Tag: Tyrus Thomas

Al Jefferson

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: The Charlotte Bobcats


Last season: Remember when the Bobcats started the season out 7-5 and we all kind of did a double take? That really happened, there was a moment where we wondered if this team wasn’t as terrible as we all thought. Then reality hit. The Bobcats went 14-56 the rest of the season. Charlotte had the worst defense in the NBA (allowing 108.9 points per 100 possessions) and their 28th in the league offense wasn’t going to make up for that. It was ugly.

Signature highlight from last season: Byron Mullens throws it down all over LaMarcus Aldridge (in a highlight that starts in a very Bobcats way).

Key player changes: Charlotte has been terrible for five straight years, so with the best, deepest draft in a decade next year they will continue that trend to finally get rewarded, right?

Wrong. Charlotte signed Al Jefferson to a three-year, $40 million deal (the third year is a player option). This is clearly the biggest free agent signing in the Bobcats short and turbulent history. I personally like this signing because Jefferson is a guy they can sell makes them better… but not that much better. Not out of the lottery better.

The Bobcats drafted Cody Zeller at No. 4, and while that had a few of us shaking our heads at the time Zeller showed a good outside game for a big at Summer League, he could be a stretch four to balance Jefferson on the block. Anthony Tolliver was added as a free agent.

As for guys who are gone Byron Mullens left for the Clippers, Tyrus Thomas got amnestied and Reggie Williams is now with the Rockets.

One other key change: Mike Dunlap is out as coach and Steve Clifford is in.

Keys to the Bobcats season:

Can Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist develop more reliable jumpers?

Charlotte’s offense will not be a complete abomination this season, the addition of the rock-solid Jefferson in the post guarantees that. But with him in the post they need to space the floor — Ben Gordon helps with that and Gerald Henderson has his moments. However that is not going to be enough. It will take the two most athletic Bobcats — Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — knocking down jumpers consistently to make the other team pay for packing it in or doubling Jefferson on the block.

Walker is the guy with the ball in his hands and he made some big strides forward last season, but he needs to make more. He can be a very creative playmaker, an underrated one, but he needs to be able to stretch the floor with better shooting from three. Last season he took most of his threes from above the arc and hit just 33 percent of them, that number needs to go up.

Kidd-Gilchrist had the ugliest jumper in the NBA and has worked with Mark Price to correct it. The fact is for all the intangible things he does right he doesn’t have the handles to create looks and he shot 29.6 percent from the midrange. He has to improve that number, if not Jeff Taylor looked good at Summer League.

Can the Bobcats stop anyone?

Charlotte had the worst defense in the NBA last season, and now they added Al Jefferson as a cornerstone — a guy who admits he’s not very good at defense. Their defense could be on a course to get worse, which will stymie any progress the offense makes. This is where new coach Steve Clifford is going to have to earn his money. He has to put in a system then get his team to fully buy in, otherwise Charlotte will play matador defense all night. The Bobcats have a couple good defenders on the roster — Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo — but this has to be a team effort.

Frankly, it’s hard to expect much improvement.

Why you should watch Bobcats: Because it’s the last season ever of the Bobcats — next season they are rightfully the Hornets again. Those Bobcats unis will be collectors items (just not in Charlotte where the fan base hates the name). Charlotte also has some good young players who could blossom — Zeller, Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor — and this will be your last chance to see any of them in a Bobcats uniform.

Prediction: 31-51. That’s a 10-game improvement over last season — their offense will improve but it can’t make up for that defense — but one that leaves them still comfortably in the lottery (just with not as good of odds as Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Utah most likely).

Ten free agents still out on the market

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Hamilton questions a call against the Charlotte Bobcats during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Charlotte

At this point, the free agent cupboard is pretty bare, and a number of teams have filled out their rosters anyway. Let’s just be honest — if you’re still on the free agent market there is a reason.

Still, there are a few teams still looking to add player 14/15 to the roster off minimum contracts… and there are still some guys whose names you know who do not have an NBA deal yet. Which makes us all want to play matchmaker, even when we shouldn’t (we remember the version of the guy from four years ago too often, not the reality of his play now).

Here are 10 guys who you know still looking for an NBA deal:

1. Richard Hamilton. Let’s be kind here and say Rip is not exactly at the peak of his powers anymore (he shot 42.9 percent last season and is not a strong threat from three). But he still got 9.8 points a game for the Bulls when healthy. As a veteran off the bench who would play limited minutes and has championship experience you could do worse.

2. Sebastian Telfair. He’s just 28 and is still kind of the player he always was — solid defender, not a great finisher in the paint, decent shooter from the midrange, not a special playmaker — but as a third guard in the rotation he could be a solid fit somewhere (interest from the Heat and Knicks faded).

3. Stephen Jackson. At age 35 we are seeing his skills fade (he shot 37.3 percent last season and had a PER of 8) and he couldn’t get along with Gregg Popovich. He’s had a couple bad endings with teams, which hurts his stock as much if not more than his play.

4. Marquis Daniels. What he brings is solid defense on the perimeter to the table. Not much on offense, but if you could use a defender off the bench you could do worse.

5. Dahntay Jones. He was a solid “3 and D” guy a couple seasons back but last season he shot just 22.4 percent from beyond the arc. At age 33, was that a fluke or just the way things are trending with him? Still he can defend and there are teams that could use that.

6. Shavlik Randolph. Only got in 16 games for the Celtics last season, but didn’t look too bad when he did (he shot 58.3 percent). You could do worse for a reserve big off the end of bench.

7. A.J. Price. The Wizards played him a lot last season (he started 22 games) because they had to, and he showed he’s not great at running a team. But he wasn’t a disaster (PER 12.4) and could fill a role if you brought him off the bench in a limited role.

8. Josh Howard. The question here is simply one of health — he has not played in more than 43 games (during the lockout season for the Jazz) in the past four seasons. With that his efficiency has dropped as well. Do you think he’s right now?

9. Tyrus Thomas. Has the former No. 4 pick fallen this far? That nobody is willing any longer to take a chance on his potential? Looks that way.

10. Cole Aldrich. He could barely get off the bench with the Thunder, then last season bounced between the Rockets and Kings without making many waves. Still, he has legit center size and is just 25, so he could get an end of the bench deal.

Another veteran big out on the market, Chris Wilcox

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics
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Around this time of year — late August, early September — is when teams fill out the end of the roster. It’s when Chris Wilcox got a call…

Except will he this year? Last season in Boston he was solid in a limited role — 4.2 points and 3 rebounds a game in about 13.6 minutes a night. He has a PER of 15.3, which is pretty good for a guy in that role.

But he is still looking for a landing spot, reports the Boston Globe.

August is a difficult time for lower-tier free agents because teams are still trying to figure out roster space and flexibility. Also on the market is former Celtic Chris Wilcox, who said he would like to return to Boston, but that’s highly unlikely with the new regime. Wilcox said that recovering from aorta surgery affected him last season and he promised to be in better shape this season

Wilcox missed a chunk of two seasons ago after heart surgery and that still looms over him. It will make teams hesitant but he still should get a look from a team looking to round out its roster with a veteran big who can perform off the bench in a limited role. There are other guys like Drew Gooden and Tyrus Thomas out there on the market, too.

But Wilcox should get a chance, just not with a rebuilding Boston team.

Wednesday And-1 Links: Adam Morrison retires, joins Gonzaga staff


Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than we like to debate In-n-Out vs. Five Guys (it’s In-n-Out, obviously)….

• Former No. 3 overall pick Adam Morrison, considered one of the great draft busts (he was a great college shooter who never adjusted well to the longer, more athletic defenders and contested shots of the NBA) has retired from professional basketball and is joining the Gonzaga coaching staff as a student assistant. Morrison still made $16 million and he owns a championship ring, so don’t feel too bad for him.

• That 2006 draft was the one with Andrea Bargnani at the top, LaMarcus Aldridge two, Morrison three, Tyrus Thomas four and Shelden Williams five. Farther on down the board: Rudy Gay (8), J.J. Redick (11), Rajon Rondo (21), and Paul Millsap (47). Talent evaluation is not an exact science.

• Shaq’s Beverly Hills mansion, most recently owned by a Japanese pop sensation, is back on the market. It has a basketball court out back with a Superman “S” on it.

• Working as an NBA writer desensitizes you to tall people, suddenly a 6’9″ guy doesn’t seem all that big. A handful of guys still have you shaking your head saying “people can be that large?” Yao Ming was one of those guys. Here he is in a collection of photos making even tall people look short.

• Why did Mike Miller choose Memphis over OKC? He’d loved his previous time in Memphis.

• The Bucks have waived big man Bucks Gustavo Ayon. Don’t be shocked if another team picks him up.

• New coach Brad Stevens parroted Danny Ainge with the “Celtics do not tank” line. As I’ve said, it comes down to how you define tanking.

• Here’s a good recap of where Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and the other injured stars of the NBA stand in their recoveries.

Charles Barkley, dancing with an old lady, at Ray Allen’s birthday party.

Shawn Kemp thinks Seattle is going to get an NBA team. I think they are at the front of the line, but there are no teams on the immediate horizon to move.

• Samardo Samuels has signed with Olimpia Milano in Italy for next season.

• Pelicans guard Pierre Jackson will play with ASVEL Basket in France next season.

Knicks interested in Tyrus Thomas

Tyrus Thomas

The Bobcats amnestied Tyrus Thomas, making the move official Wednesday. Any team with space to absorb his 2013-14 salary of $8,694,215 can claim him (not happening). If that doesn’t happen, any team with cap room can bid how much it wants to pay him the next two seasons (maybe happening). That process takes 48 hours, so sometime today, we’ll learn Thomas’ fate.

If Thomas clears waivers – why wouldn’t a team under the cap offer to pay Thomas a minimum contract, though? – he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, and if that happens, he’ll have at least one suitor.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The Knicks used part of their taxpayer mid-level exception to re-sign Pablo Prigioni, but they still have a portion left. Thomas might not command more than a minimum contract, anyway.

Thomas has steadily declined in Charlotte, injuries and a general malaise to blame. Perhaps, playing for a winning team would help Thomas show his talent. The Knicks would certainly be hoping Thomas resembles Andray Blatche, another young player who underachieved on a big contract and was amnestied before finding success with the Nets.

Maybe Thomas can repeat that, and for a Knicks team falling behind the East’s other top teams, it’s a worthy risk. Better than standing pat. Or trading for Andrea Bargnani.