Lebron-Miami Era Day 1:
Today, all the sports media will be saturated with coverage, analysis and rambling about the aftermath of Lebron James’ relocation plans. As it turns out, James is just following a story that folks in Charlotte have heard repeatedly for the past ten years. Another Ohio town is losing one of it’s best and brightest to opportunity and prosperity down South. It looks like this guy just had an offer for a better job in a city with a better climate. Most of Charlotte is populated by good people fitting that description.
So, with that reasoning, I kind of feel a “different strokes for different folks” type of response to the situation. I’m sure someone can say he “screwed” Cleveland or maybe a Limbaugh-type will claim that he is being Un-American by cooperating with other super powers of the basketball world, rather than going it solo (which won zero rings). Though as a Bobcats fan, I didn’t have a strong opinion either way about where Lebron would land. It was the resulting Free Agency Fallout that should be most interesting to the Charlotte fans.
Obviously, the SouthEastern Division will be much tougher with the Heat looking to be the favorite despite having only 4 players at this time. The Magic don’t seem to be slipping, the Hawks are still solid, and the Wizards should be stepping up from the basement next year. Charlotte will hope to improve on last year’s great run, but fans have to question just how it could happen.
It sounds as though the front office crew hasn’t taken too much time off this summer. Yesterday’s rumors of the Bobcats’ pursuit of Michael Beasley, and their efforts to evaluate cheap veterans for depth show that they are actively trying to tweak their roster. The Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler wrote a short piece about Michael Jordan and the Lebron announcement. I was happy to read the story for one big reason – Fowler reports that Jordan was at his office late into the evening (even watching a Summer League game).
The Bobcats have an owner who is immersed in the sport. We know the Jordan legacy, we know that he needs wins, and we know that he won’t except failures. So, it’s about time we expect something to happen with the Bobcats this off-season.
New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Cleveland now have a load of roster spots to fill if they want to be competitive next season. Luckily, those teams have a load of available salary cap money to spread around, as well. Those two factors will affect the Charlotte Bobcats in differing ways. The team could be in position to unload some big contracts to a team with roster needs or lose free agents to the clubs with money.
Here’s a quick summary of the situation (Lebron Miami Era : Day 1)
New York Knicks
Ouch. Wish things hadn’t been so ugly for them. Welcome to your new team Amare.
• Point Guard (Previous starter Chris Duhon has signed w/ Orlando)
• Center (Amare will play Center a lot with D’Antoni, but they’ll need depth)
• Shooting Guard (T-Mac’s contract has finally expired)
Thoughts : NY has been rumored to have interest in signing Raymond Felton. Could Charlotte trade Nazr Mohammed or Tyson Chandler to the Knicks to get cap space or future draft picks?
New Jersey Nets
It seemed like a Russian billionaire and Jay-Z had a great plan underway until Lebron decided to go elsewhere. The new Brooklyn arena will be great, and they’ve got some developing talent and a new coach.
• Power Forward (rookie Derrick Favors will need some time)
• Shooting Guard (Courtney Lee still has great potential)
Thoughts : Rumor has it that Tyrus Thomas will be offered a big contract by the Nets. It’s speculated that the contract offer will be “front-loaded” with more money in the first year than Charlotte can match. This would really hurt the Bobcats, who gave up a first round draft pick for a player that may have only worn the jersey for a couple of months. Then again, that sounds like Sean “Crab Bread” May and we all think higher of Tyrus than Sean.
The additions of Carlos Boozer and their new coach won’t make them a true force in the Eastern Conference. They could use another scorer and depth, and that’s what money can buy you in Free Agency.
• Shooting Guard (Flip Murray is a good scorer, but not a real starter)
• Center – Backup (Noah will start, then old Brad Miller will jog into the game)
Thoughts: This is a team that Charlotte should be calling on a daily basis to move Nazr Mohammed. The Cats probably couldn’t get a contributing player back, but they could get some cap relief with the rights to future draft picks or Vladimir Veremeenko (from Wizards swap).
Cleveland Cavaliers / Toronto Raptors
These two teams face a tough road ahead of them. When you build a roster around a single centerpiece, this is the risk you face when that centerpiece decides to have a Quarter-Life Crisis and head to South Beach. Now, the Cavaliers and Raptors will work to use their money wisely in the effort to build rosters guaranteed to fall in the shadow of their recent success, and will operate on a level so as not to embarrass the fans too much. These clubs have to be in full “Rebuilding Mode” as it’s often called. They can either tank the season for a future star via the Draft or create 5 year plan to become challengers in the East. In the meantime, the Raptors are Hedo’s team and the Cavs will be led by Mo Williams and JJ Hickson. It might be necessary, to find a cost-effective patch to avoid too much of a disaster.
• Young Talent
• Reset Button
Thoughts: The Bobcats could find a taker for Chandler, Mohammed, or Diaw with one of these trade partners. If the right deal came along, we might even see these teams find a deal for Charlotte’s younger guys (Henderson, Augustin, Brown).