Having completed my 4-part study on disastrous Bobcats moves of yore, we now transition from mourning the Bobcats’ past to vomiting over their future. (Yep, being a Bobcats fan is like being told by God that you can be any Stand By Me character you want…only to have Him change his mind and force you to choose either Wil Wheaton’s haunted, scary dad or Lard-Ass; even Vern is too good for us). So this week begins my 3-part preview of the upcoming Bobcats’ season. In other words, I’m going to stop dwelling on the Bobcats’ past failures and instead concentrate on their future ones. If you think I’m being too hard on this team and/or myself, Sports Illustrated actually wrote that the Bobcats’ best-case scenario this year would be to finish dead-last, giving them a chance to get 3 lottery draft picks. That’s their best-case. Their worst-case is that President Rod Higgins assassinates GM Rich Cho via satellite access to his pacemaker and then trades those top 3 picks for Raymond Felton and Sean May. So pardon me if I’m not sniffing a championship, but rather the fingers of an organization that have been up its own ass for far too long. Anyway, I’ll break down the bigs this week, the wings next week, and finally the guards in three weeks, at which point the season will either have started or I’ll have set myself on fire.
Bobcats fans probably look back on Tyson Chandler the way Ben Affleck’s character looks back on Joey Lauren Adams’s character in Chasing Amy. The initial encounter was awkward, the time spent together was very brief and often really frustrating, and yet once it was over, we realized almost immediately that the team had stupidly ruined a very good thing that we’ll never get back.
Let’s start with how they got together in the first place, because they definitely didn’t meet cute. What’s really telling is the opening line in the AP article after the Bobcats traded Emeka Okafor to the New Orleans Hornets for Chandler in July, 2009: “The Hornets have officially found a taker for Tyson Chandler in the Charlotte Bobcats.” Believe it or not, this trade was pretty widely reviled by Bobcats fans and mainstream analysts alike, because Chandler’s stock at the time had never been lower. ESPN.com’s John Hollinger—loveably subtle as always—actually titled his analysis of the trade, “What Are The Bobcats Thinking?” The basic consensus was that the two centers were about equal defensively, but Okafor was much more polished offensively. Plus Chandler had a toe problem that had limited him to just 45 games the previous season (this was the thing that personally gave me nightmares; I remembered many a sleepless night that summer with visions of Chandler riding the bench with a pulsating bunion a la Jim Brown’s in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka).
This third title started out out as simply “Drafting DJ Augustin,” but that was before I realized that the Bobcats also selected Alexis Ajinca a hysterical 20th overall. And then after thinking about it further I damn near broadened this one out to simply “2008,” but I stopped short of doing so because I don’t really think you can classify a year as a business decision. The lesson here is that the Bobcats have screwed up so many things that they start to crash into each other and conflate themselves; they’re the NBA equivalent of Kids. Or maybe the lesson is, “when thinking about the Bobcats, don’t think too much.” Anyway, I pinched it off at the 2008 draft, but If anyone could screw up a full year it would be the Bobcats. 2007-08, if you’re forced at gunpoint to remember, was the season that the Bobcats stopped making forward progress in terms of wins but grew leaps and bounds in terms of unintentional comedy. Charlotte regressed to just 32 victories and head coach Sam Vincent was shown the door that spring after less than a full year with the team. And that door kicked the bejesus of poor Sam on the way out, because unless you’re a member of the 2008-09 Anaheim Arsenal, Vincent was never heard from again. The good news, at least, is that the Bobcats learned their lesson about hiring unknown, unproven coaches and never, ever repeated that mistake. Ditto for owner Michael Jordan, who realized the error of filling key decision-making roles with flunky yes-men.
Can it already have been 7 years since the Bobcats selected Adam Morrison with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft? Yes, it can. Or, yes, it could. To me, it doesn’t seem that long ago because his career was so disastrous that it continues to wreak havoc today, up to and including causing me to begin articles with atrociously awkward phrasing. True, Adam Morrison didn’t cause the financial bubble to burst and unemployment to soar, but that’s probably only because he badly injured his knee in his second year. I don’t mean to paint Morrison as a bad guy; in fact, I don’t want to paint Morrison as anything at all, including as a solemn old farmer with his wife and a pitchfork. It’s just that his selection exploded in the Bobcats’ faces like Uncle Buck’s car, set fire to the oil spill that was coach Sam Vincent, and probably forced the Bobcats to overcompensate via a careening series of short-sighted moves, leading to the pile-up that is today’s car wreck of a franchise.
But here’s the (sort of) good news! Unlike the vomit-covered, feces-smeared Tyrus Thomas contract I wrote about last week, at least the Bobcats’ decision to draft Morrison was understandable. And anyone who tells you different is either lying or a die-hard Gonzaga hater. I know this because of the internet-strewn trail of positive reviews of the Bobcats’ 2006 draft. Here’s ESPN’s Chad Forde’s appraisal of the Bobcats taking Morrison third: “Adam Morrison will score points and he’ll draw fans into the arena. The Bobcats continue filling the team with solid players who have good backgrounds — and with Morrison they may have found their first star.” Forde gave them a B+, and in a now-comical aside added, “(Ryan) Hollins is a nice pick in the second round as a big, athletic project.” Hollins, as we all know, was actually more like a big, athletic housing project.
I bought a used car just over a month ago and I’ve already sunk almost a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs in it. First the air conditioner stopped working and then the radiator started leaking. Now I’m distraught and terrified to admit the awful truth: my car might just be injury-prone. And so, with my mind in a dark place, it was only natural that my thoughts turned to Tyrus Thomas’s contract. Like my used car, Thomas didn’t come with a warranty, broke down almost immediately, and made everyone involved wish the he’d never happened. Will my used car avert the same terrible fate as Thomas? Or will I end up not even bothering to take it with me when I go on road trips and eventually paying someone else to just take it off my hands?
In order to answer these questions, I need to see if there are any differences in the way I bought my car and the way the Bobcats signed Thomas. I swear I researched my car before I bought it—carfax.com, blue book, etc.—and I tell you it checked out. But maybe the Bobcats did with Thomas, too. My memory of the entire Thomas affair is that of an entirely ill-conceived nightmare vomited from the jaws of hell, scream-worthy from the outset. But maybe I’m just doing the old 20/20 hindsight thing, and maybe Thomas’s contract was a good idea that unexpectedly went from Mr. Chips to Scarface.
There’s nothing like having a pro basketball player with an elite pedigree join your basketball team. That is, unless they’re one of Michael Jordan’s sons or one of the many, many spawns of pro players that simply don’t live up to their last name.
But that shouldn’t stop the Charlotte Bobcats from giving Patrick Ewing Jr. a shot in 2013. Ewing Jr. has performed pretty well during summer league action, and based off of several solid outings, it’s worth wondering if Charlotte should/will give him an invite to training camp.
Ewing Jr. the son of legendary center Patrick Ewing and a former Georgetown product, continues to try to make his way into the NBA the hard way, but could finally be getting closer to a legit shot at proving he’s worthy of sticking on an NBA roster.
In fact, Ewing Jr. nearly registered a double-double in Charlotte’s last summer league game, with 10 points and eight rebounds. With solid outings throughout summer league that haven’t always popped out in the box score, Bobcats fans might be wondering if Charlotte has a place for an NBA legend’s son.
More importantly, it’s time NBA fans found out that Patrick Ewing’s son actually deserves a roster spot, and that the Bobcats might be the perfect team for him.