NBA PM: Michael Jordan Responds to Larry Brown
Michael Jordan’s tenure as an NBA owner is starting to look like his time as a minor league baseball player.
His Bobcats have lost 21 consecutive games and are being outscored by an average of 13.9 points per night. They rank last in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage.
However, they rank 29th in the league in rebounding rate (take that Golden State Warriors!).
Charlotte has only one player—rookie Kemba Walker—with a Player Efficiency Rating over the league average of 15 (his is 15.2). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the team’s best playmaker, D.J. Augustin, plays the same position as Walker, so it’s difficult to keep both on the floor at the same time.
The bottom line is, the team has gone from bad to worse since Jordan became the face of the franchise, and that decline has coincided with his retreat into seclusion.
Jordan hasn’t been the most talkative person since retiring as a player. He still has his own Nike brand and his Hanes commercials pop up once in awhile. But the smiling guy we see on TV is usually grimacing at Bobcats games, if he’s in attendance at all.
And according to former Bobcats coach and current SMU coach Larry Brown, Jordan’s problems are exacerbated by his own stubbornness and the phalanx of “yes” men that surround him.
“You know I love the guy, think he’s brilliant, but he’s around people who don’t have a clue,” Brown said today on the Dan Patrick show, as quoted by ESPNChicago.com. “And they won’t challenge him. And the more you challenge him, the more you get from him.
“I was sick about it,” Brown added. “I haven’t spoken to him since. I don’t like seeing what’s going on.”
Well apparently Brown’s words were enough for Jordan to reach out to the press, something he’s rarely done as an NBA owner.
In an interview with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Jordan attempted to clear up any confusion about the people that work around him in the Bobcats front office.
“It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me,” Jordan told Bonnell. “And the people who say that aren’t in the room.
“The idea that people can’t do that is just wrong,” he continued. “Curtis (Polk, team vice chairman) has worked with me for over 20 years and he’s never had a problem telling me, ‘no.’ Rod (Higgins, president of basketball operations) has no problem telling me no. Fred (Whitfield, team president) has no problem telling me ‘no.’ And Rich (Cho, the team’s general manager) is about as direct and candid a person as you’ll ever meet.”
And as bad as the Bobcats have been, Jordan vehemently denied tanking in any way.
“This was going to be a trying year—we knew that,” Jordan told Bonnell. “But did we want to chase the most Ping Pong balls? No way.”
Jordan went on to say that he expects to be judged by a higher standard than other owners because of the success he had as a player, and that could be right. But at a certain point, even if the team in question is doing poorly, fans have to feel connected to a plan or a direction.
The issue in Charlotte is, the fans don’t know where this team is going. The Bobcats two best players (Augustin and Walker) play the same position. Tyrus Thomas—who signed a $40 million, five-year deal before the 2010-2011 season—has been phased out throughout the course of this year. Charlotte still owes Corey Maggette nearly $11 million next season and it’s unlikely that DeSagana Diop or Matt Carroll will opt out of their deals, so that’s nearly another $11 million added to the cap right there.
How can a team improve when it has so much bad money on its books?
The good news for Bobcats fans is that they’ll have a top-4 pick in this year’s draft and have a 25% chance of landing Anthony Davis with the first overall pick. What Jordan does from there is up to him. No, he’s not alone in that front office and there are other decision makers working under him. However, he’ll be the person who ultimately has to answer to his home state fans and they can’t be too happy right now.
Gerald Green Hopes to Remain With Nets
Gerald Green is the Big Apple’s other D-League surprise this season. After averaging 19.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 22 appearances for the Los Angeles Defenders, Green was signed by the New Jersey Nets, where he has continued to flourish.
The former NBA dunk champion has given coach Avery Johnson a reliable sixth man and a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. But even though the 26-year-old swingman has averaged 13 points and has a PER of 16.30 with the Nets, he remains unsigned for next season and doesn’t know what the future holds for him.
“It’s nervous because you don’t know where you’re going to be at but it’s not stressful,” he told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m not going to be stressed out this summer like I have been other summers. Last summer I didn’t know if I was going to have a job. Now I just don’t know where I’m going to be at. I don’t know if I have a job—me having a job is not guaranteed—I’m excited about here. I don’t see myself leaving here but at the same we just don’t know what will happen between now and whenever I can be signed.”
The Nets haven’t yet spoken with Green’s agent about a new deal (“Not that I know of,” he said), but that’s not indicative of anything one way or another. The reality is, Green has given a huge boost to the Nets this season, particularly when playing behind recently acquired Gerald Wallace.
According to Hoopsstats.com, the Nets allowed opposing small forwards to score 18.9 ppg this year, while only contributing 16.5 ppg themselves. However, things have improved since Johnson has been able to rotate Geralds Wallace and Green, both of whom could be free agents next season if Wallace opts out of his deal.
“Being able to play behind him is a blessing man,” Green said. “I watch a lot of his game because it’s similar to my game as far as being athletic, being a high energy player, trying to do everything on the ball. He helps me a lot with my defense, him and DeShawn Stevenson. Those two veterans, they’ve really been huge for me… so I hope I get that honor to get to play with (Wallace) for the next few years of my career. I don’t know what his decision’s going to be. I don’t know what’s going on but hopefully I can continue to play with him throughout my career. I think he makes this team better, I definitely think he makes me better and just getting to play behind him is a blessing.”
Green joked that he would rent in Brooklyn next season because it’s too expensive to buy in the borough (Brownstones usually start at $1 million), but seeing as minority owner Bruce Ratner is the area’s biggest residential developer, he’ll probably be able to find something.
And Green likes the organization so much that he said he’s willing to take slightly less money if it meant staying with the Nets.
“Most definitely,” he said. “This is a business, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what’s going to go but obviously this is where I want to be.
“LeBron James may say, ‘Hey, I want to play for the Nets,’” Green continued. “Obviously I would be out of the picture. You never know but if things do fall out hopefully the way we think things are going to fall out then I should be here next year.”
Check Out: Adrian Wojnarowski’s Latest
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowksi and Rand Getlin have just posted a story that seems particularly damming to NBPA executive director Billy Hunter.
Former NBPA treasurer Pat Garrity apparently tried to probe into the union’s dealings with Interstate Net Bank of Cherry Hill, NJ back in 2009. The bank has since been broken by “cease-and-desist” orders, Wojnarowski reported, but what’s really puzzling is why Hunter never mentioned that his son Todd is on the board of directors.
Todd Hunter’s Prim Capital had already been consulting with the NBPA (for $2.5 million in fees since 2006, according to the repot), but the players allegedly weren’t told of Todd’s involvement in Interstate Net Bank, which Hunter was allegedly attempting to invest between $7 million and $9 million into back in 2009.
Anyway, the report is just another bizarre chapter in what has become a very ugly fight within the union.
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