Let’s Be Realistic

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

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

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

First off, a couple of GROUND RULES:

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

So without further ado…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-ASChin

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

Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 1

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State of the Roster & Team Needs

Starting Five

Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in some pleasantly unfamiliar territory.  Not only does the team have a lot of proven NBA talent, they also have fewer question marks than ever before.  With the team very likely to re-sign PG Raymond Felton, the Bobcats will begin the ’09–’10 NBA season with last season’s starting lineup intact with all but Raja Bell entering their prime playing years.

The Charlotte Bobcats Reserves

The Bobcats second unit also brings back at least three quality regular rotation players – one of which, second-year point guard DJ Augustin, could start for a half-dozen teams in the League.

Alas, as good as it is in Bobcat-land this offseason, it’s still not perfect.  There are several major personnel questions that the team must address during the draft and free agency.

1. $104 million, 5 years, 3 players and 0 All-Stars

The Bobcats have committed a whopping $104+ million over the next five seasons at the center position alone.  This wouldn’t be such a nightmare if Yao Ming or Dwight Howard were patrolling the middle but the platoon of Emeka Okafor, Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed hasn’t even a single All-Star selection amongst them (though Okafor may finally break through this season).
It’s nice to have depth in the middle but a small-market-for-sale franchise like the Bobcats can’t have this type of money tied up at one position.  There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about the “inevitable Nazr Mohammed trade” but maybe we’re all looking in the wrong direction.  Given Larry Brown’s series of thinly veiled rips on Okafor in the local media added to the fact that Emeka’s status as a base year compensation player is now over and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Okafor was shopped hard this offseason.  He’s by far the most attractive of the group – with a decent contract, good game and a great attitude – and given his large cap number could be the center of a major deal that returned another big-time player, ideally a dynamic shooting guard with a shorter contract.
Maybe a deal that sends Okafor to Detroit for Rip Hamilton makes some sense with Diop stepping in as the starting center.
In fact, if an Okafor trade like this were to happen during the summer, you could argue that the earlier Diop trade was part of the organization’s greater Master Plan.  Of course, that would require you to believe that the the Bobcats organization actually plans things.

2. Ten seconds left on the clock, who’s the man?

Well, it sure as hell shouldn’t be Raymond Felton.  We appreciate your effort Raymond, seriously, we do.  But your inability to get anything done on the offensive end when it matters most was so damn infuriating that it almost made us forget about all the things that you are good at.
If a deal like the one mentioned above can be worked out in order to bring in a ballsy scorer in from another team then the Bobcats should pounce on it because their current lack of a crunch-time scorer will be the difference between them winning 38 games or 50 games.
If a trade can’t be worked out, then there’s only one option.  Iverson.  Period.
There’s nobody in this draft (save maybe Stephen Curry) who could be the man this year.  It may require the team to part with Okafor, DJ Augustin or their lottery pick but a go-to scorer is their most pressing need for certain.

3. Who backs up the Phoen-Ex Suns?

Charlotte’s strong playoff push ostensibly ended with Raja Bell’s calf injury in early April.  With Bell out, the Bobcats had to play too small and too young with DJ Augustin and Cartier Martin.  The Bobcats clearly need to find some depth at the 2-guard and if a trade like the one mentioned above can’t be made then the Draft has a few quality options.
The Bobcats can either hope one of the “upside” guys like Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan falls to them at pick twelve or try to hit a solid double with Duke’s Gerald Henderson (the “Emeka Okafor” of shooting guard prospects).  We’ll have more in-depth previews on all of the collegiate players in our next post.

The same goes for the other ex-Sun, Boris Diaw.  The Bobcats were lucky that Boris stayed healthy following the trade because there wasn’t much depth behind him and the team seemed to have finally made good on their promise not to play Gerald Wallace out of position.  Coach Brown seemed to be impressed with Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair during his recent workout with the team and the big man could be there at twelve when the Bobcats pick.

We also shouldn’t forget the other overweight power-forward with bad knees, Mr. Crab Bread himself, Sean May.  If the team and May’s agent can come to an agreement in which May hits the unrestricted market and re-signs with the team for a league minimum one or two year contract, then a motivated, healthy Sean May could be the nice surprise in ’09–’10.

It’s all good.

The fact that I can type “The Bobcats are only a piece or two away from 50+ wins” with a straight face means that there has been considerable progress.  Putting aside five years worth of questionable draft selections, poor business decisions and overt cronyism, the ‘Cats find themselves now with one of the League’s best coaches, the promise of new ownership, a lottery pick, a little cap space and a few solid assets to play with during the offseason.  For Bobcats fans, the future’s never been brighter.

-ASChin