Introducing a new semi-regular feature on which Bobcats jerseys you should buy and which ones you’ll be able to catch on a discount rack.
GROUP ONE: NOT GOING ANYWHERE
Haywood was acquired via amnesty waivers so can’t be traded until July but after that things get interesting. At just $2m per season, Haywood will be an extremely enticing asset – especially for a cap-constrained contending team in need of a solid big man. Haywood won’t be going anywhere soon but the story could change after the season.
His minutes may be down but don’t let that fool you, “Project Smack” is developing as planned. The moment Charlotte drafted Biyombo they knew it would take several years before the kid would know how to play. His on ball defense and shot-blocking are already near elite. Better rebounding and defensive awareness will come next. As one of the few Bobcats with star potential, Biz isn’t going anywhere.
If Walker isn’t an early candidate for league’s Most Improved Player, he’s certainly the team’s. Kemba is shooting nearly 10% better from the field than last season, playing more under control while maintaining the elite speed and ellusiveness that make him a tough cover. At this point, it’s tough to imagine the Bobcats trading Walker – his ceiling seems to be getting higher every game.
He’s a stud whose relentless effort energizes his teammates as much as the fans. And he’s 19 years old. Next.
GROUP TWO: IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Total professional. Call him The Chaperone – you just feel better knowing he’s out there with the kids. Currently ranking second on the team in PER (20.15), his $5 million salary over the next two seasons is starting to feel like a bargain. The Bobcats would only deal him if it brought back a considerable asset (prospect or pick).
Four years into his career and I think we know what GH2 is all about: Tough, full-on effort defense (especially on-ball) and solid, complementary offense. His shooting has improved tremendously from where he began as a rook and we saw a few glimpses of long distance capabilities before he went down with a foot injury. All good news. But three factors put Henderson’s Bobcats future in doubt:
- He’s in the last year of his rookie deal, thus up for a raise. If his agent is asking for anything like Demar Derozan’s ginormous $40m deal, the Cats will almost certainly balk.
- One of the top 3 prizes in the draft is teenage SG sensation Shabazz Mohammed. ‘Bazz projects to be at Henderson’s level defensively but with a much higher offensive ceiling aka exactly what the Bobcats need.
- See the next guy on this list.
It’s only been a few games so I don’t want to get too excited but in watching Taylor, you can’t help but think, “he looks like a younger, taller Gerald Henderson with better range”. Also he’s playing on a three year deal that pays out under a million per. If the choice is between Gerald Henderson and Jeff Taylor over the long haul, I’d bet on Taylor as the one who stays.
I understand the front office’s fascination. Really, I do. Floor spacing seven footer with three point range. Improved rebounder, potential post-up nightmare. The problem is that Toronto fans have gone through this same song and dance with Andrea Bargnani for nearly seven seasons. Tens of millions, hundreds of losses and an untold number of “f-bombs” later, Bargnani and the Raps are still a fringe Playoff contender and just a terrible team to watch. Mullens is up for a new contract in July, I’d love for the Cats to trade him beforehand – but I’m not holding my breath. Expect Mullens to be with the team all season.
GROUP THREE: TAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE TAKE MY WIFE
Friend of the Baseline (and Yahoo! Sports columnist) Greg Dinkin posed several “Ben Gordon to a Contender” trade scenarios via email. This was my response:
I’ve watched Air Gordon for five games now and realize exactly why the Pistons gave the Bobcats a lottery pick to take him off their hands:
- His official height of 6’3″ is high by at least an inch or two, making an already small SG even smaller.
- His handle is BAD. Gordon turns the ball over all too often when getting into the paint. He’s basically only usable as a perimeter player – and most useful off the ball in catch and shoot situations – yet he insists on having the ball in his hands and keeps driving. Go figure.
- Combine his handle with merely adequate court vision and you have a 6 foot dude who can only play SG.
- Defensively PGs run right past him and SGs shoot over him. His upper body is strong enough so SGs can’t post him up regularly but there’s a reason that Dunlap has had to implement so much zone D and Gordon is a big part of that.
- He makes a ridiculous amount of money. $11m this year, $12m next. That’s borderline All-Star money.
You absolutely can’t argue about his stroke though. He’s still one of the best shooters in the league and when he gets hot, can shoot a team back into the game. But as a specialty player who’s a major defensive liability (and who is paid like an All-Star) – there’s just no way the Cats are getting anything of value for him this season.
Bobcats fan Bradford Coombs via Twitter:
@drapht00: @bobcatsbaseline Tyrus is painful. Something just isn’t right in his head.
I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe him. With over $25 million due between now and 2015, don’t expect any bidding wars over T-Time’s services.
GROUP FOUR: MOST LIKELY
Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Reggie Williams
Yes, these guys get their own tier. Aside from not playing much, you know what else they have in common? Expiring contracts. Diop and Williams have the most left in the tank – and I very much expect Reggie to be dealt by the deadline. He’s a good shooter and underrated scorer who would be playing a lot more if his skills didn’t overlap so much with Ben Gordon’s.
Diop’s cap number ($7m+) makes him a little harder to move but could come in handy in order to facilitate a larger trade in a three team deal.
Carroll is by all accounts an awesome individual but his future is more likely backing up Dell Curry in the broadcast booth than Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Of the three, expect Carroll as the one most likely to stay.
UPDATE: Carroll Traded
Literally minutes after this column’s original posting, the Bobcats traded Matt Carroll to New Orleans for Hakim Warrick. The deal comes at little risk to the team as Warrick’s contract effectively expires in July via team option. In the meantime, Cats fans will be treated to a combo forward who could be best described as “Derrick Brown but not as good”.