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 Knock Off Bulls In Impressive Fashion

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their best win of the season in defeating the Chicago Bulls 96-91 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats are now 15-21 overall and 6-2 since interim Coach Paul Silas took over.  The previous five wins had only resulted in tempered enthusiasm due the the marginal quality of the opponents; but the Bulls are a bonafide contender, and the Cats took them down.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

The Bobcats came out red-hot to start the game.  Gerald Wallace looked good in his return from an ankle injury, DJ and Boris hit some early threes, and Kwame Brown (yes, seriously) dominated Kurt Thomas inside for 10 first quarter points as the Bobcats staked a 36-22 lead after the first frame. Now is a good time to note that the Bulls are playing without Joakim Noah, who’s in the midst of an 8-10 week hiatus after having surgery on a torn thumb ligament.

The Cats would go on to push that lead up to 17 early in the second, only to see it dwindle away.  The Bulls battled back behind Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer and eventually took a 80-75 with 8 minutes left in the fourth.  From there the Cats ratcheted up the defensive intensity and DJ, Jack and Tyrus Thomas took the game over.

The most finish went like this: with the Bulls up 89-88 with 1:15 left, Tyrus Thomas hit an insane prayer of a reverse layup.  Calling it a reverse layup is probably kind; seriously, check the picture.  That shot went in.  Next play down DJ forced Derrick Rose into the teeth of the defense where Boris Diaw was able to get a piece of his layup attempt.  Now under a minute to go and the Cats iso Stephen Jackson in the post on Luol Deng; Jack comes through with a pretty turnaround J to put the Cats up three with 30 seconds to go.

The Bulls take a timeout and come out with their best play: give it to Derrick Rose.  But as they had done numerous times before, the Cats seemed to sense exactly when to give DJ help.  Jack collapsed on Rose while Tyrus Thomas moved into the lane to cut off Deng as he flashed to the rim; Rose then forced a bad pass behind Deng that was picked off by Diaw.  From there, DJ hit a few free throws to finish it off.

And so the Cats move into the 8th spot in the East with this, their fourth straight, win.  If nothing else, this little streak serves as vindication for Jordan, who made the undoubtedly tough call to stand pat with the roster and fire Larry Brown instead of listening to his calls for more trades. Jordan gets bagged on a lot for his track record in the front office (rightfully so, and he’s still going to have to make more difficult decisions about how to rebuild this team eventually), but he deserves credit for seeing that the Bobcats are much better than how they were playing under Larry Brown and that they needed to exhale with a player’s coach at the helm.

Notes

  • So DJ really seems to get up for playing against Rose, huh?  22 points (6-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-9 FT), 12 assists/1 turnover for DJ tonight, while Derrick Rose was held to 17 points (5-17 FG), 7 assists/4 turnovers.  I seem to recall another time when DJ had a particularly stellar game against Rose — during their rookie year maybe?
  • Best game for Tyrus Thomas in a couple weeks: 30 minutes, 17 points (7-14 FG), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Nothing like the little charge you get from facing your old team, huh?
  • Tweet of the night goes to Bobcats AP beat writer Mike Cranston: “Suggestion on press row next CHA ad campaign feature Augustin breaking out of chains and Jack driving a bus over LB’s body”  Sounds like a job for Mike and/or Deesdale.
  • Next game is Friday night in Boston to face the Celtics, who used to bring out the best in the Bobcats, but lately have just owned them.  7:30 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

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Bobcats Fall To Bulls In Regular Season Finale

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Bulls, 4/14/10


The Charlotte Bobcats wrapped up their regular season by losing to the Bulls 98-89 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.  Derrick Rose led all scorers with 27 points.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Pretty simple analysis for this one, folks.  This game was completely meaningless for the Bobcats, but the Bulls desperately needed the win to secure the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Bulls entered the night a game up on Toronto; had they lost and the Raptors won (which they did), the Raptors held the tiebreaker and would have snuck into the 8th spot.

Larry Brown paid some lip service to “playing the right way” and upholding the integrity of the league by not sitting any of his starters; however, it should be noted that they played limited minutes (no starter over 24 minutes) and never really came close to matching the Bulls intensity.

Tidbits

  • Perhaps the most noteworthy item to come out of this game was that Tyson Chandler was injured in the second quarter.  Chandler was intercepting a pass (after a successful Bobcats trap in the backcourt) but got tangled up with a Bulls player and landed hard on his side.  His hip and elbow took the brunt of the fall and he didn’t return to the game; however, it doesn’t sound as if the injury will hamper him in the playoffs.
  • Neither Nazr Mohammed (back) nor Tyrus Thomas (thumb) looked good.  Nazr looks very rusty, and Tyrus seems to be bothered by his bad thumb.
  • Is Taj Gibson the most unheralded, under-the-radar rookie in the league this year?  Dude had 13 rebounds, 7 offensive and caused problems for the Cats all night.  Mostly just useful in that role (energy, hitting the glass) for now, but if he continues to develop his mid-range game, I see a little David West in him.
  • Sorry for the lack of coverage on the Larry Brown kerfluffle yesterday.  Peter Vescey essentially regurgitated Michael Jordan’s comment from several weeks ago regarding the possibility of letting Larry Brown out of his contract early if his family situation (wife and kids are in Philadelphia) demanded it — and combined it with the rumor that Brown had sent feelers out to both the 76ers and Clippers regarding their pending coaching openings.  I hope Larry is around to coach the Bobcats next year, but I won’t be shocked if he isn’t.  I liked Scott Fowler’s take on the issue.
  • Per Rick Bonnell, here is the schedule for the Bobcats first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic.  Games 1 and 2 in Orlando on Sunday and Wednesday, then games 3 and 4 in Charlotte Saturday and Monday.  I always forget how long they stretch out the first round.
  • Stay tuned as we prepare for the playoffs — make sure you’re following me and ASChin on Twitter as well.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Salvage Road Trip In Memphis

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Grizzlies, 2/26/10

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 93-89 on Friday night to wrap up their 4-game road trip at 1-3.  AP recap here, box score here.

This game was not televised locally, and the news that Michael Jordan will become the controlling owner of the team is overshadowing, so our comments on the game will be pithy.

Needless to say, after dropping the first three games of this road trip, 7 of the last 10 overall and falling out of the eighth spot in the East, this was nearly a must-win.  On top of all that, we have the Mavs, Celtics and Lakers this coming week.

As of Saturday, the Cats are still on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs, a half game back of 8th place Miami.  Both the Bulls (currently 6th) and Bucks (currently 7th) are have won 8 of their last 10 to push the Cats back out.  Basically, every game is huge the rest of the way, and the Cats should be happy to have a relatively benign and home-heavy schedule down the stretch.

The Cats will take the weekend off to rest up, while continuing to work Tyrus Thomas and Theo Ratliff in the mix.  Hopefully, we can get Nazr back to bolster the frontline.  Next game is Monday night, 7 PM ET, hosting Dirk and the Mavs at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

Tyrus Thomas Trade: Further Analysis

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tyrus-welcome

On a wild NBA Trade Deadline Day, the Charlotte Bobcats swung a deal to get the elusive athletic power forward that Larry Brown has been pining for all season.

The Cats have obtained Tyrus Thomas from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Ronald “Flip” Murray, Acie Law, and a future first round pick.

I touched on Thomas in an earlier post; the knock on him is immaturity/lack of consistency.  More specifically, Thomas is infamous for “mental lapses.”  This makes him an interesting match with Larry Brown, who demands near-perfection and is a stickler for detail.

Most players in a Larry Brown system take awhile to “get it,” going through a process of assimilating everything before eventually settling back down and really showing improvement.  However, not all players respond, so this will either be the best thing that happened to Tyrus Thomas or a spectacular disappointment.

If Thomas does work out, it will be interesting to see what happens with Boris Diaw.  As we’ve watched Boris since he’s been a Bobcat, it’s clear that he’s struggled this season while playing with Steven Jackson.  Last year, prior to Jackson’s arrival, more of the offense ran through Diaw as he was able to utilize his “point-forward” skills.

Could Thomas eventually start, allowing Boris to move to the bench as a sixth man?  It’s not a perfect solution to the Jackson/Diaw conundrum, as Jack plays so many minutes that it’s inevitable that Diaw will play with him some.  But this way you could maximize the time that Diaw is on the court with the offense running through him, and not Jack.

Furthermore, we’ll be watching to see what happens with Thomas in the offseason (and Diaw, for that matter).  The Cats will be in pretty much the same boat with Thomas as they were with Raymond Felton this past offseason.  Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent, which means any other team will be able to offer him a contract starting at a qualifying offer of $6.2 million.  The Cats would then have a right to match.

But even with all the cap space out there, would any team in their right mind offer Thomas a contract for that much?  Might the Bobcats be able to sign him to a more reasonable deal instead?

Here’s looking forward to seeing Thomas in action for the first time soon; we don’t have any confirmation yet, but one would assume that the Cats will be trying to get Thomas suited up for Friday night’s tilt with the the Cavs.

That’s enough about Thomas for now, here’s a quick breakdown of what the Cats gave up to get him:

Acie Law

Acie Law was thrown in to the Stephen Jackson trade to make salaries match and because Larry Brown is perpetually auditioning “third point guards.”  However, Law had already been a bust in Atlanta, wasn’t getting any playing time in Golden State, and couldn’t break into the Bobcats rotation either.

The few moments that Law did get off the bench were primarily garbage time; even then he looked hopelessly overmatched.  His shot wasn’t falling, he didn’t seem quick enough, and didn’t show any real confidence or “game-managing” ability.

The one significant chance that Law got was in a December matchup against the Knicks in NYC.  Down 2 with seconds left, Law was inexplicably inserted into the game.  Furthermore, the play was drawn up for Law to get the ball on the final play — he took it coast-to-coast and forced up a layup that never really had a chance and was easily swatted away by Danilo Galinari to seal the Knicks win.

I would be willing to bet that Law will be out of the league and playing overseas next year.  He’s just not skilled or athletic enough to make it in the Association.

For Chicago, he simply represents a $2 million expiring contract as they clear room to make a splash in the Lebron/D-Wade/Bosh/Joe Johnson free agency sweepstakes this summer.

Ronald “Flip” Murray

Flip is the definition of a journeyman in the NBA.  The Bulls will mark Flip’s 8th NBA team in 8 years.  It isn’t exactly clear why this hired gun can’t stick anywhere or get a long-term contract.  Offensively, he’s an above-average, sweet-shooting, somewhat undersized 2-guard.  Though ballhandling and distributing are not his strengths, he can slide down to the point in a pinch.  This is how he’s been able to carve out a career in the league.

Defensively, he’s below average, due to his size and lack of elite quickness and athleticism.  This fact probably comes the closest to answering why Flip has, and will continue to have, a journeyman’s career.

Flip was signed to a bargain 1-year $1.9 million deal by the Bobcats prior to the season and was a good fit.  After sitting out several games to start the season, Flip joined the lineup and frequently provided a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.

He is currently averaging 9.9 points per game — exactly his career average, too — but is not shooting as high of a percentage as he had in the past.  Nonetheless, he will be missed.  While the Bobcats blogosphere is undoubtedly hopeful that DJ will step up and Gerald Henderson might even see some playing time, the safe bet is probably on Steven Graham filling in for the bulk of Flip’s minutes.

Ultimately, he was included in the trade from the Bulls’ perspective because he is on a one-year/expiring deal, but Flip will probably play an important role for the Bulls the rest of the season.  Remember, Chicago traded away John Salmons for more cap relief, so they have a hole at the 2-guard spot.

The Future First-Round Pick

This one is probably the hardest to part with.  As we’ve said over and over here at the Baseline, the best way for a small-market team to jump-start a run at a championship is to hit a home run with a first round pick (the Spurs and Tim Duncan are probably the best example, here).

But under Larry Brown, the Bobcats are clearly going about business another way.  And with Michael Jordan’s disastrous track record at making draft selections, maybe it’s a good pre-emptive strike to trade away picks for young veterans anyways.

Let’s remember a few things, though.  First, the Bobcats already owe a first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves; second, you cannot trade away your first round pick in consecutive years and third, it’s not yet clear if there are any further conditions on the pick used in today’s trade.

The initial pick we have to give up was traded to the Denver Nuggets in the summer of 2008 (for their #20 pick in that draft, which we used on Alexis Ajinca — that’s a whole other story); the Nuggets have since moved it in another deal and it now is the property of the T-Wolves.

The pick is protected somewhat; last year it was protected if it was in the lottery, so we got to use it on Gerald Henderson.  This year it is only protected if it’s even higher, like a top 8 or 10 pick (Note: not exactly sure on that).  Whatever the case, barring a total collapse by the Cats, it looks like our first round pick this year will be the property of the T-Wolves.

So, given the rule about not trading away your first round picks in consecutive years, the earliest that the Bulls will get our pick in exchange for Ty Thomas will be 2012.  That’s a little scary, as Larry Brown will probably be gone by then, and who knows what the roster will look like.  It’s entirely conceivable that the Cats could return to the lottery by then and desperately need some help in the draft.

UPDATE: No sooner than I posted this and sat down for some dinner does Rick Bonnell come through to confirm that the future first-round pick owed to the Bulls for is indeed protected.  The exact nature of the protection is still unclear, but it is assumed to be similar to the protection that is attached to the pick that we currently owe to the T-Wolves (the exact nature of which is also unclear, but whatever…).

-Dr. E


POLL : TYRUS THOMAS TRADE REACTIONS

  • Great Deal for Cats
    (82%, 102 Votes)
  • Better Deal for Bulls
    (5%, 6 Votes)
  • Not Worth 1st Round Pick
    (13%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 124

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Breaking Trade News: Tyrus Thomas To Bobcats

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tyrus-trade

Multiple outlets are reporting that the Bobcats and Bulls are set to finalize a trade that would send Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats.

It appears that the final deal will be Thomas for Flip Murray and Acie Law (both expiring contracts) and a future protected first round pick.

Thomas is currently in the final year of his rookie deal at $4.7 million this season.  He will be a restricted free agent this summer, due a qualifying offer of $6.2 million for 2010-11.

Thomas is a 6’10” super-athletic power forward who has had difficulty putting it altogether on the court since he was drafted #4 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft after a promising freshman year at LSU.  While he has shown flashes of brilliance, he is also regarded as still being quite immature.

While there have been no major transgressions, either off-court or on, the Bulls have undoubtedly grown weary of dealing with his lack of professionalism and consistency.  He was suspended for a game earlier this month for “conduct detrimental to the team” in what was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Furthermore, the emergence of Joakim Noah likely further influenced the Bulls to trade him now to get an asset back.

Thomas is currently averaging 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 23 minutes per game this year for a career-high 16.7 PER.  He did miss a swath of games earlier this season with a broken arm; this injury was sustained in a weightlifting accident and does not reflect any chronic problem.

No doubt Larry Brown is geeked about teaching young Tyrus how to “play the right way” and “respect the game.”

We’ll have more posts to come on the trade this afternoon.  For now, here’s some bonus links:

-Dr. E


POLL : TYRUS THOMAS TRADE REACTIONS

  • Great Deal for Cats
    (82%, 102 Votes)
  • Better Deal for Bulls
    (5%, 6 Votes)
  • Not Worth 1st Round Pick
    (13%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 124

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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Pacers 3/22/09

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1.  Wow, that was brutal.  The Bobcats drop a must-win to the Pacers on Saturday night at the Cable Box, and it wasn’t even close: 108-83.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net GameFlow here.  The Cats fall to 31-39.

2.  A quick apology for the lack of a post on the Raptors game from Friday night.  In retrospect, I should have watched that one live on TV, then skipped the Pacers game.

3.  It was ugly.  The first quarter and a half, when most people in the arena were more focused on watching the Carolina score on their cellphones, wasn’t too bad.  Raja Bell hit a three with 5:45 left in the second to give the Cats a 36-34 lead, but Danny Granger responded with two straight three-pointers of his own and the Pacers never looked back.

The Bobcats trailed 53-45 at the half; then came one of the weakest quarters I’ve ever seen.  Pretty much everything went wrong as the Cats got dominated, 33-9 in the third quarter.  While they couldn’t get any offense going on their own end (airballed jumpers, bricked free throws, turnovers, 24 second violations, you name it), the Bobcats allowed the Pacers to get whatever they wanted.  And when Granger, Jack or Murphy weren’t getting layups, they were nailing seemingly every jumper they took.

The badness continued into the fourth quarter, when the Pacers briefly took a 34 point lead (92-58).  At this point, the boo birds were out, and rightfully so.  The Cats were lead-footed, off-target and completely overwhelmed.  It was mostly the starters that were playing during the third quarter, and I’m still at a loss as to why Larry Brown didn’t pull them earlier than he did.

Going into the second night of a back-to-back, and playing their fourth game in six nights, Larry Brown was concerned enough about the possibility of fatigue to mention it during pregame media availability.  But in the third quarter, when everyone in the building could see that the starters were gassed and the Pacers were blowing the game open, the reserves sat until it was way too late.

4.  From the Pacers’ persepective, the story of the game was Jarret Jack.  One night after getting benched and sent to the locker room in the third quarter for arguing with teammate TJ Ford in the team’s fifth straight loss, Jack scored 31 points on an insane 13-14 FG in 32 minutes for a +29 +/-.  Jack got to relax with Granger and Murphy on the bench for the entirety of the fourth quarter, while TJ Ford played garbage time with Travis Diener and Rasho Nesterovic.

Advantage: Jack.

5.  For the Bobcats, the story has to be the blown chance to make some progress in the fight for the 8th playoff spot.  With the Bulls and Bucks both playing tough games Saturday night (hosting the Lakers and Blazer, respectively), the Cats just had to take care of business against a Pacers team that had lost five in a row and was showing signs of self-destruction.

The Bulls and Bucks both cooperated by losing their difficult games.  For the Bobcats to have come with such a weak effort given what was on the line (and with a decent Saturday night home crowd in the building) is really disappointing.

6.  So everything stays at it was in the race for the 8th spot.  Chicago is in the driver’s seat; the Bobcats are 1 back, the Bucks 1.5.

7.  The Cats get a few days off to rest and heal up.  Next game is Wednesday night at Washington.

-E