New Charlotte Bobcat Corey Maggette is about to get every chance to re-ignite his NBA career.
That was the word Wednesday from Bobcats coach Paul Silas, in his first public comments since the NBA and the players worked out a tentative labor deal. Silas said Maggette, a 12-season veteran, will be essential to filling the scoring gap left by the departures of Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace.
"Corey has got to come through. He can be a 20-point scorer. He's going to be the focal point of our offense," Silas described. "We're going to rely on him to get it done for us, and he can."
Maggette, a former Duke star, came to Charlotte in a draft-night trade involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. That deal acquired the lottery pick that became Bismack Biyombo. To make that transaction, the Bobcats had to give up Jackson (18.5 points a game) and reserve point guard Shaun Livingston. The Bobcats also had to accept the remaining $20 million-plus on Maggette's contract.
Maggette averaged 12 points last season for the Bucks, his lowest scoring output in 10 seasons. He fell out of Milwaukee's rotation the last third of the season and was often asked to play out of position at power forward. That's far removed from Maggette's prime as a Los Angeles Clipper, when he averaged 20 or more points in three seasons.
Immediately following the late-June trade, Silas told Maggette he'd be penciled in as the Bobcats' starting small forward. It's clear Silas has set out to restore Maggette's confidence.
"He was coming off not too good of a year. He has to understand he's now the elder statesman of our ball club," Silas said. "He can do it physically and mentally. We're a young club and we have to have somebody who has been there, who understands what it takes to get it done, and he does.
"So we're going to rely on him, not only on the court, but off the court to keep these guys together, to understand what pro ball is all about.
"I'm going to be talking to him a lot about things he should do. I think (his presence) will really benefit us."
Wednesday was the first day NBA players were allowed back in team facilities. No current Bobcats showed up at Time Warner Cable Arena, but Silas and his staff were there, finalizing plans for the opening of training camp Dec. 9.
Silas isn't yet allowed to talk with players directly, but he said he's heard good reports from the doctors, concerning injured Bobcats Gerald Henderson (hip surgery) and Gana Diop (ruptured Achilles tendon). Silas said if there's any silver lining in the lockout, it was giving those two extra time to heal.
This is Silas' first full season with the Bobcats, after replacing Larry Brown in late December. Silas carried over much of Brown's offensive system then, but plans a makeover this preseason. In particular, he wants to run more and has asked the front office for more 3-point shooting.
"Our whole thing is to run this year - we want to get up-and-down,'' Silas said. "We're going to have two young guys who hopefully can play together, in D.J. (Augustin) and Kemba (Walker).''
Since the end of last season, Silas has lobbied for another long-range shooter who can play both shooting guard and small forward. Brown preferred his scorers to be drivers, rather than spot up from 3-point range.
"When you get down and you're trying to come back, you need 3-point shooting,'' Silas said. "That was our problem last year - we'd get behind and very seldom (have the fire power to) catch up. It gives you a different look - teams have to play you differently.''
The Bobcats made it official Thursday that Charles Oakley has left the coaching staff. The announcement didn't mention Oakley's health issues, but a bad back forced him to leave the team last season.