Bobcats Top To Bottom: Nazr Mohammed

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The fourth player in our Bobcats Top to Bottom series, we’ll profile Nazr Mohammed, who was traded at the deadline to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nazr Mohammed was a Charlotte Bobcat for 4 years.  209 games, 89 starts.  He was here.

What?  You expect more in depth than that?  Well alright, here goes.

Nazr Mohammed was a good solid player for the Bobcats.  Traded for two guys who are no longer in the league, the Bobcats utilized the veteran center as, well, a veteran center.  He’s 6’10” and experienced, veteran center…man I did it again!  IN DEPTH DREW DADDY, IN DEPTH!

Ok, there isn’t a whole lot about Nazr that really gets you going.  He’s not one of those guys you go “Ohhhh yeah!  Man I’m going to miss him!  He was such a….”  fill in the blank.  But what he did do was provide some veteran leadership, a solid player throughout his time in Charlotte and the only Bobcats player to retweet me.  He was actually the only Bobcat on twitter there for a while.  I liked Nazr a lot, I swear I did.  I was lobbying for more PT for him as he was the most efficent guy we had going for a bit this season but he’d get yanked about 4 minutes into the first quarter and only get 2-3 in the third.  It was weird, cause he started, but he didn’t play starters minutes.

I guess for the uninitated, we should look back.  Nazr Mohammed, a native born American to Ghanan immigrants, started in the NBA in Philadelphia under Larry Brown.  Could you imagine having Larry Brown for not only your first pro coach but you’re a center.  Larry Brown hates rookies and might hate centers just as much.  He had some good teammates that year, interesting at least.  Rick Mahorn, Theo Ratliff, Allen Iverson, Larry Hughes, Tim Thomas, George Lynch.  Just sounds like a Larry Brown team doesn’t it?

Nazr spent a few years in Atlanta, scoring his highest PPG in the partial year after he was traded there by Philly.  Imagine that?  Being traded by Larry Brown…who would have thought?  Then he was traded to New York, then New York traded him to San Antonio.  They won the championship that year he was traded and he was the starting Center.  Well, starting 5 of the Spurs’ final 6 games and all the playoff games.  He refused to resign in San Antonio and went to Detroit.  Detroit “lost” Ben Wallace and quickly snatched up Nazr for 5 years $30 million.

I know what you’re thinking, or at least what I had assumed for the story line.  I figured Larry Brown wanted him back in Detroit, but this was 06-07 and Larry was in his 8th or 9th retirement after bombing in New York.  Detroit just wanted a center to replace Big Ben.  I am starting to see a pattern with Larry Brown guys, if you can consider them that, but it simply skips from his time in Philadelphia to his time in Charlotte, 6 years difference.  Like the last time he scouted any players was 02-03 and before, so when he got to Charlotte and these guys’ careers are waning, they become available for pennies on the dollar (compared to their 1999-2003 selves) Larry snatches them up.  Thus the 24 different players to wear a Bobcats uniform in Larry’s first year in Charlotte.

Nazr Mohammed didn’t come to Charlotte under Larry Brown’s watch.  It was Sam Vincent who demanded and bitched and bemoaned Primoz Brezec to the point of the team pulling the trigger on a trade to bring in Nazr Mohammed.  Nazr had the better part of the 5 years $30 million left on his contract, while the Bobcats traded short-timers Primoz and fan-favorite Walter Herrmann.  I look at that trade in those terms.  A soft but capable, barely, center plus an energy guy who could bomb in three pointers and defend and had the biggest hands and feet of any person for his stature according to some long time NBA folks I’ve talked to, for a back-up center towards the end of a middling career, with about $20 million spread over 3 years left on his deal.  But when the illustrious Sam Vincent demands a big man, you get him a big man.

Nazr, certainly not a bad guy, not a bad player, nothing against him whatsoever, came in and performed pretty well.  The interesting thing about the trade was it happened on the day of the Bobcats only Nationally Televised game that year.  They gave ESPN “all-access” for that day, sending Jared Dudley around the arena to give the cameras a tour and whatnot.  It was one that developed just before the game, leaving the Bobcats weakened against Orlando, as the traded parties were ushered to their new teams.  Nazr was a veteran and vocal leader.  He was involved in whatever the Bobcats asked of him, and took on many outside charity interests as well.  He had a ring, and that carried a lot of weight around the team.  He also worked hard.

The bad part came when he went out with back spazms in his second year with the team.  Older player, back problems, reuinted with his old coach, his old coach liking to air dirty laundry, his old coach seeming to enjoy heaping blame on guys who didn’t make it to the court if their leg wasn’t broken.  Jokes ensued and Nazr became “that old center” to many fans, including myself.  He wasn’t the answer at the center position and we knew it.

He came back pretty well in 2008-2009.  Then, the Bobcats playoff season of 2009-2o10, he was pushed back for Tyson Chandler.  Then of course with Chandler hampered by injuries, he came in and performed admirably.  In the playoffs them selves he contributed, helping harrass Dwight Howard throughout the playoffs, along with Theo Ratliff and Chandler.

This past season, he was the only legit center in my fan’s eyes that the team had.  They had traded away Chandler for Erick Dampier.  Desagana Diop was on the team, but wasn’t seeing playing time under Larry Brown, not much anyway.  Kwame Brown was brought in for the vet minimum, but we all sort of shrugged him off.  So Nazr was it.  He started games, was taken out in favor of running a small lineup almost immediately.  He was the most efficent scorer and seemed to be the only post player the Bobcats had.  I was lobbying for more playing time for him, when I looked at his per 36 minutes numbers and his effiency.  Back when it was really questionable to what Larry Brown was doing, I was looking for anything and Nazr seemed to be the answer in my mind.  He is a very skilled player, very smart at the center position and I thought that could help, or at least that’s what my recollection tells me I was feeling at the time.

As Bobcats fans, we know how the season went.  Brown was fired, Kwame stepped up, Paul Silas elevated younger players, kept Nazr going.  Then the trade deadline, the Bobcats traded Gerald Wallace for 2 centers (Sean Marks and Joel Przybilla) and Dante Cunningham and 2 draft picks.  So, then I guess Oklahoma City came calling.  Or maybe the Bobcats called them offering Nazr, not sure how it went down but the Bobcats moved Nazr, whose contract was expiring for DJ White and Mo Peterson.  They bought out Peterson and have White for next season.  I’m not 100% sure this trade was neccessary.  I guess the Bobcats liked White’s game enough, with his youth, and the Thunder wanted more veterans to pair with that young, young team.

Nic’s Take On Nazr Mohammed

I resisted the draft talk as much as I could until about yesterday.  Then I started to really really care.  Like care enough that I spent most of my day reading everything I could cram in between doing actual paid tasks.  Researching, You-Tubing, getting ideas on articles to write, dreaming of who we could get.  Really feeling it ya know.  –  That was until the ol’ task master Mr. Barraclough demands I have something on Nazr Mohammed in his hands soon.  That’s right a player that isn’t even on the team anymore!  But it has been a few weeks since the last player profile and Nazr deserves a few paragraphs…  So lets do it.

Whilst writing this article I tried to find the reasons we traded Mohammed away to Oklahoma City for DJ White and Mo Pete when we were in desperate need of a center.   Maybe for cap reasons right?  Nope, Nazr was an expiring and we took on basically the same amount.  Maybe we just wanted to be nice to OKC and give them a piece to help a small market win a championship?  Probably not.  So basically, “who the shit knows” is the best answer.   I like to sugar coat it and make it sound good for the Bobcats, because well I’m a Bobcats fan and it keeps me from drinking heavy at night.   So I say the Cats did it because… they liked DJ White and they wanted Nazr to be on a competitive team in the twilight of his career.  DJ White has showed promise and Nazr wasn’t exactly a franchise cornerstone so its not all that bad a deal.  Basically the trade of Nazr kind of hammered home the whole “rebuild mode” scenario floating around the Bobcats camp like a thick fog.  When you trade away your only line of defense at the center position behind Kwame Brown, you sure aren’t building for the now.

Nazr was a solid locker room guy, worked hard, played hard, and when you left him open from 12-15 feet you paid for it.  Thats a tough piece to lose mid-season and still be competitive, but I harken it to the Gerald Wallace trade.  You know good and well that both of those guys are good pieces on a championship team.  You also know that the rest of the team isn’t championship caliber right now and won’t be immediately so set them free and get some building blocks in return.   Let’s just hope the blocks in return are foundation worthy.

Offer Sheet:

Nazr made $6.884 million last year.  A 14 year veteran, center, that works as hard as he does in the off season (if you don’t believe me just follow him on twitter, dude bitches more about yoga than a car-full of 35 year old housewives), Nazr won’t get a long term deal but he’ll be signed somewhere.  He wants it to be Oklahoma City.  With like $50 million on their books for next year, they have the room to sign him for something around what he was making, but he wouldn’t be worth it.  I’d go with roughly half what he made last year at $3.45 milion over 2 years, just as a back-up to Kendrick Perkins, he’s worth that.

Nazr came in, played a bit and left quietly.  He was “the other guy” in the trades that took place on deadline-day.  I hope he has a few more years in the league and maybe a championship run with somebody.  He’s just a nice enough guy that you hope the best for him.