Kwame Brown’s season could begin tonight

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You know times are tough when Kwame Brown’s return from injury qualifies as some kind of great hope.

The Bobcats have started the season 3-7. Their defense, which was tops in the league last season, has fallen to 14th, while their offense remains as miserable as ever. The season is young, but it’s hard to imagine this Charlotte team reverse course and suddenly become the defensive juggernaut they were last year. Offensive success is beyond this collection of players and can hardly be expected, but their poor defensive execution has been maddening. Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler are Bobcats no more, but if Charlotte wants to be close to the playoff bubble (much less their 44-38 record from last year), their defense will have to save them.

Sad as it is, that’s where adding Kwame, a guy who had arguably his worst season as a pro last year, back into the mix could potentially help, and it’s possible he could return tonight in Charlotte’s game against Minnesota.

There’s no question that Nazr Mohammed should be the Bobcats’ starting center, but Larry Brown has been forced to use a combination of DeSagana Diop and Boris Diaw to backup Mohammed. The results have been fairly miserable. Diaw has regressed to the point where his offensive skills no longer counterbalance his defensive inadequacies, which makes you wonder why Larry Brown starts him over Tyrus Thomas at all. Diop isn’t a bad defender, but his impact on that end is too slim to make him a useful rotation player. The Bobcats are badly in need of someone — anyone — who can put a few things together at the 5, and though Kwame is still Kwame, at least he’s not Diaw or Diop at this point.

That said, no one should hold out too much hope. The best thing that Kwame has going for him right now is that he’s a new option, a different option. He hasn’t had a chance to disappoint like Diaw or Diop like Diop. He’ll have his chance soon enough.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.