A quick question for you: What do Gerald Wallace and John Kasay have in common?
Answer: Kasay is the last original Panther, and Wallace is now the last original Bobcat.
Assuming the Emeka-Okafor-and-Tyson-Chandler deal goes through Tuesday (and Chandler doesn't fail a physical due to his problematic big toe again), Wallace will be the only Bobcat left from that original 2004-05 team.
As I have written for Tuesday's Charlotte Observer, I haven't been a huge Okafor fan for the past several years. He's never been any better than he was as a rookie, when he was the NBA's Rookie of the Year (over Dwight Howard, which seems hard to believe now).
Okafor has never gotten worse since then, but he's never gotten much better, either. And he frustrated coach Larry Brown this past year because he doesn't have the sort of crazy basketball passion of a Wallace or a Raymond Felton.
Said Brown as the season concluded of Okafor: "I always tease that he has an 'A' in stretching, Pilates and yoga. I'd like him to have an 'A' in basketball.... He's got to work at his game. There's no better guy than him. I want him to have a passion (for basketball) because it ends so quickly.... He analyzes everything he does. I think he's just got to play."
The Okafor deal is a salary dump, certainly. The Bobcats just lopped more than $20 million off their future payroll. But that alone isn't enough reason to do this. Chandler also has to turn out to be healthy (he only played 45 games last season). He's 7-foot-1 and more instinctive than Okafor, who is a very mechanical player.
But that won't matter if Okafor is playing and Chandler is in a suit on the bench.
If Chandler stays healthy, I think this is a good deal for the Bobcats. Despite Okafor's numbers, they hadn't gone much of anywhere with him in the middle. Chandler has a chance to be a bigger difference-maker -- he won't score as often, but he can rebound about as well and can be more of an intimidator.
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