Bobcats 2014 Trade Deadline Scenarios – Part One

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Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since the last Week In Review post and – given our contributors’ schedules and life commitments – we don’t anticipate them returning any time soon. We’ll post as often as we can. In the meantime, if you are an obsessed Bobcats/Hornets fan with thoughtful, unique perspectives and would like to share them on this site, hit us up on Twitter – @BaselineBuzz.

With only days to go before the league’s annual trade deadline, the Baseline breaks down a few plausible scenarios for the suddenly Playoff-determined Bobcats. We begin with…

The Worst Kept Secret Scenario

TRADE: Bobcats send Ben Gordon and Portland’s 2014 1st Round pick to the Sixers in return for Evan Turner. Charlotte sends Bismack Biyombo to Boston for Brandon Bass.

We’ve been reading about the Bobcats’ interest in these two players for weeks. At first glance, the rumors are little confusing: While Brandon Bass makes sense as a pick ‘n pop backup PF, Evan Turner doesn’t remedy Charlotte’s spacing issues at the wing and the soon to be restricted free agent will likely get pricey once agent David Falk strongarms Cho & Co in negotiations over the summer. So why would Charlotte trade a late first round pick for him?

For one, even with his three point shooting woes, Turner represents a massive offensive upgrade over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While an overall poor distance shooter (28% for his career), Turner has traditionally shot well from the corners. This season he’s specifically shot well from the left one (12-29) and we all know who likes to camp out down on the left block. A combined 19-54 from both corners doesn’t sound like much until you compare him with the guy he’d likely be stealing minutes from.

MKG is a combined 1-9 from the corners over his one and a half NBA seasons. I triple checked those numbers just to make sure. One for nine. With a once in a generation low post scorer like Al Jefferson on the roster, it’s borderline irresponsible to play a non-distance threat like MKG alongside him – and by distance I’m not even talking three pointers. MKG is currently 20-59 on two pointers outside of the paint after going 59-202 (29%) during his rookie campaign. Turner’s 43% mark from long two’s (his average both this season and last) will make Al think he’s playing with Steph Curry by comparison.

On the other side of the ball, Turner’s presence allows Coach Clifford to stay big at the wings when MKG or Gerald Henderson go to the bench. Clifford’s recent rotation has been to play both point guards, Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions for the last chunk of the first and third quarters. Bringing Turner and Bass in for Henderson and McRoberts as a combined “Sixth Man” mid-way through the first allows Clifford to maintain the needed perimeter size to protect Big Al on defense while replacing McBob’s “point forward” abilities with Turner’s – who, until this season, had maintained an assist rate in the high teens.

Trading Gordon’s $13 million plus salary to the cap-rich Sixers allows Charlotte the added benefit of opening up around $6 million in additional salary space to take on money in a Biyombo for Bass swap. Bass makes roughly double what Biz is owed this season and the Cats would be buying that wiggle room as well as Turner’s services in exchange for Portland’s first rounder.

On the court, Bass would be an immediate upgrade over Cody Zeller – whose future is a lot brighter than his dreary present. Bass has logged campaigns as a burly rebounder and defender while playing under Stan Van Gundy in Orlando (on a staff that included both Clifford and Patrick Ewing). His defensive effort hasn’t been as consistent since but the Cats would be betting on Clifford reversing the trend. Offensively, Bass would nail all of those mid-range shots Cody is currently missing and further help stretch the floor once McRoberts checks out.

Long term, Bass is only signed for one more season and would provide a safety net should Josh exercise his player option and bolt for greener pastures in July. By the time Bass’s contract expires, either Cody will be ready to start or Charlotte could use the funds to go another direction entirely.

Trading Biyombo stings a bit. While he occasionally flashes potential, #biznation is still years away from putting it all together (if it ever happens at all). At $4 million next season, Biyombo is simply too pricey a project for a team already straddled with a similarly raw MKG and his $11 million over the next two seasons.

The (Alternate) Worst Kept Secret Scenario

TRADE: Bobcats send Ben Gordon and Detroit’s Protected 1st Round Pick to Orlando for Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis.

This is basically the same trade above with two major exceptions*:

1. The Detroit pick is MUCH more valuable than the Portland first. Should the Pistons fall into the Bottom Eight this June, they’d keep it and the pick rolls over to next season where it is only Top 2 protected. Given the state of the Pistons franchise, anything is possible. At the very least, Charlotte would be trading a young prospect like Gary Harris or Doug McDermott in this June’s Draft for the immediate upgrade of Afflalo.

2. The good news is that Afflalo is a tremendous three point shooting wing and potentially the PERFECT fit for this team. Arron has traditionally been a better wing defender than Turner and is a much better off the ball scorer. Afflalo probably should’ve been selected to the All-Star game ahead of Joe Johnson this year but the Magic’s lousy record kept him out. Also his contract runs for another season, so no need for immediate negotiations over the summer.

The downside is that Afflalo is already 28 and wings usually don’t get better as they hit 30. Adding Afflalo virtually guarantees a Playoff spot for Charlotte both this season and next but could cost them an intriguing prospect should the Detroit pick fall in the right spot. It’s a textbook win-now versus win-later scenario – muddied further by the Bobcats historical inability to draft well.

-ASChin

@BaselineBuzz

*One additional exception: Glen Davis is approximately 70% as good as Bass offensively and around 60% defensively.  Those numbers are approximate and yes, I am no fan of Big Baby Basketball.

Effort Questioned in Bobcats’ Loss to Jazz

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Jazz, 12/19/09

Road Shenanigans Infecting Home Play?

Hello all — the Bobcats Baseline crew took the night off to celebrate the holidays, so this is just a rudimentary post to provide a place to comment.

The Bobcats dropped one to the Utah Jazz last night, 110-102, at the Cable Box.  All accounts are that the Bobcats troubling pattern of play in road games was on full display for the home fans last night.  AP recap here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.

The pattern goes roughly like this: come out flat, fall behind, no production from Chandler, more laissez-faire from Diaw, turnovers from Felton, Gerald Wallace beasting it to keep hope alive, and a furious charge late in the game that comes up short.

Bonnell’s game story for the Observer is heavy on some critical postgame comments that Gerald Wallace made with regards to the starting “4 and 5″ — ahem, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler.  It’s good to see Gerald taking a leadership role like this.  Let’s hope that the comments are inspiring and not divisive.

Or maybe it would be best if they “inspired” the front office to find a trade for a PF that would fit better than Diaw does right now.  How good would the Cats be with a guy like Millsap, Landry, Bass or even D. Lee at the 4?

We won’t have to wait long to see how the team responds to the loss and Gerald’s comments.  Assuming they were able to fly from Charlotte to New York last night or this morning, the Cats will take on the Knicks (again) at MSG tonight at 7:30 PM ET.

-Dr. E

Charlotte Bobcats: State of the Roster | FA ’09

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Post-Moratorium

Monta Ellis and Brandon Bass would make great additions to the Bobcats

No, “Post-Moratorium” is not a medical term for examining dead people.  In the NBA’s case it means that as of July 8, the temporary hold on free agent signings will be over, new cap numbers will soon be announced and teams can start officially trading and signing players as usual.

This is big news for the Bobcats because they can now officially re-sign (or re-sign and trade) Raymond Felton to a new deal.  This would remove his current cap hold of $12 million (300% of his ’08-’09 salary) and give the team a better idea of what their salary situation is as they start bidding for leftover Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents.

So what should Bobcats fans expect to see in the next few months before the team heads into Training Camp?

This blog’s guess is that you’ll see one of the following two scenarios unfold.

SCENARIO ONE: GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

Okafor and Felton are A-OK

In this scenario, the Bobcats play it safe.
From a personnel perspective, they come to the conclusion that with the current lineup they are more than ready to challenge for a playoff spot in the East.
From a business perspective, they conclude that a team very much on the market should not add any unnecessary payroll and should keep lean heading into a potential ownership change.

If this is the direction the organization chooses to go, then expect some very minor tweaks to roster.

  • A veteran backup PF, such as former Terp Joe Smith, will be signed to relieve Boris Diaw.
  • A veteran backup PG, such as Larry Brown fave Kevin Ollie or former Nugget Anthony Carter, will be added for depth and leadership at a key position.
  • Coach Brown will continue to develop youngsters DJ Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson for the future.  Expect Ajinca and Brown to do a stint or two in the D-League.

Even if the team misses the playoffs in this scenario, they can still look forward to Raja Bell’s $5 million salary coming off of the books in the following summer and will have two more expiring deals (Mohammed and Radmanovic) heading into the ’10-’11 season.

This scenario might sound boring (it is boring) but you have to remember that with Radmanovic, Mohammed, Diop and (soon) Felton, the Bobcats will have four players earning between $6-$7 million per year.  You think they wanna add another deal like that in Brandon Bass?

SCENARIO TWO: “WHAT TIME IS IT?  GAME TIME!!!”
or THE CLIFF LEVINGSTON SCENARIO

In this scenario, There Will Be Ink: either on the contracts of a prime free agent and/or on the bodies of Allen Iverson or Monta Ellis.
From a personnel perspective, Higgins, Brown and Jordan decide that the landscape has changed dramatically in the Eastern Conference and that they need to upgrade or risk taking a step back.
From a business perspective, Bob Johnson and Jordan decide that the best way to increase the franchise’s popularity, attendance and, ultimately, its value is for the team to be very, very good.

The Bobcats know that they’re in a bind.  They’re a small market team that’s losing money and have around $60 million in payroll to answer to and praying for a winning season in a conference that just seriously jacked up over the past few weeks.  No less than 8 teams (CLT, IND, WAS, TOR, DET, ATL, PHI, MIA) will be jockying for the final four playoff spots in the East.  In order to bolster their roster, the ‘Cats are going to have to be daring and creative.

In my mind, the Bobcats only have two* assets to play with heading into next season:

  1. Emeka Okafor
    A quality big man who’s better than the suddenly-hyped David Lee.  Still young at 26 and a big cap number around $10 million.
  2. Raymond Felton
    Great presence on and off the court, only 25 years old and the Bobcats could pay him more money for more years in a sign-and-trade.

So, in this scenario, expect big moves to happen.  My personal preference:

Trade Scenario: Emeka to Golden State for Monta Ellis

Okafor for Ellis? - First Unit

Let’s face it.  The Bobcats aren’t going to unload Diop’s contract on anybody anytime soon and they sure as hell aren’t going to unload Mohammed’s contract until at least next summer.  They have over $100 million committed to the center position and they desperately need scoring.

This trade works because the ‘Cats can start Diop (remember that Gana started for Dallas during a playoff run a couple of years back and did fine) and substitute Mohammed for a different look.  Also, Boris is capable of playing some center (as he did with PHX in ’05-’06) when the team goes small.
Meanwhile, Ellis provides an explosive wing player who can play both backcourt positions and who can get to the free throw line as much as anybody.  Monta instantly becomes the Bobcats leading scorer and the clutch shooter that the ‘Cats have needed since 2004.
Of course, Golden State only does this deal if (or when) the proposed Amare Stoudemire for Biedrins/Wright/Belinelli deal goes down.  I doubt that Amare will want to play center every night and an Okafor/Stoudamire/Maggette frontcourt should play very well together.

This trade would give the Bobcats one too many PGs (I have Ellis penciled in as the starting PG) and not enough depth at the four.

Trade Scenario: Felton to Dallas for Brandon Bass

Felton for Brandon Bass? - 2nd Unit

Indulge me for a second.  I know that a sign-and-trade deal like this is difficult (if not near impossible) to pull off and we don’t know if Dallas still has any interest in Felton after reportedly coming to terms with Jason Kidd.  But with Kidd turning 36 and Jet Terry more of an off-guard, perhaps the Mavs would be open to bringing Raymond on board as a backup/insurance policy as they make one last push for the finals with their suddenly aging core.

The move would open up the “true” PG spot on the ‘Cats for DJ to take over and create a great four man backcourt rotation of Augustin/Ellis/Bell/Henderson.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats frontcourt would be stacked with Diaw/Bass/Wallace/Radman/Diop.  Although he’s only 6’8″, Bass has played a lot of Center for the Mavs over the past couple of seasons and could sub in behind Diop when needed for a dynamic Diaw/Bass/Wallace lineup.

I love this roster.

The Bobcats add a scoring, slashing wing who wants to take shots and a skilled, tough rebounder down low.  They have depth at every position and a nice mix of youth, prime and veteran players.  And the best part of all is that they wouldn’t have to add any serious payroll to do it (just the trade exception from the JRICH trade).

This roster is a playoff team now and in great shape 2 seasons from now when only Wallace/Ellis/Diaw/Diop/Bass/Augustin/Henderson will be on the books.

Come on Rod Higgins, work some of those connections that you have in Golden State and get this done!

*I refuse to count Raja Bell’s expiring contract as a potential trade asset as the team needs to stop their 2 year trend of dealing expiring deals for stop-gap help. That said, expect him to be traded after you finish reading this.

-ASChin

 


POLL : Who Should The Bobcats Sign?

  • Allen Iverson (47%, 23 Votes)
  • Brandon Bass (33%, 16 Votes)
  • Andre Miller (6%, 3 Votes)
  • Linas Kleiza (12%, 6 Votes)
  • Anthony Parker (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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Charlotte Bobcats 2009 Free Agency

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2009 Charlotte Bobcats Free Agency

Mid-Level Madness!

UPDATED: JULY 5, 9:52pm

As the Observer’s Rick Bonnell pointed out yesterday, the Charlotte Bobcats have entered the summer at or above the NBA salary cap.  Once Raymond Felton is re-signed (expected to be around $7 million/season) and both draft picks’ deals are finalized, the ‘Cats should find themselves at around $60 million in total salaries for next season; about $3 million over the League’s projected $57 million cap.

Since the NBA has a “soft cap” the only way that the Bobcats could make a major free agent signing is through cap exceptions.  Wikipedia has a concise definition of the cap exceptions most important to the Bobcats this season; the Mid-level and Bi-annual Cap Exceptions:

Mid-level exception

A team is allowed to sign one player to a contract equal to the average NBA salary, even if the team is over the salary cap already, or if the signing would put them over the cap. This is known as the Mid-level exception (MLE). The MLE may be used on an individual free agent or split among multiple free agents, and is available to any team that exceeds the salary cap at the beginning of the offseason. The Mid-Level Exception for the 2007-08 NBA season was $5.36 million. The MLE is $5.585 million for the 2008-09 NBA regular season.

An example would be the Toronto Raptors‘ acquisition of Jason Kapono during the 2007 off-season.

Bi-annual exception

The bi-annual exception may be used to sign any free agent to a contract starting at $1.672 million in 2005-06, but cannot be used two years in a row (and if the $1 million exception from the previous CBA was used in 2004-05, the bi-annual exception cannot be used in 2005-06). Like the mid-level exception, the $1 million exception can also be split among more than one player, and can be used to sign players for up to two years, with raises limited to 8% per year. This exception was referred to as the “$1 million exception” in the 1999 CBA, although it was only valued at $1 million for the first year of the agreement.

An example of the $1 million exception was the Los Angeles Lakers‘ signing of Karl Malone to a contract before the 2003-04 season.

As the Full Mid-Level only allows the Bobcats to sign a player to a maximum ~$6 million/year salary, we can pretty much rule the ‘Cats out of some of the bigger name FAs like Lamar Odom, Paul Millsap or David Lee.

The Sporting News has a great free agent tracker that breaks down this summer’s top free agents by position.  I’ll couple that with John Hollinger’s excellent “Bang for the Buck” list to put together some possible Bobcats Free Agent signings:

FULL MID-LEVEL

This list includes players who potentially could sign a 2-3 year deal with the Bobcats at the full mid-level exception (~$6 million/per).

  1. Allen Iverson SG
    The latest news has Iverson interested in Memphis (???) and Bonnell reports that ‘Cats GM Rod Higgins has yet to contact AI’s agent.  Iverson likely won’t command anything more than the full-midlevel and a one or two year deal for the vet makes a lot of sense for a team in desperate need of scoring.
    UPDATE: Bonnell responded to my question, putting the chances of the ‘Cats signing AI at 5%, McDyess at 10%, Bass at 20%.
  2. Rasheed Wallace PF/C
    Although ‘Sheed would be a great fit in Charlotte – first as a player and then later as a potential coaching successor to Larry Brown – it looks like the former Tar Heel will be signing with a contender like San Antonio or Boston this off-season.
    UPDATE: Fox Sports is reporting that ‘Sheed just signed a 2-year full mid-level deal with the Celtics, taking him off of the market.
  3. Brandon Bass PF
    Rod Higgins has apparantly contacted the agents for both Bass and Antonio McDyess, as the team looks to shore up the backup PF position.  Bass is only 24 and has just come off of two quality seasons in Dallas backing up the 4-spot.  He’s an excellent offensive option and a strong defender.  Other teams are aware of this as well, so it’s likely that Bass will command a multi-year, full mid-level deal.
    UPDATE: Bonnell reports that a team has apparently offered Bass the full mid-level over 5 years and that the team was probably not the Bobcats.  He does however speculate that a sign-and-trade scenario could unfold involving Bass.
    Sign and Trade deals are difficult and (for most NBA fans) extremely complicated to understand.  Check out this link from the NBA Salary Cap FAQ and this one from Wikipedia for more information.  I’m at a loss for the last time a double sign-and-trade was made.  The last one I could remember involved Eddie Curry going to the Knicks for some other chunky contracts a few years back.  Anybody have a more recent example?

Partial Mid-Level

These players shouldn’t and couldn’t command a full mid-level from any team this summer but would be quality additions to the team.

  1. Antonio McDyess PF
    The 34-year old, former #2 overall pick can still bring it – he nearly averaged a double-double last season – and would be a great veteran presence in the locker room.  Imagine Juwan Howard: EVOLUTION.
  2. Anthony Carter PG
    Carter is the kind of veteran 3rd PG that Larry Brown loves and would be a great fit on a team with two young PGs like the Bobcats.
  3. Dahntay Jones SG
    If the Bobcats conclude that the Gerald Henderson Experiment is not yet ready for primetime, then fellow Dookie Jones would offer a nice buffer until Henderson is ready to go.
  4. Leon Powe PF
    Powe is a wiry PF who seems to be custom built to guard the new NBA PF prototype – long, rangy players who can shoot the three.  Three years in Boston studying “D” under Tom Thibodeau isn’t bad on a resume either.
    UPDATE: As I commented already below, Powe is on schedule to return around Feb ’10.
  5. Joe Smith PF
    Doesn’t seem too long ago that Smith was being traded around the League as a playoff difference maker.  Smith still has abilities and would be a solid alternative to McDyess or Bass if the ‘Cats can’t get a deal done with either one of their preferred FAs.

Bi-Annual/Minimum Salary Exceptions

These players probably won’t see anything above the League minimum but offer low-risk/high-reward potential.

  1. Ike Diogu PF
    He’s put up numbers and shown potential wherever he’s gone.  Work habits aside, he’d be a nice insurance policy at the 4-spot at or near the League minimum.
  2. Rodney Carney SF
    Carney reeks of this year’s Shannon Brown.  A guy coming off of a first-round contract, barely staying in the League.  Like Shannon, Carney’s an atheletic defender and a decent finisher – and a poor shooter.  Good get at this price.
  3. Sean May PF
    If he signs at or near the League minimum, May would be a decent gamble backing up Boris Diaw.  Next season would be his second coming off of micro-fracture surgury and May should be back to form.  Jokes aside, there’s no denying that when he’s been healthy and in shape, he’s been effective.
    UPDATE: According to May’s Twitter page, he just played in the NC PRO AM Tourney.  I can’t believe I just referenced Sean May’s Twitter account.

-ASChin