Getting traded from the NBAs second-worst team to its worst late in the season on the surface doesnt seem like such a great deal.
But for power forward Josh McRoberts, moving from Orlando to Charlotte in February meant an opportunity to become a starter again and a chance to reconnect with Gerald Henderson, his friend, former Duke teammate and for the past six weeks McRoberts chauffeur.
He didnt get his car shipped from Orlando, so Ive had to take him everywhere hes wanted to go. If weve got a road trip, Ive got to pick him up from the hotel, take him to the airport. And then do the same coming back, Henderson said. But hes my friend, my teammate, so Ill do it for him.
Hes driven me to the airport mainly. Thats about the biggest thing, McRoberts said Monday after the Bobcats practice. Dont let him tell you differently.
McRoberts play since the Feb. 21 trade that sent backup forward Hakim Warrick to Orlando has been one of the bright spots in a mostly dismal Bobcats season. McRoberts, a full-time starter for the second time in his six seasons, is averaging nearly a double-double since replacing Byron Mullens in the lineup in March.
McRoberts, who is 6-foot-10, averages 9.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 14 games as a starter. The Bobcats have gone 5-9 during that stretch while increasing their scoring average by nearly 3 points to 96 points a game.
Josh knows how to play the game, said Henderson, who played one season with McRoberts at Duke in 2006-07. Hes very skilled with the ball. Can handle it, pass it, a really good decision-maker. So hes helped me in the sense of just playing off him because hes always looking to make the right play.
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap praised McRoberts ability to find open teammates from the post, as well as his toughness in going after offensive rebounds.
McRoberts 8.0 points-per-game average is the highest of his career, a tick above his 7.4 ppg mark with Indiana two years ago the only other time hes been a starter.
McRoberts said he was glad Orlando, which acquired him from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Dwight Howard trade last offseason, was willing to deal him.
They really had no plans for me. So Im grateful for them moving me and letting me have an opportunity, he said. Once I got here, the Bobcats just giving me a chance to play, its been great. Im trying to make the most of it and trying to help the team improve and hopefully win some more games.
McRoberts, 26, who will be a free agent after the season, sounded open to returning to Charlotte despite the teams struggles.
Dunlap views McRoberts as a piece of the Bobcats rebuilding efforts and hopes hell be re-signed.
A lot of that depends on Joshs appetite to want to be here and how they do that upstairs. Thats not my area, Dunlap said. But certainly from my view, he fits.
McRoberts, a part of playoff teams the past two seasons with the Pacers and Lakers, said its been tough playing for a pair of non-contending teams this season.
You never know whats going to happen. You hope your play earns some looks, in terms of respect from other teams. I think I have that a little bit, McRoberts said. Ive been in a couple tough situations lately. But I signed for a couple years in L.A. last year, (and) it wasnt too long ago I was starting on a playoff team. To be able to show I can still do that and still contribute and be a (big) part of the franchise is something that can only help.
The Bobcats, a year after finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, enter Tuesdays game at Memphis trailing Orlando (19-59) by a half-game for the leagues worst record. With five games left, McRoberts said it would be nice for the Bobcats to pass his former team and avoid another dubious distinction.
Id like to do that and be able to go back and tell some of those guys about it. Not seriously, (but) give Jameer (Nelson) a hard time or something like that, McRoberts said. You never want to be the worst team. Thats something to shoot for thats out there. Id love to be able to do that.