ORLANDO, Fla. — Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford talks frequently about Chris Douglas-Roberts’ constant readiness: How the shooting guard/small forward is the same reliable guy as a starter or reserve, playing six minutes or 35.
I asked Douglas-Roberts about that Wednesday and he replied he “trusts work.” The next day at practice I asked him to expand on what he meant.
“As a young guy, I didn’t really understand the NBA,” Douglas-Roberts said. “You’ve got to show you can perform because there are a lot of things out of your control.”
If you just glance Douglas-Roberts’ way, you might get the wrong impression. He’s covered in tattoos, he wears these garish polka-dot Air Jordans on game day. You’d expect him to come to and from practice every day on a skateboard.
Yet he’s as serious, as directed, as any guy in that locker room. Mature, studious, articulate and really smart.
After some time with the Nets and Bucks, Douglas-Roberts was basically waived out of the NBA. He played a handful of games with the Mavericks last season and was trying to get back to the league the first half of this season.
A chance meeting with Clifford – Douglas-Roberts was in the Los Angeles Lakers’ training camp the fall of 2012 when Clifford was a Lakers assistant – left an impression. Clifford saw Douglas-Roberts as a quick study, someone who always came prepared with the game plan.
When the Bobcats lost Jeff Taylor for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon, they needed more experienced help than rookie James Southerland could provide. So they signed Douglas-Roberts and he’s been a bonus: A solid defender at one end, a 40 percent 3-point shooter at the other. His 19-foot jump shot in overtime against the Nets, off a scramble for a loose ball, might have been the biggest play of the game.
Whether it’s here or with some other team next season, Douglas-Roberts has shown his worth at the NBA level. One of the things that impressed Clifford was that when Douglas-Roberts wasn’t playing much, he’d volunteer for extra workouts to ensure he stayed ready.
When the Charlotte Hornets drafted J.R. Reid years ago, he came across as immature and entitled. Years later, after Reid played overseas, he signed with the Hornets and was an entirely different person: Focused, hungry and in great shape. We all deserve the chance to grow up.
“I definitely think my time away (from the NBA) prepared me” for this stint with the Bobcats, Douglas-Roberts said. “I realize what a privilege it is to play here. So many people trying to do that.”
And about that “trust work” comment?
“I trust it dearly,” Douglas-Roberts concluded.
Five stray thoughts on the Bobcats and the NBA:
• I’m glad new NBA commissioner Adam Silver is engaging the NCAA about common issues regarding the draft. The things Silver mentioned – disability insurance, who pays for schooling, how much time players should have to gauge their value before renouncing remaining college eligibility – should be addressed in a more global fashion. I find the NCAA to be big on complaining, not so adept at collaborative problem-solving.
• I thought Silver had an exceedingly narrow definition of “tanking” when he called it something only players or coaches could do. Rebuilding is one thing, but the extremes the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office went to at the trade deadline to flush away this season is unsavory. The fans who pay for Sixers tickets have every right to view that as tanking.
• I was surprised the NBA levied a $15,000 fine on Nets guard Jorge Gutierrez, in addition to the Flagrant-2 ejection, after Gutierrez chopped down on Bobcats forward Cody Zeller. Yes, that foul was hard and a flagrant was justified. But I didn’t see it as so reckless as to pile on a fine. Then again, the league office has done a lot of fining this season.
• Perhaps all the Portland Trail Blazers needed was LaMarcus Aldridge’s return to health, but that team was really struggling for a while. Good as the Blazers’ offense is, they don’t guard much at all.
• So Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau, who can define the term “coaching tunnel vision,” was asking beat writers the other day how Twitter works. That must have been an interesting discussion.