Rosterpalooza ’13 | Version 2.0

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Back in Version 1.0 of our offseason nerd-a-thon, we outlined a plan that would allow the Charlotte Bobcats to return to the ranks of competitive basketball next season while maintaining the team’s committment to acquiring and developing young talent. But in order to execute that plan, the team would have to let one of their precious few assets walk via free agency. That asset’s name is Gerald Henderson and he’s played so well over the past two months that we had to dedicate an entire Rosterpalooza to him.

Rosterpalooza ’13: Version 2.0 (The Hendo Edition)

Henderson isn’t a Top 2 franchise guy and probably not even a Top 3. The real question is whether he’s a 4th guy, the *uber* role player who, while not a star, is an integral piece of the team’s identity – think Jeff Green, Wesley Matthews, Taj Gibson or Wilson Chandler.

The Bobcats must be certain that he’s at that level because 4th Guys aren’t cheap and the contracts that they sign ($7-$8 million annually) are notorious for being the riskiest and least “efficient” deals a front office can ink (*cough*, Tyrus Thomas *cough*).

Should Charlotte Re-Sign Gerald Henderson?

PROS: Efficient scorer (even on a terrible team), still young (26 entering next season), good rebounder, a complete two-way player, solid intangibles, potential leadership qualities.

CONS: Improved three point shooter but doesn’t shoot enough to stretch the floor, not a primary scoring option, gives up too much size when matched against SFs (strictly a two guard).

With Shooting Guard currently the league’s weakest position, Gerald couldn’t have picked a better year to hit free agency. Henderson currently ranks 8th in the league amongst SGs in PER and is probably the best defender amongst the Top 10. With the likes of Arron Afflalo and Demar Derozan cashing in between $7 and $9 million annually, don’t expect Gerald Junior to come at a discount just because he plays in obscurity.

RESULT: Charlotte re-signs Gerald Henderson, 4 years $30 million

Moving the Needle

With Henderson locked up and Kemba Walker still mid-rookie contract, the Cats retain a promising young backcourt. Ramon Sessions has played great on a value deal and still has one year left to go as the team’s more than capable third guard. But those guys aren’t the problem. Anyone who’s had the (dis)pleasure of watching 70+ Bobcats games this season knows that if Charlotte is going to improve, they will need to upgrade the bigs.

The Bobcats rank a dismal 25th in points in the paint against, giving up an attrocious 103 points per game in total (league worst). Factors include: Mike Dunlap’s wacky defensive rotations, Ben Gordon, dual point guard backcourts, Byron Mullens, etc. So yes, it’s not entirely Bismack Biyombo’s fault that Charlotte is a horrid defensive team. Both he and Josh McRoberts are active, capable on-ball defenders but they’ll need help.

On the offensive side, the Bobcats’ highest scoring big men, McRoberts and Mullens, average a whopping 18ppg in total – even worse is that the number is skewed high given that they’ve rarely played together in the same game. Outside of the seldom used/injured Brendan Haywood, none of the Bobcats bigs have a post game and, amazingly, none can serve as the dive man in the league’s most basic play aka the pick and roll.

Part I: The Draft

In Version 1.0 we went the optimistic route, giving the Bobcats a Top 2 Lottery pick and their choice of Marcus Smart, Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore. But given the league’s Lottery history, Charlotte has just as good a shot to pick outside the Top 3 than in it. In Version 2.0, we’ll assume the worst and have the Cats picking 4th.

With that pick, the team could shore up the middle with a project center like Maryland’s Alex Len or trade down and nab a more polished but limited player like Cody Zeller. Or they could roll the dice on an undersized Power Forward from UNLV whose size, injury history and work ethic will likely red flag him outside the Top 3.

Anthony Bennett would instantly become the greatest Canadian player in Charlotte hoops history but outside of that, there are few guarantees. Will his 6’8″ height be offset by the huge wingspan? Will he work to develop a post game? Will he be able to stretch his perimeter shot to the NBA three point line? Are the injuries a fluke?

Ultimately, Bennett’s upside as a dominant scorer at his position outweigh the risks at pick 4. Worst case scenario, he’s Derrick Williams. Best case scenario, he’s Paul Milsap. Either way, he’s an upgrade.

RESULT: Charlotte drafts Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV


Part II: Free Agency

With Bennett drafted and Henderson re-signed, the Bobcats will need to add immediate help in the middle and some long range shooting via the open market. But first, as always, a little housekeeping…

Amnesty Tyrus Thomas

With the stroke of a pen, Michael Jordan rids himself of the last remaining stain of the Larry Brown era. Now that T-Time’s $8 million salary is off the books, the front office can then use the cap space to…

Sign J.J. Hickson

What a dramatic improvement this will be, going from Tyrus Thomas to a player with similar athletic prowess, better size and a functional brain. Hickson might not have Tyrus’s 18 foot range (YAY!) but he’s everything else the Cats have needed in a big man and more: shot blocking, rebounding, solid post defense, an improving post game, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: Hickson is an OUTSTANDING FINISHER in the basket area. Bobcats fans (and players) will be amazed to see dunks, putbacks and the occassional pick and roll executed in the lane next season. He’ll only be 25 when the season starts, has ties to the region and will form a nice big man combination with Biyombo and Bennett going forward.

RESULT: Charlotte signs J.J. Hickson, PF/C, 4 years $30 million

Stretch the Floor

Photo of Martell Webster wearing one of many NBA jerseys

The Bobcats have struggled to stretch the floor with long distance shooting, especially from the Small Forward position where rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still sorting out his mid-range game. Last time around we penciled in Carlos Defino as a potential solution. This time, we’ll go with Washington’s Martell Webster, a 26 year old bomber who’s currently shooting a lights-out 42% from beyond the arc. Webster’s never been a great defender but that’s what MKG is for. As a 20 minute per game change of pace rain-maker, Martell could do wonders opening up the lane for Charlotte’s drive-heavy guards.

RESULT: Charlotte signs Martell Webster, SF, 2 years $7.5 million

McBob

Josh McRoberts has been great and even after adding Hickson and Bennett, the Cats will still have enough in the tank to sign McBob to a reasonable contract as a utility big/fill-in starter.

RESULT: Charlotte re-signs Josh McRoberts, PF/C, 3 years $12 million (final year is a team option)

The Godfather Offer

Let’s take a quick look the Bobcats’ Depth Chart Heading into Training Camp:

  • PG: Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions
  • SG: Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon
  • SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Martell Webster, Jeffrey Taylor
  • PF: Anthony Bennett, Josh McRoberts
  • C: J.J. Hickson, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood

Now have a look at the salary chart. Notice anything odd? Yes, outside of Ben Gordon’s expiring deal, every single player on the Bobcats’ payroll can actually play! There’s no dead money tied up in the Tyrus Thomases, Gana Diops and Reggie Williams of the world. It’s like a real team all of a sudden.

Potential Salary Forecast

Select Image to Enlarge the Chart

Best yet, between Gordon’s $13.2 million expiring and the (likely) THREE 2014 FIRST ROUND Draft Picks Charlotte owns, they will have set themselves up in perfect position should a superstar suddenly become available via trade. Who is going to turn down some sort of combination of a massive expiring, multiple picks and young prospects still on their rookie deals??? OKC and Orlando didn’t get as much for James Harden or Dwight Howard. It’s a Godfather offer you can’t refuse just waiting for a STAR to become available.


Part III: The Final Step

Is Mike Dunlap a legitimate NBA coach?

Decide if Dunlap is the guy.

I’ll say it again. If the Cats play their summer correctly, they’ll suddenly have an appealling roster stocked with good young talent. Should Brian Shaw, Jerry Sloan, Mike Brown, Nate McMillan or Stan Van Gundy become intrigued, Charlotte will need to make certain that they have the right head coach to lead them to the next level.

-ASChin
@bobcatsbaseline


POLL : Should Bobcats Re-Sign Henderson

  • Yes, Absolutely! (41%, 116 Votes)
  • Let Him Walk (7%, 21 Votes)
  • For the Right Price (52%, 148 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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Blazers Use Depth to Hammer Bobcats 7-Man Rotation

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Portland 2/1/10

No running diary tonight as I’m furiously preparing and packing for a trip to Western Australia (or “WA” as the locals call it).

Bobcats end a three game road winning streak against the Blazers at the Rose Garden 98-79.  AP recap here.  Box score here.

Simple Arithmetic

When you commit 21 turnovers on the road while launching a barrage of errant three pointers (6-23 for 26%) and allow your opponent to drop 53% shooting on you WITHOUT their best player AND their two centers, you are going to lose.  Bad.

The Bobcats (mostly) seven man rotation looked tired against a deep Portland team, settling for long jump shots and lazy passes.  Boris Diaw was a major culprit in the TO department, logging 5 while maintaining his “Laissez Faire” status.  Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray shot a combined 4-13 from behind the arc.  Ouch.

While it’s amazing that Portland can still trot out 9 quality players while missing three of their top 8 talents to injury (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla), it’s perhaps more astonishing that Larry Brown insists on going with an EXTRA-abbreviated bench five games into a six game West Coast road trip.  The ‘Cats looked tired and uninterested for most of the game outside of a nice 10-0 rally late in the third.  Let’s hope that they were just saving their legs for another Lakers upset Wednesday night in LA.

Bullets

  • For those of you hoping for a D.J. Augustin Renaissance, don’t hold your breath.  D.J. continues to turn the tables on an excellent rookie campaign.  17 minutes, 0-5 (0-4 from three), 2 assists, 1 turnover, -9 plus/minus.  I hope his Junior Rebound is as dramatic as his Sophomore Slump.
  • The Portland crowd is one of the top 3 in the League without a doubt.  It sounded like a Playoff game in there tonight.  Can’t help but believe the Bobcats players felt a little jealous hearing and seeing this.  C’mon Charlotte!  Let’s re-create the Hive!
  • The Blazers Nic Batum and Martell Webster, two players who have been mentioned in Bobcats trade rumors for years, played great tonight, torching the ‘Cats D from the outside for a combined 25 points.  The ‘Cats have never had one of those long, silky smooth jump shooters.  Wonder how long that will last?  Rod Higgidy-Higgins?  Anybody?
  • Not to keep ripping on D.J. but aside from Brook Lopez (I won’t go there again), we can now easily make the case that the team should have drafted Jerryd Bayless instead.  Bayless seems to be everything that Augustin isn’t: explosive scoring mini-2-guard who can drive and shoot.  At 6’3″, 200 Bayless is bigger than Augustin and much less of a defensive liability.  Seriously, Michael Jordan should bring in a specialist DRAFT DAY GM.  Isiah Thomas is out there somewhere in rehab.  Let’s do this!

Until next time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Let’s Be Realistic

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Five trade scenarios that make sense for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Other Team

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Despite a 2-2 record going into Friday night’s home game against Atlanta, the ’09-’10 Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in a desperate situation.  They can’t score points and the last time I checked, scoring points was somewhat crucial to winning basketball games.  As fellow Baseliner Dr. E has pointed out in his recaps and comments recently, as bad as the Charlotte Bobcats were on offense last year they are even worse this year, ranking dead last in point per contest at 79.8.  To put this into perspective, the 29th team (Milwaukee) is averaging 8 more points per game than the ‘Cats @ 87.7.

This isn’t breaking news as anyone who has suffered the great misfortune of watching the opening 4 games will have come to the same conclusion: This Team Needs to Make a Trade.

First off, a couple of GROUND RULES:

  1. Trades must be logical for both teams, with a slight handicap given to the Bobcats trading partner as we fans tend to view our own players through the eyes of a new parent.  Must make sense for the trading partner first, Bobcats second.
  2. I used the ESPN.com Trade Machine as a reference and the screenshots have been pasted below.  The engine that powers the ‘Cats salary cap situation seems to be a little off so ignore the team’s cap number at the top.  All trades work cap wise for the Bobcats.
  3. The Bobcats have three primary needs: add more consistent scoring, depth at the backup PF spot, maintain or reduce their salary situation.  Trades will reflect one or more of those goals.

So without further ado…

1. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gana Diop and Raja Bell to the Detroit Pistons for Rip Hamilton

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Why Detroit Makes the Trade:
This one might seem lopsided at first glance.  Why would any team take on Gana Diop’s bloated, full-mid-level contract?  If the Pistons make this trade now, they’ll be close to $20 million under the salary cap this summer once Raja’s deal comes off the books.  Combine this with the fact that the team already has a nice young three guard rotation of Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon and that makes Hamilton not only expendable but, by essentially shedding half of his contract, the Pistons will automatically put themselves in a situation where they can bid against anybody for any player come July.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
On arrival, Rip would become the most dynamic and consistent outside shooter in team history.  His veteran leadership and ability to hit shots in the 2nd half are EXACTLY the kind of thing this team needs.  He’s a solid defender and knows Coach Brown’s system.  And even though Rip is already 31 years of age, his game looks to age well ala Ray Allen or Reggie Miller.  From a financial standpoint, the Bobcats are essentially trading away the albatross contract of a guy who is not playing (Diop) and receiving a bigger contract for a guy who will start.

2. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace and Nazr Mohammed to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson, Ronny Turiaf and Speedy Claxton

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Why Golden State Makes the Trade:
Are you kidding me?  S-JAX wanted out of Oakland a month ago and the team replaces an older disgruntled player with a younger, better one.  Warrior Fanatics will absolutely love Wallace in Oak-town.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
There are already rumblings of Jackson coming to Charlotte but I don’t buy the Diaw rumor for an instant.  Boris is the most important piece currently on the Bobcats roster and everybody knows it.  In a situation where Stephen Jackson, a natural SF, comes to the Queen City, Gerald Wallace is the most likely man headed out of town.  While Jackson is a more gifted offensive player, the Bobcats would lose a lot defensively without Wallace.  Not to mention the fact that no one has been more loyal to the Bobcats organization than Crash over his 5+ seasons with the team while Jackson has just demanded a trade from the team that just gave him $35 million.
The reason that Charlotte makes this trade is because Turiaf is a HUGE upgrade at the backup PF/C spots and his toughness and rebounding will be needed when the team battles bigger squads like the Magic, Celtics and Cavs.
The other main reason for making the deal is money.  Claxton would come off of the books this summer and S-JAX’s cap number is lower in every year of his contract than what the team would be paying Wallace.
Bobcats give away a more talented player but get back quantity and cap space?  Sounds like a realistic Bobcats trade to me.

3. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rudy Gay and Marko Jaric

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Why Memphis Makes the Trade:
Wallace is still young enough to grow with the Grizzlies’ young players (O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Hasheem Thabeet, Marc Gasol) and play right away with their veterans (Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson).  Perhaps more importantly, the trade would save the cheapskate Grizzlies at least $7 million next year as Rudy is likely to sign an extension that would pay him at least $9 million per season.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
First off, let me say that I would feel absolutely terrible sending Crash into a situation like this.  He deserves better.  Unfortunately, it is a business measured in wins and losses and this trade makes a ton of sense for the Bobcats.  They get a younger, more skilled player in Rudy Gay to play the SF spot and would only have to pay Jaric one more season for their troubles.  With the salary cap potentially going even lower this summer, the ‘Cats could probably net Rudy (who’ll be a Restricted FA) for around the same money that they’re currently paying Wallace.

4. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trailblazers for Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster

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Why Portland Makes the Trade:
The Trailblazers have been hot on Wallace for a couple of years now and there were multiple reports of a deal like this going down as recently as this past summer.  You could see why.  Wallace is the perfect fit for the Blazers in that he’s a reliable 3rd or 4th offensive option who doesn’t need plays called for him as he gets his points on sneaky post-ups, drives and put-backs.  He’s great in the open court and could be the final piece that puts Portland in the Western Conference Finals.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
Surprisingly enough, Hollinger’s Analysis really liked this trade for the Bobcats, adding 9 wins to the Bobcats total.  Webster and Outlaw aren’t household names but they are both young and talented and could start for the ‘Cats immediately.  Both guys can shoot it and financially the Bobcats would come up WAY ahead, with Outlaw’s deal expiring this summer and Webster’s reasonable $5 million a year deal extending only through ’11-’12.  In an alternative scenario, the Bobcats could include Derrick Brown in the deal and ask for Nicolas Batum in exchange.  This gives the team insurance if Outlaw decides not to resign and adds yet another talented Frenchmen to the squad.

5. The Charlotte Bobcats trade D.J. Augustin, Raja Bell and Nazr Mohammed to the Sacramento Kings for Kevin Martin and Beno Udrih

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Why Sacramento Makes the Trade:
Money.  The once proud Kings are in dire financial shape.  The team is going nowhere on the court and (probably) somewhere else off of it.  Between now and the summer of 2013, the Kings owe Martin $45 million.  During the same time frame, Sacramento owes Udrih (a decent backup PG) $27.5 million.  Making this trade with the Bobcats would save the Kings around $60 million over the next four seasons and provide them with a young PG to run the floor with rookie phenom Tyreke Evans.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
An additional $60 million in salary commitments.  Any chance in hell that Bob Johnson would say yes to a trade like this?  I say yes and here’s why: Kevin Martin is currently averaging 30pts per freakin’ game.  And he’s only 26 years old.  And this is not a fluke as Martin has averaged over 20pts per game over the past three seasons.  Sure, his defense doesn’t exactly scream “Larry Brown Caliber” but Kevin Martin would be the perfect medicine for a team desperately looking for some offense.  As bad as Udrih’s contract is, he’s not a terrible backup PG and combined with Felton, would make a nice platoon with Martin in the backcourt.
Oh, and Hollinger’s Analysis adds 13 wins to the ‘Cats win total if a deal like this were to go down.  Thirteen more wins is a good thing, right?

-ASChin