Bobcats 2012 Offseason Report Card

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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qualifying offer but with the way both draft picks have played thus far in Summer action, I could see that offer being rescinded soon.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

Magic Hand Bobcats Decisive Loss

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Baseline Observations: Magic @ Bobcats, 11/10/09

The Gist

The Bobcats never developed any consistent or dynamic offense and were handily defeated by the Magic, 93-81 on a rainy Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  AP recap here, box score here, Bonnell story here.  The Cats did just about everything wrong that they could possibly do en route to being routed in a ho-hum affair.

Fall behind early?  Check: After a tie at 13-13, the Magic pulled away to lead 35-23 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

Big men get in foul trouble early?  Check: Tyson Chandler picked up 2 fouls guarding Dwight Howard in less than 4 minutes and had to sit the rest of the first half.  Same thing happened to start the second half.

Miss easy shots? Check: Gerald Wallace missed two dunks, and another layup that he should have dunked.

Fall in love with the 3, even though no one’s hitting it?  Check: the Bobcats were 2-17 from long-range.

The Cats made the game mildly interesting by cutting the lead to six a couple times during a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer as the Magic would pull away again.

Credit where credit is due, Raymond Felton really led the charge during the third quarter run and ended up having the only remotely laudable performance by a Bobcat: 18 pts (6-10 FG, 1-2 3PT), 4 assists:1 turnover for a +5.  Raymond’s solid performance was rendered practically spectacular by comparison to that of DJ Augustin, who ran point for several bad stints (-17 +/-).

Moving On

This is one of those games that is probably best forgotten, which shouldn’t be too hard.  Nothing particularly memorable happened; and there’s another game Wednesday night to look forward to (at Detroit, 7:30 PM ET start).

And besides, watching this game live wasn’t even what resonated most with me about the Bobcats today.  This was (ESPN Insider access needed).  ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and John Hollinger teamed up to produce “Future Power Rankings.”  It’s an ambitious article with a great conceit: the idea is that by assigning points in weighted categories, the 30 NBA teams are ranked in order of overall projected on-court success from now through the 2012-13 season.

The categories were as follows: up to 400 points for players/roster, up to 200 points for management/front office, up to 200 points for money/salary cap situation, up to 100 points for market, and up to 100 points for future draft picks.

Now when I read the introduction to the article, I knew for sure that the Cats were going to be in the bottom five — as we’ve chronicled since the inception of Bobcats Baseline, the future ain’t too bright with this franchise.  Nonetheless, I’m an optimistic guy; we almost made the playoffs last year, we have some interesting young talent (DJ Augustin, Gerald Henderson), and there are some other really messed up franchises (Memphis, Sacramento, etc.).  So to find where Ford and Hollinger placed the Bobcats, I clicked down to the page that had teams 21-25 and hoped.

No Bobcats.  Drats, we are in the bottom five.  Click to 26-30, scroll down, keep scrolling… begin to contemplate the possibility that our near future may be the worst in the NBA, worse than the Grizz, worse than the Bucks.  And yes, according to Ford and Hollinger, the Charlotte Bobcats rank dead last, 30 out of 30, in regards to their potential for on-court success over the next few NBA seasons.  Here’s the blurb:

If you think the Bobcats’ present is bad, just wait ’til you see their future.

Charlotte ranked as the league’s most hopeless franchise in our survey, finishing in the bottom four in every category except one. Even that category, the draft, came with an asterisk: Charlotte ranked well because we expect it to struggle and get high picks, but a future choice it foolishly traded away for the rights to Alexis Ajinca last year could end up costing the Cats a high lottery pick. That’s why they ranked only 12th rather than in the top four.

There’s not much to like here. Charlotte has no cap space until 2011 at the earliest, limited financial resources and a rep for being tight-fisted, ranking the Bobcats 29th in the money category. The Queen City is a small market with no buzz, placing the Bobcats 27th in the market category. And the roster is nothing to write home about either, as D.J. Augustin is the only young player with anything remotely resembling star potential. Most of the other key players are in their late 20s and will be getting worse, not better, in coming years.

Finally, there’s the management — only Golden State’s and Memphis’ rated worse. Owner Robert Johnson has seemed to be in over his head from Day 1, while Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan allegedly runs the team while mulling which iron to play from a fairway bunker in Illinois. That’s left impulsive coach Larry Brown shaping a lot of the day-to-day personnel decisions, with rash moves like the Ajinca trade and the Emeka Okafor-Tyson Chandler deal resulting.

Chew on that, fellow Baseliners.  Tastes like depressing.

-Dr. E


Chad Ford’s At It Again

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We Should All Hope That Ford's Theory Works
We Should All Hope That Ford’s Theory Works

Many of you non-“ESPN Insiders” out there may have missed Chad Ford’s recent pump-and-dump Combine Stock update (Insider only) of Tyler Hansbrough.

In his update you’ll find such gems as:

Hansbrough measured a legit 6-foot-8¼ in socks and 6-9½ in shoes. He also had a surprising 6-11½ wingspan and a standing reach of 8-10 — one inch better than Blake Griffin.

Professor Ford does his best with nuggets like these to sell us on the theory that since “Psycho T” has a similar wingspan, height and standing jump as many other established NBA players and top prospects, he will no doubt be equally as good.

If Ford’s Theory proves to be true, then this is really great news for the rest of us.
For instance:

1. My wife is 5’3″, which is the same height as Muggsy Bogues.  So there’s a good chance that she’ll be electrifying NBA crowds with a stellar 2:1 assist to turnover ratio for over 10 NBA seasons.  GREAT!  No more work for me!  I’ll quit and become her agent!  We’ll be like the Christies!!!

2. Speaking of agents, my buddy Greg is Jewish with similar male pattern baldness as Jeremy Piven.  He’s looking for a career change.  He’s the next Ari Gold!  Woo-Hoo!

3. My in-laws have a minivan that runs on fossil fuels which is the same fossil fuel used to power Formula 1 and Nascar vehicles.  YEE-HAW!  See you suckers at Le Mans!

The possibilities are endless.  I just want to extend Professor Ford thanks in advance if and when this new theory proves correct.  You’re the best Chad!

Oh, and btw, I think I speak for everyone when I say that EVERY BOBCATS FAN’S WORST CASE SCENARIO is:

With the 12th selection in the 2009 NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select…Tyler Hansbrough, the University of North Carolina.

–ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats @ OKC Thunder 4/10/09

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Bobcats fall to Thunder, Chad Ford Loves the Thunder

1. The Playoff Hunt is officially over for the Bobcats as they fall 84-81 to Chad Ford’s favorite team (OKC) Friday night.  The team stands at 35-44 with 3 games remaining in the season.

2. Ugly, ugly, ugly game for the Bobcats.  Charlotte shoots a combined 33% from the field (29 of 87) and commits 14 turnovers.  Quick question:
Name the 6 Charlotte Bobcats Players who shot:

  • 4-13
  • 8-21
  • 1-5
  • 3-12
  • 4-16
  • 6-16

Answer: The 6 guys who played the most.
The starters sucked it up bad and then DJ came in and sucked it up in reserve.  It wasn’t like the Thunder were playing Championship Defense (although the OKC broadcast team thought so).  The Bobcats as a team just couldn’t get the ball to stay in the basket.  I lost count of how many fast breaks, put-backs, easy 2-footers, etc that just didn’t fall.  And no disrespect to the Thunder, they played very good defense (notably 2008 Bobcat 2nd Round Pick Kyle Weaver on Gerald Wallace) but hardly the kind that should inspire 33% shooting.

3. So, is Thunder GM Sam Presti secretly just taking orders from ESPN.com’s Chad Ford?  Seriously, take a look at OKC’s roster:

  • Kevin Durant (phenom in the making)
  • Jeff Green (Scottie Pippen meets Dwight Howard in the making)
  • Russell Westbrook (ESPN Insider equivalent to The Hottest New Band Nobody’s Talking About)
  • Nenad Kristic (Super-skilled Euro Center with strange male-pattern baldness)
  • Thabo Sefolosha (Euro wing defender, kind of a young Raja Bell)
  • DJ White/Kyle Weaver (late first round gems in the making)
  • Shaun Livingston (former Chad Ford idol; 6’7″ PG making a comeback at the ripe old age of 23)

Add this to the fact the OKC has about 37 first round picks in the next two drafts and we can all rest assured that Portland’s Kevin Pritchard will be receiving far less bon-bons and roses from Mr. Ford this June.

4. Jeff Green (btw) looks fantastic.  He finished the game with 10pts and 11rbs but scored his 5 buckets in every way imaginable.  Kristic was the real surprise though.  Even though he came back from Europe looking like a Rasho Nestorovich mannequin, the dude really lit it up with 19pts on 9-12 shooting and made Emeka look pretty useless all evening.

5. Speaking of Okafor, how is it biologically possible that a human being as atheletically endowed as Emeka can’t jump more than four inches off of the ground?  Someone please explain this to me.  Looking at the guy, you’d think that he’d be able to out-jump assistant coach Capel but in reality…  no dice.  And isn’t his inability to put back a shot (while jumping) completely incongruent with his proficiency at blocking opponents shots?  Rebounding?  I have a theory on Emeka and it goes something like this:
A few years ago Emeka Okafor read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink.”  He then decided to dedicate his life to doing the opposite of whatever that book had to say.
I honestly think that Okafor is too damn intelligent for the NBA – his mind is just too analytical and he doesn’t have the ability to shut if off when he’s on the court.

6. OKC’s crowd went into this game (their home court finale) like it was Game 7 of the Finals.  Seeing the arena jam-packed and the crowd completely attentive and excited brought back some fond memories of the old Charlotte Coliseum and the glory days of LJ, ZO, and Muggsy.  [HEY!  RON GREEN, SR. stop hacking into my computer!]

7. Speaking of the old Hornets, OKC’s pre-game interviewer (their version of Stephanie Ready) is none other than Matt Pinto, who served as the Charlotte Hornets radio announcer (and Gerry Vallaincourt’s radio co-host) back in the early 90s.

8. Bright spots for the Bobcats?  Well, Dontell Jefferson came in and played very well in a cameo scoring 6pts in 6 minutes.  Other than that…well Radman had a steal in the open court early in the first and then finished it off with a reverse EURO-JAM! but then proceeded to brick a bunch of threes and get burned on defense by guys getting paid an eighth of what he does.  Hmm…more bright spots?  Maybe I’ll have some for you after Saturday night’s game in Chicago against the Bulls.

Till then, enjoy the loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin