After 2011/12's historically awful season, the Bobcats are quietly turning things around, writes David Aldridge of NBA.com. After finishing the campaign with a .106 winning percentage and dropping their last 23 games, the club is finding success with a defense-first approach under first-year coach Mike Dunlap. After already matching their win total from last year, the team even feels for the winless Wizards who are in the NBA's cellar at 0-11. Here's more from Aldridge..
- It's early in the season, but it's evident that Pacers center Roy Hibbert isn't playing with the same intensity that netted him a four-year, $58MM contract. Some have speculated that the big man is pressing in order to live up to his newly-raised expectations, and even he acknowledges that might be the case. "Before, I would say I wasn't," Hibbert said. "But if I look myself in the mirror, maybe I'm thinking too much. I wouldn't say it's totally because of the contract, but it possibly could be."
- The Pacers' problems obviously extend beyond Hibbert's slow start, beginning with the absence of star forward Danny Granger. The summer trade of Darren Collison for center Ian Mahinmi has left the club to rely on one-guards George Hill and D.J. Augustin, who don't provide the same type of tempo. Head coach Frank Vogel is already re-tooling the offense to help accommodate the new-look backcourt.
- Aldridge wonders if it might be time for the Lakers to pull the trigger on a Pau Gasol trade. Often linked to trade rumors in Los Angeles, it's clear that management is less-than-thrilled with Gasol's conditioning as of late. There's no indication that the Lakers are shopping Gasol just yet, but Aldridge wonders if a three-team deal with the Wizards and Timberwolves could be a fit. Gasol could return to his natural center position in Minnesota while the Lakers could receive Chris Singleton and Trevor Ariza from the Wizards with Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea coming from Minnesota. Aldridge's hypothetical would also see Minnesota send Derrick Williams to the Wizards, giving the former No. 2 pick a chance at a new start.