In today’s NBA news, Clippers’ new shooting guard JJ Redick will be sidelined for 10 days with a bruised quad, and Bobcats’ center Brendan Haywood will miss 12 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.
Evening News: JJ Redick out 10 days; Brendan Haywood to miss 12 weeks; Anthony Davis shining in preseason
Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Brendan Haywood and anyone else who has struggled with free throws, take heart.
Each of you is a regular Rick Barry compared to this guy.
Really? Thirty of these already?
We started these about a year ago for two reasons. One was both editor-in-chief Chris Sheridan and yours truly both were big fans of The Spy List, which ran in Spy, a wonderfully snarky monthly magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (It also did its fair share of good investigative reporting, by the way.)
The other reason we began running these was NBA commissioner David Stern and union chief Billy Hunter were remarkably unsympathetic to our basic needs. When you commit to building a better basketball site, it has a better chance for success if basketball is actually being played.
So what sort of started out as filler content during the interminable lockout now has become one of the longest continuous features on Sheridan Hoops. We’re kind of proud of that, even though coming up with fresh material occasionally presents a challenge.
More on that later. First, let’s settle up last week’s business. Edition 29 of The Bernucca List had been posted for less than 10 minutes before reader Dualie provided the correct answer, which was “Active coaches who have played for the teams they are coaching.” Nice job.
This week’s list is after the jump.
(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
The Bobcats of last season were 100 percent tragedy. They were an utter disaster on the court, making NBA history with the worst season winning percentage. Thankfully for them, the shortened season saved them further record-setting embarrassment. Had there been 16 more games, they certainly would have put more skid marks on basketball history.
The team was sloppy, lethargic and just flat-out untalented – a dumpster fire of an NBA team if there ever was one.
But the upcoming season should shape up to be something of equal beauty and tragedy. The Bobcats won’t be good, but they should be fun to watch even if in futility. Still in the midst of a rebuilding process, the franchise has brought in a new coach, a top draft pick and additional talent at nearly every position.
Although there’s plenty to despair about with the Bobcats, there is also plenty to enjoy this season.
1. There are practically zero expectations
What’s more beautiful than being able to watch a team and know, “Well, in all likelihood, this can’t be worse than last year”? The Bobcats can try just about whatever they want – small ball lineups, full-court press, you name it.
New coach Mike Dunlap bucks conventions from everything to how he got hired to his in-game strategies. In the preseason, he has been tweaking starting lineups as he goes because nearly each position has similar talent level at the starter and backup spots. I expect this to extend into the regular season some as well. Dunlap essentially can have free rein over the Bobcats to try things like full-court press and extremely pressuring defense.
2. Charlotte is better at nearly every position than last season
Sure, they still lack talent to be consistently competitive, but they did get better. They let D.J. Augustin walk, and got a better talent in Ramon Sessions, who is a more efficient scorer. Ben Gordon adds much-needed scoring punch off the bench and 3-point shooting ability.
At small forward, Charlotte drafted two rookie wings in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor. Both are talented defenders with great athleticism, length and motors on defense. While Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t have a great shot, he can get to the rim decently well and get the team moving in transition. Taylor also has a penchant for shooting from deep, another issue last season’s Bobcats struggled with (29.5 percent from the arc).
Tyrus Thomas is expected to improve after a miserable season battling weight issues following a bout with stomach ulcers. Bismack Biyombo is expected to improve upon his rookie season as well. And amnesty signee Brendan Haywood should help the interior defense and mentor the young players.
3. Mike Dunlap
The new coach should add a very intriguing angle to the team. The move to hire a mostly unheard-of college assistant with little NBA experience was a surprising decision, but also one that may be brilliant.
While everyone was watching the clock strike 12 on Jeremy Lin on Tuesday night, the bell also tolled for the end of this year’s amnesty period.
Teams had until midnight Tuesday to use the amnesty clause – a one-time provision delineated in the new CBA that provides immediate relief from both the salary cap and the luxury tax – and both the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers beat the buzzer, making late decisions to let go of Chris Andersen and Ryan Gomes, respectively.
That brought the total number of teams to use the amnesty clause since the end of the lockout to 15, creating a full NBA roster of players deemed too expensive for their own good.
You know what? That roster would be a playoff team. Easily.
Sure, it’s a little weak at the wing positions, where it could probably use a little more athleticism. And there is considerable injury history that can’t be ignored. But it has plenty of size, depth and veteran experience.
Here’s the breakdown:
POINT GUARD: Chauncey Billups (New York) would start, with Baron Davis (Cleveland) off the bench.
SHOOTING GUARD: Brandon Roy (Portland) would probably get the starting nod over Gilbert Arenas (Orlando), who also could be an emergency third point guard. Charlie Bell (Golden State) would be the team’s fifth guard.
SMALL FORWARD: Weakest position on the team, with Josh Childress (Phoenix), Travis Outlaw (Brooklyn), James Posey (Indiana) and Ryan Gomes (LA Clippers) trying to hold their own against the LeBron Jameses and Kevin Durants of the world. We would probably start Outlaw, the best all-around player in the bunch.
POWER FORWARD: Pretty good health and even better depth, starting with the crafty Luis Scola (Houston). He would be backed up by Elton Brand (Philadelphia) and Andray Blatche (Washington).
CENTER: A three-headed monster of Brendan Haywood (Dallas), Darko Milicic (Minnesota) and Chris Andersen (Denver). Not much offense but very good shot-blocking.
In December, we ran a piece that nominated amnesty candidates for all 30 teams. Of the 15 players who have been victims of the amnesty provision, we correctly predicted 10 of them, allowing for some leeway.
The 15 teams with the amnesty provision still available to them are Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, LA Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto and Utah.
The next time any of these teams can consider using the amnesty clause is next summer. The provision must be used on a player who was on his team’s roster on July 1, 2011.
And with players with awful contracts such as Tyrus Thomas, Carlos Boozer, Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Drew Gooden and John Salmons still out there, you can bet that they will.