How The Bobcats Can Improve : Escaping The Nottery – Ver. 1.0

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Charlotte Bobcats Offseason Checklist

Ah, the Eastern Conference. ‘Tis a place where a bad team can go 2-9 in a late season slump and still be only a game or two out of the Playoffs. The current Race for Eight bears more resemblance to peewee football hot potato than a professional sports exercise. Someone please just win some games and put us all out of our misery.

Which brings us to the titular “Nottery,” a place where franchises go to die: Not good enough to be good and not bad enough to get good. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan understood this more so than any other when he made the controversial Gerald Wallace trade last month. Good isn’t good enough and if you want to get better, sometimes you gotta get a little worse.

SECTION 1. WHAT WE GOT

Before we head out to the supermarket, we should take a look in the cupboard. As poor as the Bobcats have been playing recently, the team does have a few assets.

a.) D.J. Augustin

Has clearly shown that he can be a top 15-20 starting PG in the league. Can shoot and has figured out how to score from in close. Defense isn’t as big of an issue as current rules have made it nearly impossible to defend the position. Proved that he could shoot his way out of a slump. Still on his rookie deal.

b.) Stephen Jackson

Volatile and playing too many minutes for his age, Jackson is nonetheless the Bobcats’ best player. He’s the only guy who can consistently create his own shot and when he’s on, can single-handily carry the team to a victory. His contract is probably untradeable until at least the summer of 2012 so look for JAX to remain in his role with the team next season.

c.) Tyrus Thomas

Needs to prove that he can stay healthy and stay focused but when he’s in physical and mental shape can really change the game from a defensive perspective. Solid rebounder and excellent shot blocker who has a nice mid-range jumper. Bobcats have invested a ton of cash hoping the Tyrus experiment works out. Best case scenario: Starting Power Forward for the next five seasons. Worst case scenario: Severely overpaid role player.

d.) Gerald Henderson

Very good defensive guard. Very athletic. Shown promise as a cutter but jump shot is still erratic. Henderson is another unknown. He’ll probably never be a great long ball threat but if he can develop a consistent mid-to-long range shot could become a very good player.

e.) D.J. White, Dante Cunningham (RFA), Shaun Livingston

Three youngish rotation players who have shown flashes of potential. White seems to have the most upside and is still on his rookie deal. Livingston has managed to carve out a place in the league after destroying his knee a few years ago. Cunningham should keep improving now that he’s playing the three position full-time.

Total it up and you have seven players who’ll most likely be suiting up for the Bobcats next season. That’s half a roster. Combine them with two first round draft picks in June and the CAP CRUNCHERS (Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Eddie Najera) and you’re down to just two roster spots available to improve the team.

SECTION 2. WHAT WE NEED

Augustin, Jackson, Thomas and Henderson will most likely return as four of the team’s starters. Livingston, White and Cunningham will be solid contributors from the bench. That still leaves some major needs:

a.) Men in the Middle

As pleasantly mediocre as Kwame Brown has been, he’s an unrestricted free agent come July and the team will need to make a major upgrade if it wants to compete. Gana Diop is currently the only center on the roster and he was bad before the season ending achilles injury.

b.) Bench Scoring

Augustin, Jackson and (if he develops a jumper) Henderson can handle most of the scoring as starters but the team lacks any sort of big time scoring presence from the bench. The Bobcats will need to find someone capable of taking off some of the scoring load.

c.) Stars

Either through the draft or through crafty trades, the Bobcats will need to find a way to bring in a guy who’ll move the turnstiles and put down game-winning buckets.

SECTION 3. THE DRAFT

Charlotte will most likely pick around #10 and #18 in the draft barring a improbable Bobcat Playoff berth, lottery miracle or a late-season collapse by New Orleans.

The ‘Cats will should have the opportunity to nab players like Kentucky’s Terrence Jones (Iggy-type SF), John Henson (long defensive SF), Texas forwards Tristan Thompson (poor-man’s Elton Brand) and Jordan Hamilton (O.J. Mayo, Jr. check that, DrE is saying Rashard Lewis or Danny Granger, Jr.). Kentucky point Brandon Knight (Jordan Crawford-like combo guard) and Moorehead State’s Kenneth Faried (Reggie Evans with upside) should also be on the board.

It’s by all accounts a weak draft and the ‘Cats would be better off not drafting for need. The center crop is thin but fortunately there are enough solid SF candidates who could be brought in to eventually replace Stephen Jackson a year or two down the road.

SECTION 4. FREE AGENCY

No one knows what the new CBA will look like next season (if there is one) but I’d be willing to bet that the Bobcats’ situation won’t change much. Once all of the expirings come off, the team will sit at around $49 million in salaries, around $10 million south of this year’s cap. Add in the two first rounders along with re-upping Dante Cunningham and the team should be at around $54 million.

Obviously, the remaining $6 million wouldn’t be enough to bring in a big-name star (even if there was one in a weak FA class) but the extra wiggle room may help them pull off a deal or two IF the team is lucky enough to import a decent center from another team.

Free Agent Centers 2011:

a.) DeAndre Jordan.

Made big strides this season but the high-flying athlete probably doesn’t make much sense to pair with a similar player in Tyrus Thomas. Clippers also seem intent on keeping him.

b.) Marc Gasol.

Will likely command around $10 million/per on the open market. Gasol is a lower rent version of his All-Star brother but is only 26 and could develop into top tier center himself given the right circumstances. He’s a restricted and the Griz have stated that they’ll re-sign him but given the historical ownership thriftiness and the fact that Z-Bo’s deal is also up makes me think that Gasol could be had with a big poison-pill offer sheet. To make a move for Gasol, the Bobcats would likely have to find a taker for Boris Diaw’s $9 million expiring contract first (see TRADE section).

c.) Kwame Brown.

Performed adequately for the team as a starter this season and could be brought back as a backup if the price is right.

d.) Other Potentially Interesting FAs.

Big Baby Davis, Nene (ETO), Shane Battier, Carl Landry (who they’ve tried to sign before), Sam Dalembert, Craig Smith, Brandon Wright.

SECTION 5. TRADE

Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw. Did I mention Boris Diaw? I just can’t see any way the Frenchman stays on the Bobcat roster come training camp. Only on the books for a final season, in a contract year (so will likely be motivated – see Chandler, Tyson) and has proven that when he gives a crap can be a game-changing presence in the lineup. All these factors combined with the Coach’s obvious dissatisfaction in Diaw’s inconsistent performances will likely land Boris in another uniform next season.

Potential Trades:

a.) Boris Diaw to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa.

Colangelo wanted him last summer and they need size. Both players on expirings, Bobcats trade big for small but also shave another $1.4 million off the books to go after a FA. ‘Cats get the bench scoring they’ve so desperately needed.

b.) Boris Diaw to LAClippers for Chris Kaman.

Again, both players on expirings. Clips get the third big to rotate with Griffin and Jordan. Bobcats take on an additional $3.2 million and risk Kaman’s recent injury history but if it works out, then they have a high-scoring starting center for the first time in franchise history.

c.) Boris Diaw + Future First Rounder to TeamX for cap space.

In this deal, the ‘Cats could find a team with cap space in need of a versatile big and compensate them with either this year’s late first rounder or Portland’s pick in 2013. The ‘Cats would then have around $18 million to pursue a free agent target like Marc Gasol.

SECTION 6. WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE

Whenever the ’11-’12 NBA season starts, the Bobcats (barring major injury) will look quite a lot better than currently configured.

If the team simply follows the recipe above, they could trot out:

PG: Augustin/Livingston/Brandon Knight

SG: Henderson/Carroll

SF: Jackson/Jordan Hamilton/Cunningham

PF: Thomas/D.J. White/Najera

C: Kaman/Brown/Diop

The team would still be well under the $60 million cap and have enough flexibility the following summer to make a major splash in the vaunted Free Agent summer of 2012. No need to fret, Bobcats fans. I think MJ has a plan and if he follows it correctly, the team may well be in contention sooner rather than never.

Until Version 2.0…

Enjoy the Nottery, Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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Christmas Eve: Jordan Goes Shopping, Bobcats Fans Can’t Sleep

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We’ve all been there…

The week before xmas rolls around and there are only three gifts under the tree. One is obviously a book; the second is for your sister labeled something stupid like “From: Rudolph”; and the other appears to be a Nintendo game but after you take peek and discover that it’s a nail grooming kit from your Aunt Linda, you begin to worry…

“Am I getting the shaft this year?”

Your anxiety builds up until December 24th, but then, magically, throughout Christmas Eve day, the presents slowly appear. The gifts vary in size…like the gifter had no guidance whatsoever. The tallest one is covered in large trash bags held together by duct tape, the smaller ones are blatantly wrapped at a retail “wrapping station”.

Your mind begins to race…

How did this happen? Santa doesn’t come until xmas morning…who deserves the credit for such a bountiful onslaught of holiday cheer?

Your Dad.

Only your Dad puts off shopping until the very last day. Your Dad is the one who goes  to  Toys ‘R’ Us and “throws money” at anything left on the shelves. The result is a bunch of random-but-awesome shit that you didn’t even ask for…a hockey stick, a leather jacket, two catcher’s mitts…maybe a silk shirt.

My premise is this…Michael Jordan is the dad who shops on xmas eve.

Bobcats fans are in for a real treat when they wake up to a whole room of new players. He already blew the “big one” by giving us our new coach early, so…

What will Michael Jordan be getting us for xmas?

Baron Davis?

This has been widely rumored, and covered earlier by Mike here at Bobcats Baseline:

… [the] rumor goes like this – Bobcats will send promising offensive talent D.J. Augustin, misfit shooter Matt Carroll, and rarely-used backup center Desagana Diop to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, the Los Angeles Clippers will send Baron Davis, an aging, injury-riddled point guard that is about a decade past his prime.

Don’t forget “out of shape” and “uninspired” when blessing B-Dizzle with adjectives. But hey, could a reunion with Paul Silas and a faster pace of play be the tune-up that Baron needs?  And if the Clippers would take Diop and Carroll’s contracts, Baron’s deal wouldn’t be that hard to swallow.  Can’t say we wouldn’t be intrigued to see this gift under the tree.

Chris Kaman?

Donald Sterling’s second favorite Clipper is also reportedly being aggressively pushed onto the trading block.  Kaman has been a decent traditional center for a couple years now, and actually made the All-Star game for the first time last season while averaging 18 ppg.

But that All-Star selection probably says more about the dearth of solid traditional centers in the West; and besides, it’s looking like it will be a one-time thing for Kaman anyways.  He’s only played 10 games this year due to an ankle injury and is averaging just 10 ppg/7 rpg. If Kaman is stuffed in our stocking with a packet of Fun Dip, we’d toss him aside while we assess what else we haven’t unwrapped.

Andre Miller?

Brandon Roy and Andre Miller have had a tenuous relationship in Portland’s backcourt.  Despite the fact that his long-term viability as the cornerstone of the franchise has been called into question due to his bad knees, Roy reportedly stressed the poor fit between he and Miller to the Trailblazers front office recently.

The Trailblazers have long been enamored with Gerald Wallace.  Connect the dots and you get the Andre Miller for Gerald Wallace rumor.  Miller is 34, but has a reasonable contract and has been amazingly durable and consistently productive for years.  He’d be an upgrade over DJ at the point, but how much of an upgrade?  Getting Miller would be kind of like finding a refurbished iPad under the tree.

Marcus Camby?

To sweeten the pot, the Blazers could include Marcus Camby.  The big man was brought into Portland last year to fortify their Oden-less frontline as they eyed a deep playoff run.  That didn’t work out, and it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards this year either — so Portland is apparently open to retooling.

Camby is 36, but still has a little left.  He’s an athletic big who has essentially become a rebounding and defensive specialist.  If Charlotte commits to running a more uptempo offense, Camby would be a better fit than Nazr Mohammed. If your brother got Gerald Wallace for xmas, and you got Andre and Marcus, would you trade gifts?

JJ Redick?

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel points out that the net result of the Magic’s two trades was going small for big.  The Magic are now overloaded in the backcourt, with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson pushing Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, Quentin Richardson and JJ Redick for playing time.  Meanwhile, sending Marcin Gortat to the Suns leaves Dwight Howard with no true backup.  The Magic currently go small with Brandon Bass or Ryan Anderson when Howard needs a rest or, god forbid, gets in foul trouble.

That proposition is a bit scary when you’re looking at potentially facing the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.  Could the Magic turn one of their many smalls into a big?  Maybe if they’re willing to part with JJ Redick and take Nazr Mohammed or Gana Diop?

From a basketball standpoint, Redick really duplicates Matt Carroll’s skill set.  That pesky issue aside, it would be hilarious to see Redick on the Bobcats.  In case you weren’t aware, Bobcats (Tarheel) fans have made booing JJ Redick one of the Cable Box’s best traditions.  At this point, the level of derision is so out of proportion to anything that Redick has ever done to affront Bobcat/Tarheel fans that it’s clearly taken on a life of its own.  It would be pretty cool to see Redick turn those boos into delirious cheers by nailing three after three in an uptempo offense. Still, for Tarcats (or Bobheels) Redick would be like getting a big pile of coal in your stocking.

So get to bed early (via Ambien and eggnog), Vitamin Water your tree, and leave out his favorite drink because Michael Jordan coming tonight.

- Deesdale & Dr. E

Balanced Clipper Attack Sends Bobcats Under .500

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Charlotte Bobcats @ LA Clippers 2/23/10

Charlotte can’t overcome Stephen Jackson’s worst game as a Bobcat as they lose 98-94 to the Clips on the road, falling a game below .500 (27-28) and deadlocked with Milwaukee for 8th place in the Conference.  The ‘Cats trail early, turn the ball over, play defense for around two thirds of the game and can’t withstand a late charge by the home team.  Any of this sound familiar?

AP recap here | Box score here

He Was Due for One

The story of the game for the Bobcats has to be Stephen Jackson’s “Jamison“-like stinkbomb.  JAX went 1-16 from the field and ended up fouling out late in the fourth with 7pts, 5asts, 5TOs, and 6 boards.  He never got it going and the ‘Cats threw away a winnable road game thanks to the backcourt’s poor shooting.  JAX and backup point guard D.J. Augustin combined to go 2-24 from the field.  Ouch.
Jackson was lucky to not be T’d up several times as he repeatedly directed his frustration onto the officials.  Before tonight’s game, JAX had scored in double figure in ALL of his 45 games with the Bobcats.

The fact that Jackson’s stinker came a day after his “tired from fatigue” comments doesn’t bode well for a team that has no real backup at the shooting guard position.  Hopefully the coaches will stop rubber cementing Gerald Henderson to the bench from this point on.
One positive note from this development: It did seem as if Jackson’s frustration came from his inability to help his teammates when they needed him, rather than some ego-fueled scorer’s rage.  You like to see that in a player.

How ‘Bout Them Clippers!

For people still wondering why Mike Dunleavy is still employed in any capacity, just take a look at the talented roster he’s assembled in the past couple of years:

  • Baron Davis: B-Diddy can still bring it when he’s motivated and has at least another 3-4 solid years in him.
  • Chris Kaman: Has mastered the 15-foot pick & pop, is a solid rebounder and has apparently vowed to add a 3-point shot to his arsenal in the next two years.
    Too bad that Hollywood has moved on to 3D for all of its monsters, freaks & aliens.  Kaman could have picked up a lot of side-work in the offseason as sort of a poor man’s Peter Mayhew.
  • Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin: Three solid prospects picked in the last few drafts, two of which have All-Star potential.
  • Craig Smith, Travis Outlaw: Talented guys in their mid-20s who could definitely be in the rotation for a contending club.
  • Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden: Quality “Rent-a-Veteran” players who make enough plays every night to put your team in a position to win.

Add in a MAXplayer like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh (they have the cap space to do it) and a real coach and this team could be VERY GOOD next year.

The Clips went nine deep tonight and (unlike the Bobcats, who essentially got production from five guys with Nazr out with a back and D.J./JAX ineffective), ALL NINE PLAYERS contributed.  It was death by a thousand cuts with Butler dropping corner threes at will, Eric Gordon scoring the ball from everywhere on the court and Baron balling in spurts like it was the year 2000.  Six players dropped double figures for LA while new backup PG Steve Blake notched 7 assists.  Good times to be a Clips fans.

Who Steps Up?

The Bobcats rallied hard in the third quarter when they erased the Clips’ 13-point lead at the 6:36 mark and went up 64-62.  They couldn’t hold on as no one (aside from Boris Diaw) could step up their game in Jax’s absence.  Gerald Wallace had one of his super-stats games (32pts, 12rbs, 4steals, 5asts) but he’s not the team’s Go-To guy in the 4th.  That’s JAX’s job and tonight he just wasn’t delivering.  Raymond tried but couldn’t do it.  Boris was aggressive and could have nailed a three with 2:50 to go that would have put the Cats up by six but it rimmed out.
The Bobcats will need to find a strategy that will allow them to win games even if their clutch scorer is cold.  Hope they figure it out soon.

Bullets:

  • Tyrus Thomas (10pts, 4rbs, 3blks) showcased both a fifteen AND a twenty footer.  He also had a nice post scoop & score on Jordan in the second half from the block.  Didn’t realize he had these moves already.  Hopefully LB will stick around at least for another season to help tutor T2 to the next level.
  • Diaw looked great tonight and nearly logged the franchise’s first triple double with 20pts, 9rbs, 9asts.  He looked aggressive and alert.  Clippers broadcast team was gushing over him all night.
  • As much as I loved Crash’s line tonight, I HATED the number in the minutes column: 48.  How is this team going to make the Playoffs when the top two guys are already running on fumes?  Coach Brown needs to suck it up and let Gerald Henderson & Derrick Brown play through some mistakes.  Besides, they can’t be any worse than Augustin, right?
  • Who would you rather have: DeAndre Jordan ($736,000) or Tyson Chandler ($12 ka-gillion)?
  • Bobcats should be sold by the end of the month.  Word has it that MJ has until the 28th to match the Postolos Group offer.  We’ll have an in-depth article on this later on in the week.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

STATE OF THE ROSTER: Post JRICH Trade 12/10/08

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Phoenix Suns

Well…

There are a couple of ways of looking at this trade.  Let’s start with the negative…

1. The Bobcats trade their most recognizable and most offensively explosive player to the Phoenix Suns for two rotation players.  They didn’t get Steve Nash, nor Amare Stoudamire, nor Barbosa, nor Shaq, nor did they receive any draft picks or significant cap space.  They got a sometimes productive starting power forward in Boris Diaw and an aging defensive ace SG in Raja Bell.  And to top it all off, they have to send the Suns a 2nd round draft pick and include everyone’s favorite “Hustle Stats” hero in Jared Dudley.  Diaw has battled conditioning problems over the past few seasons and has regressed mightily since his Most Improved Player award in ’05.  The good news is is that Sean May now has an “Eatin’ Buddy” and (being French) Diaw can now instruct young, emaciated PF Alexis Ajinca in the fine art of American Obesity.  “First you must layer ze mayonaise gently on ze baguette.  Zen you add ze lump crab meat.  Voila!  Zat is what makes le magnifique Crab Bread!”

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