What To Do With Biz?

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Picked seventh overall in the 2011 Draft, Bismack Biyombo entered the league with high expectations. As the championed prospect of former OKC exec and current Cats GM Rich Cho, “Biz” (founder of #biznation, brother to Billy) was immediately compared to another shot-swatter from the Congo, Serge Ibaka.

Three years later, Biyombo has certainly lived up to the comparison from a shot-blocking standpoint. His per 48 block numbers trail just behind Serge and he’s the only player in the league to average at least a swat per game while playing less than 15 minutes a night. It’s a near guarantee Biz would rank amongst the league’s Top 5 shot-blockers if he were playing starters minutes.

More impressive is Biyombo’s rebounding. In just 14.3 minutes per game, Biz is averaging 4.9 boards. That’s Kenneth Faried-level insane. Biyombo’s rebound rate of 19.3 blows away anything Ibaka’s ever posted. Again, if Biz were starting, he’d likely be averaging double figure rebounds and crack the league’s Top 10.

The problem, of course, is at the other end. While Serge has moved his gorgeous jumper further and further out to the three point line, Biz still has trouble finishing anything outside of a dunkthat is if he hasn’t fumbled the ball first. Despite extremely limited touches on offense, Biyombo’s turnover rate is twice as high as Ibaka’s and nearly three times the rate of Josh McRoberts – a guy who’s constantly handling the rock. When it comes to protecting the basketball, Biz is less Ibaka and more Kendrick Perkins.

Turnovers are a major no-no for coach Steve Clifford so it’s no wonder the staff was looking forward to Brendan Haywood’s eventual return. While Haywood isn’t nearly the shot swatter Biyombo is, he’s also not going to give the ball away immediately after touching it and offers just enough post scoring so that the team doesn’t have to entirely change the way it plays when Big Al goes to the bench. He’s also a better system defender than Biz – just check out last years defensive on/off court numbers – Mike Dunlap’s Bobcats gave up ten points per game less when Haywood subbed in for Biyombo.

The size of the gap is probably an aberration given the coaching misadventures and Biz’s youth but there is a very real story buried in those numbers. Clifford’s gushing comments about Haywood’s past exploits last summer weren’t lip service. Had he been healthy this season, it’s likely Brendan would’ve taken Biz’s spot in the rotation.

Points at a Premium

If you haven’t heard, the Bobcats have a hard time scoring. They’ve played better at that end since the All-Star break but against a good D, the late game offense generally devolves into a triple teamed Al Jefferson with Kemba Walker left to improvise. In order to stay in close games, Clifford relegates Biz’s fellow one-dimensional phenom, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, to the bench in favor of a good to league average three point shooter (Anthony Tolliver, Gary Neal or Chris Douglas-Roberts) just to keep the opposing wing defenders honest. MKG can at least catch a ball and do a few things with it once he has it – so if he’s sitting, you know Biyombo’s not sniffing crunch time.

All of which brings us to the premise of the post. Despite the strides Biyombo has made over the last few seasons, there’s essentially zero chance that he’s in their long term plans for the following three reasons:

1. Al Jefferson. Big Al’s the most talented player in franchise history and has at least 4-5 solid seasons left in him. Thus, the starting center spot is occupied for the foreseeable future and you can’t play Al & Biz together. Next.

2. MKG. Unless you like watching 3 on 5 hoops or want to lose a ton of games on purpose, you absolutely can’t play MKG and Biz together in the same lineup. Since Big Al’s return from an early season ankle injury, MKG and Biz have barely logged any minutes together. Clifford’s no fool. If the Cats keep either long term, it’ll be MKG.

3. Money. Two off-the-court comps for Biz: Derrick Williams and Evan Turner. As a high Lottery pick, Biz is due $3.8 million next season and after that, the team would have to extend a $5.2 million qualifying offer as the first step towards restricted free agency. So yeah, it’s not gonna happen. Just as Williams’ and Turner’s contracts spooked their respective teams into abandoning them this season, Biyombo’s looming free agency and disproportionate cap hold will likely jettison him to another team as soon as a decent opportunity presents itself.

Open for Biz-ness

So where exactly would that opportunity be? The team acquiring Biz would ideally be both offensively advanced and in desperate need of a rim protector who doesn’t have to score. Dallas, Portland and Golden State immediately come to mind as potential candidates. Unfortunately the Warriors have serious cap issues and another raw center (Festus Ezeli) returning from injury next season. The Blazers practically have a stable of developing young could-be bigs at the end of their bench. But Dallas…oh yes, Dallas. I think we might have a match!

Consider first Mark Cuban’s penchant for aggressively raw big men with over-sized contracts (Erik Dampier, Gana Diop, Haywood, Tyson Chandler). Now combine that with an offense practically tailored for Biz: the league’s all-time greatest stretch four and a couple of pick and roll instigators in the backcourt:

“Nah Biz, just set this pick and get the hell out of the way. We’ll take care of the rest.”

The Mavs are practically starting Old Biz now, with veteran Sam Dalembert occupying much the same role. Biyombo’s directive would be clear and simple: Get rebounds, dunk putbacks and block shots. Sure, he’ll still have to improve his hands and figure out how to not foul out of games before halftime but once he does, Big D could be Biz’s ticket to a big payday.

So what would Charlotte receive in a Biyombo to Dallas trade? The Mavs don’t have a first round pick to trade until after the Draft (when they’ll likely send it to OKC) – and no one in their right mind would pay that high a price anyways. What Dallas does have is Boston’s 2014 2nd Round pick. As of today, that’s the 34th overall selection in the Draft and with a deep class on the way, Charlotte could find an intriguing guy who slips (Isaiah Austin, James Young, Mitch McGary) or a Euro “draft & stash” prospect for the future. Best of all, the Hornets would save around $3.2 million in the deal – giving them the ability to find a two-way veteran backup on the cheap (ala Golden State with Jermaine O’Neal).

And really, from an “asset” perspective the trade would basically be a wash. Remember that Cho originally traded up from 19th in order to pick Biyombo at seven for basically no cost (unless you count an angry Stephen Jackson as an asset). Swapping a late first for the 34th pick in a deeper draft a few years later is hardly the worst thing that’s ever happened to the franchise – and the real mistake of course was passing on Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Nic Vucevic on Draft night back in 2011.

In the meantime, let us enjoy our remaining time with Biz, soaking in his incomparable likability, his endlessly entertaining tweets and his tenacious effort each and every time he steps on the court. After all…

ALL YOUR BLOCKS BELONG TO BIZ!

-ASChin

@BaselineBuzz

 

End of the Gana Diop Era

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Gana Diop Illustration

As NBA enthusiasts across the globe get ready for the exciting action and intense competition of the Playoffs, Charlotte Bobcats fans should take pause to reflect on the end of an era – The DeSagana Diop Era. It’s not often that a team says goodbye to one of its Big Three (salary bandits). So, this is a great opportunity to survey the impact that the giant’s departure will have for the club.

Oh, how time and paychecks fly by. It seems like it was just yesterday that the Bobcats were pressured by Larry Brown and duped by the Dallas Mavericks into swallowing Diop’s ridiculous contract in exchange for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. Since then, ‘Gana has eaten up over 11% of the team’s salary cap with few contributions to justify it. Acquiring the Senegalese seven-footer immediately hamstrung the ‘Cats efforts to retain their much better Center, Tyson Chandler in the 2010 off-season. Regrettably, Charlotte had to take back Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, and Erick Dampier’s contract in a financially-driven trade, delivering Chandler to the Mavs where he went on to win the championship. Oh, and then Tyson picked up the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012. But, those wiry ol’ Bobcats still had Diop on their bench! Another fun fact – Ryan Hollins is a contributor off the bench for the Playoff-bound LA Clippers and played over three-times as many minutes as ‘Gana did this season.

Gana Diop Era Highlights

Okay, let’s take a moment to look at some Gana Diop highlights:

Next Step for Diop

It’s highly likely that Diop will step away from the NBA, and walk off into the sunset (after he collects the last of his $7,372,200.00 from the Bobcats this month). Despite the pain that he’s caused Michael Jordan’s wallet, it looks like the guy has actually done some pretty good things off the court with the NBA Cares program.

Nevertheless, ‘Gana is gonna leave a big hole on this team’s payroll. It’s fair that fans have concerns about how the team will use their salary cap numbers to improve this summer. But, when the time comes to announce the next signing, Charlotte’s front office needs to measure their offer and ask, “Is that guy worth Gana Diop money?”

-Mike

Bobcats Drop to 0-14 All-Time Against Dallas, Lose 101-92

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Shaun Livingston: "Derp." (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Recap | Box Score

Another game against Dallas, another loss.

The Bobcats moved to 0-14 all-time against the Dallas Mavericks with tonight’s 101-92 loss.

The Bobcats, on the tail end of a back-to-back, were stuck with a consistent 12-point deficit (give or take, obviously) for most of the game as their offense only managed to shoot 37.1% from the field while the Mavs shot 46.5%. Dirk Nowitzki headed the Bobcat-Killing Committee once again, with 25 points, including some clutch shots in the fourth quarter. The quintessential Bobcats-Mavs game, if you will.

A slow start for the Bobcats was quelled by an unusual 11-point scoring flash by Boris Diaw. However, after the Mavs compensated for his offensive outbreak, the Bobcats couldn’t find anyone to step up for a while. D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson’s shots were off early and the Bobcats fell to a nine-point deficit after the first quarter.

Luckily in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston came alive and had 10 points on six shots. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to help cut into Dallas’ lead as the rest of the Bobcats were wholly ineffective. And that especially extends to the defense, which was atrocious. I can’t even remember how many dunks Tyson Chandler had in the first half (eleventy-jillion?). Augustin could shoulder much of the blame as he couldn’t defend Jose Juan Barea because of Barea’s quick first step. And once Barea, or another Dallas player, got to the interior, the defense again collapsed. The Bobcats weren’t talking to each other, which is an incredibly important part of defensive cohesiveness. Furthermore, Tyson Chandler (in his first game back in Charlotte since being traded) dominated from a rebounding perspective in the first half, grabbing 11 rebounds in the first half alone. Kwame Brown was simply not strong or quick enough to rebound against Chandler. And to make things seem worse, I found that Jackson seemed disinterested.

The third quarter was more of the same for the most part. Barea and Dirk were still hitting their shots. Tyson Chandler was slowed down though, en route to only four second-half rebounds. D.J. Augustin did make an encouraging turnaround after hitting a three-pointer which seemed to instill some confidence in him. He ran with it, completing a three-point play on the next offensive possession and pulling the Bobcats back into the game, somehow. On the other side of things, Stack Jack was doing the opposite. In the third quarter, Jackson was getting quite fussy and even drew a technical foul. I was fairly confident he would get tossed by the end of the night (he didn’t). The third quarter ended with the Bobcats down 16. As Dr. E noted, it just felt like the Bobcats weren’t in it.

In a pleasing turn of events (especially to those who paid to watch this game in person), the fourth quarter was much more entertaining and competitive. Playing much better defense and utilizing better ball movement on offense, the Bobcats cut the Mavs’ lead to six with a minute left. It could have been even closer than that, but the Mavericks had seven offensive rebounds between 10:22 and 5:01 left in the fourth quarter. And even though some of those did not lead to any points for the Mavs, it took time off the clock from the Bobcats’ comeback effort. And in the end, the Bobcats couldn’t muster the energy to complete a comeback, losing by nine.

The Bobcats, now 21-29, play their next game at home against the Celtics (37-12) on Monday at 7 p.m. EST.

Plays of the Night

Shaun Livingston dunk!

There was also a very nice Shaun Livingston to Gerald Wallace alley oop that you can find here.

Stats Leaders:

Bobcats

D.J. Augustin: 7-17 FG, 21 PTS, 2 AST

Gerald Wallace: 6-15 FG, 13 PTS, 11 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK

Stephen Jackson: 5-17 FG, 17 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK

Mavs

Dirk Nowitzki: 10-19 FG, 25 PTS, 4 REB, 4 BLK

Tyson Chandler: 4-10 FG, 9 PTS, 15 REB, 2 BLK

Jason Terry: 7-14 FG, 21 PTS, 3 AST

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Lose Season Opener in Dallas

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The Bobcats dropped their season opener in Dallas 101-86.  After a miserable start (the Mavs scored the first 16 points of the game), the Cats fought back to take the lead briefly in the 2nd quarter.  But Dirk Nowitzki (game high 28 points on 11-13 FG) and Jason Kidd (18 assists) dominated the third quarter, putting the game out of reach.

AP Recap | Box Score

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I was particularly impressed by anyone’s play for the Bobcats save for Tyrus Thomas, who led the Cats with 22 points.  The Cats were particularly bad with Nazr Mohammed on the floor.  DJ was unassertive and unimpressive (2-10 FG).  Jack had a quiet game.  Gerald Wallace had a good start, but faded late and eventually sat down with what looked like a calf cramp.

Hopefully we’ll look back on this game in a few weeks and remember it as just another example of how Dirk and the Mavs have the Bobcats’ number.  But the pessimist in me saw signs that some of the well-publicized concerns about this team are also well-founded, particularly that the point guard and center positions are weak.

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

Officials Overturn Bobcats Win in Dallas

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Dallas 12/12/09


It won’t show up in the standings but the Charlotte Bobcats won a big game against the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night in a valiant defensive effort as Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson all topped 20 points and held a solid Western Conference contender to just 39% shooting from the floor.  Final score 97-98.

AP recap here | Box score here

Where Have You Gone Tim Donaghy?

I’m not going to recount it here in detail but the officiating was worse than brutal tonight.  You could sense as much as the Bobcats headed into the 4th quarter up by eight, 70-62.  The Mavs were struggling, yes, but Mark Cuban was at his manipulative best by trotting out The The Protectors of Freedoms and Liberties on the sidelines complete with Gary “Lt. Dan” Sinise leading the charge.  What official in his right mind is gonna let this many war veterans go home unhappy with a loss to the Charlotte-freakin’-Bobcats?  Thus we had several magical off-the-ball fouls on the ‘Cats to get them into the penalty early in the quarter and combined with the team’s sloppy handling of the ball (18 turnovers to 13), allowed the Mavericks to come back and tie the game, send it into overtime and let Dirk go to work.

Bullets:

  • Gerald Wallace gave Nowitzki fits all night on defense until Rick Carlisle wised up and switched Dirk off of him.  Wallace’s 23pts and 16rbs gave him his fourteenth double-double of the season.  Outside of his 5 TOs (including a terrible one at the end of regulation), Wallace’s effort was incredible.  He played 51 minutes and never let up on either end of the court.
  • Raymond Felton continued his development into a Derek Fisher-type by hitting clutch basket after basket in the 2nd half + OT.  He nailed half of his shots going for 20 points and dropped in 8 dimes to boot.
  • For all of Dirk’s heroics at the end of the 4th and OT, he actually played a very poor game and was handled easily by Boris Diaw for most of the night as he finished a tawdry 14-34 from the field.  His pump/headfake from the perimeter is still unguardable though as I can only imagine trying to stop a deadly long-ball shooter who releases the ball a good 10 feet in the air.  Great job by Boris.
  • D.J. Augustin got a little playing time but didn’t do much with it.  In fifteen minutes, he made a three, dished out an assist and got totally schooled by J.J. Barea.  Barea, who is absurdly listed at 6 feet but is closer to 5’9″, actually blocked one of Augustin’s shot attempts.  Have you hit rock bottom yet, D.J.?
  • Stephen Jackson went on a personal 14-0 run for the Cats late in the 3rd/early in the 4th and finished with 28.  Jackson has been an offensive godsend to a Bobcats team that still needs at least one more creator on the roster.
  • Can’t believe how quickly this supposedly “old” Mavericks team still pushes the tempo.  Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion looked very quick and the Mavs didn’t slow down much with Terry or Dampier out there as well.  They look more like Nellie’s old Mavs than they have in quite a while.  That said, the Bobcats stellar D held them to just 98 points.

The Bobcats have the Knicks and Pacers up next and will need to take both of those games if they want to continue to float around the .500 mark.

Until next time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats: State of the Roster | FA ’09

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Post-Moratorium

Monta Ellis and Brandon Bass would make great additions to the Bobcats

No, “Post-Moratorium” is not a medical term for examining dead people.  In the NBA’s case it means that as of July 8, the temporary hold on free agent signings will be over, new cap numbers will soon be announced and teams can start officially trading and signing players as usual.

This is big news for the Bobcats because they can now officially re-sign (or re-sign and trade) Raymond Felton to a new deal.  This would remove his current cap hold of $12 million (300% of his ’08-’09 salary) and give the team a better idea of what their salary situation is as they start bidding for leftover Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents.

So what should Bobcats fans expect to see in the next few months before the team heads into Training Camp?

This blog’s guess is that you’ll see one of the following two scenarios unfold.

SCENARIO ONE: GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

Okafor and Felton are A-OK

In this scenario, the Bobcats play it safe.
From a personnel perspective, they come to the conclusion that with the current lineup they are more than ready to challenge for a playoff spot in the East.
From a business perspective, they conclude that a team very much on the market should not add any unnecessary payroll and should keep lean heading into a potential ownership change.

If this is the direction the organization chooses to go, then expect some very minor tweaks to roster.

  • A veteran backup PF, such as former Terp Joe Smith, will be signed to relieve Boris Diaw.
  • A veteran backup PG, such as Larry Brown fave Kevin Ollie or former Nugget Anthony Carter, will be added for depth and leadership at a key position.
  • Coach Brown will continue to develop youngsters DJ Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson for the future.  Expect Ajinca and Brown to do a stint or two in the D-League.

Even if the team misses the playoffs in this scenario, they can still look forward to Raja Bell’s $5 million salary coming off of the books in the following summer and will have two more expiring deals (Mohammed and Radmanovic) heading into the ’10-’11 season.

This scenario might sound boring (it is boring) but you have to remember that with Radmanovic, Mohammed, Diop and (soon) Felton, the Bobcats will have four players earning between $6-$7 million per year.  You think they wanna add another deal like that in Brandon Bass?

SCENARIO TWO: “WHAT TIME IS IT?  GAME TIME!!!”
or THE CLIFF LEVINGSTON SCENARIO

In this scenario, There Will Be Ink: either on the contracts of a prime free agent and/or on the bodies of Allen Iverson or Monta Ellis.
From a personnel perspective, Higgins, Brown and Jordan decide that the landscape has changed dramatically in the Eastern Conference and that they need to upgrade or risk taking a step back.
From a business perspective, Bob Johnson and Jordan decide that the best way to increase the franchise’s popularity, attendance and, ultimately, its value is for the team to be very, very good.

The Bobcats know that they’re in a bind.  They’re a small market team that’s losing money and have around $60 million in payroll to answer to and praying for a winning season in a conference that just seriously jacked up over the past few weeks.  No less than 8 teams (CLT, IND, WAS, TOR, DET, ATL, PHI, MIA) will be jockying for the final four playoff spots in the East.  In order to bolster their roster, the ‘Cats are going to have to be daring and creative.

In my mind, the Bobcats only have two* assets to play with heading into next season:

  1. Emeka Okafor
    A quality big man who’s better than the suddenly-hyped David Lee.  Still young at 26 and a big cap number around $10 million.
  2. Raymond Felton
    Great presence on and off the court, only 25 years old and the Bobcats could pay him more money for more years in a sign-and-trade.

So, in this scenario, expect big moves to happen.  My personal preference:

Trade Scenario: Emeka to Golden State for Monta Ellis

Okafor for Ellis? - First Unit

Let’s face it.  The Bobcats aren’t going to unload Diop’s contract on anybody anytime soon and they sure as hell aren’t going to unload Mohammed’s contract until at least next summer.  They have over $100 million committed to the center position and they desperately need scoring.

This trade works because the ‘Cats can start Diop (remember that Gana started for Dallas during a playoff run a couple of years back and did fine) and substitute Mohammed for a different look.  Also, Boris is capable of playing some center (as he did with PHX in ’05-’06) when the team goes small.
Meanwhile, Ellis provides an explosive wing player who can play both backcourt positions and who can get to the free throw line as much as anybody.  Monta instantly becomes the Bobcats leading scorer and the clutch shooter that the ‘Cats have needed since 2004.
Of course, Golden State only does this deal if (or when) the proposed Amare Stoudemire for Biedrins/Wright/Belinelli deal goes down.  I doubt that Amare will want to play center every night and an Okafor/Stoudamire/Maggette frontcourt should play very well together.

This trade would give the Bobcats one too many PGs (I have Ellis penciled in as the starting PG) and not enough depth at the four.

Trade Scenario: Felton to Dallas for Brandon Bass

Felton for Brandon Bass? - 2nd Unit

Indulge me for a second.  I know that a sign-and-trade deal like this is difficult (if not near impossible) to pull off and we don’t know if Dallas still has any interest in Felton after reportedly coming to terms with Jason Kidd.  But with Kidd turning 36 and Jet Terry more of an off-guard, perhaps the Mavs would be open to bringing Raymond on board as a backup/insurance policy as they make one last push for the finals with their suddenly aging core.

The move would open up the “true” PG spot on the ‘Cats for DJ to take over and create a great four man backcourt rotation of Augustin/Ellis/Bell/Henderson.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats frontcourt would be stacked with Diaw/Bass/Wallace/Radman/Diop.  Although he’s only 6’8″, Bass has played a lot of Center for the Mavs over the past couple of seasons and could sub in behind Diop when needed for a dynamic Diaw/Bass/Wallace lineup.

I love this roster.

The Bobcats add a scoring, slashing wing who wants to take shots and a skilled, tough rebounder down low.  They have depth at every position and a nice mix of youth, prime and veteran players.  And the best part of all is that they wouldn’t have to add any serious payroll to do it (just the trade exception from the JRICH trade).

This roster is a playoff team now and in great shape 2 seasons from now when only Wallace/Ellis/Diaw/Diop/Bass/Augustin/Henderson will be on the books.

Come on Rod Higgins, work some of those connections that you have in Golden State and get this done!

*I refuse to count Raja Bell’s expiring contract as a potential trade asset as the team needs to stop their 2 year trend of dealing expiring deals for stop-gap help. That said, expect him to be traded after you finish reading this.

-ASChin

 


POLL : Who Should The Bobcats Sign?

  • Allen Iverson (47%, 23 Votes)
  • Brandon Bass (33%, 16 Votes)
  • Andre Miller (6%, 3 Votes)
  • Linas Kleiza (12%, 6 Votes)
  • Anthony Parker (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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