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

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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If Not Anthony Davis, Then Who?

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The Bobcats have been looking forward to the 2012 NBA Draft since, oh, about February 2011.  Fortunately, Operation Ping Pong Ball was a huge success and the Bobcats have the best chance at winning the #1 pick (25%) in Wednesday night’s lottery.  And even more fortunately, there is a clear #1 pick this year in Anthony Davis.

Drafting Davis would finally give the Bobcats a franchise player around which to build.  He would complement Bismack Biyombo well; neither one is a prototypical power forward or center, but their talent and athleticism would allow them to play together, freely switching defensively on the other teams’ bigs and concentrating on their strengths on the offensive end.

With Davis, the Bobcats would likely be able to lure a better coach this summer, and would improve appreciably on the court right away.  Then they would have another first rounder (or two) in 2013 and, most importantly, tons of cap room to lure a top  free agent in summer 2013.  Yes, if the Bobcats get Anthony Davis in 2012 I think they very well could be in the playoffs by the 2013-14 season.

Unfortunately, there is a 75% chance that the Bobcats will not win the lottery, and will instead be picking second, third, or fourth.  And most unfortunately, there are no surefire All-Stars after Davis.  The once-vaunted 2012 NBA Draft has turned into a bunch of question marks.

Let’s be clear: it will be an absolute tragedy if (when?) the Bobcats don’t win the lottery Wednesday night.  The players that will be available with picks 2-4 either have ceilings below “superstar” and/or have significant bust potential, making the Bobcats’ road back to relevance even longer.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk.  And superstar or not, pick 2-4 should still significantly improve the team.  The consensus is that there is no sure #2 or #3 pick this year and that what we have instead is a second tier including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal.

When considering players in the same tier, team needs/strengths necessarily come into play.  While the Bobcats do have the least talented roster in the league, there are some relative strengths that would be foolish to ignore.  Probably the most striking is that the Bobcats have a glut of young and skilled, but either soft or undersized big men: Bismack Biyombo (undersized), Byron Mullens (soft), DJ White (soft), Tyrus Thomas (???).  So basically, power forward is not a position of need — unless that “power forward” is Anthony Davis, a hybrid power forward/center with singular talent a la Tim Duncan.

I also think that Gerald Henderson at starting 2-guard is a relative strength.  He has limitations, especially on the offensive end, and will never be an All-Star.  But he’s cost-effective (and likely to stay that way even after his rookie deal runs out), a good defender, and still has some potential to improve offensively.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts about what the Bobcats might do with picks #2-4.

#2: There is a 21.5% chance that the Bobcats will end up with the second pick.  It’s not a bad place to be, what with your choice of anyone not named Anthony Davis.  But it will come with a lot of pressure to pick the right guy, and not the bust.

I think most teams, the Bobcats included, would probably go with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at #2.  He has prototypical small-forward size (6’7″, 225), plenty of athleticism and is a strong leader.  He’ll be a solid defender, and possibly an elite one, at his position.  Offensively, he’s an amazing slasher/finisher who needs to work on his range and shotmaking.  I really like the “Gerald Wallace, but with more offensive potential” comparison.  Finally, there is low bust potential with Kidd-Gilchrist, which is an important consideration when picking at #2.

For the Bobcats, Kidd-Gilchrist is a fine fit.  At his position, the Bobcats currently have Corey Maggette and Derrick Brown.  The end of Maggette’s time as an NBA starter is rapidly approaching, if it’s not already here.  He’ll be on an expiring contract in 2012-13, so would possibly be a nice trade chip for a contender at the deadline.  Brown is a nice backup.

So Kidd-Gilchrist could step in and own the starting SF spot for the Bobcats for the next decade.  His perimeter defense, toughness and leadership are sorely needed.  And the Bobcats would just pray that the offense comes along.

#3: The Bobcats have a 17.7% chance of getting the third pick.  Things get even trickier here, as you can’t be totally sure of who’s going to be available.  But assuming Kidd-Gilchrist goes second, then Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, and Bradley Beal would all be in play here.

I believe the Bobcats would opt for Andre Drummond. Drummond has ideal size (6’11”, 270) and athleticism for the center position and will be able to contribute defensively right away, but will need time and hard work to develop offensively.  A big bonus is that, like Davis, Drummond would mesh pretty well with Bismack Biyombo.  Whoever ends up being the nominal power forward or center doesn’t matter — they can play together and switch freely while defending the opponents bigs.

However, Drummond’s heart, motor, and even desire to excel at basketball have come into question after an underwhelming freshman year at UConn.  Consider what DeMarcus Cousins recently did with similar size and skills in his one-and-done year — he dominated.  But Drummond wasn’t even in the same ballpark in regards to efficiency or impact, and could disappear for whole games at a time.

If teams don’t like where his head is at during workouts/interviews, he could slide down some boards.  Combine the rawness on the offensive end with a motor that doesn’t run very hot and questionable work ethic, bake at 350° for 35 minutes and whala!  Bust.

But if he works out hard and says the right things during the draft preparation process (not that hard), he could be in the mix at #2 for some teams, the Bobcats included.  Even with red flags looming, most teams will be willing to take a chance on Drummond’s combination of size and skills with a high pick.

#4: If the Bobcats slide to the fourth pick (a 35.8% chance), it could get really dicey.  There’s a decent chance that Bradley Beal could go #2 or #3; thus, Drummond would still be available at #4.  That’s maybe a better place to pick Drummond anyways.  But for my purposes here, let’s assume that Kidd-Gilchrist and Drummond go 2-3.  It comes down to Bradley Beal or Thomas Robinson.

Beal is a slightly undersized, but physically solid, 2-guard in the mold of Eric Gordon.  Thomas Robinson is a relatively refined and well-rounded power forward who was productive as the centerpiece of a very good Kansas team last year.  Both are similarly low-risk.  You see the problem though, in that each would duplicate one of the relative strengths that the Bobcats currently have.

The argument for Beal is that he probably has a higher ceiling than Robinson, and would provide some sorely needed outside shooting.

The argument for Robinson is that, while the Bobcats have some power forwards, they don’t have a prototypical, tough, well-rounded one.  But I don’t think he fits well with Biyombo, in that Robinson doesn’t have the size to defend centers.  Any big that the Bobcats consider really needs to have that ability, in order to take some of the load off Biyombo.

It would be a dilemma, but with the Bobcats in search of star power and an identity, I think the pick would be Beal. But it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Perry Jones or Harrison Barnes get a long look if the Bobcats do slip to pick #4.

– Dr. E

Gerald Wallace Returns To Charlotte With A Grudge

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Gerald Wallace Now With The Trailblazers

Despite reading through loads of articles and blog posts intended to justify last month’s Gerald Wallace trade, I haven’t been able to shake my emotional “gut” reaction about the whole thing. I’m still a little sick that it happened, and pretty disheartened by the way it all went down.

Gerald Wallace was the reason I got into the NBA. Yeah – I really liked the Hornets when I was a kid, but I didn’t really watch any pro or college ball through most of my later teenage years. After college, I moved back to the Charlotte area to take a job with an employer that happened to have great seats to the expansion Bobcats (at the old Coliseum building). I didn’t really know a thing about the state of the NBA, and I couldn’t have cared less. Emeka Okafor was billed as the top draw for the Charlotte Bobcats, but it was definitely more fun to watch Gerald Wallace. It became evident to me that the Bobcats were horrible, but they had a seriously entertaining player in Wallace. So, I was hooked pretty quickly and consider Crash to be the reason why I watched the Cats (leading to my unhealthy NBA obsession).

On Friday night, Gerald is set to step on the court at Time Warner Cable Arena for the first time as a visitor. I’ve got to be there to see it, however odd it may feel. Surely, other fans will show up ready to recognize Crash with their support. But that will likely be most of the noise generated by the home crowd during the game. The remaining Bobcats aren’t much to cheer about these days, and the Trailblazers are absolutely stacked (both Wallace and Brandon Roy are listed as reserves for Portland). Gerald has spoken to reporters and made it absolutely clear about how much he had wanted to stay in Charlotte. The Queen City has never had a player so loyal, yet the Bobcats leadership chose to ship Crash to the Northwest and live with the consequences.

I know that there are plenty of explanations of why Charlotte wanted to make that move, but it kind of feels like a load of excuses. When someone does something wrong, you always hear a bunch of excuses to justify it. Clearly, the Bobcats are not a better team without Gerald Wallace. Nor are they a more entertaining team without him. As a fan, watching the Cats without Crash just doesn’t feel right. Seeing Gerald enter the game, wearing the red and black of the Blazers, on Friday night will feel absolutely bizarre for me.

Related Links:

ESPN : Gerald Wallace blindsided by trade

Sporting News : Gerald Wallace feels ‘betrayed’ by trade from Bobcats

News Observer : Gerald Wallace says Charlotte Bobcats stabbed him in the back

Rick Bonnell : Wallace: Bobcats betrayed me

-Mike

Also, I was doing research online today, and this ad graphic happened to pop up on one of the sites I hit.

Gerald Wallace Is Gone, Who’s To Blame?

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Three months into my self-imposed NBA exile and the Bobcats had to go and blow up the team. I just couldn’t resist. It’s time for a State of the Roster.

PART 1 – WHO’S TO BLAME?

To say that fan sentiment over the trade has skewed negative would be an understatement. Gerald Wallace, the player we all watched grow from an expansion draft castoff to best-kept-NBA-secret to All-Star has been gifted to Portland for what amounts to cap space and a couple of mid first round picks. On the surface this seems both cheap and defeatist. The Bobcats currently sit just a few games outside of the Eastern Conference’s top eight while resting comfortably below the League’s luxury tax line.

So who’s to blame for this sudden and seemingly irrational transaction?

THE SUSPECTS:

1. Larry Brown.

The former coach and (by his estimates) de facto GM kvetched incessantly until ownership added millions in dead weight veteran contracts then griped again when he couldn’t add any more. The moves overwhelmed a cash strapped organization as they found themselves well over the luxury tax line last summer. Owner Michael Jordan isn’t stupid, he looked at the past few seasons and came away with the conclusion that he’d most likely traded five plus years of fielding competitive teams for a one and done with the Orlando Magic.

2. Gana Diop & Matt Carroll.

No, these two weren’t involved in a clandestine operation to overthrow the co-captain; at least not directly. Jordan made a major mistake when he signed Carroll to a then six-year $27 million deal. MJ immediately realized the folly so decided to compound the problem by trading Carroll for Gana Diop’s $31 million albatross contract in a Larry Brown inspired transaction back in ’08.

In an ironic twist, the trade ended up handcuffing the team to the point where they had to take back Carroll’s contract from Dallas simply to get under the luxury tax this summer (see Dampier, Ericka). The two player’s salaries combined make up what the Bobcats would have owed Wallace over the next two seasons at around $10 million per. Ouch.

3. Stephen Jackson

Pretty simple here. The Bobcats’ two best guys played the same position. JAX isn’t getting any younger and the whipper-snappers playing NBA two guard these days aren’t getting any less athletic.

Less obvious is this Dirty Secret: Jackson is the better player, or at least the more indispensable one. More on this later.

4. Draft Picks

During the Larry Brown era, the Bobcats gave away first rounders like they were T-Wolves tickets. The team didn’t have a pick in last June’s draft and won’t have a first round selection in a potentially loaded 2012 class. By getting New Orleans’ first rounder in 2011 and Portland’s number one in 2013, the Bobcats will have four picks in the next three first rounds. Given that MJ hasn’t made a turrible pick since ’06, we can at least expect a few solid rotational players to come out of this stash.

5. Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson & Josh Howard

What do these guys have to do with any of this? All three were All-Star small forwards who rode their elite athleticism to big stats and massive contracts. The cautionary tale of course is that once these guys crept closer to the big three-oh, their games took a major downturn for the worse. Marion is the oldest and most relevant of the bunch at 32 but hasn’t played like “The Matrix” since “The Matrix” was a cool nickname to have. He’s now a role player on a veteran team.

Jordan must have looked at Gerald Wallace’s declining production, his age, the number of major injuries and the $22 million due and decided to gamble before it was too late to get anything of significance in return.

6. Bruce Bowen & Ray Allen

Defensive ace Bruce Bowen was ostensibly finished as an NBA player at age 36. Sharpshooting Ray Allen turns the same age in June yet played in last weekend’s All-Star game. Guys who make their name on defense (unless you’re a nimble 7-footer like Dikembe or Theo Ratliff) just don’t last as long which pretty much negates the whole “The Nuggs got way more for Carmelo” argument. As little as I care for Melo’s game or his trade demands, his skill set is much more suited for the long haul.

This brings us back to Suspect #3. Efficient, dependable scoring is worth its weight in gold in today’s NBA. Stephen Jackson, despite his flaws, is the only Bobcat currently worth scheming for on either side of the ball. He’s going for around twenty every night in a variety of ways and may even drop 40 on you if he gets hot. Last I checked, the team that scores the most points still wins games and that has never been more true than it is today.

7. Gerald Henderson

It’s only been a month but Henderson has shown enough in his short time as a rotation player to warrant an expansion of the experiment. The other Gerald has looked spectacular at times. His defense against Kobe, Allen and Derrick Rose allowed the Bobcats to notch some wins over the League’s elite. His jump shot has started to fall consistently and by putting up 18, 22 and 15 going into the All-Star Break, Henderson gave management enough confidence to move Wallace while making a sincere run at the postseason.

It’s not a bad gamble. Henderson is on a great rookie deal and looks to be at worst a quality starting two guard.

PART 2 – THE LONG RUN

FISCAL SANITY

If we look at the trade from a cap perspective, we can see that the Bobcats set themselves up for some incredible leverage going in to the offseason.

By shaving nearly $10 million from the payroll next year and the year after, Charlotte can now be a major player in free agency or in landing a star player via trade. The team will be around ten million under the cap come June and potentially in the mix for a max guy if they can find a team willing to absorb Boris Diaw’s expiring deal.

If MJ strikes out this summer, he’d still be in position the following summer of 2012 to try again.

STATE OF THE ROSTER

With the trade of Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats have made their philosophy public:

  • A. They feel that they have enough talent currently in place to challenge Philly, Indy and Milwaukee for one of the East’s bottom seeds.
  • B. At the same time, they are setting themselves up for a potential long-term jump into the top four.
  • C. That they have at least partially learned their lesson when it comes to throwing away future picks and cap space for a few extra wins in the present.

Moving forward, it’s best to look at the roster in the following tiers:

TIER I: PROTO-NUCLEUS

Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin

TIER II: PRODUCTIVE VETERAN TRADE CHIPS

Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw

TIER III: INTRIGUING PIECES

Shaun Livingston, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White

TIER IV: EVERYBODY ELSE

The Expiring and the Overpaid

WHAT TO EXPECT

Look for the ‘Cats to continue their run under Silas. If Tyrus Thomas returns on schedule and can get in game shape fast, then the Playoff odds go up. Same goes for Gerald Henderson. If he blossoms with the increased playing time and if the ‘Cats can get something out of either Cunningham or White then maybe they sneak into the postseason.

Realistically we can only measure the success of this trade once we see what Jordan & Rod Higgins are able to do with the picks and cap flexibility over the next couple of summers. Losing Wallace hurts now but we may look back and see that it’s the best deal MJ ever made.

Until Next Time…

Enjoy the Change Bobcats Fans.

-ASChin