I was all for the Charlotte Bobcats hiring Larry Brown, and still am, but this past week made something abundantly clear:
Three coaches in three seasons make it hard to draw a straight line to the playoffs.
Change was unavoidable. Bernie Bickerstaff wanted off the bench (contrary to public perception, Bickerstaff asked for a front office-only role; it wasn't a demotion). Sam Vincent had to go, after his interpersonal skills and in-game decisions became a drag on the players.
Brown was the best coach available, but know this: Three contrasting visions of this roster have caused hiccups along the way.
Vincent didn't like Walter Herrmann's game, so the guy went from a revelation one season to a barnacle the next. Now Brown is assessing what he likes and doesn't like among the Bobcats' various veterans. It's inevitable more change is coming.
Thursday felt like the flash point for that change. They traded for an extra first-round pick and were active in trade discussions involving their veterans. Gerald Wallace could have ended up in Toronto, and anyone who thinks Wallace was the only Bobcat in play the past two weeks is beyond naïve.
I'd bet even money that one of the five starters from late last season – Wallace, Jason Richardson, Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor or Nazr Mohammed – is not on this team by next winter's trade deadline.
New coaches mean new players, and Brown has never been reluctant to ask for roster tinkers.
Nothing wrong with that, either. Coaches need players who fit the system they install. Players who'd excel in Phoenix's up-tempo style might not work in Detroit's deliberate, defensive approach.
But remaking a roster sets you back, and don't be surprised if that's applicable here. The Bobcats got younger when they added first-round picks D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca.
Augustin should be ready for the rotation next season as a point guard, but it's no given that 7-foot Ajinca, a 20-year-old French pro, will contribute soon.
All that collides with the economic imperative here: The Bobcats need to make the playoffs now.
Vincent was almost too candid in acknowledging that. I suspect his statement – that he'd be “discouraged and disappointed” if his team missed the playoffs – was an admission his job security hinged on a quick fix.
Brown's grand resume – the man did win titles in the NBA and the NCAA – grants him more time to fix things. But it wouldn't be wise to test the public's patience.
Attendance has never been great here and there's obviously an urgency to renew luxury-suite leases. Primary owner Bob Johnson trying to guilt the local business community into buying his product reflects how many millions have been lost already in this start-up.
The typical NBA expansion team reaches the playoffs in five seasons. Season five starts in November.
Hear that clock ticking?
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