Felton ready to take reigns of Bobcats’ new offense
Published 11:03 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007
By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — Sam Vincent had barely finished shouting instructions for the fastbreak drill when Raymond Felton jumped to the front of the line to do it first, taking off in a full sprint down the floor.
Vincent, the new Charlotte Bobcats coach, wants an uptempo offense and Felton, the point guard, loves to run. It’s why the veteran was on the floor Tuesday to open the team’s rookie minicamp, dreaming about starting the break with newly acquired Jason Richardson on one side and, he hopes, Gerald Wallace on the other.
Wallace’s uncertainty hovered over the Bobcats’ practice gym Tuesday. Vice president of basketball operations Bernie Bickerstaff and Wallace’s agent, Rob Pelinka, have talked daily since the free agency period began early Sunday.
Felton said he’s ‘‘positive’’ Wallace will re-sign and is already thinking about the possibilities. Richardson, a two-time dunk contest champion, has averaged 18.3 points in his six-year career and would play shooting guard. The athletic, slashing Wallace, who averaged 18.1 points a game last season, would start at small forward.
Vincent is pressuring Felton to make sure the new-look offense works. Vincent lobbied Felton to come to the rookie camp, and he’ll play at least one game next week in the Orlando summer league.
The No. 5 pick in the 2005 draft, Felton averaged 14 points and seven assists last season, but he shot only 38 percent while also playing some shooting guard with Brevin Knight in a small backcourt.
Knight was considered the better passer, and Felton has been criticized for shooting too much. But the Bobcats waived Knight last week, giving Felton the keys.
Veterans Emeka Okafor, Adam Morrison and Ryan Hollins joined Felton, along with draft picks Jared Dudley and Jermareo Davidson, at the workout Tuesday, getting a glimpse at how Vincent handles practices.
Despite being known as a defensive specialist, Okafor is intrigued by the uptempo offense.
It’s uncertain how Morrison will fit in. The No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, Morrison got off to a quick start, but faded. He struggled with his shooting and his defense, and Richardson’s addition could mean fewer minutes.
Felton was clearly having fun Tuesday, clowning around with teammates, joking with new assistant coach Phil Ford, and dreaming about playing that end-to-end style that made him a college star at North Carolina.
Notes: Former Bobcats Kevin Burleson and Tamar Slay and former North Carolina players Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel are on the Bobcats’ 19-man summer league roster. … Alan Anderson practiced despite being a restricted free agent. The Bobcats have tendered an offer and Anderson said he hopes to re-sign, but he said at least five teams have expressed interest.