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Rufus Links: Gary Neal benched, NBA age limit discussion and Lil B

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

  • Gary Neal was benched last night for a likely behavioral mishap, as Rick Bonnell notes. Neither Neal nor Clifford commented on the incident except to say that they talked it out and that it would not go any further. As Clifford continues to wind the rotation tighter to prepare for the playoffs, Neal and the Bobcats cannot afford anymore flaps like this. Divisive internal behavior can only do harm to split up the locker room chemistry and the team needs to be a cohesive unit from top to bottom with the playoffs ahead.
  • Speaking of playoffs, let's take a look at the current playoff matchups, which assume that everything rides as is for the rest of the season. The Bobcats are currently slated to face the Heat in a battle between the 2 and 7 seed. This is by far my most-feared matchup. The Heat have a terrific balance in offensive and defensive efficiency and have the postseason experience to grind up a young team like the Bobcats. Plus they've already shown dominance over the Bobcats in the regular season series 4-0. Miami's speed, pure offensive talent, experience and depth terrify me in contrast to the Bobcats' limitations.
  • In Chad Ford's newest mock draft for ESPN, he has the Bobcats taking Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris at No. 11 overall with Detroit's pick. Ford says Harris provides a long-term upgrade over Henderson: "He too has struggled a bit with his jumper this season, but he's a rare two-way player and can give the Bobcats both scoring and defensive toughness."

    Later at No. 24 with Portland's pick, Ford has the Bobcats drafting a small forward in Sam Dekker out of Wisconsin. Dekker would be the third small forward Charlotte's drafted in the past three years. He's got a good jump shot but has only hit 33 percent of his threes this season. Ford likes his shooting and all-around versatility with good athletics and ballhandling.
  • CBS Eye on Basketball has graded each team for the third quarter of the season and the Bobcats get a B+. This is pretty spot-on. Charlotte has been playing solid ball recently but it's not been a spotless record. They haven't been blown out since January and have maintained a competitive spirit in every game until they occasionally falter in the fourth quarter against the top teams, as they did against San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Miami. But other than that, they've been playing their best basketball of the season.
  • One-time Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap has been named as the new head coach for Loyola Marymount.
  • In this trio of columns about prospective NBA age limit rules, we get a good many perspectives on either side of the issue, each of which is interesting to consider:

    In the pro-limit corner we have Amin Elhassan, who is not arguing on the side of fairness but on the side of sound business practice in which an age limit affords the NBA better player marketing out of college, better background intel, and more. He also speaks with some NBA executives to lay out the possible age-limit plan changes.

    In the anti-limit corner we have Tom Haberstroh, who points out that more time in college does not prove to be better for predicting NBA success. In fact, in his study measuring success of players from each level of pre-NBA experience, preps-to-pros players had the greatest level of success. His simple conclusion is that more experienced college players just can't match up to their younger counterparts.

    And finally we have a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly from Chad Ford who talks to a number of NBA coaches, GMs and executives. Some maintain that college develops players physically and emotionally and provides front offices with more time and data to scout players with. Others think extra years in college would prove merely superfluous for supremely talented players like Kevin Durant, only existing to hold them back from developing further at the next level.
  • To cap things off, here's an interview with Lil B about his beef with Kevin Durant