Chapter III: Prescription B (Not for the Faint of Heart)
1. The Bobcats are capped out before re-signing Tyrus Thomas or Raymond Felton.
2. Team needs more consistent play from the PG position, more scoring from the low post, and more scoring in general.
3. Team has no draft picks and few assets outside of their core players to trade in order to improve.
On the evening of June 24th, the Washington Wizards will select Kentucky PG phenom John Wall with the first overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft. It’s a no-brainer. After trading away stalwarts Antwan Jamison, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler during the season, the Wizards are marching confidently along the rebuilding path. Wall will step in and immediately be the team’s poster boy for the future. With one timely drop of a ping pong ball, things suddenly look rosy in the District. There’s just one small, $80 million, gun-brandishing problem. His name: Agent Zero.
Step 1. Charlotte trades Boris Diaw, Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop to Washington for Gilbert Arenas, Javale McGee and a first round draft selection (2012).
The Wiz are posturing something ridiculous about having Gilbert move to the off-guard position in anticipation of John Wall. Uh, yeah. Does anybody really think that Washington wants The Outlaw anywhere near their new Savior? Sure, taking on a poo-poo platter of Diaw, Diop and Nazr while giving up a potential star in McGee and a high draft pick would suck but let’s face it, having Arenas anywhere near the Wiz bench pretty much negates any new excitement that Wall would bring to the team. Gilbert is a 28 year old Point Guard with $80 million dollars left on his contract who was just released from a halfway house and has had three knee surgeries in the past three seasons. If somebody is willing to take a guy like that off their hands AND save the organization $35 million in the process, you gotta make the move, right?
So why would I propose such a trade for the Bobcats?
First off, let me just say that Gilbert is a PR nightmare for certain but if Charlotte fans were willing to accept Stephen Jackson (y’know, the guy who charged into the stands and attacked fans only to later one up himself by unloading a gun at a strip club), then I think we can deal with a some of the Arenas quirkiness from time to time.
Secondly, well, there’s quite a few positives so let me just list them:
1. Bobcats get to unload The League’s Worst Contract a.k.a. Gana Diop a.k.a. Black Shrek.
2. Diaw’s exit clears space for Tyrus Thomas to start.
3. Team replaces Raymond Felton with an electric scorer (and, when motivated, an underrated defender) in Arenas.
4. Javale McGee is one of the League’s best offensive prospects at the Center position.
5. The draft choice that the Bobcats receive would recoup the one that the team traded away in the Tyrus Thomas trade.
6. The trade would save the Bobcats over $3 million in cap space next season, allowing the team to add depth via free agency.
Obviously, the biggest drawback to the trade is long term money. Gilbert will be 32 years old when his deal expires in the summer of 2014 (see chart). He’ll be paid over $22 million for that season alone. Ouch. Yeah, the numbers are ugly. The move is overly aggressive and could either propel the team deep into the Playoffs (if Arenas stays healthy and focused and McGee develops) or could cripple them for the next three seasons. MJ is known as a gambler, I think he’d be inclined to make the move.
Step 2. Charlotte Re-Signs Tyrus Thomas.
Same as in Prescription A. Three years, $18 million sounds about right. A starting spot might pique his interest in returning.
Step 3. Sign a backup Power Forward.
As discussed in Prescription A, possible low-cost candidates include Drew Gooden or Kris Humphries. I like Humphries potential.
Step 4. Fill out the bench.
Arenas’s scoring abilities sort of negates the need to bring back Flip Murray. The team could go in another direction here and sign a veteran “pure-playmaking” PG in the mold of Eric Snow as well. Theo Ratliff has at least another year in him and could serve as a mentor to McGee and Ajinca.
The move is ballsy. Could a volatile nucleus of Arenas, JAX, CRASH, Tyrus and one or two of their youngsters (most likely McGee and Henderson) be enough to propel the Bobcats into contention in the East over the next few seasons?
The risks are HUGE. Zero could play another stupid prank or blow out his knee(s) again. Jax could unload one of Gilbert’s guns in a public place. Crash may wonder openly why he’s the only sane person in the locker room. The team would be capped out until 2013.
But take a look at the depth chart going into next season:
PG: Arenas, Augustin, Murray
SG: Jackson, Henderson, Murray
SF: Wallace, Brown
PF: Thomas, Humphries, Ajinca
C: Chandler, McGee, Ratliff
If the ‘Cats can win 44 games with last year’s squad then upgrading via Arenas and McGee while having Thomas and Chandler (contract year) for an entire season could very well propel the team to 50 plus wins and home court in the first round of the Playoffs. The team would also have enough draft picks and young prospects on the roster to make a move for a veteran during the following summer if they so choose and make a run for local favorite (and certain turnstile mover) Seth Curry after he completes his second and final year at Duke in the 2012 NBA Draft.
As for Prescription C, I’ve decided to save that one for later. Let’s see how the Draft and the early days of free agency play out first.