September 17, 2009
Thursday's pick-up games
Ten things I saw and heard at Bobcats pick-up games Thursday:
1. Great turnout, with 10 Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena Thursday morning. Only rotation players who werenít there were Vlade Radmanovic, who has been traveling with the Basketball Without Borders program, Boris Diaw (with French national team) and Raja Bell (moving into a Charlotte residence). This is all voluntary, and I assure you that plenty of NBA teams donít have 10 players in the teamís gym more than a week before training camp.
2. Center Tyson Chandler isnít playing yet, looking to protect his injured ankle. Iím told thatís just a precaution, that heíll be ready for training camp. And Chandler is already working between games with Raymond Felton, to establish some synergy in the screen-and-roll.
3. Yes, Felton is playing in these pick-up games, with his contract situation unresolved. Thatís classically Raymond, one of the reasons coach Larry Brown respects him so much. Reminds me of when then-coach Bernie Bickerstaff reluctantly let Felton play summer league because if he didnít, Felton would go find some gym somewhere to get some game.
4. Iíd been hearing how hard veteran center Nazr Mohammed worked this summer. It shows. Naz is obviously in great shape and, at least from what I witnessed Thursday, deserves a chance to play.
5. Mohammedís gain would be Gana Diopís loss. The Bobcats are overstocked at center and hurting for a backup power forward. The only wiggle room is Chandler playing some 4.
6. Alexis Ajinca looked like heís trying to play more in the mid- and low-post. Looks like heís been working on a jump hook, a go-to move that would utilize his long arms. But Mohammed slapped one of those hooks into the open court, to start a fast break in the other direction.
7. Rashad McCants was playing Thursday, looking for a camp invitation. He got rebounding position inside Diop once to tap back in his own miss, pretty strong for a shooting guard. Obviously the guy can score, but are there any real minutes in the backcourt beyond Felton, Bell, D.J. Augustin and rookie Gerald Henderson?
8. Speaking of Augustin, it looks like heís fully recovered from that abdominal strain that hindered his movement the second half of last season. I hear he worked hard at Texas over the summer (while taking classes) to build up his core strength.
9. Cartier Martin is signing to play in the Italian League, a wise move, I suspect, if his contract is guaranteed.
10. Along with McCants, other non-Bobcats playing Thursday were Brevin Knight and Brendan Haywood. You want non-Bobcats showing up for these games; it raises the level of competition for everyone.