Tyson Chandler will return to Bobcats, the song remains the same

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There is a lot of excitement about the Bobcats in Charlotte right now — they are about to make the playoffs for the first time ever. That’s a big deal. Legitimately big milestone.

And the Queen City fans there love this roster. Which is good, because it’s basically the one they will see next year.

Last night Tyson Chandler told FanHouse he was going to pick up his $13.2 million option for next season. Smart move on his part, because while there would be interest in Chandler from other teams, he’d make maybe half that salary. If you put the money on the table in front of he man, he’d be a fool not to take it.

But that ties the team’s hands in terms of making any easy improvements for next season.

The team is now committed to $59 million in salary for 2010-11, putting them over the salary cap and unable to offer anything more than the mid-level exception next summer. Which will net them a nice, mid-level player, if they decide to use it. (Can Michael Jordan afford it? With the poor cash flow and debt he took on, we really don’t know.) They do not have a draft pick (they gave their first-rounder to Minnesota two years ago to get Alexis Ajinca, then Denver traded that pick to the Timberwolves for Ty Lawson, meaning that Denver looks like the smart one now).

If they don’t extend the qualifying offer and strike a deal with Tyrus Thomas, they could open up a couple million to spend. But the move here might be to make the one-year offer and hope that Thomas, in a contract year, finds the consistent mental motivation and focus that has been lacking so far. Yea, we know, probably not, but isn’t all that potential worth the bet?

Raymond Felton is a free agent, but he wants to return to Charlotte and as long as the price doesn’t get out of control that’s a good guy to get back. Some minor guys come off the roster like Theo Ratliff and Larry Hughes, but the core remains the same.

All that means… nothing much changes. Which isn’t bad — this is a good team, a very good defensive team, a playoff team, the best team in Bobcats history. But don’t expect a leap forward to the elite next season.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.