Rosterpalooza ’13 | Version 1.0

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No Lottery Luck for the Bobcats

Here’s what the Rich Cho era’s taught us thus far:

1. Full on tanking only works if you absolutely NAIL the Lottery.
The easy part is when Kevin Durant falls into your lap. The challenge is in the mid-Lottery and late rounds, where you find and groom a Russell Westbrook or Serge Ibaka. Charlotte hasn’t done that.

2. Full on tanking without NAILING the Lottery = Toxic Reputation = Lost Opportunities.
Think Brian Shaw would’ve been a better coach than Mike Dunlap? Think James Harden is a slightly better player than MKG? These two missed opportunities are the direct result of the team’s lowly reputation. Desirable free agents, scouts and executives aren’t going to risk their careers in a situation doomed for failure.

Dispelling the Myth

“But we have to be bad to get good!!!” Eh, not exactly. Bottoming out for a year can sometimes work in a Duncan or Lebron Once-In-A-Generation Lottery but good organizations can find and develop guys like Roy Hibbert, Nicholas Batum, Paul Milsap and Ty Lawson late in the first round. “But we want to build a championship team, not a mediocre one!” Newsflash: Only eight franchises have hoisted a Larry O’Brien since 1984, averaging out to a “new” champion every 3.75 years. At this rate, the Queen City can plan on throwing a parade sometime after June 2095. In the meantime, the Bobcats/future Hornets should strive for the more modest goal of being consistently competitive. With name-brand free agents and coaches refusing to lower themselves to the Bobcats current level, maybe we should be saying “You have to be relevant to have a chance at being good” instead.

Two Assumptions

Before I begin the shameless public rosterbating, let’s set the ground rules.

1. The 2013 NBA Draft is superstar-free. Like all drafts, there’s probably a couple of All-Stars tucked away but the mass consensus is that there is no instant franchise changer this year.

2. Big name free agents won’t sign with the Bobcats unless they SEVERELY OVERPAY them. The team will have up to $20m in cap space with little to no chance of signing anyone that matters. Again, if you’re a name free agent and the money was equal (or even slightly better) why on earth would you put yourself in a potentially miserable situation?

So the Bobcats will enter the offseason with $20 million that nobody (of substance) wants and a Top 4 pick in a Draft with no superstars. How in the heck are they supposed to improve?


Bobcats Baseline Presents: Rosterpalooza ’13 – Version 1.0

Part I: The Draft

With the worst record in the league, the Cats are guaranteed to pick in the Top 4. The good news is that there are a few potential All-Stars (Marcus Smart, Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel) and a few good starters (Otto Porter, Alex Len, Victor Oladipo), all guaranteed to be there when Charlotte picks. The bad news is that players like Porter and Noel basically duplicate what Charlotte already has in MKG/Biyombo so the organization better pray they score in the top two. For Rosterpalooza 1.0, we’re going to assume they pick 1 or 2.

The Case for Marcus Smart.

At one end of the Draft’s risk spectrum sits Noel, a seven footer with no real basketball skills coming off a major knee injury; at the other end a 6’4″, 225 pound, 19 year old point guard/artillery vehicle: Marcus Smart combines Russell Westbrook’s intensity and explosion with James Harden’s strength and handle, he has the potential to be an All-world combo guard in a league that caters to All-world combo guards. Like Westbrook coming out of UCLA, Smart’s shooting and court vision need work – which you can teach. What you CAN’T teach is Smart’s aggressiveness and size. He’ll figure the rest out. You can play him alongside Kemba Walker at the beginning and eventually transition Kemba to his perfect role of 3rd guard/6th man/Closer once Smart gets comfortable running the team. Boom. That’s a hell of a one-two punch.

The Case for Ben McLemore.

Imagine Ben Gordon if he were 6’5″, incredibly long and a plus defender. That’s Ben McLemore. He’s not going to put the ball on the floor and create but as a catch and shoot Ray Allen type, McLemore will open up driving lanes for Kemba and MKG, bust zones and double teams and roll off screens for set plays. AKA: all things Charlotte desperately needs.
VERDICT: McLemore’s elite skill (shooting) make him the slightly safer pick and yes, the Bobcats certainly could use some floor spacers but consider this: spot-up shooting is relatively cheap and fairly abundant – skip down to the free agent shooters list below to have a look – you don’t need to spend the 1st or 2nd overall pick in the draft on it. Most of all, Marcus Smart’s size and position could be franchise-defining. He could legitmately be the Westbrook of the Eastern Conference. You can’t pass up that opportunity. If he’s on the board, pick Marcus Smart.

RESULT: Charlotte drafts Marcus Smart, G Oklahoma State.


Part II: Trades

What’s the best way to fill up $20 million in cap space with quality players who wouldn’t sign with you otherwise??? Why, trading for them against their will, of course. But first, a little housekeeping…

$8,000,000.00 per season.

Amnesty Tyrus Thomas.

Like Thomas himself, this move is a no brainer – and also a litmus test. If the Cats don’t amnesty T-Time, we know that Michael Jordan isn’t serious about the team – which would work out just fine for us, we can all check out and follow the Heat, Celtics or Lakers like most NBA fans in Charlotte. That said, I fully expect Tyrus to be gone at the soonest possible moment. And to that I say, good riddance.

Trade Ben Gordon to Chicago for Carlos Boozer (and a little something extra).

A salary dump for the Bulls, shedding Boozer’s deal gives them big cap space next July to re-sign Luol Deng or another near max player. Even if Chicago refused to give Charlotte’s 1st round pick back outright, perhaps they’d be willing to tighten the restrictions to virtually guarantee the Bulls would never receive it in the Lottery. That may seem like small compensation for taking on Boozer’s final two years/$30 million but consider that:

A. The first year is only $2 million more than the Cats would have to pay Gordon anyway – a guy who has attempted to sabotage the lockerroom along with half the games he’s checked into AND…

B. Boozer’s skill set and position are exactly what Charlotte needs: rebounding and post scoring. Think of it this way, would you rather pay Al Jefferson $60 million over 4 years AND pay Gordon $13 million next season OR only pay Boozer $30 million over two? Not to mention that Boozer’s contract expires the very same July the Cats will need to re-sign Walker. Did I mention Boozer instantly becomes the best Power Forward in Bobcats history?

RESULT: Charlotte acquires PF Carlos Boozer via trade.

Trade Portland’s First Round Pick to OKC for Kendrick Perkins and Jeremy Lamb.

Perkins is a one-dimensional player overpaid by at least 40% and with the Thunder approaching the tax line, his final two years, $17.5 million will need to go. So why are the Bobcats giving up a first round pick to take him on?

One of the many photos of Kendrick Perkins squeezing a basketball really hard.

For one, Perk would help bring some real interior defense (as opposed to “defensive potential” defense) to a team that desperately needs to get better on that side of the ball. Again, his contract is perfectly timed with Bismack Biyombo’s extension so the team could make their decision after Biz learns a thing or two apprenticing under Kendrick (first lesson: “defense” is more than just trying to block every shot).

But the real prize here is Lamb. Charlotte gets a Ben McLemore without having to draft one. Long and rangy, Kemba’s former UCONN teammate, has vast defensive potential and can score off the dribble or in the mid-range game. Acquiring Lamb would allow Charlotte to let Gerald Henderson walk, replacing Hendo at around 1/6th the cost.
It’s a deal that nets the team two quality starters and all they have to give up is a mid-round pick and cap space nobody wants. Win-win.

RESULT: Charlotte acquires C Kendrick Perkins, SG Jeremy Lamb via trade.


Part III: Free Agency

Quick roster assessment after the moves:
Guards: Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jeremy Lamb
Wings: MKG, Jeffrey Taylor
Power Forwards: Carlos Boozer
Centers: Kendrick Perkins, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood

There’s an obvious need for depth at Power Forward and you’d love to have a long distance shooter at the SF spot, thus…

Sign a Shooter.

Free Agent Gunners Available this Summer: Kevin Martin, JR Smith, Rip Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, Nick Young, Carlos Delfino, Martell Webster and… RAY ALLEN HIMSELF! Who needs “the next Ray Allen” when you can get the original at a discount.

THIS IS ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU DON’T DRAFT BEN MCLEMORE!

Why not sign this guy?

All these guys can absolutely light it up from beyond the arc, all will be available in July and a few will come dirt cheap. Of the bargain gunners, I like Delfino. He’s 31 and probably has another season or two of quality game left. Carlos gives the team another ball handler who can play either wing positions and is an underrated defender who can absolutely stroke the 3-ball when he gets hot. He signed a one year $3 million deal with Houston last July, so another one year, $3.75 million overpay from Charlotte will probably get it done.

RESULT: Charlotte signs G/SF Carlos Delfino.

PF Depth.

Byron Mullens or Josh McRoberts? Do we even need to have this conversation? Josh McRoberts has been a perfect fit since his arrival. His abilities as a ball handler, floor spacer and playmaker have vaulted the former Dukie from the end of Orlando’s bench to Charlotte’s starting five. Two years, $7m should do the trick and you could even go three if the team was sold on him as their Nick Collison – Josh is amazingly only 26 years old.

RESULT: Charlotte re-signs PF/C Josh McRoberts.

Let’s Roster-Assess Once More:
Guards: Walker, Sessions, Smart, Lamb
Wings: MKG, Delfino, Taylor
PF: Boozer, McRoberts
C: Perkins, Biyombo, Haywood

That’s a quality 12 man roster that, depending on the young players’ development, could certainly challenge for a Playoff spot in the East and could be one of the Conference’s best teams for a decade. Check out the salary structure:

Nerd Numbers

In July of 2015, Charlotte could have up to $30 million in cap room. Some of the money will go towards re-signing Kemba but the team will have enough prospects and wins under their belt to lure the big name, max-players that they can’t today.

In the meantime, Charlotte goes into next season with:
+ An incredible young backcourt of potential All-Stars Walker and Smart, a veteran playmaker in Sessions and a major prospect in Lamb.

+ Gerald Wallace 2.0 (MKG) improving at the 3 spot with a change of pace ballhandler/shooter in Delfino to back him up.

+ A real deal post presence slash double-double guy in Boozer with McRoberts as a solid backup at Power Forward.

+ One of the league’s elite defensive centers (Perkins) mentoring a still young defensive prospect (Biyombo) with Haywood staying on as an emergency big.

+ Better protection on their 1st round pick owed to Chicago should Charlotte not make the Playoffs and a likely Lottery selection from Detroit still owed to them. They can use either of these picks on a young big to eventually replace Boozer/Perkins.


Part IV: The Final Step

Decide if Dunlap is the guy.

I don’t know the specifics of Mike Dunlap’s contract but it’s doubtful someone at his experience level has any guaranteed money in year two. Dunlap has done his best and is obviously someone who works hard and loves the game but this franchise must decide if he’s the leader this young squad needs or if the job is better left to a veteran coach like Jerry Sloan, Mike Brown, Nate McMillan or Stan Van Gundy: All of whom may find this much-improved Bobcats roster to be surprisingly enticing.

-ASChin
@bobcatsbaseline

Stay tuned for Rosterpalooza ’13 Version 2.0 aka “The Re-sign Gerald Henderson Edition”

9 thoughts on “Rosterpalooza ’13 | Version 1.0

    • Yea – I think Boozer comes at a high price for a game on the decline. But, he’s still much better than a lot of guys out there.

      I guess, the PF spot wouldn’t be such an issue if Tyrus Thomas’ contributions matched at least 60% of his pay check. Jeez.

  1. Brian

    So I like a lot of what’s going on here as ideas. The biggest thing I would offer is don’t lose sight of the big picture. We are in year 2 of a 4 year rebuild AND 2014 is going to be one of the best drafts in a really long time. If we somehow lose our lottery pick, it would be terrible. The top 4 picks have superstar capability and hopefully we get the 1st pick that should have been ours (Anthony Davis).

    Thus, I would offer a slightly different execution of the plan.
    1. Don’t amnesty Ty Thomas (I know… unspeakable right!?) But let me explain. In the new CBA, one of the most valuable bargaining chips is an 8 digit (or near 8 digit) expiring contract. Next year we have Ben Gordon thanks to the trade of Corey Maggette’s expiring that also brought us the Det 1st. The year after we have Ty Thomas’s expiring.
    2. Ben Gordon is worth more than additional protection on our 1st we owe Chicago. How about a BG for John Salmons/Chuck Hayes plus lightly protected future 1st platter? We gain a little depth, a pick, one extra year of BG equivalent money. Not too bad.
    3. Draft – Since there are no superstars, we might as well trade back and pick up assets as long as we can find someone that might actually like say Marcus Smart (I like Smart… just think he’s a bad fit on this team… and no way Kemba sticks around long term as a 6th man… he’s almost an All-Star now). So what team that just traded away a rich man’s Marcus Smart might decide it wants his younger brother praying he’s 90% Harden at 50% the cost!? Oh yeah… the Thunder! Hopefully the Raptors go into full tank mode to try to improve their odds at a top 3 pick (so they keep it) and miss ending up with let’s say the 8th pick. How about Charlotte’s first (top 2 Marcus Smart rights) to the Thunder for the 8th and 28th picks? Seems reasonable on all sides. At 8, someone good is going to be there. Not franchise changer, but we aren’t getting that anyways. Draft Gary Harris if he declares or Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, etc. Don’t overthink it. It’s a good player. And at 28 before he slides into the second round or gets snapped up late first, draft Adreian Payne who is a monster on the inside for MSU right now. Or Montrezl Harrell if for some crazy reason he declares.
    4. QO Henderson and Mullens but I’m not sure you sign either one to an extension. Sign and trade if possible. Second rounders are gold if you hit the jackpot in the new CBA.
    5. Resign McBob. Like that plan.
    6. No major FA moves. Hickson/Blatche/etc if cheap enough, but not too worried about it

    Goal: Have a point differential of -4.0 ppg (not historically bad but not good either), win 30-ish games and be competitive still finishing with a top 4 pick in 2014 if possible. Have a slew of draft picks in the much stronger 2014 draft. Flip Sessions at the deadline for either a young player or picks to a team in win now mode.

    New Lineup
    PG: Kemba, Sessions, Pargo
    SG: Henderson (if on QO), Harris, Taylor
    SF: MKG, Salmons
    PF: Mullens (if on QO), Payne, McBob
    C: Biyombo, Hayes, Haywood
    Future POR 1st
    Future DET 1st
    Future SAC/SEA 1st

    • chucktown mike

      Yeah I agree with Brian. You have to plan for the 2014 draft. This will be one of the strongest drafts ever. If I’m Charlotte I draft Noel. I sit him for the entire year coaching him and rehabbing that knee. You QO Hendo and Mullens, sign neither. Get Boozer for the draft pick back. That gives Charlotte a solid PF for the short term. you have a (guessing)top 4 pick (please god let Wiggins come to Charlotte) 2 top 15, 20th, 2nd Rd pick. You could do a lot with that on the table. Let’s say Charlotte gets Wiggins and an elite PF. Find a nice combo guard with your 2nd. rd pick and hopefully you hit on him.
      PG: Walker
      SG: Sessions/ 2nd rd. pick
      SF: Wiggins/ MKG
      PF: Boozer/ draft pick/ McRob
      C: Noel/ Biz

  2. @MisterCrisp

    What is the plan here?? Safe draft picks + third tier free agents= No talent. I still can’t believe they passed up on Drummond. Who are we building on? Our best player is a sixth man on a good team. Management is clueless, and I don’t see things changing for the forseeable future.

  3. chris in union county

    The Haywood experiment is over. Trade down and draft Plumlee and Payne. I do like Payne and will watch him close this week. Bring Antawn Jamison home to finish his career.I’m done with Tyrus, Mullens and Diop. Bring back Wallace!

    2013-14
    PG Kemba Sessions Pargo
    SG Hendo Taylor Reggie Will.
    SF MKG G. Wallace
    PF McRoberts Payne Jamison
    C Biz J O’neal Plumlee

  4. RLiz08

    i’m okay with absorbing Boozer’s contract, since he could be our main scorer down low.

    what i disagree is the OKC deal for jeremy lamb. just trade jeff adrien + POR pick for j-lamb and OKC’s 2nd rounder. i dont want perk’s contract..too bloated for what he gives on-court

  5. One more year of tanking

    Noel is the no-brainer if he’s there. He duplicates what Biyombo gives you but he’s got more upside and present-day skill. Plus, taking him assures us a high pick in the next draft where there are actual All-Stars to be had.

    You are absolutely right that tanking doesn’t help if you can’t draft. At this point, MKG, drafted 2nd, looks like at best the 5th or 6th player in the draft. A borderline All-Star maybe, but behind All-NBA talents in Drummond and Davis, and All-Stars in Lillard and Beal and perhaps even Barnes. A poor choice, particularly because defense-first wings who can’t shoot seem to be pretty easy to find, and that shooting is so much more important in the next decade with all the Thibodeau defenses packing the paint and forcing outside shots. Walker was a good pick and really the only indicator that this team knows how to draft. You could make a case for Klay THompson there but we already had Henderson.

    Sessions and Haywood should be traded this summer. They are expiring and they offer good value for playoff teams that actually have a need for role players like backup defensive big men and 2nd point guards. Maybe you get back a prospect (like Lamb?) or a late 1st rounder in 2014.

    I hope the team doesn’t try to keep Henderson just because they don’t want to lose another 1st rounder for nothing. Henderson is a league average SG with no range and they desperately need a shooter between Walker and MKG. If Noel isn’t there, take McLemore or Smart and let Henderson go. Resign McRob and Mullens for 5M or less or let them walk. Take a run at Hickson but don’t go overboard, maybe 6-8M. Main thing is to suck again next year. And yeah, the Cats don’t really need to worry about top free agents, there’s just no reason for them to go to such a shitty city.

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