Lazy Sunday Links

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Sitting around waiting for a goal to be scored in the World Cup final on this sweltering Sunday afternoon?  Lucky for you, as is often the case on Sundays, there’s some pretty good reading out there.

LebronWadeBosh

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst offers a must-read on how the stage was set for these guys to join forces in “South Beach.”  As the Sports Guy has pointed out, there’s way more to this story that will hopefully come out in time, but this is a great start:

Now that the move has been made, the veil of secrecy is being raised to a degree as people are beginning to talk. The Plain Dealer talked to numerous sources to piece together a picture of how James ended up in Miami.  It is still a somewhat fuzzy picture, but here are the broad strokes…

And if you haven’t had a chance to read any of the overwhelmingly negative national reaction to Lebron’s decision, here are two excellent pieces from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Deadspin/New York Magazine’s Will Leitch.

Felton to Knicks

Details of Raymond’s deal with the Knicks are out.  Apparently the deal is for 2 years/$15.8 million.  There is a third year team option for a similar figure which could bring the deal in the neighborhood of $25 million over three years.  Raymond’s decision to pass up the Bobcats’ long term offer last summer is looking worse and worse from his perspective.  Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish his career back in Charlotte as a backup down the road.

Here’s Bonnell’s story for the Observer and some more quotes from a South Carolina paper.  You can tell it’s a South Carolina paper because of the headline: “Felton looks forward to bright lights of the Big Apple”.  Good grief.

Orlando Summer League

We’ve given the Bobcats’ mostly positive turn in last week’s Orlando Summer League short shrift here at the Baseline, but it’s not for lack of caring.  Look for a post on the subject in the coming days.  In the meantime, here’s Bonnell from the Observer with some thoughts:

Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown can be trusted with bigger roles next season… It’s dangerous to put too much weight on summer-league performances — you’re supposed to excel against D-Leaguers — but it was obvious Henderson an Brown are figuring out what it takes to be productive on the NBA level.

The national media outlets pay less attention to the Orlando Summer league relative to the bigger and better Las Vegas Summer League; and when they do cover Orlando, the rookies (Philly’s Evan Tuner and New Jersey’s Derrick Favors in this case) get most of the attention.  Despite that, there were several mentions of the Bobcats young vets looking good.

Michael Jordan in Charlotte

Scott Fowler has a nice article in today’s Observer on Michael Jordan’s increased presence in the city of Charlotte and the Bobcats front office since he, you know, bought the team:

In the three months or so since Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson and became the team’s majority owner, Jordan’s visibility both in the community and in the Bobcats’ offices has increased dramatically.

Jordan has bought a home in uptown Charlotte five minutes from Time Warner Cable Arena and plans to start living there part time in September…

There’s also a slideshow of pictures from the Bobcats Fantasy Camp mentioned in the article.  As I write this, the article is currently the “Most Viewed” on the Observer’s website, and I’ve already been part of an email thread amongst friends discussing it.

Clearly, people care about how engaged Jordan is with the city of Charlotte.  The Bobcats are aware of it; they included questions about “how important” it was to me whether or not Jordan purchased a home here in a survey sent to season ticket holders recently.  Seriously.

Hopefully, people at least see Jordan’s level of engagement with the city an indicator of how engaged he is with the team.  If so, fine.  I suppose it’s a reasonable proxy.

But I guess I’m just a different kind of fan (clearly, I have a blog).  I could care less whether Jordan buys a house in Charlotte, or bowls and eats at the Epicentre.  I don’t need to put on a “Jordan Brand” t-shirt and drool over him at a “fantasy” camp.

I’d be much more happy if the team made sound financial/personnel decisions, stopped whiffing on draft picks, and thus consistently put a competitive basketball team on the court.  They’ve had trouble doing that over the history of the franchise.

2010’s playoff experience was undoubtedly a positive thing, but I’m still dubious of the Cats’ chances for on-court success in the medium-term due to salary cap issues and a lack of elite young talent.

Don’t sell me a bunch of sizzling Air Jordan “value-added” side dishes when the main course needs work.

-Dr. E




Free To Go – Felton Contacted By Other Clubs

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The Phone Is Ringing For Raymond

It looks like Raymond Felton will start to packing his bags. The 2010 Free Agency Freakout has begun, and it doesn’t appear that Michael Jordan’s Bobcats are all that excited about the whole ordeal.

ESPN.com reports that seven teams have contact Raymond Felton about lacing up his point guard shoes for a new contract. The story makes it clear that none of those seven teams are based in Charlotte.

When compared to Jeff McInnis and Sean May, Raymond Felton shines as the star of former Tarheels to play for Charlotte. If Felton leaves, the Cats will be scrambling to fill their obligatory Former-UNC player spot of the roster. Maybe, that’s what the Marcus Ginyard summer league tryout is all about.


POLL : WHERE WILL RAYMOND GO?

  • New York
    (40%, 40 Votes)
  • Miami
    (22%, 22 Votes)
  • Charlotte
    (10%, 10 Votes)
  • Los Angeles
    (8%, 8 Votes)
  • Indiana
    (15%, 15 Votes)
  • Toronto
    (5%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 100

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Bobcats Sit Out 2010 NBA Draft

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Despite some noise in recent days that seemed to point towards the Bobcats obtaining a second round pick (or even a first), the 2010 NBA Draft came and went Thursday evening with nary a mention of the Cats.

I wouldn’t doubt that the Trailblazers/Warriors trade from Monday, in which the Trailblazers reportedly paid $2 million just to move up 10 spaces in the second round from the 44th pick to the 34th, put a wet blanket on the Cats’ ideas.  That deal probably set the bar too high for Jordan to buy into the second round.

Besides, with so many teams using their extra second round picks on long-term, crapshoot foreign prospects (Paulao Prestes, Pape Sy, anyone?) it’s reasonable to assume that a few decent future NBA players actually went undrafted and can now be had for a song.

Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress called it the “most random second round ever” and notes numerous interesting undrafted players.  Need a swing?  Manny Harris and Sylven Landesburg are out there.  A Dukie?  Neither Jon Scheyer or Brian Zoubek were picked.

Want a big backup point guard (and you know Larry Brown does)?  Ben Uzoh and Mikhail Torrance are both available, though Torrance supposedly has a heart issue that scared off teams in the second round.

If I were the Cats, I’d be on the horn with Scheyer’s agent right now.  With some time, I think he can run the point in the pros, and the jumper’s not going anywhere.

A few other thoughts:

  • The General McChrystal story was a good get for Rolling Stone earlier this week, but what I’m really hoping is that a reporter was embedded in the Trailblazers front office this week to give us the grisly details of their unraveling.  Firing GM Kevin Pritchard an hour before the draft?  What a crazy story.  Pritchard has been a darling of basketball nerds/insiders/Blazers fans for the makeover he’s engineered in Portland over the past few years, but has also revealed himself to be quite the egotistical frontrunner.  Here’s Blazersedge with some more thoughts on the situation.
  • I can’t decide what is more interesting: that the Heat only have two players under contract for next year (Chalmers and Beasley) and could potentially get 2-3 superstar free agents, OR that Riley apparently can’t give Beasley away to free up another chunk of cap space.  I still think that, once Miami does its big spending in free agency, they might look at Raymond Felton to fill a need at point guard.
  • With the aforementioned superstar free agency period around the corner, Mike Miller is (understandably) being overlooked.  But if you could get him for a reasonable price, he’d be a nice piece on a good team.  The Bobcats could use a shooter like Miller — too bad there’s no feasible way for us to get our hands on him.

-Dr. E

Bobcats May Be Active In 2010 NBA Draft

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Bobcats 2010 NBA Draft Cap : Will Anyone Wear This?

This Thursday’s NBA Draft will mark the first day of the “John Wall Era” for the league. The dismantled Washington Wizards will have the good fortune of adding the talented point guard to center the foundation of a rebuilt roster. Elsewhere in the Southeast Division, the Charlotte Bobcats have prepared to sit this one out despite the challenge to improve on last year’s success.

Coach Larry Brown has openly confirmed rumors that the Bobcats would like to pick up a second-round talent in the Draft, or sign an un-drafted prospect. Reports say that the team has been working the phones in search of a trade partner, as well. So, there’s a strong possibility that the Bobcats might make some news in the next couple of days. If Jordan and Brown are handling such preparations, what do the Bobcats want in the 2010 NBA Draft?

REASONS FOR THE BOBCATS TO GET INVOLVED IN THE DRAFT

• CHEAP LABOR : The team might be very close to the top of the salary cap even if they pull off a trade (to unload a contract). A second-round rookie could be useful to an organization so tight on funds.

• RESERVES : Charlotte needed their two best players (Stephen Jackson & Gerald Wallace) to play nearly every minute of every game last season. Considering that Wallace plays dangerously and may never change his style, the team can only protect their All-Star by securing a capable, young reserve to give Gerald a few more chances to rest and repair his body throughout the season. The same idea should apply to Stephen Jackson, who is only getting older and will need to get some opportunities to rest in order to avoid injury over the next season.

• INSURANCE : During the upcoming NBA Free Agency period, Charlotte might find the opportunity to trade away one of their big contracts or find a remedy for their point guard problem. The result of such a fortunate deal could leave the team with a lack of depth at one or multiple roster positions. If the team could pick up a second-rounder and a cheap free agent, the Cats would have a couple of safeguards in place and some hungry players heading into training camp.

REASONS FOR THE BOBCATS TO SIT IT OUT

• DRAFTING IS A WEAKNESS : The Bobcats are exceptionally bad at the NBA Draft. Their Draft history is just about embarrassing; Raymond Felton, Sean May, Adam Morrison, DJ Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, and Gerald Henderson. Maybe the sparkle displayed by their second-round selections Jared Dudley (2007 : now with Phoenix), and Derrick Brown (2009) have made Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan feel like geniuses of Round 2?  That might explain why a late selection is so appealing to these guys.

• WASTING MONEY: It sounds like the Bobcats might be in the hunt to buy a Draft selection from another NBA club.  This is probably a bad idea. The rumored rate for a second-round pick is about $1.5 million. Maybe Jordan and Larry Brown can identify the distinct qualities between a player that wasn’t fit for the first round and an un-drafted talent. From a fan’s perspective, the difference between those two types of players seems very small, but maybe MJ wants to bet $1.5 million that he can spot the difference. Then again, this might just be an easy way for the team to avoid staying at home and at least have a ticket to the dance on Draft night.

• PLAYING TIME : Let’s get back to two of the Draft selections mentioned above – Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown. Both of these young players showed great athleticism, skill, and energy during their sparse minutes on the floor last season. Still, the Charlotte Bobcats are coached by a guy that just simply prefers veterans over rookies. If the Cats really want to acquire a pick this year, it’s very likely that the youngster will spend all but garbage-time on the bench this coming season. Any rookie acquired on Thursday or during the off-season should find rare playing time unless Coach Brown leaves the team.

IS DRAFT DAY JUST THE START?

We can’t expect to know what exactly is going on with the Cats this summer until the first domino falls; the late-night trades and fallout on Friday morning. With Free Agency beginning on July 1st, the changes will continue around the league and it appears that Michael Jordan and Rod Higgins want to be active with trades this summer.  The unfolding of the Raymond Felton dilemma begins next Thursday and the team’s actions should provide some insight into their plans for the upcoming season. Fortunately, the latest news about Tyrus Thomas’ desire to stay with the team sounds encouraging, but Charlotte might need to pinch some pennies to work out a long-term contract with their new power forward. The club’s current payroll might limit their ambitions this summer, but we should expect to see a few more headlines about changes to the Bobcats roster.

LINKS:

Charlotte Bobcats may get in NBA draft (Charlotte Observer)

Bobcats busy on trade front (Inside the NBA – Rick Bonnell)

Thomas wants to stay with Bobcats (ESPN.com)

Offseason Prescriptions for the Capped-Out Cats (Part 3)

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Chapter III: Prescription B (Not for the Faint of Heart)

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Alright.  We’ve made it this far.  First I stated the problem.  Next was an easy and elegant solution.  Now we go all in.

Quick Recap:
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.

PRESCRIPTION B

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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.

Prescription B Chart

CONCLUSION:

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.

-ASChin

Offseason Prescriptions for the Capped-Out Cats (Part 1)

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Chapter I: Diagnosis

First Number of Interest: $680,000.

It’s the number you get when you take the Bobcats $69.24 million in salaries for the ’09-’10 season and subtract it from last year’s $69.92 million luxury tax threshold.  Six hundred and eighty K.  That’s approximately how close the Bobcats came to paying the luxury tax last season.  I say approximately as I’m basing the figures on Hoopshype’s excellent salary database — a database that doesn’t included Derrick Brown’s two year rookie contract.  (For the sake of this column, I’m estimating his cap figure to be equal to Milwaukee’s Jodie Meeks, drafted one spot behind Brown in last year’s second round.)

Second Number of Interest: $1.6 million.

That’s how much NBA teams are expecting to come off the cap next year.  You read that right, the Salary Cap will shrink next year and with it the luxury tax threshold.  According to ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan, the tax line will lower to around $68 million in ’10-’11 which would put the Bobcats at less than $8 million under the tax threshold before re-signing starting PG Raymond Felton (unrestricted), PF Tyrus Thomas (restricted) or valuable role players Stephen Graham and Theo Ratliff (click chart to see a larger image).

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Looking at next year’s salary commitments, three things are glaringly obvious:

1. THE CENTERS OF ATTENTION

The Bobcats have $27.5 million (roughly half of their cap space) committed to the center position and the last time I checked, none of those guys were named Howard, Duncan, Ming or Gasol.  Years of poor financial decision making have finally caught up: overpaying Emeka Okafor when they didn’t have to (Chandler), overpaying Matt Carroll when they didn’t have to (Diop) and bailing out Joe Dumars with the expiring contracts of Walter Herrmann and Primoz Brezec (Mohammed).
THE BAD NEWS: With the a possible lockout on the way in 2011, none of these guys are moveable unless the team is willing to take on another equally bad (if not worse) contract in return.
THE GOOD NEWS: Over $19 million will come off of the books for good in the summer of 2011 if the ‘Cats just hold tight and let Mohammed and Chandler play through their contracts.
Somebody take Larry Brown’s mobile phone privileges away pronto!

2. TYRUS THOMAS AND THE POISON PILL

The Bobcats didn’t send Chicago a future first round pick just to rent Tyrus Thomas for three months.  The intention was always to retain him for at least another season but given the Bobcats’ cap situation that might not be so simple.  As a restricted free agent, Thomas could command a salary north of the $6.2 million qualifying offer he’s due based on his rookie deal.  A team intrigued by Thomas’ potential and armed with enough cap space could offer Tyrus big money up front, signing Thomas to the dreaded “poison pill offer sheet” (see Milsap, Paul) during the summer.  Such a contract could offer Thomas $8 million in year one, $6 million in year two and only $4 million in year three.  The Bobcats would have the right to match but in doing so would essentially be “luxury-taxed-out,” unable to sign any other players (including a starting PG) without paying the dollar for dollar tax penalty — which is something Michael Jordan has repeatedly said that he will not do.  With so many teams flush with cap space this summer, the Tyrus Situation could get tricky.  Watch out for it.

3. WHO’S THE POINT?

Ray Felton is the best point guard available in a weak PG free agency class.  Again, it is entirely possible that a team flush with cap space could offer him $18 million or more over three years and in that situation the ‘Cats would have to fold.
Doubt that the team would let it’s starting point guard walk this summer?  The organization fiercely pursued a T.J. Ford trade during February’s trade deadline and weren’t even close to coming to terms on a long-term offer with Felton’s agent last summer.  If Raymond was a better shooter from outside and could finish with a little more consistency inside (not to mention stay in front of Jameer Nelson) maybe the team would go out of it’s way to sign him but I just can’t foresee it happening.  The ‘Cats will most likely have to acquire a starting PG via trade or from the free agency discount rack.

Yes, Bobcats fans, your team is in a major salary cap quagmire.

To further complicate the issue, the Bobcats can’t afford to simply allow their free-agents to walk and replace them with low-cost scrubs or cheap rookies.  The team doesn’t have any draft picks (instead they have Alexis Ajinca) and from a business perspective, the organization must improve their on-court product (or at least repeat last year’s success) in order to expand fan support and capitalize on their inaugural Playoff run.

TEAM NEEDS:

The Bobcats head into the summer with three major needs:

STARTING POINT GUARD
D.J. Augustin is clearly not ready to start and the Bobcats are too capped out to pay Raymond Felton market value.  They’ll need to make a trade or find an undervalued bargain replacement in Free Agency (see Blake, Steve).

LOW POST SCORING/REBOUNDING
Boris Diaw has a few low post moves but plays mostly on the perimeter and doesn’t concern himself very much with the art of rebounding.  Tyrus Thomas (if he’s re-signed) is a solid rebounder but has limited abilities as a post scorer.  The team will need to either trade for or sign a traditional low-post power forward to team with Thomas or Diaw.

CONSISTENT PERIMETER SCORING/SHOOTING
Larry Hughes turned out to be an inconsistent version of Flip Murray.  Sure, Hughes was a better defender but what the Bobcats really needed was offense from the bench.  Murray has said that he’d happily return to Charlotte next season.  If the ‘Cats could bring him back for a similarly low priced deal next season, they should.

THE PRESCRIPTION:

So how does a Capped-Out team retain talent and, dare I say it, even improve heading into next season?

Part II: Prescription A (Simple and Clean) — Coming Soon
Part III: Prescription B (Not for the Faint of Heart) — Coming Soon

-ASChin

Questions Arrive With The Bobcats Off-Season

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What Is Next For This Team?

Bobcats Baseline has spent the past few days adjusting to life without Bobcats basketball and wondering what topics should be explored after the end of the team’s 2009-2010 campaign. There will be a more fitting time, deeper into the post-season,  to review the team’s outlook.  A summer of recuperating and Bobcats-detox should allow for a better perspective on the situation. So now, we can only address the questions that stare the team in the face.

For a little while,  the Bobcats have been given some down time. The players will rest up, the management will check out, the beat writers will go silent, yet the bloggers will just keep typing up speculations. Who will leave?  Who will stay?  Who will win?

The Big Question

Rumblings of next season’s big changes have already begun. More specifically, the rumblings about a change of scenery for Bobcats Coach Larry Brown. First, they were just online reports from inconsistent sources such as Yahoo! Sports or a blogger for a regional newspaper’s web site. Somehow, these built up enough steam to become common assumptions spread by national television commentators and the common Charlotte-area sports fan. From your co-worker that loves to hear (and repeat) bad news about the Bobcats to golf fans at the Quail Hollow tournament, so many folks around the area have asked “Is Larry Brown going to leave Charlotte?”

It doesn’t seem like too many people know what will be next for Coach Brown. One doesn’t usually follow their boss around the golf course before quitting the job. Then again, one doesn’t usually make such an effort to answer a simple question with loophole-laden remarks like “I’m not going to coach for anyone but Michael.” Ultimately, there’s really nothing the team can do about this situation other than just play it cool. This is something that Jordan is very capable of handling.

If Brown decides to leave the team, the Bobcats will be in a scramble for a new coach and will likely follow with additional personnel changes.  This would allow the team to shift their roster to fit the new coach’s preferences, but  probably not a drastic overhaul. It would be assumed that Jordan hired Brown to install a type of “system” for the Bobcats and the next head coach would be expected to practice a variation of the current system.  Beyond the coaching change, the steady player personnel changes will continue. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that GM Rod Higgins won’t see his job get easier any time soon. With Larry Brown or without Larry Brown, the Bobcats will continue to rework their roster.

Roster Changes

The coaching situation certainly impacts the next roster moves for the Bobcats. Still, the team will be forced to make a couple of important decisions regarding free agent veterans Raymond Felton, Larry Hughes, and Theo Ratliff. As the free agent season activity heats up, there will be plenty more to analyze about these moves – the toughest being the status of Raymond Felton.

Beyond free agency, this team will likely be involved in trade talks to shift their financial obligations for future opportunities.  Fans should hope that this won’t impact the overall level of talent on the roster next season.

No Draft For The Cats

The Bobcats have no selections in this summer’s NBA Draft. At first, this seems like a bad thing. But, we have to consider that this is the Charlotte Bobcats organization. The only opportunity this team will be missing without Draft picks is the opportunity to fail. Charlotte has decided that they aren’t going to let you look back at the Bobcats in three years, and ridicule them for not selecting some under-the-radar prospect. They’ve traded their picks, and now we’ll see what they get for them.  As compensation for no newcomers from the Draft, Charlotte will work to test the young Alexis Ajinca (1st round pick traded to Denver in 2008 Draft) and retain fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw (2nd round pick traded to Phoenix with Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley for Raja Bell and Diaw last season).

Additionally, the Bobcats have two 2009 rookies that have hardly found playing time. It could be argued that these players (with a year of NBA experience) are as valuable, and as ready to contribute as almost every lottery pick in the upcoming Draft. If the team doesn’t expect playing time to open-up for one of these young talents, it’s likely their value will be worked into a trade to help the team in the future.

In Perspective

While the Round 1 series sweep surely burns, the Cats shouldn’t overlook what was accomplished this season. The team executed one of the best defenses in the league, set a home winning record, and a franchise record for wins at 44-38. The team’s early exit from the Playoffs was largely due to the incredible play of the Orlando Magic, who serve as a fine example for what makes a true NBA title contender. Charlotte was able to match Orlando defensively, but Jameer Nelson and company excelled with a superb offense. For the Bobcats, their first Playoff series was simply a “Welcome to the Post-Season” kind of hurdle for a young franchise.

In the case that the leadership or the roster undergoes major changes this off-season, the team should be proud of the big leap they made.  As a losing club for five years, the Bobcats had suffered through such slow, incremental attempts at progress. The 2009-2010 season finally marked a winning season. Yes, the Bobcats were winners. It really happened. So, let’s hope it continues to happen for a while.

Links:

Larry Brown’s End of Season Press Conference – Charlotte Observer

NBA Draft 2010 (Mock Draft)

Bobcats’ Brown Continues Mulling Future – ESPN.com

Leave Larry Brown Behind Forever – Phil Sheridan, Philly.com Sports