NBA: Brown sees flaws with Bobcats
CHARLOTTE ó During his vagabond, Hall of Fame coaching career, Larry Brown has never been shy to say what he really thinks.
Michael Jordan was his target on Monday.
Preparing to begin his record ninth NBA head coaching job, Brown hinted that Jordan, his new boss and the Bobcats’ managing partner, still has work to do to construct a roster good enough to get Charlotte into the playoffs for the first time.
“I’m concerned about who’s going to be our third point guard. I’m concerned if we have a small forward that can guard,” Brown said. “I’m concerned if we can find a power forward that can play if Sean (May) is not ready to go. Those are issues we’re going to have to address from Day 1.”
One thing is clear: The Bobcats open their fifth training camp Tuesday with a clear upgrade on the bench. Sam Vincent bombed in his only season as coach last season, clashing with players and making odd moves in a 32-50 disaster. Eager to redeem himself after getting fired following a 23-59 season in New York two years ago, Brown accepted Jordan’s offer to take over.
But the 68-year-old Brown, the only coach to win NBA and NCAA titles, felt the Bobcats had to make several personnel moves to become a playoff contender in an improved Eastern Conference.
“When I got the job I told Michael and (GM) Rod (Higgins) that we needed three point guards that could bring the ball up against the press, one of them with size. We needed two small forwards that could defend. And we needed five big guys and try to make them as athletic as possible,” Brown said.
So how does this roster mesh with what he wanted?
“I don’t know if it does,” Brown said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
Jordan’s questionable moves as an NBA executive have been well documented, from taking Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick when he ran the Washington Wizards in 2001, to selecting Adam Morrison with the third overall pick in his first draft, to hiring the inexperienced Vincent.
And as Philadelphia, Cleveland and Milwaukee made significant offseason moves, the Bobcats did little to keep pace. They re-signed big man Emeka Okafor to a six-year, $72 million deal and took point guard D.J. Augustin in the draft.
But Charlotte has a clear lack of depth up front and a logjam at the wing positions.
“We’ve got a bunch of small forwards. I don’t know who can guard,” Brown said, in a subtle dig at Gerald Wallace, who was dangled as trade bait during the draft. “We got a whole bunch of big guards. Right now we’re in a position where it’s going to be difficult to play everybody there. We’ve got some young kids up front. We’ll just have to wait and see if we’re ready.”
As the roster stands now, Raymond Felton is the point guard and Augustin the backup, with no experienced No. 3 on the 17-man preseason roster.
Jason Richardson, coming off a fantastic close to last season, is the shooting guard. Wallace is the small forward, but will be under pressure to improve defensively.
Brown wants to play Okafor exclusively at center, but that depends on figuring out the power forward spot.
May has played in only 58 games in three seasons and missed all of last season after having microfracture surgery on his troublesome right knee. May declared himself fit to practice Tuesday ó with a starting position his to lose.
“I’ve been lucky that they haven’t gone out and got a star power forward for me to play behind,” May said. “But at the end of the day I still have to go out and perform.”
If May’s knee doesn’t hold up, Brown would probably have to shift Okafor to power forward and play Nazr Mohammed at center. The other big men on the roster ó Ryan Hollins, Jermareo Davidson and rookie Alex Ajinca ó are all inexperienced and lack strength.