Panthers Eye Quarterbacks, And Hornets Fans Wonder When LaMelo Ball Will Start
The Carolina Panthers lost out on one potential quarterback they’ve shown interest in and are in heavy competition for another. We also take a look at college basketball teams around the state. And Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball, a fan favorite, may get to start.
Langston Wertz Jr., a longtime sportswriter with the Charlotte Observer, joins us to talk about all that and more.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Langston.
Langston Wertz Jr.: Hey, Gwen. How are you doing?
Glenn: So, we know that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of the quarterbacks Panthers officials were looking at to possibly replace Teddy Bridgewater, but this weekend, we heard this on numerous sports shows:
"Breaking news, here on CBS Sports: a monster trade in the NFL, an absolute blockbuster. Detroit sending Matthew Stafford to the Rams in exchange … and Jared Goff … Stafford heading to L.A."
Glenn: Langston, with that kind of deal, did the Panthers have a chance of getting Stafford?
Wertz: Well, the Panthers offering the No. 8 draft pick and maybe some picks below that. That's nowhere near what Detroit got for Matthew Stafford. It seems like a bit much for a 33-year-old quarterback. But, you know, the Rams want to give you two first-round draft picks and the third and their starting quarterback. Hey, I'll take it, too.
Glenn: Now the reportedly six other teams that were after Stafford are also said to be aggressively going after Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson, a Clemson University grad, who the Panthers would love to get. Any chance Houston will let him go? And do you think the Panthers could put together a competitive bid for him?
Wertz: You know, Houston's kind of playing coy right now. They're saying they don't want to trade him. He did ask for a trade last week. I think they will trade him. Could the Panthers put together a competitive bid? I think so. I mean, it's going to take multiple first-round draft picks. It may be a player or two. But I think the Panthers need to take a look at it, because you're talking about a guy in DeShaun Watson who could very well be the second-best quarterback in the league for the next 10 years behind the guy in Kansas City. It will require some picks down the road — probably the eight this year, another first-round next year, maybe a third the following year. And some players. I'd send Teddy (Bridgewater) to Houston. I would not be real quick to let go of (Christian) McCaffrey, but I could see Houston maybe asking for him as well.
Glenn: OK. Let's talk about the Charlotte Hornets' win over the Indiana Pacers this weekend, 108-105. They also beat the Milwaukee Bucks 126-114, and the star of that game was rookie guard LaMelo Ball.
Wertz: LaMelo is special. I mean, he's what the Hornets have needed for a long time. In Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball, the Charlotte Hornets have two All-Star-caliber players. And it seems to be Gordon Hayward's team right now, but it's definitely going to be LaMelo's team in the future.
Glenn: Ball came in when guard Terry Rozier sprained his ankle. Rozier is the team’s second-highest scorer. Do you know how long he will be out? And will LaMelo, who had 8 of 10 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3-point range and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line, get a start as many fans seem to want?
Wertz: Yeah, I'm not sure how long Rozier is going to be out. Ankles are funny. Sometimes they could be longer than you expect. Sometimes they can be shorter than you expect. But I think it's time for LaMelo to start. You drafted him third in the lottery for a reason. You know you want to live and die with a guy, you just have to let him learn on the job.
Glenn: Well, let's go to college basketball.
Glenn: N.C. State lost yesterday 73-76 to Syracuse. It was their first game without the Wolfpack’s leading scorer, Devon Daniels, to an ACL injury. What is their future looking like now? And how long will Daniels be out in addition to their second-leading scorer, D.J. Funderburk?
Wertz: Well, Daniels is done for the season. It's really unfortunate. State is kind of going through a really tough stretch right now. They've lost five out of six games and they have Virginia coming up, which is the best team in the league, and they have Duke down the road. So, they have a tough stretch coming.
Glenn: UNC Chapel Hill had a slow start this year. They are No. 4 in the ACC and Duke is No. 6. What’s your take on how they are playing this season?
Wertz: It's weird for Carolina and Duke to not be ranked, Gwen, in the national polls. Carolina is trying to do their part. They won three in a row. Duke's won two in a row. It seems like those two are righting the ship just as they get ready to have their big annual rivalry game. And I think both teams make the tournament
Glenn: The North Carolina A&T State University Aggies are in first place in the (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) this season. What’s clicking for them? And how far do you think they will go?
Wertz: Well, it's funny. They were out two weeks because of COVID-19. They came back from 24 points down to beat Florida A&M. They've won five in a row now, they're 7-9. They're probably going to win the MEAC, so they're probably going to go to the NCAA tournament. Cameron Langley, the point guard, is having a great year. Blake Harris is having a great year, and it's nice to see A&T do well.
Glenn: Moving to high school athletics, Langston, Charlotte school officials did a reversal on sports that seems to conflict with county health officials recommendations. Tell us about it.
Wertz: (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) had originally decided to postpone high school sports until Feb. 15. Last week, after a lot of pressure from swimming people who... Because the swimmers, their season would have been over before the pause ended, and after a lot of swimmers had complained to CMS, and CMS decided to allow the swimmers to come back on Feb. 5. And they'll allow everybody else to come back on Feb. 8. Gibbie Harris, director of public health for Mecklenburg County, found out about it and said that was not what she wanted to see. And CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said he will not hesitate to postpone if the numbers get out of hand.
Langston Wertz Jr. is a longtime sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer.