From Comcast SportsNetCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Michael Jordan could no longer hide his frustration midway through the Bobcats' dismal season last year. Not wanting anyone to see how angry he was, Charlotte's owner moved from his seat at the end of the team's bench to his more secluded luxury suite high above the court.Still, he didn't give up on his club then and he isn't now.The ultra-competitive Jordan said despite watching his club "hit rock bottom" during the most miserable season in NBA history, he's "in it for the long haul" when it comes to seeing his struggling franchise transformed into a consistent winner.He knows it won't be a quick, easy process."Are we a playoff team? C'mon, we can't expect that," Jordan said Thursday. "But we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I'm not real happy about the record book scenario last year. It's very, very frustrating."Charlotte finished 7-59, recording the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.Jordan, who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, believes he has the right man to turn things around in new coach Mike Dunlap.Dunlap has taken a no-nonsense, back-to-basics approach to coaching basketball -- something Jordan said has been missing in Charlotte."For years those steps have been skipped," Jordan said. "We don't have a star that can carry the team, so you've got to learn to play together. That is what I love about (Dunlap). He's going to get back to the basics with good passes, pivots, boxing out, running, taking care of the ball and taking good shots. All of the things that were lost."Jordan said the challenge has been getting players to buy in, particularly when it comes to Dunlap's grueling three- to four-hour marathon practices.But he's there to make sure they do.Jordan saw what he perceived as "resistance" from some players to Dunlap's ways earlier this week, pulled them aside after practice and dressed them down. He told them he fully supports Dunlap's philosophy and if they don't agree with it, they won't be around for long.That seemed to get the players' attention.Jordan said the next day he saw a change in attitude."I want to establish a culture within this organization so that when you plug a guy in, the culture is sitting there and no one guy is bigger than that culture," Jordan said. "You either fit in or you don't fit in. When you look at organizations that are established they have a winning culture."Jordan said once the Bobcats establish that culture more big-name free agents will want to come to Charlotte."Last year we went through the process of stripping down the organization and trying to build that back up," Jordan said. "And this is another step toward that. Getting a young coach who understands our vision about what type of team we want to be and then being able to go pluck some of these (free agents) to mesh with what we have."The Bobcats added some veteran leadership to a young team this offseason, claiming center Brendan Haywood off waivers, trading for guard Ben Gordon and signing free agent Ramon Sessions from the Los Angeles Lakers.While all three are proven commodities and bring various skills, none are considered franchise players -- certainly not the way Jordan was with the Bulls.Jordan would love to have a marquee player.And if that player does comes available in free agency or via trade -- and if he wants to play in Charlotte -- Jordan said he's willing to go to great lengths to get him."I'll spend money, that's not even a question, if a person fits what we want to do and it makes sense," Jordan said. "But I don't think it makes sense for us to be in a luxury-tax situation and fighting for the eighth spot in the playoffs. That doesn't make any sense. You have to spend money wisely."Jordan won't say when he expects the Bobcats to make the playoffs or even how many wins it would take for him to consider this a successful season.He only told Dunlap he expects the team to be much better on Feb. 1 than it is Friday night when Charlotte opens the season against the Indiana Pacers."Our (long-term) success is predicated on a lot of things, especially this year," Jordan said. "First, how will the (young players) adapt to the process we're going through. We'll know what holes we have to plug at the end of the year because we have some key contracts coming up" with Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens becoming free agents."We will start to plug some of that," Jordan said. "But it's hard for me to make that suggestion of two or three years we're going to be in the playoffs. I hope we are."The Bobcats should have significant salary-cap space next year, and Jordan hopes the new CBA will prevent players jumping to what he calls "mega-teams" and create more parity throughout the league.Any way you look at it, Jordan and the Bobcats have a long way to go. But Jordan wants to see it through."I don't anticipate getting out of this business," he said. "My competitive nature is I want to succeed. It's always been said that when I can't find a way to do anything, I will find a way to do it."I didn't get in the business to try to get out. Granted I want to turn this thing around as fast as possible but this is obviously a process. I'm committed to it and I want to pass it down to my family members or my kids. I want this to always be in Charlotte."
INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Ward made the transition from reserve safety to starting cornerback last season.
Where he lines up for the 49ers in 2017 has yet to be determined, coach Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure, yet,” Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s something that’ll be discussed because I know that he’s capable of doing both. When we know our whole roster and our options in the draft, free agency, what’s he going to be best for us. But when you have a guy who’s capable of playing both, it gives you some freedom, which is nice.
“Any time you have a guy versatile like him, as a coach, it gives you more options. You just have to make sure whatever options you choose, you’re doing best by him and best by the team, also.”
Ward started eight games in his first two NFL seasons as the team's nickel back after being a first-round draft pick in 2014. Last offseason, the 49ers moved him to conrerback, where he started 10 games. Ward missed three games with a quadriceps injury and was placed on injured reserve late in the season due to a shoulder injury.
He could serve as a key piece in the 49ers’ new scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
“When you play a lot of cover 3, you do want that guy in the middle of the field to be very good player,” Shanahan said.
“When we look at overall roster and how it looks after free agency and the draft, and get Jimmie in and talk to him, that’ll help us make our decision.”
Shanahan said general manager John Lynch will also be involved in the decision. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer as a safety with Tampa Bay and Denver. He was a Hall of Fame finalist.
“I’d love to hear John’s opinion, and that’ll be something we’re all talking about,” Shanahan said.
SACRAMENTO -- After dropping two straight, the Sacramento Kings return to Golden 1 Center Wednesday evening to face the team with the NBA’s worst record. The Brooklyn Nets are 9-49 on the season and in a dramatic tailspin with just over 20 games remaining in the season.
Sacramento is struggling to find their way in the post DeMarcus Cousins era. They are 1-2 since the blockbuster trade that sent Cousins to New Orleans Pelicans and they have lost each of the last two contests by 14 points. They are using stripped down offensive sets as they acclimate multiple new players into the rotation late in the season.
Brooklyn has lost 16 straight and 27 of their previous 28 games. They are a team without a clear path for the future. To compound matters, their 2017 first round pick, slated as fourth overall at worst, will go to the Boston Celtics in a pick swap for the trade that brought in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in June of 2013. The Nets’ 2018 first round pick is also property of the Celtics from the same deal.
Kings by 1.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kosta Koufos/Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Brook Lopez -- After dealing Bojan Bogdanovic to the Washington Wizards at the deadline, Brooklyn has very few scoring threats. Lopez will see plenty of Koufos early and if he gets loose, Cauley-Stein will move over to help against the 7-footer. On the offensive end, both Koufos and Cauley-Stein found success against the Timberwolves on Monday, combining to score 28 points, grab 17 rebounds and hand out six assists.
WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 25-35, third place in Pacific
Nets: 9-49, last place in Atlantic
Kings: SG Arron Afflalo (hamstring) probable, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, G/F Garrett Temple (left hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.
Nets: PF Quincy Acy (knee) doubtful.
The Kings hold a 1-0 advantage in the seasons series after beating the Nets 122-105 back in November at the Barclays Center. Sacramento carries a 47-37 all-time franchise lead into Wednesday’s contest, but trail the Nets 31-29 during the Sacramento-era.
“Our problem right now is trying to figure out the best way to move forward on a consistent basis and have more continuity. There’s nothing you can do about that. We’ve just got to continue to help each other, figure out how we’re going to play together.” -Darren Collison