Bobcats open training camp with uncertainty

Bobcats forward Boris Diaw didn’t seem to mind that he’s nearly

been traded twice. D.J. Augustin insisted he’s not paying attention

to talk he could be dealt or supplanted as a starter.

And Charlotte coach Larry Brown was lamenting what he already

lost over the summer, uncertain if he has the personnel at point

guard and center to succeed in the improved Eastern Conference.

With a never-satisfied, outspoken coach and a constantly

changing roster, the Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats are rarely

boring. Monday was no different as the team gathered for media day

after a weekend of trade discussions.

”If you don’t have control over it, why would you worry about

it?” said the laid-back Diaw, involved in the latest trade talk

after almost being shipped to Toronto in July. ”Just waiting for

stuff to be confirmed.”

There was little news.

General manager Rod Higgins provided scant information after the

proposed four-team trade involving Carmelo Anthony hit a snag.

Charlotte would get former All-Star point guard Devin Harris from

New Jersey in the deal, while Diaw would head to Utah. Augustin was

also discussed in early proposals.

”I’ve heard my name in trade rumors before. I’m not even going

to listen to it,” Augustin said. ”I love Charlotte. If anything

happens, it’s the NBA, it’s a business.”

Brown expressed disappointment the trade talks became public,

but insisted Charlotte wasn’t actively trying to deal Diaw or

Augustin.

”We’re not calling around. That’s not us,” Brown said. ”For

Rod not to receive phone calls and try to better our team, I think

would be inexcusable. But I don’t think we’ve initiated any of the

talk you guys are hearing about.”

Not that Brown is thrilled with the 19-man roster he takes to

UNC Wilmington for camp. Not after the Bobcats traded center Tyson

Chandler to Dallas and lost point guard Raymond Felton to New York

in free agency following their first playoff appearance.

”Yeah, I died,” Brown said on his reaction when Felton

departed. ”Everything I value he did.”

Harris would provide an instant replacement, but it’s possible

that deal may never happen. That would leave Augustin, who

struggled last season, as the likely starter. Newly signed Shaun

Livingston, Javaris Crittenton and undrafted rookie Sherron Collins

are behind him.

Brown said it could mean a change in how the Bobcats, who ranked

28th in scoring and 29th in turnovers last season, will play on

offense. Brown envisions using Diaw, Stephen Jackson and Gerald

Wallace more as ballhandlers.

”We’ve got to figure out how to get Jack and Boris and Gerald

and all these other guys where they’re playmakers as well,” Brown

said. ”It’s going to be an adjustment for some guys.”

Brown has more concerns at center. While Chandler was plagued by

injuries in his only season in Charlotte, the Bobcats also didn’t

re-sign veteran Theo Ratliff. That leaves Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana

Diop and Kwame Brown – who was in a protective boot Monday after a

severe ankle sprain last week.

”Nazr and DeSagana, the things that I want a center to do, are

difficult for them,” said Brown, who wants big men to block shots,

be able to defend smaller players on the perimeter and run the

floor. ”We’ll just have to figure it out.”

Mohammed brushed off the comment and vows to get back to the

form he was before getting hurt late last season.

”This is my 13th year,” Mohammed said. ”I am what I am. …

I’m not a shot-blocker.”

Wallace, coming off his first All-Star season, and Jackson, who

helped elevate Charlotte to the postseason after being acquired

from Golden State last season, return as the top scoring threats.

Brown just doesn’t know if that’s enough in the East, where Miami

constructed a team of superstars and New York, New Jersey and

Washington added players.

”I think the challenge is much, much greater than last year

based on who we had, who we lost and we got and what’s gone on in

our league,” Brown said.

Brown, who turned 70 this month, is back for his third season

after flirting with leaving at the end of last season. Given his

history of tinkering and Jordan’s willingness to trade, another

roster shake up is possible.

Brown seemed to be hoping for that when asked if the team had

regressed following an offseason of moves designed to get under the

NBA’s luxury tax payroll figure of $70.3 million.

Brown declined to answer the question directly. But he first

listed the players they lost: Felton, Chandler, Ratliff, Stephen

Graham and Larry Hughes. Brown then listed the layers Charlotte

acquired: Livingston, Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera and Dominic

McGuire

”I’m hopeful that the guys we mentioned that we added are going

to be valuable contributors,” Brown said, ”and the young guys

that we have coming back have improved a whole hell of a lot.”

Notes: Jackson disputed a report of a July home invasion

involving his wife at their Charlotte home when Jackson wasn’t

there. ”There’s been no proof of anyone breaking in,” Jackson

said. ”My attitude is it didn’t happen. I was going through a

divorce situation with my wife at the time.” … Brown said the

first example in an NBA video describing the crackdown on

demonstrative actions toward officials had Jackson flailing his

arms. ”It’s going to be an adjustment, but it won’t be a big

deal,” Jackson said. … Livingston said he may practice once a

day in camp as he continues his comeback from a severe knee injury.

… The Bobcats invited 6-11 rookie Matt Rogers from Division II

Southwest Baptist University to camp. … Brown said he wished camp

was in Chapel Hill so former North Carolina coach Dean Smith could

more easily attend practices.