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News » Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2009-10-18

Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2009-10-18

Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2009-10-18Assuming they stay healthy, the Charlotte Bobcats should be a better basketball team than the one that ended last season. But probably not as improved as other Eastern Conference teams chasing the playoff mix.

While the Bobcats were adding journeymen Flip Murray and Stephen Graham, the Washington Wizards traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye and the Toronto Raptors signed former Orlando Magic star Hedo Turkoglu.

The Raptors and Wizards both finished behind the Bobcats last season. That doesn't figure to happen this season. So the Bobcats could be a better team -- far better than the squad that started last season -- and still miss their first-ever playoff appearance.

This team has more assets than ever before. As coach Larry Brown said, the difference between now and a year ago is other teams call the Bobcats looking to acquire their players. But they still have no star; they might be the most nondescript team in the NBA. And they haven't done much to address finishing last in scoring a year ago.

The hopeful assumption is that Brown's coaching gifts, combined with a stable core group, can make this a team better than the sum of its parts. Last season represented radical change. Just three players (Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Nazr Mohammed) remain from when Brown was hired as coach 18 months ago.

While there's no doubt about Brown's value, the preseason hasn't been particularly productive due to injury. Two starters, center Tyson Chandler (off-season ankle surgery) and power forward Boris Diaw (sprained ankle), were held out of the first few preseason games. Then combo guard Flip Murray -- closest thing to an impact free agent -- suffered a stress reaction in his left shin. Murray is out at least until the season-opener in Boston.

Brown hoped that injuries to Chandler and Diaw would have a bright side, advancing the development of reserve big men Alexis Ajinca and DeSagana Diop. Ajinca has been inconsistent and Diop ineffective when pushed into preseason action.

The Bobcats look at least one roster move away from serious contention for the post-season. There aren't many options available, with the team's payroll close to luxury-tax territory. One trade option might be shooting guard Raja Bell, whose veteran moxie and expiring contract could be attractive to a title contender.

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Larry Brown, 26th season overall (1045-847), 2nd with Bobcats (35-47). Assistants -- Dave Hanners, Phil Ford, Herb Brown, Jeff Capel, LaSalle Thompson.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 35-47 (4th in Southeast).

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 38-44 (5th in Southeast)

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: Of the veterans, Raja Bell is the most logical possibility to be dealt, though the Bobcats would be happy to move a contract for either reserve center, Nazr Mohammed or DeSagana Diop. If the Bobcats don't make progress, it's conceivable Hall of Famer Larry Brown could choose to move on, particularly if he doesn't see a chance to win quickly.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 18, 2009


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