Forecasting The Hornets 2015 Offseason

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If all goes moderately well this season, the Charlotte Hornets will enter the summer of 2015 with Playoff momentum, a huge boost in fans (and associated revenue) and a decent amount of maneuverability to further improve the team towards contention.

CBA guru Larry Coon has predicted the league salary cap will rise from a little over $63m to $66.5m next July – a full $3m plus more than the current mark. If $66.5m is indeed the number, GM Rich Cho could have a some extra cash to play with should a few key scenarios play out:

Kemba Walker’s Free Agency

The Bobcats drafted two Lottery picks back in 2011 and four years later at least one is worth re-signing. Depending on Kemba’s development and performance this season, he could command a salary starting at Isaiah Thomas’ 4yr/$27m deal and go all the way up to Ty Lawson’s 4yr/$48m contract. Cho could also choose to sign & trade Kemba for another PG – Rajon Rondo for example. Either way, due to his Lottery pick status, Walker will count as an $8.1m cap hold until his situation is resolved.

Biz and JT’s Free Agency

The other Bobcats 2011 Lottery Pick, Bismack Biyombo, counts a whopping $9.6m towards the cap until he’s either re-signed or renounced thanks to his seventh overall selection status. As I’ve written at length before, this is just one of the reasons why Biz is likely gone sooner than later. Fellow restricted free agent and 2012 Second Round pick Jeff Taylor has a cap hold of around $1.2m, the same as his qualifying offer – given the small number and the team’s investment in JT, it’s likely they’d bring him back.

Gerald Henderson’s Future

Hendo has a player option next season at $6m. He’ll be 27 and will have played the first six years of his career in relative obscurity for mostly bad Bobcats teams. That’s a prime age for athletic two-way wings so I’d be willing to bet that he exercises the option in favor of a nice new longterm deal. And with P.J. Hairston, Taylor and Lance Stephenson already under contract, I’m sure the Hornets wouldn’t mind that decision at all.

The Big Al Situation

Jefferson also has a player option for next season at $13.5m and should he have anything close to the year he had in ’13-’14 (All-NBA Third Team), look for Big Al to exercise the option and get a nice raise. Jefferson loves Charlotte and they love him. He’ll be 30 at the time of signing, so I could see both sides settling on a 3yr,$45m “extension” after the opt-out.

Cody VS Vonleh

In the chance that Noah has stopped growing vertically, the Hornets will find themselves with some serious Lottery redundancy. Both Cody and Vonleh currently project as PFs and Charlotte may find that it’s sunk too many resources into one position. A big trade featuring one of the young big prospects could be on the horizon.

2015 Draft Picks

After years on the extremes (either no picks or multiple ones), the Hornets are finally first rounder neutral going forward. They are neither owed an extra first round pick nor are they owing. Look for the selection to fall in the late teens or early twenties depending on how just successful the season goes; generally a good place to pickup cheap rotation depth with upside.

Hitting the Market

If all of the above goes down (Kemba and Al sign reasonable extensions, Hendo opts out and Biz is renounced) Cho will have somewhere around $6m to spend under the cap on free agents and could clear up more room by sending back an enticing young player (Cody/Noah) via sign & trade. The recent regime has been crafty with their cap room; expect them to do something of note with it.

-ASChin
@BaselineBuzz

The Future of The Bobcats (What to Expect)

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BOBCATS ON COURSE TO REPEAT (LAST SEASON)

What Are They 'Gana Do Next?

What Are They 'Gana Do Next?

The Charlotte Bobcats have played their first first 8 games and have shown their small cult much about what kind of team they will be watching this year.  This first stretch of games represents nearly one-tenth of the full 82-game season and their current record looks to fall in line with many of the media projections of about a 30 – 35 win total for the season.

STYLE OF PLAY

Most anyone that’s watched the Cats play this season seems to be struggling to characterize the team and their style of play.  Early in pre-season, chatter leaked from the club about pushing the tempo and running a bit on offense to boost their scoring output.  As the training camp concluded, it seemed that the team was simply trying to get their players back from injury and everyone adjusted into the mentality that led to their few successes last season. Defense was to be a cornerstone of the Bobcats team play and the offensive formula was trusted to Larry Brown’s basketball genius.  So far this season, no one has seen Charlotte exhibit any sort of expertise on offense or defense.  The few periods of solid basketball have come in short bursts, while the slumps of poor play have dragged across games.

Seasons ago (Sam Vincent Era), the Bobcats had several talented players but seemed to lack a core identity as a collective unit.  During the installation of the Larry Brown scheme, the concerns about the team’s identity were forgotten.  Now, in Brown’s second year, that question returns.  What kind of basketball team is this?  Right now, they are a slow, sloppy, and generally bad NBA product.  Coach Brown probably didn’t plan to lead the league in Turnovers and sit last in Field Goal Percentage.  These traits don’t really fall into his “Play The Right Way” philosophy.

In brief, the 2009-2010 Bobcats team can be described by their slow-pace, low scoring, consistent turnovers, and lack of on-court leadership.  Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton may be team Captains, but their doing little to motivate or assist their partners.  The “Right Way” offense lacks any true centerpiece at this point of the season, so defenses have yet to find any difficulty stopping the Bobcats.

THIS SEASON AND BEYOND

For this year and the next few along the horizon, this will be a team and roster in transition.  The organization surely wants the club to improve and  begin turning some measure of profit. After five years, no one has discovered what it will take to make that happen. Owner Bob Johnson has all but surrendered his efforts to improve the situation and there’s really no need for the Bobcats basketball operations to spend beyond the salary cap to patch this clunker of a team.  The Cats should seriously consider any potential option to unload some of their big contract baggage (Mohammed, Diop, Radmanovich, Diaw, Wallace) to pave the way for some future opportunity toward improvement.  This year’s team doesn’t look to be on course for that elusive post-season goal, so this would be the period where a team’s organization begins to maneuver for better positioning toward the future.

In the short term, the Cats have several young players that could benefit from their time with Coach Brown.  This year or the next may  be his last season, so the men that stay with the team after his departure will be young, well-coached, and preparing to hit their prime.  Most of the team’s currently trade-able players should benefit from their season with Larry, and continue on toward the peak of their careers with another club.  Right now, the organization would do well to get the most in return for their “assets” and begin planning for the future.  There are no real stars like Wade, James, Bosh, or Durant on this team on which to build a foundation.  Their best bet is to acquire one via trade or free agency in the coming years.

For the long-term, the Bobcats should aim for two big-picture goals.  First, they need to get their house in order, financially.  This team needs to unload bad deals, even if that means throwing in one of their better players (Bell / Diaw / Wallace).  Charlotte’s team is nearly unbearable to watch right now, so they can’t really get any less entertaining this season – can they?  Secondly, the team will benefit greatly from the wave of fresh, positive energy with a new ownership group.  Though, things won’t magically become prosperous for the Cats once Bob Johnson finds a taker.  There’s still a lot of work to be done to create a solid, marketable on-court product.  Hopefully, the next owner will be up to the superhuman task of winning the favor of Charlotte’s public (who have outright despised their previous two NBA club owners).

WE’RE DEALIN’

Upon the shock of seeing how disoriented the team looked at the onset of this season, tons of fans have hit their keyboards in order to suggest potential fixes for the team.  Most of those suggestions are trades, so it’s worth taking a quick look at what the team has available. With the look of the Cats so far, no one is untouchable. If the Bobcats have any truly desirable assets for other clubs, here’s the top of the list :

Gerald Wallace  (Pros : Skills, Stats, Best Talent on the Team / Cons : Big Contract)

Raja Bell (Pros : Great Defender, Expiring Contract / Cons: Serious Injury)

Raymond Felton  (Pros : Expiring Contract, Young Guard / Cons : Skill Level)

Boris Diaw (Pros :  Shooting, Passing / Cons : Big Contract)

DJ Augustin (Pros : Young, Shooting, Talent, Contract / Cons : Poor Passing, Unproven)

Vladimir Radmanovich ( Pros : Shooting, Size / Cons : Big Contract )

Bobcats Say Goodbye to Sean May

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Sean May Released by the Charlotte Bobcats

Today the Charlotte Bobcats lightened their payroll and said goodbye to a huge weight that would have dragged on the team over the next season. General Manager Rod Higgins released word that the Bobcats would not offer a qualifying offer contract to Sean May for next season. This ends a difficult period for both May and the organization. After selecting Sean with the (lucky) 13th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the team had hoped he would continue to progress after receiving the Most Outstanding Player recognition for his sensational play in the 2005 NCAA tournament.

Unfortunately, May played only two months of his pro career before experiencing an injury that signaled a pattern for the remainder of his contract with the Bobcats. Last season’s embarrassingly public coverage of May’s weight and conditioning issues made his return to the team highly unlikely. Still, the Bobcats have been in the hunt to strengthen their roster at the reserve Power Forward position. There was speculation that May could have returned for the 2009-2010 season, but Higgins’ comments show that the Cats are looking to head in a new direction. May’s release comes just months after the Bobcats were motivated to move another former lottery pick in Adam Morrison last season.

As the  NBA Draft approaches, two questions are presented with the news of Sean May’s release.
1. Do the Bobcats see a replacement at Power Forward in the Draft or through trade?
2. Considering the Adam Morrison & Sean May projects, should the Bobcats trade their pick in order to avoid another mistake?