Henderson wants to finish business in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Gerald Henderson decided to re-sign with the Bobcats because he had unfinished business to resolve in Charlotte.
The 25-year-old Henderson has been through some incredibly trying times in four seasons — the Bobcats are 106-206 during that span, including an NBA record-worst 7-59 in 2011-12.
But he said Monday at a press conference the challenge of turning things around is huge motivation for him.
“You go through anything tough and it’s easy to give up and say you want to move on or whatnot,” said Henderson, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal last week with the Bobcats. “As bad as it got, and I was part of the problem, it was kind of one of those things where you look at as it can only get better. With the pieces we’ve added we can find our way out of it.”
Henderson, who averaged a career-high 15.5 points per game last season, is particularly excited about the addition of big men Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, who he said will not only help the team, but should also free up open looks for him and the team’s other guards.
“I think with more attention on guys down low it frees up the perimeter a bunch,” Henderson said. “Any team with a good big man, you will see the guards get more freedom and have more open shots. With Al, teams are going to have to double team him so you have more chances for open shots.”
Henderson is eager to cash in.
He improved his 3-point shooting from 23.4 percent in 2011-12 to 33 percent last year, giving the Bobcats hope that he can develop into a legitimate shooting guard.
This season Henderson wants to take that a step further and his goal is to shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“That is kind of where the game is going,” Henderson said. “The 3-point line is where a lot of teams try to take advantage of it. That is something in my game where I want to take advantage of.”
Henderson has always been a player whose strength is getting to the basket and drawing fouls, something which former coach Mike Dunlap encouraged.
But he said new Bobcats coach Steve Clifford has placed an added emphasis on 3-point shooting.
“I know that is the direction our team is going,” Henderson said. ’It’s always been my nature to get closer to the basket; I’ve always played like that. But as the game evolves, my game has to evolve too. And I’m working hard to improve that.”
Henderson, the 12th overall pick in 2009, said he’s looking forward to working with Bobcats new assistant coach Mark Price, whom he referred to as a “shooting expert.”
Bobcats president of basketball operations Bob Higgins said the team’s intention was always to re-sign Henderson, even though negotiations dragged at times as the two sides struggled to work out a deal both sides could live with.
Higgins said that while Henderson’s improved play over the final 21 games — he averaged 23.9 points on 47.5 percent shooting — certainly turned some heads and was encouraging to see, it wasn’t the determining factor in getting him back in a Bobcats uniform.
“We always wanted him back,” Higgins said.
Now Henderson is eager to be part of the solution in Charlotte, a team that is just 28-120 over the past two seasons — by far the worst combined record in the NBA.
Henderson guarantees the Bobcats would be better this season, but wasn’t ready to make a prediction on how many games they’ll win.
Charlotte was 21-61 last season, the second-worst record in the league behind only the Orlando Magic.
“That’s a tough question,” Henderson said. “It’s hard to put numbers on a situation like this. I know this year will be better. We’ll be much improved. But to put a number on it and put added pressure on yourself isn’t really fair.”