THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: Jordan’s Approach to Building a Winning Team in Charlotte

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misfits

THE PLAYERS (AKA THE MISFITS):

It starts with the city itself.  Once a shining example of the NBA’s ever-growing popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Charlotte finds itself today as a middle aged divorcee six years into a rebound marriage, unsure if it was ever cut out for this pro basketball city thing to begin with.*

The team’s first All-Star and only remaining original member was a bargain bin castoff selected in the expansion draft.  Young Gerald Wallace was worth less to the Sacramento Kings than shedding $1 million from their bloated payroll.

Even though he is only one of a dozen or so current NBA players who can score twenty points a night while preventing his opponent from doing the same, Stephen Jackson was exiled from Golden State for what amounted to a $5 million expiring contract and a poor shooting, non-rebounding Eastern European caveman.

Once universally revered, hall of fame head coach Larry Brown arrived in Charlotte a tarnished brand.  In a League where head coaching vacancies are filled annually by the same retread Temp Agency, Brown had to practically reach out to an old friend in order to secure a job and begin rebuilding his reputation.

And finally there’s Jordan.  A man who could do no wrong on the court is now the man who can barely do anything right off of it.  Joining the names Ehlo and Russell in the MJ ethos are new ones like Kwame and Morrison.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Michael Jordan has something to prove in the game of basketball.

A BRIEF, PAINFUL RECAP

Successful small market teams (OKC, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, Orlando) use the same formula and we all know it: BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT.  Draft stars to cheap rookie deals, treat ‘em well, sign ‘em to big contracts before they hit free agency and keep drafting young talent and signing mid-level free agents to pair with them.  Rinse and repeat.

The Bobcats are currently the worst drafting franchise in the NBA.  It’s not even up for debate.  In six plus years of existence, not once has one of their draft picks sniffed an All-Star game – and the ‘Cats have had more lottery selections than anyone else in that span.  Indulge me for another brief and painful recap:

2004: Emeka Okafor.  GRADE: a solid double. Could have had more picks and taken Big Al or Iggy if Bob Johnson had a clue about running a business, “hmm, buy a pick from Phoenix for $2 million to draft Jefferson, Deng or Iguodala or build a brand new cable sports network from scratch?  What’s the main draw you ask?  Charlotte Bobcats basketball of course!  Brevin Knight every night!”

2005: Ray Felton/Crab Bread May.  GRADE: a sacrifice bunt. Felton a below average starter for a few years, May on his way to hosting Man vs. Food: EXTREME CARBS!
2006: Adam Morrison.  GRADE: whiff.
Not only a whiff but a McGwire Whiff.  The kind where the guy is on ‘roids and whiffs so hard that he blows out both knees in the process.  Embarrassing.
2007: Jason Richardson/Jared Dudley.  GRADE: RBI single. Could have been worse.  At least realized that they didn’t know how to draft and received a couple non-bust assets in return.

2008: Augustin/Ajinca.  GRADE: whiff. Not as bad as the Morrison knee blowout but a close second.  Passed on Brook Lopez and threw away a future first rounder in order to select Freedom Fries.  Jordan was on record as saying that the team sat out the 2010 draft because “Tyrus Thomas was our first round pick.”  No, Michael.  Alexis Ajinca is your 2010 first round pick.  Ugh.
2009: Henderson/Brown.  GRADE: promising single right up the gap.
Henderson looked good in some late season action and is at least athletic enough to belong in the League–although his complete lack of an outside shot scares me.  Derrick Brown has the Gerald Wallace “I’m not intellectually capable enough to realize I shouldn’t be any good” gene – and this is no insult to Crash, look at how the book-smarts have hampered Okatron 2000’s career.  Higher grade for this draft if LB actually plays them next year.
2010: Ajinca by proxy.  GRADE: Freedom whiff.

So there you go folks, somehow with all of this draft day carnage in their immediate past, the Charlotte Bobcats attained a winning record in 2009-2010 and stole the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  So how in the hell did they do it?

GIVE US YOUR UNDER-PERFORMING & YOUR OVER-PAID

Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw.  What’s the single thread that ties these players together?  Why, it’s the fact that their former teams handed them massive contracts and then immediately realized that they’d made a mistake.  “Oh crap, we just signed Joel Pryzbilla to a nine year $80 million contract.  Quick, get Jordan on the phone!”

So in a silly season which saw half of the League’s teams trade away wins for cap space, the Bobcats “philosophy” of taking on bad contracts to win now was just wacky enough to propel them into the postseason.  While other GMs plotted for future dynasties, Jordan mortgaged the farm on the more modest and attainable goal of simply making the Playoffs.  It worked.  The ‘Cats finished the season as one of the Association’s top 15 teams.

Could it be that MJ and crony Rod Higgins are sharking their peers by making fiscally questionable deals to upgrade the team’s talent pool?  Have the ‘Cats created a new “Freakonomics” meets “Moneyball” model that challenges the importance of the amateur draft and free agency?  Is Michael Jordan stealthily playing checkers while the rest of the League plays chess?  Or will all of these questionable contracts and draft day screw-ups eventually cripple the team, making future trades difficult and free agent additions impossible?**

If Jordan and Higgins are intent on foregoing the tried and true paradigm for small market success and continue with their merry spending ways, then I present to you, without further ado…

THE SUMMER OF 2010’s MISFIT TOY CANDIDATES:

What makes a Misfit Toy candidate?  Simple: you have to be way overpaid and way underperforming.  If you fit this description then I hope you like pulled pork BBQ ‘cause your probably coming to Carolina!

Ben Gordon 4 yrs: $47 million

Y’think Joey Dumars is just a tad bit regretful for signing a 6’3” sixth man shooting guard to a $60 million deal?  Gordon is way overpaid for his production but could be exactly what the doctor ordered on a team like the Bobcats: Electric bench and fourth quarter scoring.  The ‘Cats are desperate for it.  That said, Dumars is notoriously tough to trade with.  Wonder if a combination of Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson might get this done.

Monta Ellis 4 yrs: $44 million

We’ve been speculating on this one for years.  Ellis hogs the ball and jacks up shots at an unprecedented rate.  Not good on a team with lots of offensive options like Golden State but could be an absolute godsend for the Bobcats, who spent the vast majority of last season spastically passing the ball around on offense like it was a live hand grenade.  Again, wonder if Diaw and Henderson or Chandler’s expiring could get this done.  The W’s are a mess in the front office right now, Higgins could potentially steal something else in return (pick, prospect).

Baron Davis 3yrs: $41 million

A blast from the past, a former home grown product entering the end of his career.  Still has the size and offensive firepower to occasionally dominate a game.  Couldn’t be any worse than Felton and is so overpaid that the ‘Cats could conceivably unload Diop’s longer deal in exchange.

Al Jefferson 3yrs: $42 million

Not sure exactly why Big Al is being shopped so fiercely this summer.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of David Kahn.  If the rest of League’s GMs are playing chess to MJ’s checkers, then Kahn is playing badminton.  Al would be a huge upgrade at the PF spot for the ‘Cats but not quite sure what the T’Wolves would want in exchange.  I’m praying that Kahn would ok a deal that would send out Jefferson and Ramon Sessions (Andre Miller: The Next Generation) for Tyson and Nazr’s expirings (plus a future first rounder).

Emeka Okafor: 4yrs, $52 million

Tied with two others on this list (see below) for the worst contract in the League.  Obviously, it was the Bobcats who signed him to it.  Was such a poor fit in New Orleans that Charlotte actually won the trade by taking back 6ppg/6rpg, semi-crippled Tyson Chandler in exchange.  Hate the contract but could live with ‘Mek’s 16 + 10 if the Hornets threw in Darren Collison.  Diop/Mohammed/Augustin for Okafor/Collison anybody?

Rashard Lewis: 3yrs, $65 million

Sole possession of 2nd Worst Contract in the League.  He’s paid over $20 million a year over the next three.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rashard should gift half his salary to Dwight Howard every season.  Without D-Ho backing him up in the lane, Lewis’s skinny frame and lack of defensive skills would make him an absolute liability.  Don’t think the Magic would trade him (they’re firmly in “go for broke” mode) but his offensive skills and outside shooting would fill a need for the ‘Cats.

Elton Brand: 3yrs, $51 million

Here we go, a good old fashioned back to the basket All-Star power forward.  Only problem is that Elton hasn’t been the same since an achilles injury derailed his career a few seasons ago.  He’s a round peg in a square hole with fast paced Philly but could regain dominance in Larry Brown’s grind it out half-court offense in Charlotte.  Would Diaw/Mohammed (expiring) be enough to get it done?

Hedu Turkoglu: 4yrs, $43 million

We’ve been hearing this rumor for a solid month now.  Hedu and Jack to Charlotte for Boris, Diop and D.J.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense mainly because Hedu can only play small forward, doesn’t defend or rebound well and is essentially not very good.  He’s basically Boris with a worse contract and poorer defense.  Jack and Ray Felton may as well be the same player.  Dud.  Oh and Hedu is one of the other “Worst Contract in the League”ers.  The other one?

Gilbert Arenas: 4yrs, $60 million

I’ve already written about this in length so I won’t rehash it here.  If MJ could swing a deal featuring Diop, Diaw and Mohammed for Gilbert and an asset (prospect or pick) then do it.  It’d be the biggest gamble in MJ’s tenure but he’s shown that he’s most definitely the gambling type.  An Arenas/JAX/CRASH/Tyrus/Chandler core could win 50 games this year as long as everybody stays relatively healthy.  The team would also retain the young talent on the roster and pick up either a pick or a young player like Javale McGee or Blatche from the Wiz for their troubles.

Allen Iverson: free agent.

We couldn’t leave out good old AI.  He’s a free agent and has declared himself ready take on the League again.  The dude has hit rock bottom.  If you’re gonna take a flyer on him then now is the time to do it.  If he would accept a smaller (possibly bench) role and play nice with his new teammates then I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career than with his old coach in the Queen City.  He’d also come cheap.  Think: Flip Murray Advanced.

IN CONCLUSION

Don’t be surprised if Jordan pulls off a deal for one of these misfits sometime between now and the end of next month.  MJ sat out the draft and one gets the sense that both he and Trader Larry are chomping at the bit to make yet another move for an overpriced toy in need of a new home.

Until then, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

*I find it ironic that throughout Charlotte’s twenty plus years of NBA basketball history the vast majority of the city’s successful players have come via trade or as castaways: Monster Mash, Eddie Jones, Mase, Vlade Two Packs, Easy E Campbell, P-Whipped Rice, Curry 1.0, Don’t Tell Me No Bogues, Crash and JAX.  Doesn’t that sort of represent how the city’s success was built as well?  Sure, there are some shining examples of homegrown talent but the vast majority of the Queen City’s brain pool came here from somewhere else looking for a new start.  Buffalo, Rochester, Jersey, Pittsburgh, WV, Ohio, represent BABY BABY!  UH!

**The good news is that the team drafts so poorly that they’ll never have to worry about re-signing their own talent on the open market.  “What’s that?  Raymond is an unrestricted free agent?  He might sign with another team?  Huh.  Anyways, so you’re telling me that a poached egg is actually boiled?  I always wondered how they did that…”

Chander Opts Out of Opt Out

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chandler-returningOur (not-so) long, regional nightmare is over.  Tyson Chandler has reportedly decided not to exercise the option in his contract that would have allowed him to forego the last year on his contract and become a free agent tomorrow.  Tyson is due $12.6 million in 2010-11 to finish off the contract he signed years ago with New Orleans.

Caught up in the Summer of 2010 Free Agency Frenzy, Chandler’s camp leaked word to the media a few weeks back that he was considering opting out and testing free agency.  The argument for doing so was likely two-pronged.

1) So many teams have made so much cap space this summer that one or two are likely to whiff on the big name players (coughKnickscough) and then scramble to spend their money on second (or third) tier free agents.  So in effect, yes, Tyson was eyeing Lebron’s sloppy seconds.  Additionally, he may have been hoping the Cats would simply resign him to a new long-term deal, a la what Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce are doing this summer.  And…

2) A long term contract negotiated this summer may be better than one negotiated next summer, as the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is due to be renegotiated in time for next summer and will likely limit some of the financial/contractual perks that players currently enjoy.

Chandler opting out would have been a Catch-22 for the Cats.  Basically, it’s tough to lose a starter to free-agency without compensation, especially a starting big man.  Nazr Mohammed and Theo Ratliff played center-by-committee admirably last year when Chandler was out, and we’re all hoping we can get something out of Alexis Ajinca this year, but to lose Tyson outright to free agency would have left us weakened down low.

On a positive note, it would have opened up a chunk of room under the salary cap with which to sign a free agent.  But for what?  The position that the Cats most need to upgrade at is PG, and there aren’t any decent free agent PGs out there.

So it looks like Tyson will be collecting his $12.6 million from the Cats while roaming the paint at the Cable Box next year.

Or will he?

It’s been widely rumored that the Cats are looking to deal this summer.  Makes sense, it’s the only avenue we have to upgrade/remix the roster.  And a decent, reasonably useful, legitimately-sized center on a big expiring contract is just the kind of guy that other teams would likely be willing to trade for.

Chandler for Monta Ellis + a future pick, anyone?

-Dr. E


Bobcats Beat Warriors At Their Own Game

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Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats @ Warriors 1/29/10


Staying with the “Running Diary” theme recaps…

FIRST HALF

Lots of talk from the Warriors broadcast team about Stephen Jackson coming back to Oaktown.  Boos aplenty.  Wow!  The Bobcats have their very first heel!

Great moment midway through the first quarter which illustrates Larry Brown’s impatience with Rookies.  Derrick Brown checks in to give Diaw a breather and proceeds to fall asleep in transition defense.  LB yanks him after thirty seconds and inserts Stephen Graham for the rest of the quarter.  Talk about a short fuse.

Ronny Turiaf checks in later in the quarter and starts making plays immediately.  I wrote in my Power Forward Trade Column recently that Turiaf would be a great fit as a backup four in Charlotte and he’s proving me right again this evening with lots of energy on the offensive glass, a few nice put-backs and one crazy steal and almost finish on the fast break.  If the ‘Cats could get him for Henderson and Law straight up I say make the deal immediately.

Just caught the box score for the Philly/Lakers game.  Anybody realize that both Primoz Brezec AND Jason Kapono play for the Sixers?  Me neither, maybe because they both logged DNP-CDs tonight.  Somewhere Bernie Bickerstaff is crying.

My first look at Steph Curry as a pro.  I wasn’t sure how he was going to turn out but thus far I’m impressed.  He has some pass-first PG acumen; is an As-Advertised great long range shooter and is a little bigger than you’d think.  Will probably play just as long as his pops (16+ seasons) in the League and be at worst a Steve Kerr role player on a contender.

Starting the 2nd quarter now and we have a SPECIAL GUEST ANNOUNCER joining the Warriors’ broadcast crew.  “Oh my gawd King, it’s that sadistic bastard Paul Heyman!”  No, it’s Dell Curry!  DC4THREEE! chats about Steph’s success, the JAX trade, Monta Ellis’ dependence on his right hand, Steph’s mouthpiece fetish (possibly inherited from watching so many Crash games in CLT), the light, skin-tight kevlar body armor that so many players are wearing these days (including Gerald Wallace), etc, etc.
I’m actually starting to think that Dell could be a great ambassador nation-wide for Charlotte Pro Basketball.  Sort of an Obama/Brad Daugherty gene splice.  He’s no Mike Gminski yet but a strong upgrade from Adrian Branch/Henry Williams.

Who is that tall, bearded guy on the Bobcats bench wearing a suit?  Did Sean May lose a bunch of weight and go all Joakim Phoenix on us?  Oh, that’s the guy we traded our franchise center for, Tyson Chandler.  Tyson Chandler everybody!  Woo-hoo!!!  Sixteen games and counting!

Starters (especially JAX and CRASH) playing a ton of minutes in the first half.  D.J. comes in to to give Raymond a blow.  Augustin nails two straight threes and looks confident.  Then he loses that turnover to Run Ronny Turiaf who embarrasses him with the aforementioned steal and almost finish.  Still, D.J. with a respectable eleven points in the first half.

Bobcats up 65-59 at the break.

SECOND HALF

JAX and CRASH haven’t come out of the game yet and Boris has only been out a minute.  The announcers for GS are talking like this is a good thing.  I’m a little worried about all of this wear and tear.

RADMAN in the house!  Not sure if it’s a Bay Area inspired thing but Vlad has suddenly started looking like the lead singer from Loverboy.
Also, Warriors fans must be in secret agony every time they see Vlad get toasted by JAX.  Golden State really didn’t get enough for him in that trade.  Kind of like when the Bobcats play the Hornets and Emeka Okafor drops a double-double on Tyson Chandler’s replacement.

I’m a Boris Bee-Liever but Diaw has been hit or miss all season and I’m starting to think that he’s gonna be the player that the team moves if you believe Bill Simmons’ assertion that the ‘Cats are making another trade before the deadline.  Carlos Boozer for Diaw and change?  A Felton/Jackson/Wallace/Boozer/Chandler lineup is a tough matchup for anyone in East.  I’m warming to the idea.

Back to Raymond for a second, I feel like his beard is under-discussed.  Baron Davis started doing this and his game went to the next level a few years back.  Not to mention Magic in the 80s.  I’m calling on Ray to push it at least as far as QuestLove before the Playoffs.  Felton is playing so well these days (16pts on 6-10, 6asts tonight) that I’m a little worried that the Lakers are gonna sweep him up this offseason to replace Derek Fisher.  They’ve liked him since the ’05 draft and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ray running the point next year for Kobe and Phil.

Nazr Mohammed has played a total of 17 minutes and Gana Diop’s nearing a DNP-CD himself.  Larry Brown chooses to go small with JAX and CRASH alternating playing the four and Diaw taking Center.  Bobcats up by double digits in the Third.

WOW.  Andris Biedrins with a Turiaf-esque steal of a Felton pass and then a one-on-none fast break JAM.  Let’s talk about Biedrins’ hair for a second.  Is he purposefully trying to invite Dolph Lundgren comparisons?  He basically looks like any Eastern European tough guy involved in a Russian Arms Deal Gone Bad.  I’m gonna search later for photographs of Andris wearing a grey sportcoat and black undershirt.

Monta Ellis looking every bit as you’d expect.  Scoring at will.  Driving the lane and hitting jumpers from the outside.  Looks like a young Iverson.  Warriors hot all game shooting 56% from the field but can’t secure a rebound while the ‘Cats aren’t doing too bad themselves at 50%.

CARTIER MARTIN SIGHTING!  Yes, Cartier “That’s Really My First Name” Martin just checked into the game and put one up over JAX.  He then gets hyper and starts launching threes – all errant.  Thanks for the memories, Cartier.

Fourth Quarter and the Bobcats look like the better team.  They blow the game open and build a 20 point lead with just a little over six minutes left and are killing the W’s this half with a 20-9 rebounding advantage (CRASH lead the way with 13 to go along with an impossibly quiet 30pts).

JAX with a killer 3 (bringing his scoring total to 30), D.J. with another killer three and for some reason Larry Brown decides to leave his starters in with 6:30 to go with the ‘Cats well ahead and the Warriors trotting out Cartier and Anthony Tolliver (GS’s answer to Stephen Graham).

Warriors make a mini-rally but come up short and LB empties the bench with 2:20 to go in the game.  Gerald “The Sequel” Henderson comes in and looks as though he’s never even seen a basketball before, missing free throws, slipping on the floor, throwing the ball away.  Doesn’t matter.  Bobcats in control and take this game 121-110 to go 23-22 on the year while improving to 5-17 on the road.

AP recap here.  Box score here.

Enjoy the win Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

Delonte West, Cavs Shoot Bobcats Down In Cleveland

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Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats @ Cleveland 10/31/09


More of the same tonight at the Q as the Charlotte Bobcats follow up a solid first half effort with only 13 third quarter points and lose to the Cavs 90-79.  Box score here.

1. Find somebody who can score by December 1st and the Bobcats make the Playoffs

The Bobcats played very well in the first half, negating Lebron James and held Cleveland to just 45 points per half.  In the second half, Lebron, Mo Williams and Delonte “Have You Seen This Boy?” West got hot and the Bobcats started playing Hot Potato again, unsure as to who should be shooting the ball and when.  This has to stop in order for the Bobcats to be taken seriously.  Charlotte did a great job of forcing turnovers (17) but committed just as many themselves by taking errant shots or passing the ball two or three too many times.  Cleveland’s Mo Williams led the way for the Cavs with 24 points (including 5-8 from downtown) while the ‘Cats were lead by Vladimir Radmanovic off the bench.  He scored 12 points.

The Bobcats had a very good chance of stealing this game in the third quarter when both teams started slow and if they’d had someone whom they could have gone to consistently for offense they probably would have.  I’m starting a list right now of scorers who could be available to help now.  Thus far: Rip Hamilton, Monta Ellis, Michael ReddPlease send me anymore that you could think of.

2. Silver Linings?

Gerald Henderson played well tonight.  He played 18 minutes and guarded Anthony Parker and Delonte tight on defense but his best play was during a second quarter Cleveland fast break when the rookie raced down the court and pulled a ’05-’07 era Gerald Wallace monster stuff on 6’9″  J.J. Hickson.  The Sequel came out of nowhere and just threw it back.  Play of the game for the Bobcats.  Henderson’s shot selection was mixed (went 2-4 from downtown but 1-4 from in close) but he finished with 11pts and 3rbs.  Not a bad third game in the NBA.

After a shaky start, the Radman finally resurfaced as Vlade dropped 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and played his sneaky good defense mostly against Anderson Varejao.  Speaking of Varejao, the Cleveland broadcast color man calls him “Andy” but does so in such a voice that he basically mimics Morgan Freeman’s “Redd” character from The Shawshank Redemption.  I kept waiting for him to go all sentimental and reflective, “My friend Andy never had the most skill or the most athleticism but devil-be-damned he hustled and that’s what kept him in the League.”

3. On Second Thought, Maybe Raymond Isn’t The Man

After two quality starts to begin the season, Raymond struggled against the Cavs turning the ball over 8 times against just three assists and the team played visibly better when D.J. Augustin came in and took over late in the third and into the final frame.  I’m not “hating” here.  If Raymond could develop a consistent three pointer, he’d be every bit as good as Mo Williams, especially if he was on a team like the Cavs.  For the time being however, the lack of respect the opposing teams have for his jumper makes him a liability in the half-court set.

IN CONCLUSION:

Nothing new here.  Bobcats play comparatively stellar Defense but can’t score on offense which leads to turnovers which leads to easy buckets by the other team which leads to Charlotte being forced to shoot itself back into the game which is something that they are currently not configured to do.

Cross your fingers Bobcats fans, let’s hope that MJ and Ron Higgidy Higgins got the memo and are working on bringing in reinforcements before it’s too late.

Next up is Brook Lopez and the Nets at the Cable Box on Monday night.  Dr E will tweet you there.

-ASChin

Post-Iverson Fallout: 5 Reasons Why Bobcats Fans Should Put Down the Razorblades

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It seems like the darkest of times for Bobcats fans.

Are You Having Difficulty Coping with Being a Bobcats Fan?

Allen Iverson has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies, having been unable to come to terms with the Bobcats.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that the knuckle-headed Rashard McCants will be wearing a Charlotte uniform soon.
Fingers are still collectively being crossed in hopes that Tyson Chandler will be able play most of the upcoming season.
The team has yet to come to contract terms with Raymond Felton and a backup Power Forward has yet to be found.
Worse yet, Bob Johnson is still the team’s owner.

But I urge Bobcats fans to postpone the cutting and self-mutilation for at least a few more months because there is still some hope for the city of Charlotte’s 2nd NBA Franchise.

1. The Egos of Larry Brown & Michael Jordan.

MJ may well be a Hall of Shame evaluator of talent but he – along with Rod Higgins and Larry Brown – has shown a willingness to correct the roster in places where the roster needs correcting.
Last season it was an issue of passing and chemistry.  The Diaw & Bell trade remedied the problem spectacularly.
Thus far this off-season it is an issue of scoring.
While McCants would help a bit with this as an eighth or ninth-man role-player, the team still needs a starter who provides scoring for 40 minutes a night.
The Monta Ellis rumors are surfacing again and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if such a deal were to occur before training camp.
With MJ being inducted into the Hall of Fame and Coach Brown still remastering his degraded image, it is doubtful that either one of them wants to be made a League laughingstock anytime soon.
Expect a move to be made.

2. Boris Diaw & Gerald Wallace.

Regardless of what transactions occur in the next few weeks, the Bobcats find themselves currently with one of the best Forward combos in the League.  While neither player is currently an All-Star, they are both entering their primes as excellent complementary players: Wallace with his hustle, energy and defense; Diaw with his court-vision, high skill-set and underrated defense.
A scoring presence in the starting five would result in nothing but improvement from both of these players.

3. DJ Augustin & Gerald Henderson.

We’re not certain of what Henderson is going to provide at the NBA level but we know exactly what DJ is capable of.  The 2nd Team All-Rookie shot lights-out last season and looked much more comfortable than most players (including Raymond Felton in his rookie season) leading a team at the point during his first year.
The fact that the Bobcats have two young, talented backcourt players on rookie-scale contracts will go a long way in remedying the current salary cap horror that the team finds themselves trapped in.

4. Sean May and Adam Morrison have been ejected.

No one likes to wear an albatross of past mistakes.  Having both Morrison and May on the roster last season was a constant reminder to both management and the fans of what could have been and what should not have been.  Yes, taking on Vlad Radmanovic’s contract for an extra year is a sour pill (especially when the team could’ve simply chose not to extend Morrison’s Q.O. last summer – giving them plenty of cash to sign Iverson this summer) but what’s past is past and Radmanovic is still young enough and talented enough to offer some value as a 7th or 8th man.  Radman could be utilized this season as a type of Rashard Lewis hybrid-four, lessening the need for a traditional backup PF.
Sean May’s ceaseless “potential” will move cross-country to Sacramento, relieving the Bobcats of having to depend on one of the League’s most undependable.  Let casino owners like the Maloofs gamble on May’s potential while Larry Brown finds someone who can provide consistent NBA minutes.

5. The Raymond Felton contract situation.

The current stalemate between Felton and the Bobcats speaks to a new maturity in the front office.  The organization has finally come to its senses when evaluating its own players.  Raymond Felton is reportedly asking for $7 million per season.  Meanwhile, a similarly talented young player (Ramon Sessions) has signed a 4 year/$16 million contract with the T-Wolves.  There is hope here that the Bobcats can either sign Felton for a contract closer to the value of Sessions than what Raymond is asking for or bundle Raymond as part of a trade for a scorer.

The cliche is that it’s always darkest before the dawn and I can’t see why it’s not true for the Bobcats.

There is talent, there is a Hall of Fame coach, and there are two basketball legends who are undoubtably concerned with their legacies.  Expect something good and expect it soon.

-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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2 Ways to the Playoffs without A.I.

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Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis would be great fits for the '09-'10 Charlotte Bobcats

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.

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