Fresh Off Their Most Promising Season Ever, The Bobcats Dump Salary!
See, it’s just like the Florida Marlins. They stock up and win a World Series and then immediately dump payroll and start developing younger players for another run within the next decade. Except with the Bobcats, they win 35 games and dump salaries. It’s almost identical.
Although my first response to the trade last night was overwhelmingly negative, I’ll try to channel my inner FOX NEWS and be “fair and balanced” in the following breakdown of the trade.
THE BAD NEWS FIRST
Put on Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, dress in all-black, sneak a bourbon-filled flask into work and burn another Bob Johnson effigy…admit it, Bobcats fans, we’ve just wasted the past 5 years of our lives.
After the most promising season in franchise history, the Bobcats pull a salary dump; sending a consistently productive player to our former home team for an injured lesser player with a smaller contract.
This move basically states that George Shinn is more willing to spend on a winner than Bob Johnson.
We ran Shinn out of town because he was cheap. What kind of b.s. karma is this?
Emeka Okafor has averaged a double-double in every one of his 5 NBA seasons. Tyson Chandler has done it once…while playing with the second coming of Isiah Thomas (the player). In other news, Michael Jordan has become the second coming of Isiah Thomas (the GM).
The Bobcats were one of the bottom 5 teams in almost EVERY offensive category last season. They replace a career 14ppg scorer with a guy who averages 8.2ppg. Make it stop, please, make it stop.
After an early bout with injuries, Emeka Okafor translates his practice of pilates and yoga (ala Kareem) into two consecutive seasons of 82 games.
In 8 NBA seasons, Tyson Chandler has never played in all 82 games.
Tyson Chandler is being lauded as defensive upgrade over Emeka Okafor. An undisputed key defensive ability is shot blocking. Okafor has a career average of 1.9bpg. Chandler? 1.4bpg.
Bobcats fans have ripped Okafor for being offensively offensive. Wait till they get a load of Tyson Chandler (I’ll give you a preview… Imagine Dwight Howard’s offensive game. Got it? Now take away 3 or 4 of his “moves.” That’s right…)
The OKC Thunder decided just a few months ago that Tyson Chandler wasn’t worth two stiffs that wouldn’t even be on their roster next season. Now all of a sudden he’s worth a former Rookie of the Year.
The same doctor who performed Tyson Chandler’s turf toe (or “death toe”) surgery two years ago deemed the toe to be a serious physical liability which rescinded his trade to the Thunder.
Since the Bobcats are too broke to field a summer league team, conduct a proper training camp or retain proper organizational staff, they’ve arranged for Tyson’s physical to be conducted at the nearest Urgent Care facility. He should pass with flying colors.
Just to reiterate, Tyson Chandler couldn’t consistently average a double-double while playing with Chris-freakin’-Paul on a fast paced team like the Hornets. What exactly is he going to do on a grind-it-out squad like the Bobcats?
THE GOOD NEWS LAST
H-H-Hey Kids! Grab some Limbaugh-Strength Oxycotins everyone and put on your favorite rose-colored glasses, it’s time to take a positive look at this trade!!!
Tyson Chandler is 7’1″. Okafor is 6’10”. We have a taller starting center for 60 games a year!
Tyson Chandler likes to dunk the ball…well, actually, that’s his only shot but he does it with AUTHORITY!
That yoga sissy Okafor would never just dunk on somebody. Must’ve been all that soy estrogen in his system.
Tyson Chandler’s contract expires in 2 Years!!! Which means we can use that cap space to overpay some other seven footer in 2011…FANtastic!
Tyson Chandler has played in meaningful playoff games. Emeka Okafor will be playing in meaningful playoff games.
Tyson Chandler is more “passionate” about basketball than Emeka Okafor. This is apparently Larry Brown’s reasoning for making the trade. This sets a great precedent, doesn’t it? My brother just had PCL surgery. Even though his doctor was consistent and skilled, maybe my bro would’ve been better off with a less talented, less dependable but more “PASSIONATE” surgeon? By this rationale, Antonio Banderas is also the greatest living actor.
Let’s all be honest. There is only one real benefit to this trade for Bobcats fans and that’s the fact that it makes the team look more attractive on the open market for a new buyer. The sooner that Bob Johnson sells this team, the sooner we all get to potentially see a quality organization and Playoff basketball.
And I’m not hating on Tyson Chandler. I really do hope that he comes in, stays healthy and improves the team. I hope that I am dead wrong and that this deal plays out similarly to the Larry Johnson/Anthony Mason trade during the Summer of ’96. Mason came in and put up the best numbers of his career and helped lead the Charlotte Hornets to a then franchise high 54 wins.
Realistically? I doubt it.
After this move, Coach Brown might have to trade for some new fans. The current ones just aren’t going to be very “passionate” about the team anymore.
Proving the adage that the actual trades that go down in the NBA are not leaked to the media ahead of time, Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Bobcats and Hornets are in advanced discussions regarding an Emeka Okafor-for-Tyson Chandler trade. The Observer, via the AP, is reporting that it’s essentially a done deal and will be official tomorrow. As of the time of this writing, no other players are reportedly involved. The trade does work straight-up.
This one’s kind of a stunner, folks. Though we’ve speculated a bit on Okafor’s status here at the Baseline, I don’t think any of us realistically thought he could be traded this offseason — mainly because of his contract, which looks like this:
2009-10: $10.5 million
2010-11: $11.5 million
2011-12: $12.5 million
2012-13: $13.5 million
2013-14: $14.5 million
In the current economic climate, there aren’t many teams that want to take on that kind of committment, especially for a player with a skill set as limited as Okafor’s.
And there’s the rub, one of the things that’s going to be debated extensively amongst Bobcats fans. What kind of a player is/was Okafor? His supporters will point to the double-doubles. He has averaged one in each of his five NBA seasons thus far, a true rarity. He’s also a good citizen.
But other (and in my opinion, more astute and critical) observers will recognize that he’s an extremely limited player. He doesn’t bring much to the table on the offensive end, getting most of his buckets off dishes from Felton or putbacks. He has never developed any semblance of a low-post game, and is completely useless outside of 6-8 feet. Furthermore, he’s never seemed particularly dedicated to addressing any of these shortcomings, thus prompting the famous Larry Brown quip that Okafor gets and “A in stretching, Pilates, and Yoga” but needs to focus on getting an “A in basketball.”
And now for the other, and bigger, question that’s going to be debated: Even if you accept that Okafor is limited, that you’re not exactly going places with him, he’s still one of your main assets. Can’t you get more than Tyson Chandler back for him?
Chandler is possibly even more limited than Okafor. He’s taller and more agile, probably a better one-on-one post-defender. Skillwise, that’s where the differences stop. Chandler is equally as inept as Okafor on the offensive end, scoring mostly on lobs from Chris Paul and putbacks. Like Okafor, Chandler has no low-post game of his own and no ability to hit a mid-range jumper.
Furthermore, Chandler is coming off of a miserable season in which he struggled mightily with ankle and toe injuries. In fact, a mid-season trade to the Thunder was nixed when Chandler couldn’t pass muster with the Thunder’s doctor. There has been speculation that ankle/foot/toe problems might continue to haunt Chandler in the future.
So sadly, we have to accept the reality that this deal is mostly about money. The most important difference between Okafor and Chandler is that Chandler is only on the hook for one, maybe two more years: $11.8 million this year, followed by a player option for $12.7 million the next.
For the Bobcats, who are nowhere near contending for a top spot in the East and for sale to boot, the financial relief this deal provides will ultimately be a good thing. It improves the propects for new ownership (which we need desperately) and will give the team some roster flexibility in the coming years.
Some fans over at DetroitBadBoys.com posted some comments earlier today theorizing a potential Rip Hamilton for Emeka Okafor swap. Then came a second hypothetical scenario in which the Pistons and Bobcats would also swap Tayshaun Prince and Gerald Wallace in the same deal with the Bobcats getting a little something back in compensation such as a prospect or a future Piston 1st Rounder.
At first, this deal sounds ludicrous.
You’d be dealing a 26 year old Top 10-15 center and a 27 year old face-of-the-franchise forward for a 31 year old shooting guard who’s owed over $48 million over the next four seasons and a wispy 4th option small forward whose biggest impact in the League came almost a half decade ago.
But then I started to think about it…
Why trade Okafor for Rip?
Rip Hamilton is on the hook for $49.5 million over the next four seasons.
Emeka Okafor is owed $62.7 over the next five.
The Bobcats have two players behind Okafor who make the full mid-level and the team has recently inquired about the availability of Samuel Dalembert. The other two centers (Gana Diop & Nazr Mohammed) are basically unmovable due to bloated contracts.
Even though Rip will be 36 when his contract expires, his game and his build is much like that of Ray Allen or Reggie Miller. He should be productive for at least the first three of those seasons, after which he turns into a huge expiring contract.
The Bobcats desperately need scoring and since Larry Brown tends to favor players he’s coached before, it would not be a reach to suggest that a deal for Hamilton would be attractive to LB.
Ok, so that kind of makes sense but Wallace for Tayshaun!!!???
Larry Brown likes defenders at the SF and likes guys that he’s familiar with.
Tayshaun’s contract pays him $21.5 million over the next two seasons.
Gerald’s contract pays out $41 million over the next four seasons.
Over the past 5 seasons, Tayshaun has played in 82 games every one of those seasons.
Over those same 5 seasons, Gerald has logged: 75/55/72/62/71 games played.
Yeah I know, Gerald is the face of the franchise and it would really suck to lose two of our home-grown guys for players whose prime may or may not be behind them.
But what if JoD sweetened the pot with this:
Nazr Mohammed’s contract for Jason Maxiell.
Could it be anymore perfect?
Although the Bobcats would take on an additional $250k in the deal, over then next five seasons, they’d save arond $35 million in payroll (which is apparently a good thing for a franchise up for sale).
In the meantime, Charlotte could compete immediately in the Eastern Conference with a balanced, veteran squad and would be in position to go after whomever they wanted in Free Agency during the summer of 2011.
With Hamilton on the roster, Raja would be expendable so there would be a potential for the ‘Cats to package Vlad Radmanovic and Bell together in order to complete the long rumored Dalembert trade (another big expiring deal in 2011).
The first unit would feature five strong defenders and a dependable wing scorer (for once) in Hamilton.
The reserves would feature two very promising younger players (Augustin and Maxiell), a potentially promising 1st rounder in Gerald Henderson and a dependable, defensive-minded center in Gana Diop.
A Win-Win Deal
From Detroit’s perspective, they hit a homerun.
They get a HUGE upgrade at center in Okafor (to replace Kwame Brown).
They get a dynamic wing player in Gerald Wallace to team with Charlie V and Emeka in a completed revamped frontcourt.
Suddenly, Detroit’s core players go from early-mid 30s to all under 27. Amazing.
It all sounds great but I’m still kind of torn. If the Bobcats had decent (or settled) ownership, maybe it would be a better idea to hold on to Emeka and Gerald and build for the future. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the organization finds itself needing to make the playoffs and grow the fanbase while not adding to the payroll.
If the above scenario unfolds, those things just might happen.
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
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:
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.
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
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
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.
Prior to the 2004 NBA Draft, former Bobcats GM/Coach Bernie Bickerstaff managed to hoodwink the lowly Clippers into trading down from #2 to #4 in order for Charlotte to select Emeka Okafor. That was the first and last great draft move made by the organization and ever since then Bobcats fans have been subjected to picks ranging from mediocre to mind-numbingly stupid.
A quick recap for the masochistic:
2005: Needing a Point Guard, the Bobcats refuse to trade up with Portland (who practically begs Charlotte for the 5th and 13th selections in return for #3). Portland eventually trades with Utah for a lesser package of draft choices. Utah drafts Deron Williams at #3, New Orleans drafts Chris Paul at #4, Bobcats reach for Raymond Felton at #5. Bickerstaff cites “needing bodies” as the reason for hanging on to the #13 selection and not trading up. The #13 pick? Sean “Crab Bread” May.
2006: Bobcats have a decent foundation with Felton, Okafor and Wallace and are in need of a dynamic scoring wing player. They own the #3 selection overall and have their choice of either future All-Star Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay. They select a non-athletic white guy with a crappy mustache gimmick and diabetes.
2007: Bobcats realize that they wiffed big with Adam Morrison a year earlier so get creative and ship their #8 selection (Brandon Wright) to Golden State for Jason Richardson. Later in the first round, they draft hustling, former ACC Player of the Year Jared Dudley. Richardson and Dudley would later turn into a combination of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell.
2008: With new coach Larry Brown, the Bobcats future looks brighter than ever. With a foundation of Okafor, Felton, Wallace and Richardson, the team looks to add size in the frontcourt in order to contend for a playoff spot. Stanford Center Brook Lopez is sliding and Charlotte is on the clock. They select…5’10” PG DJ Augustin. That’s ok, because they added size later by trading a future first round pick for a 7’1″ guy out of France who only out-weighs ‘Lil Augustin by 40 pounds.
So it might amaze the few people out there who are actually paying attention to all of this that the Bobcats just completed their first intelligent, completely rational, well-scouted and well-executed draft in five years. WOO-HOO!!!
They didn’t royally screw it up as they did with May, Morrison or Ajinca. They didn’t desperately reach for decent players like Felton or Augustin earlier in the lottery. Nope, in Duke’s Gerald Henderson they picked a solid player from a great collegiate program who fits a position of need at exactly the spot they should have. And to top it off, they added another great value pick (Xavier’s Derrick Brown) mid-way through the second round. Props to MJ, Higgins and Coach Brown for killing it last night. Your efforts are much appreciated.
STATE OF THE ROSTER
Now that we know who the picks are, it’s easier to see what the Bobcats will be focusing on once we hit free-agency in the next two weeks.
As of today, the starting lineup remains the same. Henderson only starts if Raja goes down for any stretch.
Keep an eye out for anymore Dalembert rumors between now and next week. If a Dalembert deal goes down, look forward to a summer of madness because this likely means that Emeka will be shipped off at some point to bring in a big-time scorer.
Last night’s draft fills the backup SG position and potentially the backup PF position as well depending on how quickly Derrick Brown develops. As of this writing, the Bobcats have a total of ten players under contract and two draft selections, leaving two roster spots available. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that both Alexis Ajinca and Derrick Brown will spend the first couple of months of the season in the D-League so that would leave room for another veteran PF and veteran 3rd PG to be added sometime during Free Agency or Training Camp.
Even if the ‘Cats don’t make any major moves between now and the start of the season, the team is probably looking like a 38-42 win squad in a tougher Eastern Conference. If they can find a way to add an offensive Alpha Dog either through a trade (Monta Ellis) or through free agency (Iverson), add another 4-6 wins to that total.
We’ll have more offseason coverage starting next week during our “Free Agency Preview.”
For those of you familiar with this site, you’ve no doubt stumbled across a few of my “Pro–Iverson” posts. As an unrestricted free-agent, Allen Iverson makes a lot of sense for the Bobcats as a much needed scorer. And by signing A.I. versus trading for another high-profiled player, you wouldn’t necessarily have to lose any assets in order to bring him in.
That said, there’s been a lot of controversy with this theory and I think it’s time to offer up some alternate ways in which the Bobcats could remedy their greatest need this offseason.
Trade Scenario #1 – Al Jefferson.
Bobcats trade Emeka Okafor and the 12th pick to Minnesota for Al Jefferson and the 18th pick.
Okay. Some of you are going to say that Minnesota would never make this trade. Not in a million years. I say they would and here’s why.