Sports

Ajinca's play leaves a bad taste for Bobcats

CHARLOTTE - Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown had a message for big man Alexis Ajinca on Monday:

Don't ever play here like you did during tryouts for the French national team:

"I was going (to France) to drink the wine and eat the food and enjoy myself. After watching him, nothing tastes good," Brown said during Bobcats media day.

"He showed no interest in making their team or playing hard. It was almost like he didn't think he had a chance to make the team, didn't understand why he was there. I looked at that as a wonderful opportunity. Boris (Diaw) approached it that way and played for 10 weeks."

Ajinca occasionally moped as a rookie over not playing much. Eventually the team sent him to Sioux Falls, S.D., which then was the Bobcats' development-league affiliate.

Now there is playing time available as Diaw's backup at power forward. Brown wants Ajinca not to squander that opportunity. The team wants him more focused on rebounding and blocking shots.

"I think he has an understanding of what we want, and he certainly has the talent," Brown said. "He has to allow us to coach him. If not, instead of being in Sioux Falls, S.D., he'll be in Portland, Maine."

Portland is the Bobcats' new D-league affiliate.

Bell understands. Shooting guard Raja Bell has heard the rumors that he's the most logical veteran to be traded if the Bobcats need to address another area.

His contract (worth $5.25 million this season) expires after this season, which could make him attractive to a contender looking for short-term help. Also, the Bobcats added combo guard Flip Murray last week.

"I'm fully aware of my situation and what a contract like mine looks like to other teams and could mean to the Bobcats," Bell said. "Knowing that is enough; I'll just go about my business. I don't need any more distractions."

If Bell were to be moved, the logical target would be help at power forward.

Injured big men. New center Tyson Chandler has been cleared to practice, following surgery to address a badly sprained ankle. He said he probably will need a couple of weeks to work up to full-speed, five-on-five action, so it's likely he will sit out the Bobcats' first couple of preseason exhibitions.

Diaw, who sprained an ankle while playing for the French national team, said he might have to sit out the first few days of training camp, but he isn't particularly concerned about his injury lingering.

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