CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Bobcats are gearing up for some small ball.
Starting center Kwame Brown agreed to a one-year contract worth $7 million with Golden State on Tuesday, leaving the Bobcats with one of the shortest starting lineups in the NBA.
The Bobcats planned to run quite a bit this season anyway, but now it will be imperative to play an up-tempo game.
"When you're so small you don't want to play half court with guys," said point guard D.J. Augustin. "You want to run and play transition and get some easy points off fast breaks."
Coach Paul Silas said he expects 6-foot-8 Boris Diaw to start at center for the rebuilding Bobcats.
Diaw averaged 8.8 points per game last season, but only 2.8 rebounds.
"We definitely don't have the height right now, so we'll definitely have to use our speed and quickness," Diaw said. "We have to move the ball around a lot. I won't be trying to post up Dwight Howard or guys like that."
Silas tried to paint a positive picture after losing Brown, considered the team's top priority to re-sign in free agency.
But in the end, $7 million was way too much to invest in an aging center particularly for a team that's rebuilding.
"We can look at it two ways," Silas said. "There are some negatives as far as defense and rebound and things like that with Boris in there. But there are some positives too. If Boris is in, the (other) center has to guard him. We want to run and I don't know of those centers will be able to get up and down the court with him."
At 7-foot, Gana Diop is the only true center on the roster, but he's not yet fully recovered from a torn right Achilles' tendon and said he needs to lose 25 pounds to get down to his playing weight of 280.
Silas said rookie Bismack Biyombo can also play some center once his contract issue is resolved.
Silas said the Bobcats would bring someone in from the outside "if it makes sense, but quickly added, "if not, we have to go make it happen."
"If you look at the teams going deep in the playoffs you need a real center. Somebody inside," Diaw said. "It's just that it's rare to find one. There's not many out there, and not many that a skilled, too. But you need one if you want to go far."
Diop could at some point assume the starting role at center, but he's not ready to do that now.
He said his knee is still giving him some problems as a spinoff from his Achilles' problem.
"I think I have a long way to go," Diop said. "I have to drop a few more pounds, but I'm going to keep working. It won't take me a long time. I lose weight pretty quick."
Silas said it would be difficult to imagine using Diaw too much right now, adding that "he's not in the best of shape."
"He's working at it and I think by the time the season starts he'll be in a lot better shape than he is now," Silas said. "Every day he's going all out."
Brown was one of the biggest bargains in the NBA last season.
Claimed as a reclamation project by Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, he cost less than $1 million under the salary cap yet contributed 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Bartelstein said Brown was "extremely grateful" for his time in Charlotte and the opportunity to resurrect his career under Silas, whom he respects tremendously. But Bartelstein acknowledged the offer from Golden State was "just too good to pass up."
Silas said he hates to see Brown go, but certainly understands the decision.
"You're talking about seven million bucks and that's a lot of money," Silas said. "You can't fault him for that. More power to him."
NOTE: Silas said the Biyombo's contract status remains status quo. He's suing his former Spanish team Fuenlabrada for breach of contract. "We're still working at it and hopefully it will happen in the next day or so," Silas said.