Bobcats open summer camp today
By Mike Cranston
LAS VEGAS ó Many NBA head coaches let their assistants run the summer rookie and free agent minicamp.
Not Larry Brown.
Brown will continue his active offseason since taking over his record ninth NBA team when the Charlotte Bobcats open a four-day summer camp today ahead of the team’s participation in the Las Vegas summer league.
“He’s so excited. He can’t wait,” said Buzz Peterson, the Bobcats’ director of player personnel. “He’ll be hands on in practices and everything.”
Brown completed his coaching staff on Monday by hiring his older brother, Herb. As the Browns and assistants Jeff Capel, Phil Ford and Dave Hanners made their way to the desert later Monday, Peterson was completing the 18-man summer camp roster.
It includes rookie draft picks D.J. Augustin, Alexis Ajinca and Kyle Weaver. Last year’s picks Jared Dudley and Jermareo Davidson and restricted free agent Ryan Hollins will also participate.
The roster has a Carolinas flavor. Undrafted rookies Kyle Visser of Wake Forest, Kyle Hines of UNC Greensboro, James Mays of Clemson, Brandon Wallace of South Carolina and Winston-Salem native Othello Hunter of Ohio State will all play for Brown this week.
Veterans Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson could all make appearances for individual workouts. All will be trying to make a good early impression with Brown, while the Hall of Fame coach is eager to erase the ugly memories of his last job.
Brown’s two-year absence from coaching after a disastrous 23-59 season in New York was his longest layoff since he started his career with the ABA’s Carolina Cougars in 1972.
The 67-year-old Brown’s enthusiasm was evident with his active teaching role when Charlotte put about 50 prospects through pre-draft workouts last month.
Brown will now get to see many members of his new team for the first time.
The most intriguing position to watch is point guard.
The 6-foot Augustin, the ninth pick in the draft, could eventually unseat Felton as the starter. But the former Texas star will have to survive Brown first. Brown has a reputation of being extremely tough on his playmakers.
“I’m used to tough coaches. Coach (Rick) Barnes was a pretty tough coach on me,” Augustin said. “The point guard position is very important, especially on this level. You have to be able to handle a lot of things. I know he’s just trying to get the best out of his players.”
Ajinca’s development in camp and summer league is crucial in how the Bobcats approach free agency. The 7-foot center, the 20th pick, has limited experience playing in a French professional league. General manager Rod Higgins said they may look to sign a veteran big man if Ajinca has trouble adapting to the NBA.
Traveling to Las Vegas is a significant change for the Bobcats. In their previous four years they’ve held the camp in Charlotte and played in the Orlando summer league. But as more teams moved West ó 21 of the 30 teams will be in Las Vegas this year ó Peterson was having trouble filling the roster.
“There were three or four kids that we talked to last year that we wanted on our squad and they all wanted to go to Vegas,” Peterson said. “The reason is there are 21 teams out here and 21 teams watching you. So we wanted to make sure we got the best players that we could.”
The Bobcats must cut six players to get to the 12-player limit for the summer league. The first of five games is Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brown’s assistants will coach the summer league games ó only because the NBA doesn’t allow head coaches to do it.
Said Peterson: “He’s excited to get started.”