Bank of America Stadium was the focus of the Queen City sports fan on Tuesday night and for the first time in a while it wasn't about the struggles of the Panther franchise that has some concerns about its future. Instead, the focus was on the MLS expansion franchise that held its expansion draft as they selected five players for the new franchise. Forward Orrin McKinze Gaines II (Austin FC), defender Anton Walkes (Atlanta United) and Joseph Mora (D.C. United) were the players selected by the franchise that they held on to at the conclusion of the night and will be a part of the inaugural season of MLS soccer in Charlotte. The team also selected defender Tristan Blackmon (Los Angeles Football Club) and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City FC), both of whom were traded to other teams in exchange for valuable General Allocation Money (GAM) that can be used in free agency.
James Bouknight might be the most polarizing player on this 2021-22 roster in terms of his role with the team. In the midst of playing in just seven of the team's first 24 games of the season, fans were calling for him to be given an opportunity and now that that has happened, fans want more and rightfully so. Bouknight has played in each of the last five games during this period of COVID issues for the Hornets and has played well. He is averaging 10.0 points per game and shooting 50.0% from behind the arc while averaging 17.7 minutes per game during that stretch, leaving to wonder if he deserves a role in the rotation for this team even when they return back to full strength.
Sunday really felt like a last ditch effort for the Panthers to save a season that was going off the rails after a 3-0 start and that last ditch effort fell short against the Atlanta Falcons thanks to three turnovers and another lackluster overall performance in their eighth loss in the last ten games. This is the fifth straight loss that the team has suffered at home after two straight wins to begin the season, wins that look even less impressive now than they did at the time.
For the first time in their life, the Martin twins were separated this offseason, with Caleb heading to Miami, while Cody stayed here in Charlotte. "That's my best friend," Cody told the Mac Attack when he joined Mac and Bone on Friday morning. "We been together forever and whether it was playing sports or whatever the case is, we've done everything together. It's an adjustment; it's still an adjustment." Both guys have seemed to make the most of the separation, as both are having career years so far this season. Caleb is averaging a career-high in points per game (7.6), field goal percentage (48.9%), effective field goal percentage (56.3%) and rebounds per game (3.2) while playing the most extensive minutes of his career so far this season in Miami. Cody, meanwhile has become an extremely important piece for the Hornets this season, posting his career-highs in points per game (8.6), field goal percentage (48.8%), 3-point field goal percentage (50.0%), effective field goal percentage (57.1%), free throw percentage (57.1%), assists (2.4) and steals (1.4). Not too bad for guys what are still supposedly adjusting.
With the news that Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliot is likely headed for Charlottesville to coach the Virginia Cavaliers and athletic director Dan Radakovich heading to Miami to take over the Hurricanes athletic program, there is a bit of adversity around the Clemson football program. While Elliot former co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott may have departed for South Florida a couple of seasons ago, this is the first major shake-up that the Tigers have seen to their coaching since becoming a national title contender year in and year out under Swinney. Swinney must now find replacements for both Elliot and defensive coordinator Brent Venables all while attempting to keep a recruiting class together that is already starting to lose some commits.
"Head coach next." Those were the words that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said he was told by a league when asked about Joe Brady's firing earlier this week on Pro Football Talk. Florio, as he does every week, stopped by the Mac Attack to clarify what exactly he was a hearing in reference to the situation in Carolina, a franchise that he referred to as a "dysfunctional" one. Florio is of the belief that this was a move made out of desperation by Matt Rhule with the pressure that he may feel from a less than patient David Tepper. "From the timing of the announcement to the fact that it happened a week into a two week bye and the way that it was discussed and explained, there 's just something about it that doesn't seem right. I feel like there is a heck of a lot more to it. Part of that more to it could be that the head coach realizes there is a good chance he'll be next."
The Hornets back-to-back the past two days against the Hawks in Atlanta and Philadelphia at home was a tough enough task as it is, but the Hornets' COVID issues made it an even tougher stretch than it had to be. After four key players missed the game on Sunday night in Atlanta, Ish Smith, the team's backup point who had to start the other night due to the scenario that the team is dealing with, was also placed in the NBA's COVID protocol yesterday afternoon, leaving the Hornets even more short handed than they were the night before. That means the pressure was on some of the remaining players to step up and Kelly Oubre Jr. has answered that bell. Oubre had another huge night on Monday, dropping 35 points on 13-24 shooting from the field overall and 6-13 shooting from behind the arc, continuing what has been an extremely successful seven-game stretch for him. In those seven games, Oubre has averaged 25.3 points per game, a team-high during that stretch and it has begun to generate the question as to whether or not he should be considered for a starting role.
The Hornets came into this weekend looking to get back on track after three straight losses that included one to the lowly Rockets. The team was able to do just that last night with a 130-127 win in Atlanta despite the team being short-handed without three starters, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee, and one role player in Jalen McDaniels who were all placed in COVID protocols on Saturday afternoon as first reported by Stadium's Shams Charnia.
To say that this Panthers season has been a roller coaster is an understatement. The team raced out to a 3-0 start to begin the season, getting the talks of the playoffs stirred up early on before the team would be brought back to Earth and left searching for answers with a six-game stretch where they lost five games, including four straight after the 3-0 start. The franchise was reinvigorated when they resigned franchise legend Cam Newton prior to the Arizona game and followed that with a big win on the road against the Cardinals, making some reconsider whether the Panthers could make a playoff push. However, those thoughts have seemed to be dashed in a lot of people's minds after two straight losses, including a blowout loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.
The Hornets 2021-22 season has been a season of winning and losing streaks and the Hornets are currently marred in one of those losing streaks at the moment. Despite 36 points from LaMelo Ball on Wednesday night, the Hornets dropped their third straight game in a thriller 127-125 to the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.