Well, today’s been an interesting day, hasn’t it? I was in the middle of a nap before heading to work this evening when my phone exploded, right around 4 o’clock. Just Monday I posted on my facebook that “All I want for Christmas is Larry Brown to be fired.” Well, Santa seemed to be in a giving mood this week, because Christmas came early!
Apparently, Michael Jordan and Larry Brown had a face-to-face meeting today where they “mutually” agreed to have Larry “step down” as Bobcats Head Coach. You can take that at face value, or you can take it for what it really is. Larry has been fired, and his Tar Heel roots are the only reason that wasn’t posted all over the news releases. MJ needed to make a change, as was shown by three 30+ point losses in the last 4 games for the Bobcats. Larry clearly didn’t want to be here, and I compared his attitude to that of former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. Both basically asked to be fired in the media, saying that their teams weren’t performing because the coaching staff hadn’t prepared them well enough, that the losses were “on me” and the like. Well, just like Wade got his wish, Larry is gone now too, and I couldn’t be happier. He was firing blows at everyone from the Front Office, to the officials, to his entire roster. He apparently was running similar offensive sets to those he ran in the 1970′s, and refused to change his style to one that fits in a modern NBA game. But just like Wade Phillips, it came down to his team giving up on him, and him giving up on his team. However, the difference between the Cowboys situation and the Bobcats is what lies ahead.
When Dallas fired Wade, they were clearly out of the playoff picture, and placed then-Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett in charge. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is using this time between Garrett taking over and the end of the season to evaluate talent both on the field and in the coaching ranks to re-build his team long term. The Bobcats have hired former Clippers, Cavaliers and Hornets coach Paul Silas in a similar situation but starkly different objective. Paul is coach now for two reasons. One, he is known for getting his players to over-achieve, which MJ hopes will take his team back to the playoffs. And two, because of the massive changes coming in the next collective bargaining agreement. While everyone and their mother on the BCP forums has been clamoring for a total rebuild, now is not the right time to do that, and here’s why. Because of the upcoming CBA negotiations and the feared lockout, it’s expected that a lot of young talent will not declare for the draft, weakening the pool. The following year, post-CBA, when these players would enter the league, the Bobcats owe their first round pick to Chicago. Now, you’ll argue that it’s hard to see the Bobcats (in a rebuild mode) having a good enough record to concede the pick (While reports differ, the pick owed to Chicago is somewhere between top-8 and top-12 protected to the ‘Cats in 2012), but it’s not worth the risk, and there’s a second reason why not to rebuild: money. When Michael Jordan bought this team, it was in financial disarray. The ‘Cats were in the bottom five of the league in attendance, season ticket base, revenues, sponsors, and basically every other financial statistic. Since MJ took over, the sponsorship base has doubled, the season ticket base added well over 1,500 to it’s 4,000 last year, and the playoff trip added major revenue. But as is well documented, the Charlotte fan base tends to be very fickle in attendance. If you’re sniffing the playoffs or better, they’ll be the loudest, noisiest, most energetic fans outside Boston and Philadelphia. But if you’re losing, then they’ll show up about as often as Sarah Palin at a Mensa Scholars’ meeting. Michael needs to increase his fan base, which former owner Bob Johnson so easily turned away, and that means winning now. He has the players to take him there with the right coach, and because this roster has so little young talent and most players’ contracts expire after the 2012-2013 season (only Tyrus Thomas has a guarantee for that season, and only Gerald Henderson is also under Bobcat control), it makes financial sense to try to get the most out of this roster this season and the next two, then let the rebuild begin. A lot of you will disagree, and in many cases you’re right that putting off a rebuild only hurts the team. But between the lack of talent available to the Bobcats now and in this coming draft, then allowing the Bulls to take the pick owed to them (clearing the slate), the team is put into an optimal position to rebuild. Now, I know that’s a lot to read and comprehend, so I’ll lay it out a little more simply:
2010-2011 (this season): Try to make the playoffs with Coach Silas, and use the first round pick on a project.
2011-2012: Continue the “win now” mode for one season post lockout, if any games are played, and let the pick owed go to Chicago.
2012-2013: All but two players are either gone or expiring contracts by now. Depending on the situation, either let those expirings have one last shot, or trade some for future pieces and begin the rebuild.
By the end of the 2012-2013 season, the team should be in total rebuild mode, but should also have a large fan base in the Queen City. And this takes us to why Paul Silas is the perfect man for the job.
Coach Silas is well-known as a players coach and a bigman coach. That takes out the two biggest needs on this team. Tyrus Thomas, a 6’10 Power Forward, is the biggest load of potential on the roster. He’s also a headcase. That makes Silas the best man to develop the young big, as he can relate to Tyrus on both a personal and professional level. If Thomas is playing well alongside Boris Diaw, that makes the Bobcats frontcourt a strength rather than a problem. For a team that has plenty of talent and no desire, Paul should be able to take them up a notch with his motivation. Let’s all remember this is the man who took the Charlotte Hornets to the playoffs even after the city had given up on them, leaving the Hive feeling like the Coffin. He dealt with the mid-season death of Bobby Phills, so it’s highly unlikely any player on this team, even the ever-whining Stephen Jackson or the seemingly lazy Boris Diaw will keep him from helping the rest of the team. Get NBA predictions to help you win more with your NBA betting As of right now, the Bobcats are only two and a half games back from being a playoff team. I know he’s only here on an interim label, but it appears based on the conference call with Bobcats GM Rod Higgins that’s only to keep both sides from an embarrassment if it doesn’t work out. Silas, like Larry Brown, is set to have some input on his players, and will be able to assemble his own staff. Like Higgins, I might be a little naive. But to me, if all goes well, the 67-year-old Silas will be able to turn this team around and get them to the playoffs the next two or three years, and then enter his 70′s once again a local hero and let this team begin work on its next era.
Good luck, Coach Silas, and even if I’m totally wrong and you’re the worst choice for this team, it’ll be good to see you around more, and at worst provide us with some nostalgia. You want to be here, and that’s the first step in the right direction for this team.