The Demarcus Debate

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Demarcus Cousins Illustration by Mike S

Baseliners A.S. Chin and Ben Weinrib discuss the PROS and CONS of betting the franchise on Boogie Cousins.

BEN: It’s that time of the year again. We’re approaching the NBA Draft, which means rumors are starting to fly about which troubled young stars might be on the move. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins’ name has been popping up a lot lately, although there have been just as many reports saying the Kings don’t want to move him. But trade talk is fun, so let’s continue with the hypotheticals!

The Bobcats’ package for Boogie (wow, what a nickname) would certainly be centered around the #4 pick in the draft. With four first-round picks in the next two years, Charlotte has the chips to get a trade done, but the Kings’ asking price is surely going to be steep. At what point is GM Rich Cho giving up too much for the moody free agent-to-be?

ASCHIN: Don’t believe the reverse-hype. If there’s an offer out there good enough, Sacramento will make the move. The Kings organization is starting over from the top down (owner, GM, coach) and would certainly welcome the opportunity to shed Boogie and his antics for the right price. I’m guessing a combination of this year’s #4 pick, Bismack Biyombo and the future Top 14 protected Portland pick is the MINIMUM it will take to get the deal done pre-Draft.

BEN: I’ll start by saying this: I am a HUGE DeMarcus Cousins fan. It’s almost creepy how much I like him. But the money is a bit concerning. He has one year left before he will assuredly get a max contract, which means he will cost $63.3 million over five years. That’s pretty fair value for a guy who averages 18 and 10, but the #4 pick gives tremendous value. Drafting a big man (Anthony Bennett or Alex Len) will only cost $16.8 million over four years. That comes down to $4.2 million for the draft pick and about $12.6 million for Cousins. Bennett or Len may eventually put up similar numbers and they’ll cost one third as much. Using some advanced math–bare with me here–that gives Charlotte $8.4 million extra to spend. There’s a lot a team can do with that extra money. They could sign a Charlie Villanueva, their own John Salmons, or even a Metta World Peace! That’s not even considering they’d be giving up essentially two more first-rounders. Isn’t there something to be said about financial flexibility?

ASCHIN: First off, how dare you neglect to mention everyone’s favorite $8 million man, Tyrus Thomas. Second, I’m having an extremely difficult time recalling anybody in that “above-mid-level-sub-max” range worth the money. Thanks to the past couple of CBAs, the league has been further stratified into the haves and have-nots. Today’s ideal cap situation consists of two to three “stars” making near max money, a couple of mid-level guys and a bunch of rookies and veterans on minimum deals. Demarcus has a chance to blossom into an elite center thanks to his ability to operate in the high and low post (see Duncan, the Gasols, Bosh) and as of right now, he’s probably the best chance Charlotte has at acquiring a star because A.) the team’s hasn’t exactly perfected the art of Drafting and B.) Free Agent stars won’t come to Charlotte without other stars or potential stars on the roster (see David West in Indy). So in my mind, you have to make the bold trade and hope Cousins’ mental problems don’t get in the way of him reaching his potential – price be damned!

BEN: I think you’re starting to convince me, but I still think there’s an issue about the value of the assets. Let’s assume the trade would be Boogie for the #4 pick, Biyombo, and the Portland pick. Houston is rumored to be looking to auction off Thomas Robinson for a future first round pick, so they can fit Dwight Howard under the cap. Charlotte could land a player they nearly took last year on the cheap for that very same Portland pick they would be using to land Cousins. Isn’t the #4 pick, Biyombo, Robinson, and financial flexibility more valuable than Cousins? I understand the need for a star, but just because landing Cousins might be a sound trade doesn’t mean there aren’t better moves out there.

ASCHIN: I don’t think these options are mutually exclusive. It took Houston a couple of years to accumulate its chest of assets – expiring contracts, draft picks and prospects – in order to cash out when a big time prospect became available. Now that the Rockets have James Harden secured as a major building block, they’ll need to reconfigure their cap in order to sign their second star, Dwight Howard (or Chris Paul), this summer. I’m sure that Daryl Morey would love a mid to late round first round pick for Robinson but I think he realizes that in today’s NBA, having a team both absorb $4m+ in annual payroll AND give up a precious first rounder might be asking a little much. I’d bet that T-Rob could be had for as little as a high second rounder – but only for a team under the cap.

Meanwhile, by trading for Boogie this summer, Charlotte basically Xeroxes the Morey playbook, cashing in their assets for a young star (Harden/Cousins), using their cap space to bring in another young frontcourt prospect (Asik/Robinson) and then go into next summer with enough financial flexibility and picks to lure another star should one become available.

Also, thanks again for pitching me all these softballs. I mean, you haven’t even brought up the fact that I’m having Cho spend half his war chest on a (potentially) insane person.

BEN: That’s the thing: I still really really like Cousins. And as crazy as he may be, we’ve seen that crazy can be channeled into results by looking 600 miles west to Memphis and Zach Randolph. But is Cousins really the franchise player Harden is? I think he’d be a great second banana, but they still need a number one type player, and he’s much more volatile than The Beard. Kemba has the ceiling of a number three or two player, and MKG could end up being a number two as well. Could they get that top guy through the draft still? I don’t think they’d still be in the running for Wiggins et all if they have Boogie, Kemba, and MKG. I somehow doubt players will want to come play for the Hornets in free agency, since this city doesn’t have the tax-free allure of Houston, and there wouldn’t be many trade assets left after this deal. Like you said a GM’s job is extremely tough, but do you really want to build your team around a taller Zach Randolph?

ASCHIN: Just for the record, Ben was supposed to be taking the “CON” position on Boogie. Hell, maybe Cousins is such a great prospect that the immaturity and high cost of acquisition can be overlooked. To further your points: I agree that Boogie is probably a second banana. Kemba looks like a solid number three. MKG’s a good glue guy and potentially much more. This is approximately the type of nucleus Indiana had going into the ’11-’12 season. If the Horncats can use some of their cap space and remaining Lottery picks over the next two summers to add an All-Star type ala David West, they could seriously make some Playoff noise. We’re talking about an inside/out offense with some very effective transition guys and coach who’s made his name on getting the very best out of his bigs. Add a veteran free agent big like Paul Millsap to a Walker/Henderson/MKG/Cousins lineup and suddenly you a very intriguing starting five.

ASChin on Twitter: @bobcatsbaseline

Ben Weinrib on Twitter: @benweinrib

Bobcats Lose to Themselves, Hornets

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(AP Photo)

The Bobcats returned home on the tail end of a back-to-back and lost to the Hornets 88-81, sputtering to the end after keeping it close for most of the game. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson who though shot poorly (15 points on 15 FGA) had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hornets were led by a dominant offensive performance by David West who had 26 points on 19 shot attempts and 8 boards.

As I mentioned above, the game was close, most of the time, with the lead never going above 6 points for either team until the closing minutes. However, with 2:38 left in the game, Tyrus Thomas pulled down a rebound over Emeka Okafor and swung his arms, intentionally elbowing Okafor in the face. The refs gave him a flagrant-2 and two technicals which amounts to an ejection. Aside from throwing the momentum fully to New Orleans, it gave Emeka Okafor two free throws and also possession of the ball after the free throws. The result: a four point lead doubled and Bobcats never recovered and began fouling like a blind Darryl Dawkins. It turned a possible win into a more than likely loss.

Recap | Box Score

Tids & Bits (forever forgoing the Yays and Nays)

  • Gerald Wallace – Fifteen points on 5-13 FG with a perfect 5-5 from the stripe. Eh, not great. His three turnovers were major problems as were his four shots that were blocked. Gerald has always had a slight problem with inside shot selection, but getting blocked 4 times is some Earl Boykins stuff. Moving on, his three rebounds leave much to be desired, but it seems his slack was picked up by Boris and Jackson (9 and 8 rebounds, respectively) as opposed to the Hornets. The Bobcats did out-rebounded the Hornets 43-34 (numerical palindromes, hell yeah!). Oh and Gerald had an outstanding coast-to-coast play. So there’s that (see below).
  • Boris Diaw – He was mediocre on offense, with 9 points from 4-11 shooting with one from downtown. The real problem was his defense (or lack thereof) on David West. West’s mid-range ability frustrated Diaw the whole night.
  • D.J. Augustin – His ability to distribute continues to impress me, as well as his consistency (7 assists) and his lack of turnovers (1 tonight). If only his shooting could get more consistent. he shot 3-10 from the field tonight, but at least he did get to the line for 4 four free throws.
  • Kwame Brown – Kwame was excellent tonight, both on offense and defense. He effectively shut down Okafor for most of the game and he rebounded really well (14 rebs) and he was efficient on offense with 5-6 FG. Too bad his free throw shooting is still bad (2-5). But I can deal with that with the rest of his performance.
  • Tyrus Thomas – He was decent, with 2-6 shooting and 4-4 FT for 8 points and 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Buuuuuut, he did have 3 turnovers and he screwed up big-time with the elbow to Okafor’s cranium. The one major problem I have with Tyrus is his recklessness. I love that he jumps out of the building for rebounds, but with the ball in his hands, he can get too out of control. This leads to picking up his dribble on the baseline and trying to make a nearly impossible fadeaway jump shot or throwing the ball away on bad passes.

Anything I missed, Baseliners?

Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers, in Philadelphia on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with the early start time at 2 p.m.

- 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 Fall To Hornets In Concerning Fashion

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Hornets, 2/6/10

No Chris Paul?  No Probl– Oh Hey Darren Collison

The Charlotte Bobcats fell 104-99 to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night at the Cable Box to fall back under .500.  AP recap here, box score here.

The Bobcats came in on a couple of days rest after a modestly successful (3-3) West Coast road trip.  The Hornets came in a night after dropping the first game of a back-to-back and with major injury problems.  With Chris Paul already out for several weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery and pleasant rookie surprise Marcus Thornton on the shelf with a sore back, the Hornets had to sign former Bobcats and all-around NBA journeyman Jason Hart to a 10-day recently.

It was a perfect opportunity for the Bobcats to get back on track after the road trip and post another home win — and the Bobcats acted like it was just going to happen.  But the defensive effort was rather lacking, no one could get it cooking on the offensive end, and Darren Collison did a pretty good Chris Paul impression to give the Hornets the unlikely win.

Collison was rather impressive in setting a new career high with 24 points on 9-17 FG, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.  He was frequently able to get by the Bobcats’ perimeter defenders and finish at the rim.  And after Stephen Jackson had cut the Hornets’ lead to 102-99 with 30 seconds left, it was another driving layup that secured the win and gave Collison his career high.

Never mind the questionable strategic call to not start fouling to extend the game at that point, the fact that the Bobcats didn’t defend or play with energy for the entire game is the more concerning issue here.  Let’s hope it was a one-game aberration and not a trend.

Bullets

  • I didn’t get to the game in time for the “town-hall meeting” for season ticket holders, but was just in time to snag a Gerald Wallace action figure — pretty boss.
  • The real life Gerald had a quiet game — maybe still bothered by the hamstring?
  • The Cats missed 9 free throws (Flip missed 4 in the fourth quarter alone).  If we’d hit half of those, we might be talking about how the Cats scrapped their way to a win even on an off night instead of this gloominess.
  • The Hornets were resplendent in their alternate “Mardi Gras” uniforms — seriously, those things are cool.
  • Emeka Okafor got a nice hand from the Cable Box crowd, and had a pretty Emeka kind of game: 16 points on 6-10 FG with 7 rebounds.
  • Poor game from Boris: 2-9 FG and looked timid as hell on the offensive end, passing up shots and committing turnovers.  Someone needs to show him some tape of Magic Johnson taking and making big shots.
  • Decent night for DJ: 13 points on 5-6 FG and 5 assists off the bench.
  • DNP-CD for Derrick Brown tonight — strange, when we could have used a spark out there.  Maybe LB was worried about him having to guard David West?
  • Next game is Tuesday night, hosting the Wiz at 7 PM ET.

-Dr. E