Six Trade Deadline Deals for the Charlotte Bobcats

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Let’s hope Rich Cho and Rod Higgins have an unlimited minutes plan. With up to $19 million in expiring contracts, multiple 1st Round draft picks and a roster devoid of Playoff talent, it’s a near certainty the front office duo are working the phones to acquire talent before the February 21st deadline. Let’s have a look at some of the options available as we approach the frenzy:

Expirings about to Expire

In particular, you can all but guarantee Charlotte will attempt to move the expiring contracts of upcoming free agents Gana Diop ($7.3m), Hakim Warrick (team option, $4m) and Reggie Williams ($2.6m). The Queen City’s never been a major free agent destination so acquiring a quality player already under contract with this space is imperative. While fishing out a highly paid psuedo-star like Rudy Gay is an option, the team could also use the expiring contracts in the form of a salary dump to bring in a prospect or pick, for example:

TRADE PROPOSAL #1 CLT trades Gana Diop, Hakim Warrick to SAC for John Salmons, Thomas Robinson.

Nothing says “fresh start” like the dumping of a truly terrible contract. As much fun as it would be for a guy named “Salmons” to play in Seattle, he’s extremely overpaid for his production. With John off the books, the soon-to-be-Sonics could both re-sign Tyreke Evans and dip their toes into a decent Free Agency pool. The price for taking on Salmons’ additional two years would be Robinson, who has the potential to be a league-leading rebounder and a decent post player.

TRADE PROPOSAL #2 CLT trades Diop, Reggie Williams to DAL for Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder, 2nd Round Pick.

Mark Cuban is going all in this summer and the only thing standing in his way is the final year of Marion’s contract. By dumping it, Cuban will have nearly $25 million to blow in free agency BEFORE utilizing all the Mavs’ cap exceptions. Meanwhile, Charlotte rents a fading yet useful combo forward for 18 months. If Shawn pouts, the Cats can buy him out midway next season but if not, they’ll have a highly useful rebounder/jump shooter in their rotation. The real bounty in the trade is Crowder, a high-energy, rebounding machine on a pint-sized contract for two more seasons. Dallas’ 2nd Rounder would replace the one Charlotte traded to OKC for Byron Mullens.

Big Names, Big Deals, Big Risks

If Cho and Higgins were to roll the dice to bring in a youngish, All-Star-ish, type of player there are a few options out on the trading block:

TRADE PROPOSAL #3 CLT trades Tyrus Thomas, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Diop to MEM for Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur.

As controversial as it sounds, this deal could ultimately help both teams. Memphis dumps Gay’s massive contract and adds another wing stopper in Kidd-Gilchrist, freeing the team to pair Mike Conley with another scorer instead of re-signing free agent-to-be Tony Allen. The price, of course, is taking on the last two years of Thomas’ laughable deal. Though overpaid, Gay gives Charlotte exactly what they need as a dynamic offensive SF while Arthur provides a steady two-way presence at the other forward spot. Also, trading Tyrus alleviates the need for using the amnesty clause on him – a move that could save Michael Jordan up to $18 million over the next two years. Before you scoff at the idea of a penny-pinching owner, keep in mind that the cash could be spent on the next coach hire (Stan Van Gundy, anyone?), the Hornets rebrand, front office help and a quality bench player or two. Next season’s Kemba/McLemore/Gay/Arthur/Biyombo lineup and deep bench could certainly compete for a Playoff spot.

TRADE PROPOSAL #4 CLT trades Diop, Williams, 1st Rnd Pick (via PDX) to TOR for Andrea Bargnani.

A straight salary dump for the Raps with a mid-round pick thrown in for their troubles, Toronto officially moves on from the disappointing Bargnani era, allowing the assurgant Ed Davis to claim the starting spot for good. Charlotte gets a sweet-shooting big man who actually makes good on his stroke – Bargnani takes Byron Mullens’ re-signing out of the equation come July and provides the Cats with a niche outside-in complement to Biyombo and MKG in the frontcourt. Also, did I mention that Bargnani makes Mullens redundant?

TRADE PROPOSAL #5 CLT trades Gerald Henderson, Williams, 1st Rnd Pick (DET) to SAC for Tyreke Evans.

If the soon-to-be-Sonics are convinced that they can’t or don’t want to sign Evans to a $10 million plus per year deal in July, they can make a trade like this one. Henderson gives them a less expensive backup plan for a starting two guard and the pick from Detroit adds to the new management’s stash of assets. The Cats roll the dice here by adding Evans and his upcoming near-max deal but the payoff could be huge. Evans is only 23, taller and bigger than Henderson and a very good ball handler AKA a near perfect long-term complement to Kemba Walker. Tyreke is a consistent jumpshot away from an All-Star game. This is exactly the sort of player the Cats should be targeting.

TRADE PROPOSAL #6 CLT trades Diop, Warrick, Williams, Two 1st Rnd Picks (via DET/PDX) to ATL for Josh Smith.

By far the most prepostorous of the scenarios, Charlotte would “win” the right to pay Smith $18 million or so per year over the next four seasons. Atlanta seems less than thrilled with that very idea so have been shopping Smith over the past few months. While the concept of trading Smith within their own division (much less the same Conference) might seem abhorant, acquiring two mid-round draft choices and $14 million in cap space may alleviate the sting. Smith would immediately become the Cats’ most dynamic scorer and a fine match with MKG – but factoring in Smith’s contract demands, maturity issues and Atlanta’s division-rival status, it’s a definite longshot.
-ASChin

Bobcats Baseline Season 9 | Week 4 Recap

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Well, the word for the week is regression, as in regression to the mean.  The Bobcats started the week at a remarkable 7-5, having equalled last seasons’ win total in just 22 days.  But the impressive start was on a shaky foundation for a couple of important reasons.  One, the Cats had consistently been the beneficiaries on good fortune (OK, luck) in close games.  And two, the Bobcats had played the weakest schedule in the league.  Both luck in close games and strength of schedule tend to even out as the games pile up; hence the Cats were due to see their record come back down to earth.

So regress they did, dropping all three games this week against three likely playoff teams to fall to 7-8.  After getting blown out in Oklahoma City on Monday night, the Cats rebounded with better efforts in Atlanta and at home against the 76ers.  They hung around in the fourth quarter in both games, but didn’t get any of the breaks that had been going their way in the first few weeks of the season.

Three Thoughts on the Week

#1 – Finally Got To See Ben Gordon Do Ben Gordon Stuff

Gordon has had a choppy start to the season.  After a 34-point outburst against New Orleans early on, he missed a couple of games.  Then, since coming back he had a couple really quiet games.  But the past two have been pretty great.  Against Atlanta Wednesday night Gordon caught fire with 20 points on 5-7 3pt in the fourth quarter and almost singlehandedly kept the Bobcats within striking distance.  He had a similar, though less impressive, stint in the second quarter Friday night against the 76ers, with 11 points on 3-3 3pt.

Gordon’s on the downside of his career, so spurts like this will happen less frequently than we would like on this otherwise offensively limited Bobcats squad, but when he does catch fire it’s fun to watch.

#2 – Again, We Are Loving Jeff Taylor

Sorry for the repetition, as ASChin covered this in last week’s recap, but holy moly Jeff Taylor is looking like a steal.  His on-ball defense is as advertised, featuring an impressive combination of size, strength and quickness.  He’s fouling quite a bit, but I would expect that to improve over time as he goes around the league a few times, learning the tendencies of his opponents and the officials.

And his offense has been a nice bonus.  We knew he had a stellar senior year shooting the three at Vanderbilt, but there was concern that it may have been a little flukey, and whether it would translate out to the NBA line.  No worries, as Taylor’s hitting threes at a 40% clip, good for top 50 in the league overall and the second best among rookies (behind Kyle Singler).

Having someone on a second-round contract that can be a legitimate part of your rotation is a huge plus for any team, and something that hasn’t happened for the Bobcats until now (Bernard Robinson, Kyle Weaver anyone?).

TV play-by-play man Steve Martin referenced a moment from the little documentary on the Bobcats 2012 draft that has been showing that I’ve also recalled when watching Taylor.  In the Bobcats war room on draft day, they show Rich Cho taking a call from from another GM proposing a trade for the #31 pick.  You don’t quite get to hear all of the details, but what you do hear is Cho quickly reject the idea.  He’s polite enough, but there’s definitely a bit of “don’t be ridiculous” in his tone.  Cho knew he could get a player there, and he did.

# 3 – Signs Of Growth From Biz?

We all knew that Bismack Biyombo was a major project, particularly on the offensive end.  But there were times last season when he had such trouble doing basic things like catching and finishing in traffic that it became fair to wonder if he’d ever be able to play in crunch time in the league.  Fast forward to this year and I’m much less concerned.

Don’t get me wrong, Biyombo still has the occasional cringeworthy possession, but there have been more nice moments mixed in.  Plays that make you think “OK, he can do this.”  In the Philadelphia game in particular, the 76ers were religiously, almost embarrassingly, helping off of Biyombo.  (This can make you unplayable in crunch time.)  But credit to the Bobcats and Biyombo; they realized it and made the 76ers pay en route to a season high 14 points on 5-6 FG.

On one play a driving Gordon drew Biyombo’s man in addition to his own.  Biyombo slid to the perfect spot and Gordon whipped a pass to him.  This was the kind of pass that Biyombo routinely fumbles away, but this time he caught it and went straight up for the dunk.

In another moment from the same game, Evan Turner was mismatched on Biyombo in the post.  Yeah, Turner’s a wing, but he’s 6’7″ 220lb.  What’s important is that Biz confidently, purposefully, fluidly, and easily scored with a simple spin into a lefty lay-in.

The project appears to be coming along just fine.

–Dr. E 

 

 

Two Trades to Add Frontcourt Scoring and Rebounding

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As good as the Charlotte Bobcats have been over the season’s first month, they still have a few things to sort out. One is rebounding. The Cats’ -3.00 differential places them in the bottom third of the league – a deficiency that nearly cost them last night’s game at Washington. Second is low post scoring. Other than the occasional Brendan Haywood baby hook, Charlotte big men pose zero threat from the low block.
Fortunately there’s some available talent in the league who could remedy the situation without sacrificing much of the Bobcats’ long-term plans. Here’s two ideas:

Trade Proposal #1: Charlotte sends Tyrus Thomas and Gana Diop to Chicago for Carlos Boozer.

Why Chicago Does It:
The Bulls 2013-2014 payroll is already $7 million over the luxury tax line. This means owner Jerry Reinsdorf will be on the hook for at least $14 million in tax penalties two summers from now – and that’s before Chicago fields an entire fourteen man roster (their $77 million payroll accounts for only nine players).
The simplist option is for Chicago to use its amnesty provison on Boozer but that would come at a steep cost – the team would be on the hook for $20 million or so of his salary even after a waiver claim (see Brand, Elton).

Enter Gana Diop. Diop’s expiring contract effectively halves Boozer’s cap hit over the next two seasons while Thomas provides Coach Thibideau with a Taj Gibson-lite off the pine.

Why Charlotte Does It:
Fit for one. Boozer’s ability to score in and around the low post would generate double-teams to free up the Cats’ long distance shooters. Pick and pop opportunities with Ramons Session and Kemba Walker would add another weapon to the team’s limited halfcourt arsenal. Boozer’s ability to hunt for rebounds at both ends will help put an end to those 3-4 shot defensive stands.

From a salary perspective, Charlotte takes on an additional $7 million or so on top of what they were paying Thomas for the next two seasons – timing it near perfectly with their first batch of Rich Cho era re-ups (Walker, Biyombo, Taylor).
Take a look at the salary chart.

Charlotte Bobcats Salary Forecast

Assuming both Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson re-sign for around 4 years/$27 million (doubtful team would go higher on either), Charlotte would enter next season a shade over the league’s $59 million cap but well under the tax threshold. In July of 2013, the Bobcats would shed Ben Gordon’s $12 million and likely divert a portion to re-signing Ramon Sessions (if they don’t use one of their three to four first round draft picks from 2013 or 2014 on a point guard).

By July of 2014, Charlotte will have nearly $20 million in expiring contracts (Boozer/Haywood) coming off the books and they can use the space to extend the class of ’11 (Walker/Biyombo) and Jeff Taylor. They could also pursue a max superstar (or two) while maintaining the rights to Walker and Biyombo via cap holds ala Brook Lopez with the Nets last summer.

In the meantime, the Bobcats stay very competitive. A big man rotation of Boozer/Mullens/Haywood/Biyombo brings to mind “Utah East”. Henderson/Gordon/MKG/Taylor form a nice wing platoon. And we already know just how good the Walker/Session backcourt can be.

A variation of this trade would send Boozer and a first round pick to Charlotte for Thomas, Hakim Warrick and Gerald Henderson. Chicago would have the ability to decline Rip Hamilton’s $5 million next season, re-sign Henderson as its starting SG and pursue another piece via cap exception due to Gerald’s RFA status. In exchange, the Bobcats receive their own pick back from the original Thomas trade.

Trade Proposal #2: Charlotte sends Gerald Henderson and Reggie Williams to Minnesota for Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee.

Why Minnesota Does It:
As a near lock-down defender with an ability to score from inside and out, Gerald Henderson could be the perfect fit for a Wolves team stacked at every position except off guard. Henderson will do for Minny what Brandon Roy was supposed to.

Why Charlotte Does It:
With Jeff Taylor playing lights out of late, there’s just not going to be enough minutes in the wing rotation. Ben Gordon needs to play and isn’t going anywhere. MKG is MKG. Sessions and Kemba will play at least fifteen to twenty minutes a night together so Henderson is the odd man out. Add to this his impending contract extension and it’s doubtful Gerald stays in the QC past this season.

Meanwhile, Williams adds a moderately priced young power forward with upside. Someone who likes the ball in his hands, someone who can finish from the low block and who the team could potentially run their offense through. Although Williams has struggled playing out of a position at SF during his stint with the Wolves, with the Bobcats he’d be a permanent fixture at the four.

The only downside is the timing of his contract. Barring some unforeseen All-NBA selection over the next two seasons, Williams will be up for an extension the same summer as Biyombo, Walker and Taylor. While the Cats will have the cap space at that point to re-sign all four, it could make the process a bit complicated.

-ASChin

Bobcats Baseline Season 9 | Week 3 Recap

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Charlotte’s luck of catching injury-riddled teams finally ran out. Week 3 saw an elite Grizzlies squad, two probable Playoff teams (Milwaukee/Atlanta) and a desperate one (Toronto) trying to turn their season around – all at full strength.

The good news is that Coach Dunlap was able to keep his team playing hard even when things went bad. The Memphis game (84-97) never reached blowout status despite the Grizz’s massive talent advantage and the Cats had multiple chances to get back in it. Wins against the Bucks (102-98) and the Raps (98-97) came despite Charlotte being down late in the fourth quarter. Even last night’s home loss to the Hawks was (91-101) winnable late – until a rash of mental errors finally caught up to them.

Three Thoughts on the Week

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Byron Mullens Creates Bi-Polar People

We hated him. Then he started posting up and driving and we liked him. Then he went back to hoisting threes and fadeaways and we hated him again.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote a great feature on NBA Gunners earlier in the week which breaks down the importance of the high-volume/low efficiency scorer brilliantly (yes, BJ makes the list). See, the reason Mullens keeps chucking up shots is because, well, there’s really no one else on the team who can. The Cats desperately need a centerpiece to run their halfcourt offense through and “oh lord, it’s Byron” is the only man on the roster currently up for the job. Unfortunately, until the front office can find a suitable replacement, Mullens will continue to shoot like there’s no tomorrow.

We So Excited About Jeff Taylor

His three looks like its starting to fall regularly (5-8 over the last two games) and his on-ball defense is a thing of absolute beauty. Taylor hounded Demar Derozan all Wednesday night – so much that Demar “got up in his face” for a double-technical psueda-spat. I’d be frustrated too, Taylor hasn’t even learned to keep his hands up regularly yet still wreaks havoc against his covers. Offensively, he’s slowly but surely figuring it out. His release is still extremely slow (Mike Dunleavy, Jr. of all people swatted one of his jumpers); this makes him hesitant around the rim and on fast breaks where he hasn’t yet developed a feel for NBA-level shotblockers. Ultimately, I think he’ll figure this part out and when he does, the Bobcats are going to have a major question on their hands: There’s only 96 wing position minutes to go around per night. Taylor and MKG should play 65-70 of those. Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon won’t be happy dividing up the rest and that’s before some of those SG minutes get eaten up by a Kemba/Sessions dual PG lineup. With Henderson in line for a big contract extension come July, don’t be surprised if Taylor’s excellent play translates into a Henderson trade between now and February’s deadline.

“We Need to be Bad” Nurtures a Culture of Losing

I keep hearing the old doctrine rehashed on Twitter, “we need to be bad – we can’t be this good this fast, we need more lottery picks! We trade for someone like Carlos Boozer and we’re mediocre again!!!”
Everybody, relax. Seriously.
1. If Lottery Picks equaled winning, the Sacramento Kings would have more banners than any organization in sports. Even better, the Bobcats themselves have had more lottery picks than nearly everyone else over the past decade. What did that buy them? A seven win season. Compare the number of Charlotte lottery picks over that time to San Antonio’s (10-1) or the Lakers (10-0). Just because one contending team in the past 25 years have built themselves entirely through the Lottery (OKC) doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it.
2. “But free agents are overpaid and expensive!!!” Well, I have great news for you ladies & gents, there are other ways to acquire talent in the NBA! Also, not all free agents are overpaid. OJ Mayo is making $4 million this season and is in the top 5 in League Scoring. Carl Landry has been Golden State’s most consistent offensive threat on an identical contract. Our own Ramon Sessions has become the stabilizing force behind the team’s 6 victories yet is paid just $5 million over two seasons. Brook Lopez signed a max contract with the Nets over the summer but has been playing lights out and very well may be the best offensive center in all of basketball.
Also, ask Memphis fans how they acquired Zach Randolph. Or Marc Gasol. Or Mareese Speights. All via well calculated trades. And need I even mention all of the mid to late round draft picks who are/have been dominating the league: Ginobli, Parker, Ibaka, Kobe, Steve Nash, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Varejao, Ellis, Ty Lawson, et all. Then there’s Euro talent like Pekovic, AK47 and Shved that can be found every year. Fact is, there is MORE talent outside the lottery than in it – it’s just a little harder to find.
3. Finally, keep in mind that Charlotte still has high draft picks from Portland and Detroit owed to them. The Detroit pick in particular will likely be a top 10. Packaging one of these with their own to move up in the lottery is always a possiblity if worthy talent is there. In the meantime, the Bobcats need to build a culture of winning – with Kemba, MKG and Sessions, they may as well do it now, winning a Top 5 pick in a weak 2013 Draft isn’t much of a consolation.

-ASChin

Which Bobcat Will Be Traded? [November 2012 Edition]

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Introducing a new semi-regular feature on which Bobcats jerseys you should buy and which ones you’ll be able to catch on a discount rack.

GROUP ONE: NOT GOING ANYWHERE

Brendan Haywood
Haywood was acquired via amnesty waivers so can’t be traded until July but after that things get interesting. At just $2m per season, Haywood will be an extremely enticing asset – especially for a cap-constrained contending team in need of a solid big man. Haywood won’t be going anywhere soon but the story could change after the season.

Bismack Biyombo
His minutes may be down but don’t let that fool you, “Project Smack” is developing as planned. The moment Charlotte drafted Biyombo they knew it would take several years before the kid would know how to play. His on ball defense and shot-blocking are already near elite. Better rebounding and defensive awareness will come next. As one of the few Bobcats with star potential, Biz isn’t going anywhere.

Kemba Walker
If Walker isn’t an early candidate for league’s Most Improved Player, he’s certainly the team’s. Kemba is shooting nearly 10% better from the field than last season, playing more under control while maintaining the elite speed and ellusiveness that make him a tough cover. At this point, it’s tough to imagine the Bobcats trading Walker – his ceiling seems to be getting higher every game.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
He’s a stud whose relentless effort energizes his teammates as much as the fans. And he’s 19 years old. Next.

GROUP TWO: IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Ramon Sessions
Total professional. Call him The Chaperone – you just feel better knowing he’s out there with the kids. Currently ranking second on the team in PER (20.15), his $5 million salary over the next two seasons is starting to feel like a bargain. The Bobcats would only deal him if it brought back a considerable asset (prospect or pick).

Gerald Henderson
Four years into his career and I think we know what GH2 is all about: Tough, full-on effort defense (especially on-ball) and solid, complementary offense. His shooting has improved tremendously from where he began as a rook and we saw a few glimpses of long distance capabilities before he went down with a foot injury. All good news. But three factors put Henderson’s Bobcats future in doubt:

  1. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal, thus up for a raise. If his agent is asking for anything like Demar Derozan’s ginormous $40m deal, the Cats will almost certainly balk.
  2. One of the top 3 prizes in the draft is teenage SG sensation Shabazz Mohammed. ‘Bazz projects to be at Henderson’s level defensively but with a much higher offensive ceiling aka exactly what the Bobcats need.
  3. See the next guy on this list.

Jeff Taylor
It’s only been a few games so I don’t want to get too excited but in watching Taylor, you can’t help but think, “he looks like a younger, taller Gerald Henderson with better range”. Also he’s playing on a three year deal that pays out under a million per. If the choice is between Gerald Henderson and Jeff Taylor over the long haul, I’d bet on Taylor as the one who stays.

Byron Mullens
I understand the front office’s fascination. Really, I do. Floor spacing seven footer with three point range. Improved rebounder, potential post-up nightmare. The problem is that Toronto fans have gone through this same song and dance with Andrea Bargnani for nearly seven seasons. Tens of millions, hundreds of losses and an untold number of “f-bombs” later, Bargnani and the Raps are still a fringe Playoff contender and just a terrible team to watch. Mullens is up for a new contract in July, I’d love for the Cats to trade him beforehand – but I’m not holding my breath. Expect Mullens to be with the team all season.

GROUP THREE: TAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE TAKE MY WIFE

Ben Gordon
Friend of the Baseline (and Yahoo! Sports columnist) Greg Dinkin posed several “Ben Gordon to a Contender” trade scenarios via email. This was my response:
I’ve watched Air Gordon for five games now and realize exactly why the Pistons gave the Bobcats a lottery pick to take him off their hands:

  1. His official height of 6’3″ is high by at least an inch or two, making an already small SG even smaller.
  2. His handle is BAD. Gordon turns the ball over all too often when getting into the paint. He’s basically only usable as a perimeter player – and most useful off the ball in catch and shoot situations – yet he insists on having the ball in his hands and keeps driving. Go figure.
  3. Combine his handle with merely adequate court vision and you have a 6 foot dude who can only play SG.
  4. Defensively PGs run right past him and SGs shoot over him. His upper body is strong enough so SGs can’t post him up regularly but there’s a reason that Dunlap has had to implement so much zone D and Gordon is a big part of that.
  5. He makes a ridiculous amount of money. $11m this year, $12m next. That’s borderline All-Star money.

You absolutely can’t argue about his stroke though. He’s still one of the best shooters in the league and when he gets hot, can shoot a team back into the game. But as a specialty player who’s a major defensive liability (and who is paid like an All-Star) – there’s just no way the Cats are getting anything of value for him this season.

Tyrus Thomas
Bobcats fan Bradford Coombs via Twitter:
@drapht00: @bobcatsbaseline Tyrus is painful. Something just isn’t right in his head.
I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe him. With over $25 million due between now and 2015, don’t expect any bidding wars over T-Time’s services.

GROUP FOUR: MOST LIKELY

Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Reggie Williams
Yes, these guys get their own tier. Aside from not playing much, you know what else they have in common? Expiring contracts. Diop and Williams have the most left in the tank – and I very much expect Reggie to be dealt by the deadline. He’s a good shooter and underrated scorer who would be playing a lot more if his skills didn’t overlap so much with Ben Gordon’s.
Diop’s cap number ($7m+) makes him a little harder to move but could come in handy in order to facilitate a larger trade in a three team deal.

Carroll is by all accounts an awesome individual but his future is more likely backing up Dell Curry in the broadcast booth than Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Of the three, expect Carroll as the one most likely to stay.

UPDATE: Carroll Traded

Literally minutes after this column’s original posting, the Bobcats traded Matt Carroll to New Orleans for Hakim Warrick. The deal comes at little risk to the team as Warrick’s contract effectively expires in July via team option. In the meantime, Cats fans will be treated to a combo forward who could be best described as “Derrick Brown but not as good”.

–ASChin

Bobcats Big Changes – a New Coach and New Uniforms

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It’s been a few days since we’ve heard much from the Bobcats, but it looks like they’re ready to cough up some info about their upcoming season. While they’re tasked with determining how to best utilize the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, a couple of other jobs have kept the team busy for the summer.

First Up – a New Coach

After loads of rumors about high-profile or somewhat recognized names coming to Charlotte to take charge of this dreadful roster for next season, the Bobcats went and did something that no one saw coming. They hired Mike Dunlap. Like just about everyone else, I don’t know a thing about this guy. But, I can assume that he works cheap and he’s got patience for young guys that might not “play the right way.” It’s pretty clear that this is a cost-saving move, but there’s no reason that the Bobcats should pay top dollar for a head coach, when they’ve got a roster that’s closer to the D-League than the Playoffs. If Charlotte’s going to tank the 2013-14 season (which seems to be the plan), you can’t blame the team for rolling the dice on a guy with a little potential and could bring some new blood into the league.

The Bobcats are going to be loaded with young players, so a coach with an understanding of both the college and pro challenges should be helpful to the development of a lot of these guys. Let’s just hope that Tyrus Thomas doesn’t look to Mike Dunlap for tips on bulking up this summer.

Oh, and New Uniforms

New Charlotte Bobcats UniformsThe Bobcats or Cats just unveiled their new game uniforms. It’s not much of an impressive upgrade. The Charlotte Observer reported that Michael Jordan wanted some Carolina blue involved in the team’s palette. Can we credit him with slapping on some lettering of awkward proportions, applying a good deal of inconvenient negative spacing, and shortening the team’s nickname in order to improve the team’s brand and sell merchandise?

I definitely don’t see this as a step forward for the team’s image. How many times are they going to try to change their jerseys? It only makes me agree more with the grand rebrand scheme that fellow Baseliner A.S. Chin has suggested. In theory, we’re to believe that the Bobcats are trashing their roster, burning it to the ground so that they can build it back up with little tying them to past mistakes. Why wouldn’t the team do the same thing with their brand identity? The club is making a half-hearted effort to give it one more go as “Cats” and let folks fully detach from the organization’s name. Strategically, this looks like they’re dumping “Bobcats” and I can’t imagine anyone is gonna fall in love with this new “Cats” thing. So, what choice will the team have but to bring the buzz back? Teal, white, purple, and a cartoon bug with shaky wings. You’ve got to admit that these proposed Hornets uniforms look much better than what MJ & Co. just rolled out.

Quick Notes:

After analyzing the data and trying to ascertain just exactly how a team gets as bad as the Bobcats, I think I’ve found a breakthrough in understanding Charlotte’s issues. As it turns out, modern NBA teams are in love with a concept of a “Big Three.” If you happen to catch the NBA Finals, you might see that the Miami Heat have a “Big Three” made up of their most highly paid players – Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, & Chris Bosh. Many other teams like the Boston Celtics (Pierce, Garnett, Allen), the LA Lakers (Bryant, Gasol, Bynum), and the NY Knicks (Anthony, Stoudamire, Chandler) have used this template to collect and reward a core of their most talented players with the majority of their payroll. After a quick look at Hoops Hype’s salary info, it was evident that the Bobcats have a “Big Three” of their own – Corey Maggette, Gana Diop, & Tyrus Thomas. It can take a while to run the numbers, but you’ll find that Charlotte’s “Big Three” doesn’t seem to perform at the level of the league’s best teams with a comparably paid “Big Three.” I’m not fortune-teller, but it looks like this is going to cause problems for the Bobcats this coming season despite their high Draft pick.

-Mike

Should the Bobcats trade the #2 pick?

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As we debate (agonize over?) the relative merits of Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, and Andre Drummond as potential selections for the Bobcats with the #2 pick, a tantalizing alternative has been presented.

Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk makes a strong argument for trading the pick.  The argument boils down to this: the Bobcats desperately need both a franchise player and a more general infusion of talent; there is not a franchise player in this draft other than Anthony Davis; thus, the Bobcats should trade down in an attempt to add a couple of talented players — pieces, or assets if you will.

Moore also identifies some weaknesses in this strategy: one, while it seems unlikely at this time, it is possible that one of the above-mentioned candidates for the second pick could develop into a franchise player, which would make the Bobcats look even worse than they already do (if that’s possible); and two, that the Bobcats would be unlikely to receive full objective value back when trading away the pick.

For what it’s worth, I think the former weakness is the more important one.  Part of me thinks that the Bobcats should just decide which guy is going to be the best player, pick him at #2 and move forward.  Don’t over-complicate things.

But building an NBA team is complicated.  And the argument for trading the pick is admittedly compelling.  The next question is:  What could the Bobcats realistically get back for the second pick?

Speculation has mostly centered around the two teams with two first round picks: the Cavaliers (picks #4 and #24) and Trailblazers (picks #6 and #11).  Obviously, the first step is that one of these teams must fall in love with a player.

The Cavaliers are building around the core of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.  Most observers are putting the Cavaliers onto the prominent wing prospects in this draft: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes.  The Cavaliers supposedly liked Harrison Barnes in last year’s draft, so if Barnes’ underwhelming 2011-12 season didn’t scare them off, they would certainly be able to sit back and get him at #4.  But if they fall for Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal, they could package #4 and #24 to move up to #2 to ensure that they get their man.

Getting #4 and #24 would be attractive for the Bobcats in that they could very likely still get Thomas Robinson at #4 (who may be the best fit anyways) and pick up an extra player/asset at #24.

The negative part of this is that the Bobcats already have pick #31, the first pick of the second round.  #24 and #31 aren’t that much different — are the Bobcats really going to give significant playing/development time next year to the #24 and #31 picks?

What you’d be hoping for is that someone who’s projected in the teens slips down to #24 so you get some real value there — Quincy Miller, for example? Or maybe you use one of those picks on a project (Fab Melo, Marquis Teague, Evan Fournier?) and stash him in the D-League/Europe while using the other pick on a more polished player who could contribute from Day 1 (Jeff Taylor, Draymond Greene, Andrew Nicholson?).

Moving on to Portland (picks #6 and #11), the Trailblazers are building around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.  Their biggest needs are a starting point guard and a big to pair with Aldridge.  They could try to fill those needs with #6 and #11 (Chad Ford’s Mock 6.0 has them taking Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard, respectively, while Jonathan Givony/DraftExpress.com has them on Jared Sullinger and Kendall Marshall).

Or they could package the picks to move up to #2 to pick Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal.  While Robinson is possibly too similar to Aldridge and thus not the greatest fit, he’s plug-and-play NBA ready.  Beal at 2-guard isn’t a primary need for the Blazers (they have Wesley Matthews there currently), but nonetheless keeps getting mentioned as as the guy that teams could really fall in love with.

Getting the sixth and eleventh picks would be supremely fun and terribly frightening for the Bobcats.  They might end up having to work out 50+ players when you add in the prospects for the #31 pick.

They could do the most Bobcatsian thing ever and pick Harrison Barnes at #6 and Tyler Zeller at #11 (harkening back to the all-Tarheels 2005 draft of Raymond Felton and Sean May).  People might riot, but those guys do fill needs — a wing and a big who meshes with Biyombo.

Or they could go with the two highest risk/reward prospects in the lottery: Andre Drummond at #6 and Perry Jones at #11 (again a big and a wing).  That would be fascinating.

Really, the possibilities are endless — the upshot is that you’re getting two lottery picks in a pretty deep draft.  And when you have as many holes as the Bobcats do, that’s probably the best move.

–Dr. E

POLL : What Should They Do with Pick #2?

  • Select Thomas Robinson (39%, 75 Votes)
  • Select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Select Bradley Beal (15%, 28 Votes)
  • Select Andre Drummond (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Trade The Pick (29%, 55 Votes)

Total Voters: 190

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