Bobcats 2012 Offseason Report Card

Standard

Rich Cho has been one busy dude. Just three months after wrapping up a seven win throwaway season, the Bobcats general manager/internet phenom has executed a massive upgrade of the roster. How and what has he accomplished? Let’s have a quick recap:

TRADES:

Cho swung a pre-draft deal with former Executive of the Year/Chad Ford Idol Joe Dumars, sending oft-injured SF Corey Maggette and his expiring contract to Detroit in exchange for sharpshooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first round pick.

The aforementioned Mr. Ford panned the trade, questioning why the Bobcats were taking on Gordon’s extra year of salary. He failed to mention the fact that Cho copped a lightly protected draft pick and a better player out of the deal. As John Hollinger pointed out, the Bobcats NEED to add contracts over the next few seasons just to hit the league’s salary floor.

RESULT: Bobcats clear up SF spot, gain a potent 3pt shooting/scoring machine off the pine, add yet another extra first round pick to the vault.

GRADE: A+

DRAFT:

The Bobcats surprised everyone yet no one when they selected the second highest rated prospect with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist immediately steps into the team’s starting lineup to provide lockdown defense, transition buckets and good vibes. Everyone seems to love the kid and if his first Summer League contest was any indicator, MKG might go down as the best selection in the team’s brief history.

With the first pick in the second round, Cho selected Vandy’s Jeffery Taylor, a sharpshooting swingman whose athleticism and on-ball defense all but guarantees him a spot in the rotation.

RESULT: Bobcats add potential star in MKG, future Bruce Bowen/Dell Curry hybrid in Taylor.

GRADE: A+

FREE AGENCY:

Let’s start with what the organization didn’t do. Eduardo Najera and Boris Diaw finally came off the books, freeing up around $11 million in cap space. D.J. White was not extended his qualifying offer of around $3 million and is likely finished in Charlotte. Derrick Brown was extended a $1 million qualifying offer but with the way both draft picks have played thus far in Summer action, I could see that offer being rescinded soon. Finally, D.J. Augustin was let loose after several failed sign & trade scenarios.

With this sudden influx of cap space, Cho inked Ramon Sessions to a two year $10 million deal, won the Brendan Haywood amnesty bid at $6.15 million over three seasons and has just enough juice left over (via cap exceptions or amnesty) to sign a veteran PF (Kris Humphries or Carl Landry).

RESULT: Sessions provides an immediate upgrade as a big backup to Kemba Walker while Haywood gives the Cats an inexpensive option to go big and experiment with Bismack Biyombo at the four.

GRADE: Incomplete. Cho isn’t finished. If Humphries or Landry signs, give him a solid “A” for addressing need with value.

COACHING:

It’s July and Mike Dunlap has coached all of two Summer League games but the buzz is undeniable. This guy is here to bust his tail developing prospects into players. The approach is inspiring and hopeful. This could be the rare coaching change that significantly upgrades the win/loss columns.

RESULT: Cho & Rod Higgins found their man. We’ll reserve judgement until the games start to count but thus far Bobcats fans have to be excited about Dunlap’s potential.

OVERALL:

Armed with few assets outside of the draft, Cho found a way to turn Najera, Augustin, White, Maggette and Brown into MKG, Taylor, Gordon, Sessions, Haywood and (potentially) Landry. This is a significant talent upgrade. Combined with the development of last year’s young players and a new coaching philosophy, this team should surprise a lot of people come November.

OVERALL GRADE: A+

-ASChin

2011 Free Agent Targets Who Fit The Plan

Standard

SPECIAL GUEST OPENING PARAGRAPH BY HUBIE BROWN:

Okay, you’re the Charlotte Bobcats. It’s December two thousand and ten. You’re saddled with a capped out payroll. Your attendance is improving but still less than stellar. Your two best, highest paid players play the easiest positions to fill in the modern game and your hall of fame coach’s best years are far behind him. Whaddya do? Keep paying sixty million dollar salaries and hope your team is gonna win a game or two as an eighth seed? Of course not, you blow it up and start from scratch. Go cheap and young and hope you land one the decade’s defining players in the draft. It’s as simple as that.

Thanks Hubie. And thanks MJ, Rod Higgidy-Higgins and Rich Cho (not to be confused with his Charlottean peer, “Rich Chode”) for heeding said hypothetical advice because now, Bobcats fans, there is finally a plan for building a successful basketball franchise in Carolina. Now, I don’t pretend to have any inside info into the mind of Cho & Company but it doesn’t take an Emeka Okafor-sized intellect to get an idea of what they’re up to:

STEP 1: Develop young players on the roster to either build around long-term or dangle as juicy trade bait.

Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker please go over to the blue line. Dante Cunningham and D.J. White may as well go ahead and join them – just please, Dante, put that half ounce sack of dank away somewhere where I can’t see it.

STEP 2: Tank the ’11-’12 semi-season.

Related to the step above, be fun to watch but terrible in the win column. Basically the opposite of Riley’s Knicks/Heat teams of the ’90s. Kind of an East Coast version of the Warriors.

STEP 3: Get a high pick in a stacked 2012 Lottery.

Worse case scenario, you draft in the top 5 and where there are potentially five or six game-changers (Davis, Barnes, Sullinger, Gilchrest, Perry & Terrence Jones).

STEP 4: Shed salary next summer.

That means you Honeybuns Diaw & Don Juan Draper. Take the $20 million and dangle it in front of Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in the rare chance that they want to play in a small market (or come home in CP3’s case) or even take a shot at prying restricted FA Brook Lopez away from New Jersey for less than max money. You could also could use this space to acquire an unhappy All-Star via trade.

STEP 5: Get better in ’12-’13.

Develop the young players, generate some excitement and either make a run for the Playoffs or just miss them and hope for Lottery love. Bobcats will most likely have two picks in the 2013 draft (Their own if not outside the top 10 plus Portland’s).

STEP 6: Shed another $20 million in the summer of 2013.

Diop It Like It’s Hot, No Nickname Carroll, Get Ready For Maggette. The team makes a serious run at another big name FA (watch for Steph Curry here btw). Which brings us back to our present time…

Free Agency 2011

In accordance to the plan, the Bobcats will be on the lookout after the lockout for free agents that meet the following three qualities: young, cheap, (potentially) very good. And that’s pretty much that. I nominate the following:

Earl Clark, SF – ORL

+Compared to young Lamar Odom, only 23, lean 6’10” with a Bilas-approved wingspan
-erratic shot selection, poor shooter
Comment: If you can get him at the right price, Clark could very well develop with playing time. He’s been stuck on veteran teams in the “win now” mode (PHX, ORL) and Silas’s approach could be exactly what he needs to take the next step.

Brandon Wright, PF – NJN

+Physically gifted, skilled rebounder and shooter
-Four seasons, 117 games total
Comment: Originally drafted by Charlotte in the 2007 Draft but traded minutes later for JRICH, Wright can’t use the Earl Clark excuse. He’s played on a bad Nellie Ball team in Golden State as one of the lone big men and then floundered in sixteen games with the Nets last season. His main problem is staying on the court. If he can get healthy, Wright could be a nice rotation big down the line.

Kwame Brown, C – CLT

+Known quantity, can defend big fives, rebound
-Known quantity, not much upside, Vern Troyer-sized hands
Comment: Kwame was probably as surprised as anyone that he started 50 games in the NBA last season. He took advantage and had arguably his most well-rounded season as a pro. The Bobcat brass have made a lot of noise about re-signing him and if the money is right I don’t see why they shouldn’t. Maybe Cho can get creative like his old boss Sam Presti in OKC and sign Kwame to a Nick Collison-style contract. $8 million for ’11-’12 and then $2mil per over the next two seasons sounds about right. Getting a solid backup center for three seasons while not endangering free cap space over the next two summers.

Josh McRoberts, PF/C – IND

+Started 54 games at C/PF for IND, still young at 24
-Chronic case of Big White Dude disease
Comment: Former Dukie came on for the Pacers last season, supplanting Jeff Foster as the slow white undersized center in the middle. McRoberts isn’t great at anything but is a banger and could contribute as a rotation big man for a team on the rise.

Carl Landry, PF – NO

+Mega-Effecient, PER Machine
-Small for his position, Potentially Expensive
Comment: Somebody will probably drop $9 million annually on Landry. The Bobcats tried to sign him once already and if Cho’s hyper-stats reveal Landry to be the most productive player on the market, they could try again.

TRADE SCENARIO

One last note: If the Bobcats offered Augustin and Tyrus Thomas to the Timberwolves for Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour and Wayne Ellington, wouldn’t Minnesota at least think about it? Augustin does everything Rubio doesn’t and is insurance in case Ricky falters. Tyrus gives the Wolves a high flying presence who can block shots and throw down alley-oops – exactly the things that neither Williams nor Kevin Love can do. Minny sheds Ridnour’s sketchy contract while the Bobcats get back a scoring PF who they could add to the Kemba-Biyombo-Henderson foundation. It’s worth a shot. Plus Williams could play Boris Diaw’s thinner, younger brother on a Tweener Forward Sitcom.

Until Next Time, Stay with the Plan Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Effort Questioned in Bobcats’ Loss to Jazz

Standard

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

Bobcats sign Landry to offer sheet

Standard

In an attempt to bolster the frontcourt in the days leading up to training camp, the Bobcats have signed Houston Rockets restricted free agent Carl Landry to a 3 year, $9 million dollar offer sheet. Here are some links:

  • First, Bonnell’s quick blog post on the move from Wednesday afternoon.
  • A proper article from the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
  • And a blog entry from Feigen, in which he hedges a bit, but ultimately predicts that the Rockets will match the offer.
  • In case you forgot, Landry was one of David Thorpe’s favorite rookies last year, ending the season #5 on his Rookie Watch rankings. (ESPN.com Insider access required).

Essentially, Landry is an undersized power forward who slipped in the draft because of a perceived lack of “upside” (for example, take a look at his old NBADraft.net profile page). He is a tenacious, smart player who rebounds well and shoots a high percentage (sounds like a Larry Brown kind of guy, right?). He started getting meaningful playing time midway through the season and really stepped up when Yao Ming went down, eventually playing a key role in the Rockets big 22-game winning streak. He turned down the Rockets initial offer of 3 years, 5.4 million this summer, and there has been concern on the team’s side about the condition of his right knee.

Will the Rockets match and risk going into luxury tax territory? Could this evolve into a sign-and-trade? Perhaps most worrisome for Bobcats fans, what does this say about the team’s confidence in Sean May and his knees?

-E

Bonus Carl Landry rookie highlight reel (he likes to dunk, hence the high shooting percentage):

Carl Landry