Forward Corey Maggette said that while the Bobcats have plenty of questions to answer moving forward, owner Michael Jordan’s commitment to winning is not among them.
Jordan has endured plenty of criticism after Charlotte finished the season with the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history. The Bobcats finished the lockout-shortened season 7-59.
Despite that, Maggette said players enjoy playing for Jordan and doesn’t believe free agents will shy away from signing with Charlotte because ”he’s a winner, and will be a winner” again.
Maggette said he’s behind Jordan ”100 percent.”
”I know this is a tough situation where people are kind of bashing him because he’s down,” Maggette said. ”But he will find a way to get on top. And that’s what he’s always done. If you look at his career and how he’s got into this position he’s going to be better and he’s going to make this organization better.
”The same people that are bashing him now are going to end up praising him later.”
Before that can happen questions will need to be answered throughout the organization, beginning with the coaching staff.
Coach Paul Silas’s contract is up. It’s unclear if Jordan will re-sign him, hand the reins of the team over to Silas’ son Stephen or simply move in another direction completely and clean house.
Silas has said repeatedly he hopes to coach one more season and get the ship righted.
Rod Higgins, the president of basketball operations, did not return telephone calls to The Associated Press seeking comment on Silas’ future.
Silas has been in an awful situation this season.
Not only were the Bobcats a young team, but they didn’t have the luxury of getting those players experience playing in organized summer leagues because of the 149-day lockout. And because of the condensed season practice time was limited.
The injuries to Maggette, D.J. Augustin and Henderson didn’t help.
Maggette, who Silas was counting on to be a 20-point per game guy, missed 34 games. Augustin, the team’s point guard and best shooter, missed 18 and Henderson sat out 11.
Shooting guard Reggie Williams wound up missing 33 games.
”I think Paul did the best he could with the guys he had on the floor,” Maggette said. ”We went through a year where night after night guys were going down with injuries and you’re shooting under 30 percent from the field you just can’t win any games that way. That’s tough. So hopefully they give him an opportunity to show what type of a coach he is and what he can bring to the table here.”
The combination of injuries, a young team and a shortened season made for a tough year for Silas.
”When you have guys that are out, you want the guys that are in to do a good job, but it’s really hard,” Silas said. ”You have to look at yourself and say ‘We still have a chance, we’re still going to get it done,’ but in reality the guys that were second stringers became our starters. Then the guys that were third string become our second string, so it’s tough.”
There are also decisions to be made in free agency.
The 49-year-old Jordan vowed at the beginning of the season that the Bobcats would be active players in free agency this coming summer.
As for the draft, the Bobcats are almost certain to take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick if they get it. But they’re only guaranteed a 25 percent chance of getting it.
There are in-house decisions as well.
The Bobcats plan to build around Henderson and rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo.
But they could free up more money to spend in free agency by using the amnesty clause one of their existing big-ticket players. Maggette is due to make $10.9 million next season, while Tyrus Thomas will make $8 million and Gana Diop $7.4 million.
Thomas is the most intriguing option.
He underachieved this season and was benched midway through the season. But he’s due $26 million over the next three seasons, which seems extravagant for a player who averaged just 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Thomas said he wants to return to the Bobcats but added ”That’s a question you will have to ask the front office.”
Despite the unanswered questions, Maggette believes Jordan won’t rest until things turn around.
”Hopefully he makes a decision in the offseason as far as trying to find some more quality guys who’ll help this team,” Maggette said. ”But you have to have faith in this organization – and I know I do. Mike is going to do whatever it takes.”
As for this being a wasted season, Thomas disagrees.
”It just didn’t go as expected, but if in three years from now we’re contending for a championship then nothing went wrong this season,” Thomas said.