and Sean May) planned to show up at summer league practices. Part of the attraction is some face time with their new coach, Larry Brown, but surely it didn’t hurt that the Bobcats are holding practice in Las Vegas, a Mecca to professional athletes. The Bobcats switched from Orlando to Las Vegas for summer league.

• Head coach Larry Brown completed his staff by hiring his brother, Herb, a longtime NBA assistant. The roster lists former NBA C LaSalle Thompson as the team’s strength and conditioning coach. Thompson is handling those responsibilities and more, working on-court with the Bobcats’ big men.

Quote To Note:   “I should have grown up more than I did. I let stuff bother me, and I’ve learned to let it slide.”—Bobcats F Adam Morrison, to the Charlotte Observer, on his self-conscious rookie season two years ago.

Roster Report

Draft Picks:   D.J. Augustin, G, 6-0, Texas—Undersized, pass-first point guard who’ll serve as a contrast to incumbent Raymond Felton.

Alexis Ajinca, C 7-0, French pro—Raw, long-limbed athlete who figures to be a long-term project inside.

Kyle Weaver, G 6-6, Washington State—Above-average defender at shooting guard who needs to become a better shooter.

Free Agent Focus:   The major focus is obviously on Emeka Okafor, who becomes a restricted free agent after turning down a long-term contract extension before this season. Okafor already turned down over $12 million a season, and though he says he wants to remain here long-term, it wouldn’t be shocking if he signed a one-year qualifying offer to reach unrestricted free agency in July of 2009.

Ryan Hollins, Derek Anderson and Boykins are also free agents and the Bobcats didn’t exercise a team option on Othella Harrington for next season. Of those four, restricted free agent Hollins—a young, athletic, but unpolished, big man—seems the most likely to return to the Bobcats.

Player Notes:  

• F Adam Morrison (left knee surgery) is participating in drills at summer-league practice, but will be held out of scrimmages and games. He hopes to be fully cleared by September.

• F Sean May (micro-fracture surgery on his right knee) has medical clearance to play, but plans to wait until late July before scrimmaging.

• Restricted free agent C Ryan Hollins suffered a mild concussion during a summer practice in Las Vegas. Hollins collided with teammate Mustafa Shakur while chasing a loose ball. Hollins needed six stitches to close a cut along his right temple. Hollins will likely sign a one-year qualifying offer to return to the Bobcats next season.

• The Bobcats love the athleticism demonstrated by 7-2 rookie C Alexis Ajinca, but it’s obvious he has a lot of basketball to learn before he’s NBA-ready.
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2008, 07:03:33 pm »
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What next for Okafor?
So now what?

A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Emeka Okafor is ready to move on, rather than accept what the Charlotte Bobcats have offered long-term for his services.

    The Bobcats can hold on to him for next season, but perhaps the best way to preserve value is to arrange a sign-and-trade. The Bobcats aren’t saying what they’d consider but here are five ideas that might be worth considering now or later:

    MIAMI: Does Shawn Marion float your boat? He appears to be available, with a single, $17.8 million season left on his contract. Swapping Okafor (plus another contract) for Marion would make the Bobcats smaller, but more athletic.

     CLEVELAND: Remember when the Bobcats signed Anderson Varejao to that offer sheet last season? Predictably the Cavaliers matched it in an instant. But now Varejao’s agent, Dan Fegan, is interested in moving his client to a team that would prioritize re-signing Varejao.
    The Bobcats need an athletic, energetic big man, but here’s the rub: Under league rules, the Bobcats couldn’t trade for Varejao until a year has passed from the time of the offer sheet. That means after Dec. 5. It’s possible the Bobcats could wait that long to resolve the Okafor issue, but that’s a long time to sit in limbo with an unhappy star.

    GOLDEN STATE: In case you haven’t noticed, the Warriors have some interesting questions regarding their big men. Andris Biedrins is another of those restricted free agents, and Al Harrington ($9.2 million this season, $10 million next season) is very available.

    CHICAGO: I’m not so sure that Okafor’s performances against the Bulls would make that team’s management swoon. However, this is a team with a lot of moving parts, a lot of disenchanted employees and cause to think they’d be open to a deal.
    Luol Deng, another restricted from the class of 2004, would help any team. Would Deng, plus maybe one of three forwards (Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas or Andres Nocioni?) make sense as the basis for a deal?

    DALLAS: I don’t have any ideal match here, but have you ever heard of a sign-and-trade scenario that didn’t involve Mark Cuban?
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2008, 05:15:17 pm »
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Okafor Signs A 6 Year $72 Million Deal

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Forward Emeka Okafor officially signed his six year, $72 million contract with the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday, the Associated Press is reporting.

"The Bobcats and the entire Charlotte community embraced me from day one," Okafor said in a statement. "It's exciting to enter this season with a Hall of Fame coach and teammates who are committed to winning."

"It was important for us to get a deal done," General Manager Rod Higgins said. "Securing Emeka demonstrates that Bob Johnson and the rest of our ownership group are committed to building a winning franchise in Charlotte. Any time you have a player who consistently ranks among the NBA's best in rebounding and shot blocking, you want to keep a guy like that around."
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2008, 06:50:19 pm »
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http://blogs.hoopshype.com/blogs/sierra/2008/08/06/brown-joins-bobcats/
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2008, 07:48:11 pm »
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On July 31, the Bobcats re-signed forward/center Emeka Okafor to a long-term contract. An original member of the Bobcats organization, Okafor along with Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins, met with the local media to discuss the deal and what impact it has on the Bobcats as they look toward the 2008-09 season.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bobcats Forward/Center Emeka Okafor
(On re-signing with the Bobcats)
I’ve had a great four years here in Charlotte and it’s very nice to know that my career will be extended here. I’m looking forward to putting on the Bobcats hat and helping the team make great runs. I’d like to thank Bob (Johnson), MJ (Michael Jordan) and the Bobcats organization for showing me the commitment and giving me the opportunity to extend my career here.

(On how important it is to keep the Bobcats core group together)
The longer you can keep a core group together, the better they play. You learn the ins and outs of each other and your strengths and your weaknesses. I think history has shown that whenever you can keep a core group together, they just play better.

(On if he was confident he would remain in Charlotte)
I was hopeful. Basketball has a business side and in the business side, things need to be evaluated and things don’t always end up the way you want. Fortunately in this case it did. It ended up exactly how I wanted it. I was very fortunate in that regard.

(On having Larry Brown as the head coach of the Bobcats)
Larry Brown, he brings a certain dynamic and insight to the game that would make most teams better. I think he’s a perfect fit for us. Our team is young. We are hard working and he can give us that discipline and give us those little insights to the game that can take us to the next level. When I heard that Larry Brown was going to be the new head coach, I was very excited. I thought it was very positive that the organization was making great steps to try to make the team better. I’m just very excited to get the thing going.

(On if this will be a continuation of what he learned while playing for Larry Brown during the Olympics)
I definitely think so. The Olympics are a little bit different in that the coaches come in and they know that the players aren’t necessarily theirs. There is only so much they can impart. That being said, Larry Brown, he still gave us a lot. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to learn more. I think that just the way the organization has been progressing, he’s just going to help just push us along further.

(On if he had any frustrations about not getting a lot of playing time during the Olympics)
I was a college player. I knew I wasn’t going to see the light of day. I was just happy to be there and get a nice welcome to the NBA. I was around Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, a young Dwyane Wade, a young Carmelo (Anthony) and a young LeBron (James), so I was able to come in and just get insight into what league life was about and how things would be conducted.

(On if the contract negotiations were a distraction)
Not at all. Like I said earlier, basketball has a business side, so I was prepared for that. My focus was just to workout and prepare myself for the season. In the back of my mind, I wanted to be a Bobcat, and like I said earlier, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want, but in this case it did. Worrying about the contract negotiations would have just been extra stress that I didn’t need to have.

(On if he ever felt like it wasn’t going to work out in Charlotte)
Not really. I started here and I had a strong inclination that I was going to remain here. That’s also why I wasn’t really worrying too much about it. Like I said, basketball has a business side and you almost have to learn to separate the two. Me understanding that, I knew that things would work out.

(On what he can do to improve his game)
Everybody can use improvement. I’m sure between my list and Larry’s list, Larry’s list will be bigger. (I can just improve) my all-around game, offensively and defensively. I’m just really looking forward to learning from Larry and just soaking up what all he has to offer.

(On if thought about accepting the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer)
That wasn’t in the best interest for anybody. I really wanted to remain a Bobcat and I felt that Bobcats wanted me to remain a Bobcat. Again, I keep eluding to this ugly business side of basketball, but it’s a reality. Sometimes the business side has to be addressed and issues like that pop up. I wouldn’t have liked that.

(On his contract)
It’s a substantial commitment that the Bobcats showed. I don’t think it’s quite hit me. I’m a humble person, so I tend to downplay a lot of things, but it’s kind of hard to downplay the generosity they showed. I’m thankful for it and I’m looking forward to showing how I’m committed once the season starts.

(On what he’s worked on this summer)
I’ve worked on just basic mobility and also to be more effective away from the basket. I’m just trying to expand my game. Once I get more of a feel for Larry Brown’s system and what he has in store, I think my game will get a little more shape as well.

(On if the coaching change had any influence on his decision)
You had to take notice of Larry Brown being hired. Larry Brown, he is a great, great coach, a championship coach. He’s taken multiple teams to the championship level. Like I said earlier, when the Bobcats hired him, it showed me that they were committed to making the franchise better. Hiring Larry Brown, an elite coach such as him, you have to take notice of that.

(On what he thinks Larry Brown will ask as a coach)
I think that Larry is a very defensive-oriented coach. He’s very particular in what he wants. He knows the game, so I think number one he will want us to work hard and be attentive and just to lay it all out there. Of me, I think that he will ask a lot of me defensively and he’ll want me to anchor the defense and shot-block and all that fun stuff. All the other details I guess will be sorted out later.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins
(On if there were any variables in the free agent market that had the Bobcats concerned about their ability to re-sign Okafor)
Not really. We knew we wanted to get a deal done. We held to our strategy and we said we have to get our best player, our best big man, back. Obviously Bob (Johnson), Michael (Jordan), Larry (Brown) and myself all wanted Emeka back. Once the negotiation process, as Emeka said, took care of itself, we were able to come to a resolution that we are all happy with.

(On how happy he is to have Emeka Okafor signed to contract)
I was telling Emeka that he might not have been nervous, but I’m sure we were in a lot of ways, me included personally. When you go through that process, you hope you can come out with a good conclusion and we know how much he means to us in terms of our improvement. Once we got a chance to show him that in terms of a contract, I think everything now is just moving forward and becoming the best basketball team we can become. He’s a huge piece to that.


Emeka Okafor press conference with Rod Higgins.
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