Charlotte Bobcats Draft Retrospective | Part One

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Editor’s Note: What you are about to read is a grotesque lesson in abject NBA failure. It is not suitable for children under the age of 12, readers who are pregnant or for those weak of heart. If, by coincidence, any reader is to one day become involved with running a professional sports franchise, it is our hope that he or she would refer back to this epic tragedy in the hopes of avoiding the (seemingly obvious) pitfalls of this moribound organization. Finally, if this column is to ever appear in printed form, it is highly suggested that the publishers bundle it with a barf bag.

The Charlotte Bobcats will participate in their tenth NBA Draft on June 27th, 2013. In their previous nine drafts, the team has selected in the first round a total of twelve times, producing exactly zero All-Star appearances which have in turn produced a total of zero Playoff victories for the franchise. Think about that. The Bobcats organization has drafted in the first round a dozen times, ten of which were Lottery selections, and have produced not a single player who has sniffed an All-Star game. Once more: Ten Lottery Selections, Zero All-Star appearances. Needless to say, it takes a special sort of ineptitude to accomplish such a feat. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at how they did it:

Part One: ’04-’06 The Bickerstaff Era

In one of the few sound (and by sound, I mean not horrendous) decisions Bob Johnson ever made as owner of the team, longtime coach and personnel director Bernie Bickerstaff was hired to shape the newborn franchise in the combined role of general manager/coach during the franchise’s infancy. Bernie actually got the team off to a decent drafting start but, as we will learn, the success didn’t last for very long…

The 2004 Draft: Emeka Okafor F/C UConn, Bernard Robinson SF Michigan.

How It Played Out: Bickerstaff used his connections with the Clippers organization to swing a nice pre-Draft deal, moving the 4th overall selection (Shaun Livingston) and two future second rounders to L.A. for the 2nd overall pick (Okafor) plus Eddie House and Melvin Ely. The Clips were on a failed mission to sign Kobe Bryant and needed to clear cap space pronto. Bernie jumped at the opportunity to make Okafor the face of the league’s newest franchise.

Amazing as it sounds, Emeka probably ranks as the Bobcats most successful Draft choice to date despite little development beyond his Rookie of the Year season. A combination of management overpaying him for no apparant reason (bidding against themselves) in conjunction with the hiring of yoga-hater Larry Brown derailed what could have a been a long career in Charlotte. Okafor is no superstar but as a kind of poor-man’s David Robinson/rich-man’s Udonis Haslem, Emeka could have anchored the team’s interior defense for a decade or more. Intelligent and photogenic, Okafor was also the perfect PR representitive for a team trying desperately to connect with a reticent fanbase.

As the Cats’ inaugural second round choice, Robinson contributed few meaningful minutes and was out of league after just three seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: The Okafor selection aside, the Cats missed out on a major opportunity to land another Lottery pick via a capped stretched Phoenix team who were shopping the Draft’s 7th overall pick for the very reasonable price of a protected future first rounder. The Suns ended up making a deal with Chicago for what ended up being the 21st pick in the ’05 Draft. The Bulls selected Duke freshman Luol Deng seventh; two picks later Arizona sophmore Andre Iguodala went to the Sixers. Given the team’s needs and talent available, it’s unknown why Charlotte wasn’t more aggressive with an offer; perhaps Bickerstaff felt the franchise’s top expansion draftee, Gerald Wallace, would develop into the long term starter.

GRADE: B-


The 2005 Draft: Raymond Felton PG UNC, Sean May PF UNC.

While most point to the 2006 Draft as THE PIVOTAL MOMENT that set the franchise back half a decade, I would argue that it was the 2005 Draft that had the greater impact.

How It Played Out: The seeds of destruction were planted that May, as the league’s Lottery system punished Bickerstaff for keeping the Bobcats competitive in their inaugaral season, pushing their 2nd worst overall record back to pick number five. There was a bit of good news however: as a result of an expansion draft day trade with the Suns, the Bobcats had acquired Cleveland’s 13th overall selection via Phoenix, giving the Bobcats two lottery picks in the same draft – more than enough ammunition to move up and grab one of college basketball’s elite Point Guards (Deron Williams, Chris Paul) should a deal become available. One did. And Bickerstaff turned it down.

You all know the story: Having been rejected by Charlotte, Portland instead traded the third overall selection to Utah for the 6th and 27th picks. The Jazz took Williams at three, New Orleans selected Chris Paul at four, while the Bobcats (in desperate need of a franchise PG) reached for Raymond Felton at number five.

At the time, Bickerstaff believed that the team was in need of quantity over quality. This made as little sense then as it does now. The NBA isn’t the NFL, there is no 53 man roster to fill out. Only five players can play at once. Regular season rotations max out at 10 and shrink even further during the postseason. It was a hugely obvious and irrepreable mistake.
Eight seasons later, Paul is the greatest PG on the planet, Williams is a sometimes-superstar and Felton is a solid player who the Knicks were able to sign off the street for a partial mid-level contract. To make matters worse, the “quantity” number 13 pick Bickerstaff was so excited about ended up being more “quantity” than his knees could ever handle.

Sean May had played his way into the Lottery with a big-time Final Four performance that landed he and teammate Felton a NCAA Championship (that’s three first round picks, three NCAA champions, Zero All-Star appearances if you’re counting), but the work ethic and health concerns that dinged May’s rep pre-Tourney showed up almost immediately into his pro career. Despite some solid performances in orange & blue (including two monster games against Cleveland and Orlando on national television), May ate his way out of the league in just a few seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: One can only imagine the impact drafting Paul (a local guy with family in the Charlotte area) would have had on the team’s success and reputation, on Okafor and Wallace’s development and on the development of the fanbase. Even if CP3 would have forced his way out as he did in New Orleans two summers ago, the Cats would have likely received major assets in return — unlike the bounty they received for May and Felton, which was absolutely nothing. Future NBA GMs of America take note: Quality ALWAYS wins out over Quantity.

GRADE: F-


The 2006 NBA Draft: Adam Morrison SF Gonzaga, Ryan Hollins C UCLA

How It Played Out: Let’s put it this way, the team’s 2nd round pick in ’06 (Ryan Hollins, 50th overall) is still in the league three years after their 1st round pick (Adam Morrison, 3rd overall) hopped a one-way train to Eastern Europe. In fairness to Bickerstaff, the Ammo selection was likley influenced by Michael Jordan, who had only weeks prior to the Draft purchased a significant portion of the team from Johnson. MJ’s “great white hope” certainly didn’t start out as a bust. I was there opening night when Morrison nailed his first NBA shot, a near half court buzzer beater that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Morrison spent the next 81 games doing basically what everyone thought he’d do coming out of Gonzaga: score in bunches and play terrible defense. Overall, it was an up and down season in which Ammo would typically go for 20 points one night, followed by a 2 point, 1-10 night the next. His brightest moment came in a late December game against Indy in which the rook dropped thirty on 9-17 shooting, earning an impressive ten points from the line.

Cut to Los Angeles, ten months later: Morrison blows out his ACL guarding Luke Walton in a pre-season game, effectively ending his NBA career. The following season Charlotte would ship Ammo (along with Shannon Brown) to the Lakers for Vladimir “Radman” Radmanovic, leaving Morrison to ride out his rookie deal on L.A.’s high-profile pine. (SIDE NOTE: Being that Hollywood is the land of happy endings, Phil, Kobe and Pau made sure to slip a couple of Championship rings into Morrison’s Euro-bound suitcase as a parting gift.)

How It Should Have Played Out: The pick was a disaster for two reasons: 1.) The other players the Bobcats seriously considered drafting were Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. 2.) The team already had a young SF prospect in Gerald Wallace.

This second point is key: Just 12 months earlier, Bickerstaff was preaching quantity over quality yet by selecting Morrison, Bernie doubled up on a position of strength. Had Bickerstaff stuck (or been allowed to stick) to his philosophy, the Cats could have simply selected Roy and slid him next to Felton, Crash and Okafor to form a nice young core. Four amazing seasons with a healthy Roy (which included a Rookie of the Year campaign and three All-Star selections) could have ignited the dormant local fanbase and put the team on the national NBA map. Instead, Morrison cemented the laughing stock status of both the Bobcats as a franchise and MJ as an Exec. Place the blame on Bernie or his Air-ness, either way this Draft was a fail of epic proportions.

GRADE: F-


NEXT UP IN PART TWO: ROD HIGGINS TRIES TO OUT-SUCK THE BICKERSTAFF ERA… AND SUCCEEDS!

 


POLL : Best Bobcats Draft Pick

  • Emeka Okafor (9%, 27 Votes)
  • Kemba Walker (62%, 188 Votes)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11%, 32 Votes)
  • Raymond Felton (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Gerald Henderson (14%, 41 Votes)

Total Voters: 301

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End of the Gana Diop Era

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Gana Diop Illustration

As NBA enthusiasts across the globe get ready for the exciting action and intense competition of the Playoffs, Charlotte Bobcats fans should take pause to reflect on the end of an era – The DeSagana Diop Era. It’s not often that a team says goodbye to one of its Big Three (salary bandits). So, this is a great opportunity to survey the impact that the giant’s departure will have for the club.

Oh, how time and paychecks fly by. It seems like it was just yesterday that the Bobcats were pressured by Larry Brown and duped by the Dallas Mavericks into swallowing Diop’s ridiculous contract in exchange for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. Since then, ‘Gana has eaten up over 11% of the team’s salary cap with few contributions to justify it. Acquiring the Senegalese seven-footer immediately hamstrung the ‘Cats efforts to retain their much better Center, Tyson Chandler in the 2010 off-season. Regrettably, Charlotte had to take back Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, and Erick Dampier’s contract in a financially-driven trade, delivering Chandler to the Mavs where he went on to win the championship. Oh, and then Tyson picked up the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012. But, those wiry ol’ Bobcats still had Diop on their bench! Another fun fact – Ryan Hollins is a contributor off the bench for the Playoff-bound LA Clippers and played over three-times as many minutes as ‘Gana did this season.

Gana Diop Era Highlights

Okay, let’s take a moment to look at some Gana Diop highlights:

Next Step for Diop

It’s highly likely that Diop will step away from the NBA, and walk off into the sunset (after he collects the last of his $7,372,200.00 from the Bobcats this month). Despite the pain that he’s caused Michael Jordan’s wallet, it looks like the guy has actually done some pretty good things off the court with the NBA Cares program.

Nevertheless, ‘Gana is gonna leave a big hole on this team’s payroll. It’s fair that fans have concerns about how the team will use their salary cap numbers to improve this summer. But, when the time comes to announce the next signing, Charlotte’s front office needs to measure their offer and ask, “Is that guy worth Gana Diop money?”

-Mike

“I’d Like to Welcome Back Some Old Friends”

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20130318-144000.jpg

Some Crazy Speculation on Draft Night 2013

In a little less than a year – February 1st, 2014 to be exact – David Stern will retire from his post as NBA commissioner after an overwhelmingly successful 30 year reign. Stern’s marketing driven sports philosophy propelled the league from near extinction into an insanely lucrative global brand. The poster child (quite literally) for Stern’s multi-decade strategy is Charlotte Bobcats’ owner and G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, who ruled both the court and the cameras during the league’s exponential growth period during the ’90s. Stern created the conditions for an international phenomenon like MJ to exist and Jordan took full advantage, elevating the game and league to heights Stern quite possibly couldn’t have imagined.
Which brings us to Thursday, June 27th 2013: David Stern’s final NBA Draft. It is the one night of the NBA year in which Stern himself is the center of attention and it represents a perfect PR opportunity to do some final executive housecleaning:
The Commissioner struts out from backstage to a roar of ironic boos and earnest applause, handling it in style with his trademark smirk and snark. He thanks the fans, the players, the owners, everyone involved in the league for making it what it is today. Then a surprise: “Before I go, I’d like to welcome a new friend into the Association.” Tom Benson joins him at the podium with a freshly minted New Orleans Pelicans jersey. Smiles and handshakes. “And I’d also like to use this opportunity to welcome back some old friends.” Steve Balmer (or one of his minions) joins the group with a crisp Supersonics size 48. “After a brief hiatus, we’d like to officially welcome Seattle back to the NBA.” More smiles and handshakes, cheers from the crowd. Stern lets the moment linger… “Speaking of old friends…”
The one and only, Michael Jordan struts in from stage right holding a jersey of his own. Nearly thirty years later to the date, Stern and MJ shake hands at the Draft podium for a second time. “Michael, it’s been an amazing run.” Crowd going nuts. Jordan unveils the teal and purple. “Finally, we’d like to welcome the Hornets back to their home in Charlotte.” Boom.

A former player – an African-American mega-star – standing equally alongside two white billionaires and a Jewish attorney representing the NBA’s past, present and future – this is Stern-ian theatrics at its best.
Crazy speculation? Certainly. Does it fit with the Commissioner’s thirty year modus opperandi? Without a doubt.
Finally: Just as ESPN’s cameras cut away, Stern leans into the microphone, turns towards MJ: “Michael, your team is up, the clock’s ticking down. Some things never change.”
-ASChin

It’s Time to Hit the Turbo Button

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Nine bungling seasons and countless blowouts later, the Charlotte Bobcats have done nearly everything in their power to incite and enrage the few remaining loyal fans who’ve stuck with the team. Each regime has gotten their punches in – from Bob Johnson to Michael Jordan to Sam Vincent to Larry Brown – each blow more punishing than the last. The franchise’s sole purpose seems to – like some misanthropic Starship Enterprise – perpetually explore the boundaries of that infinite space called “rock bottom”.
I’m starting to wonder if it has ever occurred to anyone in the Bobcats’ front office that the very PURPOSE of professional sports is ENTERTAINMENT, which is an admittedly fuzzy concept to define, but thanks to a near decade of Bobcats ineptitude I sure as hell can tell you what entertainment IS NOT.

It Isn’t Cho’s Fault But It Is His Responsibility

Rich Cho knew he was walking into an ugly situation when he took the GM job two years ago. Larry Brown had strip-mined the team bare of assets in exchange for the franchise’s lone Playoff appearance – a four game beatdown at the hands of the Orlando Magic – after which the team was capped out with ZERO star prospects and low on draft picks: AKA an unmitigated disaster. Like any other progressive-minded GM, Cho’s first move was to break out the analytics playbook, understanding that in order to re-acquire precious assets like picks and prospects, he’d have to pull out the sledgehammer and start swinging. Nearly two years and over a hundred losses later, the roster, the brand and the fan-base have been successfully beaten to a pulp.
I won’t argue against the strategy, it was the only card left in the deck. Consider this: In a DEVESTATING fourteen month stretch from June of ’08 to July of ’09 an MJ-enabled Larry Brown traded a future first rounder for Alexis Ajinca, forced the team to take D.J. Augustin over All-Star Center Brook Lopez, traded cap space for Gana Diop and tossed another future first round pick to Chicago for free-agent-to-be Tyrus Thomas. After re-signing Thomas to a $40 million contract the following July, the capped out Cats had to salary dump future Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler and former number five overall pick Raymond Felton. Today’s putrid, blowout-addicted squad was sown from these very seeds.

Still, Cho knew what he was getting into when he took the job and now after a truly EMBARRASSING, SOUL-CRUSHING stretch of bad basketball, it is his responsibility to turn it around.

The Turbo Button Is Not The Panic Button

First, let’s define “turning it around” as simply being competitive. Quantitatively, let’s say over 30 wins and a -3 point differential or better. That puts you in nearly every game. And yes, I know this goes against the “worst place to be is in the Not-tery” theory (©2011, me) but this is a special situation; call it franchise triage. The Bobcats should aim to have a winning home record next season and minimize blowouts (20 point losses or more) to less than eight.
The fans should feel as if EVERY TIME they attend a game at TWC or tune in via FOX Sports/League Pass the team has a LEGITIMATE SHOT at winning. Every single game. The organization owes this to the people who hand over their hard earned money and valuable time.
Entering the summer, Cho will have a small stash of first round picks, an attractive expiring contract and up to $20 million in cap space to play with: the equivalent of a full nitrous boost in Need for Speed or pocket Aces in Texas Hold ‘em. It’s what you’ve been waiting for: HIT THE FREAKIN’ TURBO BUTTON.
Is there a chance Danny Ainge would trade Rajon Rondo for Kemba Walker, cap space and a Top 3 pick? HIT THE FREAKIN’ TURBO BUTTON. Convinced that free agents Tyreke Evans or Al Jefferson are All-Stars? HIT THE FREAKIN’ TURBO BUTTON. Do the Bulls want to salary dump Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng? As long as you can send back Ben Gordon, HIT THE FREAKIN’ TURBO BUTTON.
Will any of these guys get you a Championship? Outside of Rondo, probably not, but the Bobcats are so far from the Playoffs right now that the NBA Finals may as well take place in Middle Earth or Hogwarts. Remaining competitive while building a winner has worked for Houston and Indiana, there is no reason the same strategy can’t work for Charlotte.
I won’t go into my usual roster-bation manuevers until we get closer to the offseason. In the meantime, I can’t express enough how important it is for the franchise to regain a semblance of dignity. To be a joke is one thing but to be a stain on the city and the league? That may take decades to wash off if ever at all.
-ASChin

Bobcats Big Changes – a New Coach and New Uniforms

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It’s been a few days since we’ve heard much from the Bobcats, but it looks like they’re ready to cough up some info about their upcoming season. While they’re tasked with determining how to best utilize the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, a couple of other jobs have kept the team busy for the summer.

First Up – a New Coach

After loads of rumors about high-profile or somewhat recognized names coming to Charlotte to take charge of this dreadful roster for next season, the Bobcats went and did something that no one saw coming. They hired Mike Dunlap. Like just about everyone else, I don’t know a thing about this guy. But, I can assume that he works cheap and he’s got patience for young guys that might not “play the right way.” It’s pretty clear that this is a cost-saving move, but there’s no reason that the Bobcats should pay top dollar for a head coach, when they’ve got a roster that’s closer to the D-League than the Playoffs. If Charlotte’s going to tank the 2013-14 season (which seems to be the plan), you can’t blame the team for rolling the dice on a guy with a little potential and could bring some new blood into the league.

The Bobcats are going to be loaded with young players, so a coach with an understanding of both the college and pro challenges should be helpful to the development of a lot of these guys. Let’s just hope that Tyrus Thomas doesn’t look to Mike Dunlap for tips on bulking up this summer.

Oh, and New Uniforms

New Charlotte Bobcats UniformsThe Bobcats or Cats just unveiled their new game uniforms. It’s not much of an impressive upgrade. The Charlotte Observer reported that Michael Jordan wanted some Carolina blue involved in the team’s palette. Can we credit him with slapping on some lettering of awkward proportions, applying a good deal of inconvenient negative spacing, and shortening the team’s nickname in order to improve the team’s brand and sell merchandise?

I definitely don’t see this as a step forward for the team’s image. How many times are they going to try to change their jerseys? It only makes me agree more with the grand rebrand scheme that fellow Baseliner A.S. Chin has suggested. In theory, we’re to believe that the Bobcats are trashing their roster, burning it to the ground so that they can build it back up with little tying them to past mistakes. Why wouldn’t the team do the same thing with their brand identity? The club is making a half-hearted effort to give it one more go as “Cats” and let folks fully detach from the organization’s name. Strategically, this looks like they’re dumping “Bobcats” and I can’t imagine anyone is gonna fall in love with this new “Cats” thing. So, what choice will the team have but to bring the buzz back? Teal, white, purple, and a cartoon bug with shaky wings. You’ve got to admit that these proposed Hornets uniforms look much better than what MJ & Co. just rolled out.

Quick Notes:

After analyzing the data and trying to ascertain just exactly how a team gets as bad as the Bobcats, I think I’ve found a breakthrough in understanding Charlotte’s issues. As it turns out, modern NBA teams are in love with a concept of a “Big Three.” If you happen to catch the NBA Finals, you might see that the Miami Heat have a “Big Three” made up of their most highly paid players – Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, & Chris Bosh. Many other teams like the Boston Celtics (Pierce, Garnett, Allen), the LA Lakers (Bryant, Gasol, Bynum), and the NY Knicks (Anthony, Stoudamire, Chandler) have used this template to collect and reward a core of their most talented players with the majority of their payroll. After a quick look at Hoops Hype’s salary info, it was evident that the Bobcats have a “Big Three” of their own – Corey Maggette, Gana Diop, & Tyrus Thomas. It can take a while to run the numbers, but you’ll find that Charlotte’s “Big Three” doesn’t seem to perform at the level of the league’s best teams with a comparably paid “Big Three.” I’m not fortune-teller, but it looks like this is going to cause problems for the Bobcats this coming season despite their high Draft pick.

-Mike

‘Tis the Season (to be in the Lottery)

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Bismack & Kemba Wallpaper by metalhdmh (via deviant art)

2011 Charlotte Bobcats Preview

Two things you need to know about the ’11-’12 Charlotte Bobcats season:

  • They are going to be very, very BAD.
  • It will be one of the BEST seasons in franchise history.

Sound strange? It is. But that’s just part of the fun of being a Bobcats fan. You see, the organization has spent its entire eight year run in Charlotte “winging it” from one blunder to the next — hoping that the ship will right itself magically both on the court and off. No more hoping. This team has a plan. And a good one at that.

Newly hired GM Rich Cho set expectations early with a ballsy Draft Day trade that sent out Stephen Jackson and returned potential building block Bismack Biyombo. Kemba Walker came two picks later and now the team enters training camp with sights set not on this season but onward towards the summer of 2013.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE COMING MONTHS

1. Making the Playoffs = DISASTER.

Cho has seen this movie before and he didn’t like the ending. REPEAT: You’ve got to be bad before being good. Being bad means a high lottery pick in a LOADED 2012 Draft. Charlotte has little chance of landing a superstar via free agency so the ONLY WAY that they’ll get one is in the draft. With Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger just seven months away from shaking the Commissioner’s hand, the Bobcats MUST bottom out this season in order to have a shot at Lottery love. To make matters worse, if the ‘Cats somehow finish outside the top fourteen, their pick goes to Chicago as late payback for Tyrus Thomas.

BOTTOM LINE: Be Entertaining But Do Not Win Games; expect a losing record.

2. Cheap, Young, No-Name Free Agents.

At $49.7 million in guaranteed contracts, the Bobcats are already at the mandated 85% salary cap floor level. There is NO REASON to spend money on name-brand Free Agents this December. Here’s an exercise: Every time you see a commenter whining about how the Bobcats should sign Jamal Crawford, your immediate response should be laughter, followed by an immediate heaving sob when you remember that the team owes a combined $54 million to Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw, Gana Diop, Matt Carroll and “Don Juan Draper” Najera over the next two seasons.

The goal here is to sign young, low-cost/high-potential players to short contracts (ideally two years) and see what they can do. I’ve already chronicled the prospects of Earl Clark, Brandon Wright, Nick Young and Josh McRoberts. I’ll add one more intriguing name a little bit later…

BOTTOM LINE: Expect the Bobcats to make a run at a young, cheap free agent over the next few weeks.

3. What Cap Space Means to Small Market Teams.

Let’s be honest: Cap space for the Knicks and cap space for the Bobcats are two entirely different beasts. You’re never going to read a HoopsHype headline screaming: “Derrick Rose demands Sign and Trade to Milwaukee”. It just doesn’t work that way. Disgruntled Superstars want brighter lights, bigger cities. The only chance small market teams have in a star driven league is to draft homegrown talent, build a championship caliber nucleus around him and pay him gloriously.

In the meantime, small market clubs like Charlotte can utilize their cap space by taking on bad contracts in exchange for draft choices or maintaining flexibility in the case a not quite-Superstar is available in a trade. Charlotte will be around $17 million under the cap next summer and nearly $40 million under the cap in the summer of 2013. By maintaining flexibility, the ‘Cats will in prime position should a team dangle picks or an All-Star over the next few seasons.

BOTTOM LINE: Expect the Bobcats to be in the market for a salary dump-for-draft picks deal by the trade deadline.

4. Don’t amnesty Gana Diop.

The amnesty “waiver” clause is a slap in the face to well-managed small market franchises. The “amnestied” contracts still have to be paid out, they just don’t count against a team’s cap — which means free spending teams like the Lakers, Wizards, Magic, Mavericks and Knicks essentially get a higher cap than the rest of the league.

Don’t get me wrong, Gana Diop and his albatross full-midlevel deal has been an unmitigated disaster, a final “F.U.” from Larry Brown, but if you have to pay the guy anyway why not try and get something out of him. Even if its only one point, one block and two and a half rebounds in eleven minutes. The Bobcats aren’t going to need the cap space for the next two years anyway and having Diop’s contract on the roster will help* them reach the 85% cap threshold in the meantime.
(*Note that this will be the first time Gana Diop has ever helped the Bobcats in any way)

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t expect the Bobcats to waive Gana Diop this season.

5. Re-Sign Kwame Brown ONLY if the money is right.

Kwame was a great redemption story last season. He played hard and kept the team in games with his rugged low post defense and surprising collection of double-doubles. The issue is that at 29, Brown is just a little too long in the tooth for the Bobcats plans. If he’s looking for more than $4 million per, then the team should let him walk.

There is one other option: If the team is in love with him and wants to secure his services for another three or four seasons, they could throw him a “Nick Collison” deal by handing him $8 million this season and $3.5 over the next three. This would give Kwame a 4 year $20 million deal without jeopardizing future cap flexibility in the summers ahead.

BOTTOM LINE: Expect the Bobcats to re-sign Kwame ONLY if they can fit him into their long-term salary cap plans.

6. What to do with Boris Diaw?

It’s the final year of his contract and you would hope that he’ll be motivated to earn one last big payday. If so, then great. The Bobcats would like nothing more than for Diaw to come in, play hard and catch the eye of a contender in need of frontcourt help. A badass Boris could mean another draft pick or prospect via trade while an average one will at least mean cap relief come July.

BOTTOM LINE: With Bismack, Tyrus and D.J. White already at the PF spot, Diaw could be the first Bobcat traded this season.

7. Redemption Song: Sign Adam Morrison

“Old Bobcats, yes, dey rob I;

Sold I to Los Angeles,

Minutes after they took I

With da third overall pick.”

Adam Morrison is making a comeback. Sure, we’ve all seen that ridiculous scrap AMMO picked with an 18 year old kid in Serbia but did you see the sick highlight reel where he dropped 30 in old-school Gonzaga-mode just a few games later? Morrison is angling for a return to the league and I can’t think of any better team to do it with than the one that drafted him five years ago. The ‘Cats needs another scorer off the bench, needs depth at the SF position and Morrison will no doubt come cheap. It worked with Kwame, why not try it with the ‘Stache?

BOTTOM LINE: I can’t think of a better storyline for the Bobcats this year than to have Adam Morrison come back and average double figures off the bench. It’s worth a shot.

In summary, expect the Bobcats to be bad but entertaining this season and next. Expect them to add draft picks and young FAs. Expect them to let veteran contracts expire while young guns learn on the job. And finally, expect them to be very, VERY GOOD starting November, 2013 when Rich Cho and MJ will be hanging in the owner’s suite, smoking Cubans and saying, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

-ASChin