This Rasheed Wallace to Charlotte rumor (or is it still just a wish at this point?) makes a lot of sense for the Bobcats. Let’s break it down further:
It’s fairly well-established that he’s on the trading block. The Pistons have made it pretty clear that they’re looking to shake things up in general. Rasheed is still a borderline All-Star with tons of value, but is aging and unlikely to play nice with whatever newbie the Pistons bring in to coach the team.
For any team that trades for Wallace, the fact that he’ll be on the last year of his contract makes him very attractive. Granted, it’s 13 million bucks, but if it doesn’t work out, just let him go after the year and you’ve got cap space to work with. If it does, then you can offer an extension during the year and seal him up for the rest of his career.
For the Bobcats, he fits their most crucial need almost perfectly — an offensive-minded, but ultimately well-rounded mobile power forward to pair with Emeka Okafor in the frontcourt.
Rasheed’s talent has never been in question — it’s always been the intangibles. Is he motivated, responsible, able to control himself on the court, etc.? In this respect, Rasheed enjoyed his best years under Larry Brown. It’s clear that Brown and Wallace have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, so the questions about Sheed’s behavior would be mediated as much as humanly possible by reuniting with Brown.
Granted, he is 34 and is well “on the other side” of his career at this point, but his game has never been predicated on tremendous athleticism anyways. He has been quite sturdy over the years, rarely missing more than a handful of games per season. It’s conceivable that he can still play at a high level for 2-3 more years.
An additional point that’s gone unexplored thus far is that Rasheed would go a long way towards establishing an identity for the Bobcats. As an out-of-town fan, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with other casual basketball fans about the Bobcats, only to hear them say “Yeah… the Bobcats… now who do they have?” with that quizzical, hope-I’m-not-offending-you look on their face. That wouldn’t happen any more.
The Bobcats would take on a very Pistons-like look with Rasheed. I’ve always thought that Raymond Felton could (and should) become a very Chauncey Billups-like player. Okafor could fill the Ben Wallace role, though he’s certainly not quite as offensively limited.
So can we make this happen?
As fellow Baseliner aschin has already pointed out, there’s one big obstacle in all this: getting a trade with Joe Dumars done. Dumars is one of the best GMs in the business, and will not make a bad trade. The Bobcats will have to give up some major assets in a deal. I’m OK with that. But I’m really concerned about whether or not the Bobcats could even come up with a package attractive enough to get this done.
Let’s take a look at what the Bobcats could offer:
First, I’m not sure that any Bobcats are really ‘untouchable’ at this point. That said, I have to believe that Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson and Emeka Okafor are firmly in the Bobcats future plans. I’m considering them off the table.
2008 #9 Pick: This year’s draft pick would certainly be a part of this deal. While there are some intriguing players that will be available in the mid-lottery this year, it’s pretty clear Larry Brown and the Bobcats would jump at the chance to turn the pick into a veteran.
Adam Morrison: After a difficult rookie season that begged questions about his potential to be a starter in the league (much less justify his #3 draft selection) and missing all of last year with a serious knee injury, Morrison’s trade value could not possibly be any lower at this point. If Dumars were to actually want him, I’d include him in the trade in a heartbeat, but can’t imagine that’s the case.
Sean May: Ditto here. Even if he can come back from microfracture surgery, there’s still a major question of how big of a role he can fill on a good NBA team. The Bobcats are probably better off keeping both May and Morrison in hopes that they can reestablish some value and live up to their potential, rather than include them as fodder in a trade.
Nazr Mohammed: Can’t imagine Dumars would want him back so soon after deeming him superfluous and ridding the Piston’s of his somewhat unwieldy contract. No go.
Matt Carroll: Now were talking. Carroll has a reasonable contract and is just entering his prime as an NBA player. He clearly would have value for any team looking for a shooter to firm up their bench. Carroll is a currently a Base-year Compensation player in the eyes of the NBA’s byzantine trade restrictions, which essentially makes him tricky to trade. However, I believe that this status expires a few days after the draft — so Carroll is certainly a possibility.
Jared Dudley: Dudley likely has a lot of trade value around the league. He had a strong rookie season, proving that he will at least be a valuable rotation player in the league, and possibly even a productive starter. Combine this with the cheap rookie deal that he’s locked into for the next few years and you’ve got a very cost-effective player.
Gerald Wallace: Sorry, fellow Baseliners. Wallace is probably one of the only guys on our roster that is both coveted by other teams and somewhat expendable to us. Wallace is one of the original Bobcats and really exemplifies the hard-working, scrappy nature of the team. He’s incredibly productive and should be entering the prime years of his career. Trading Gerald would be a bitter pill to swallow for Bobcats fans to swallow.
However, his concussions and overall difficulty in staying healthy give reason to pause. Furthermore, he seemed to grouse and regress under Sam Vincent last year (I know, who didn’t…) and I have some serious concerns about how he’ll respond to Larry Brown’s coaching. Furthermore, his salary is high enough that it would make up a big part of a trade package, thus limiting the loss of other players.
Would a combination of the #9 pick, Carroll, Dudley and Mohammed (for salary purposes) be enough to pull the trade off? Only if other teams around the league are very skittish about Sheed’s age and attitude. We can dream, but I doubt it.
I really think that the Bobcats will have to include Gerald Wallace if they’re serious about making this thing a reality. Crash and the #9 pick for Rasheed? It would be a bold move, but I think it would be for the best.