SPECIAL GUEST OPENING PARAGRAPH BY HUBIE BROWN:
Okay, you’re the Charlotte Bobcats. It’s December two thousand and ten. You’re saddled with a capped out payroll. Your attendance is improving but still less than stellar. Your two best, highest paid players play the easiest positions to fill in the modern game and your hall of fame coach’s best years are far behind him. Whaddya do? Keep paying sixty million dollar salaries and hope your team is gonna win a game or two as an eighth seed? Of course not, you blow it up and start from scratch. Go cheap and young and hope you land one the decade’s defining players in the draft. It’s as simple as that.
Thanks Hubie. And thanks MJ, Rod Higgidy-Higgins and Rich Cho (not to be confused with his Charlottean peer, “Rich Chode”) for heeding said hypothetical advice because now, Bobcats fans, there is finally a plan for building a successful basketball franchise in Carolina. Now, I don’t pretend to have any inside info into the mind of Cho & Company but it doesn’t take an Emeka Okafor-sized intellect to get an idea of what they’re up to:
STEP 1: Develop young players on the roster to either build around long-term or dangle as juicy trade bait.
Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker please go over to the blue line. Dante Cunningham and D.J. White may as well go ahead and join them – just please, Dante, put that half ounce sack of dank away somewhere where I can’t see it.
STEP 2: Tank the ’11-’12 semi-season.
Related to the step above, be fun to watch but terrible in the win column. Basically the opposite of Riley’s Knicks/Heat teams of the ’90s. Kind of an East Coast version of the Warriors.
STEP 3: Get a high pick in a stacked 2012 Lottery.
Worse case scenario, you draft in the top 5 and where there are potentially five or six game-changers (Davis, Barnes, Sullinger, Gilchrest, Perry & Terrence Jones).
STEP 4: Shed salary next summer.
That means you Honeybuns Diaw & Don Juan Draper. Take the $20 million and dangle it in front of Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in the rare chance that they want to play in a small market (or come home in CP3’s case) or even take a shot at prying restricted FA Brook Lopez away from New Jersey for less than max money. You could also could use this space to acquire an unhappy All-Star via trade.
STEP 5: Get better in ’12-’13.
Develop the young players, generate some excitement and either make a run for the Playoffs or just miss them and hope for Lottery love. Bobcats will most likely have two picks in the 2013 draft (Their own if not outside the top 10 plus Portland’s).
STEP 6: Shed another $20 million in the summer of 2013.
Diop It Like It’s Hot, No Nickname Carroll, Get Ready For Maggette. The team makes a serious run at another big name FA (watch for Steph Curry here btw). Which brings us back to our present time…
Free Agency 2011
In accordance to the plan, the Bobcats will be on the lookout after the lockout for free agents that meet the following three qualities: young, cheap, (potentially) very good. And that’s pretty much that. I nominate the following:
Earl Clark, SF – ORL
+Compared to young Lamar Odom, only 23, lean 6’10” with a Bilas-approved wingspan
-erratic shot selection, poor shooter
Comment: If you can get him at the right price, Clark could very well develop with playing time. He’s been stuck on veteran teams in the “win now” mode (PHX, ORL) and Silas’s approach could be exactly what he needs to take the next step.
Brandon Wright, PF – NJN
+Physically gifted, skilled rebounder and shooter
-Four seasons, 117 games total
Comment: Originally drafted by Charlotte in the 2007 Draft but traded minutes later for JRICH, Wright can’t use the Earl Clark excuse. He’s played on a bad Nellie Ball team in Golden State as one of the lone big men and then floundered in sixteen games with the Nets last season. His main problem is staying on the court. If he can get healthy, Wright could be a nice rotation big down the line.
Kwame Brown, C – CLT
+Known quantity, can defend big fives, rebound
-Known quantity, not much upside, Vern Troyer-sized hands
Comment: Kwame was probably as surprised as anyone that he started 50 games in the NBA last season. He took advantage and had arguably his most well-rounded season as a pro. The Bobcat brass have made a lot of noise about re-signing him and if the money is right I don’t see why they shouldn’t. Maybe Cho can get creative like his old boss Sam Presti in OKC and sign Kwame to a Nick Collison-style contract. $8 million for ’11-’12 and then $2mil per over the next two seasons sounds about right. Getting a solid backup center for three seasons while not endangering free cap space over the next two summers.
Josh McRoberts, PF/C – IND
+Started 54 games at C/PF for IND, still young at 24
-Chronic case of Big White Dude disease
Comment: Former Dukie came on for the Pacers last season, supplanting Jeff Foster as the slow white undersized center in the middle. McRoberts isn’t great at anything but is a banger and could contribute as a rotation big man for a team on the rise.
Carl Landry, PF – NO
+Mega-Effecient, PER Machine
-Small for his position, Potentially Expensive
Comment: Somebody will probably drop $9 million annually on Landry. The Bobcats tried to sign him once already and if Cho’s hyper-stats reveal Landry to be the most productive player on the market, they could try again.
One last note: If the Bobcats offered Augustin and Tyrus Thomas to the Timberwolves for Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour and Wayne Ellington, wouldn’t Minnesota at least think about it? Augustin does everything Rubio doesn’t and is insurance in case Ricky falters. Tyrus gives the Wolves a high flying presence who can block shots and throw down alley-oops – exactly the things that neither Williams nor Kevin Love can do. Minny sheds Ridnour’s sketchy contract while the Bobcats get back a scoring PF who they could add to the Kemba-Biyombo-Henderson foundation. It’s worth a shot. Plus Williams could play Boris Diaw’s thinner, younger brother on a Tweener Forward Sitcom.
Until Next Time, Stay with the Plan Bobcats Fans…