Sources tell me the Bobcats have an opportunity to sign a starting PG capable of averaging 15ppg with a stellar 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. He shoots better than 33% from downtown, nails 90% of his freebies and has a true shooting percentage of 54%. Excited yet? Well good news Bobcats fans, they do and his name is D.J. Augustin. You probably remember him from his previous stint with Charlotte, y’know, just a few months ago. While his name may not have the allure of “Jerryd Bayless” or “Goran Dragic“, it’s through not fault of his own. Just as in our personal relationships, things can go stale as they become overly familiar and the story of Darryl Gerard is no different.
2010-2011. The only season that matters.
It was November 2010, the Bobcats had just come off of their inaugural Playoff berth. How did they celebrate? By cleaning house of course. You see, Michael Jordan, Larry Brown and Rod Higgins had received a secret memo from the league office detailing a mysterious concept referred to as a “Salary Cap”. Turns out you can’t keep taking on other team’s heinous contracts forever. Yes readers, the organization was shoved into a corner financially, forcing them to let 2005 Lottery point guard Raymond Felton walk without any compensation and salary-dumping future Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler to the soon to be NBA Champ Dallas Mavericks in what might be the WORST trade in Charlotte Pro Sports history.
The one positive to come from all of this pre-Rich Cho nonsense was that third year prospect D.J. Augustin was finally given a chance to lead the team. For those of you who don’t remember, I’ll sum it up: He did great. Not Derrick Rose great mind you but Charlotte Bobcat Lottery Pick great. D.J. scored, dished, stretched the court, amassing the stats referred to above. He did this during a year of turmoil which saw his coach fired, his team’s only “star” traded, a season in which Kwame Brown started 50 games--that in and of itself should be enough to earn a lucrative contract extension.
But here it is July 9th, 2012 and D.J. doesn’t have a contract; not even a rumoured one. He’s technically a free agent and any team in the league may sign him to an offer sheet yet no one has. Last season didn’t help. Augustin missed twenty starts due to injury and had yet another Bobcat Lottery point guard waiting in the wings. “What more must I do?” he must have asked. “Two coaches, two point guard controversies in four years, a completely gutted roster and now they want to low-ball me in free agency after practically destroying my market value.” Extreme? Maybe. I would rest my case on the one year in which the team fully committed to D.J. Augustin, he delivered.
As it stands now, neither side is close to “winning” this game- Cho’s rebuilding project has decimated the roster and players like Augustin aren’t built to carry the entire load. Thus his value is negated and can’t be showcased properly for potential suitors. He’s like the complex film plot that can’t be sold in a thirty second trailer. Put D.J. on a decent team and he’s probably at worst in the Kyle Lowry zone.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, are at risk of losing yet another asset without compensation. Signing him to play for the qualifying offer won’t help either – “Wait, so you’re forcing me to play another season for less than market value, lose a ton of games and probably play behind a guy not yet quite as good as me? AND some other rookie wants to wear my number? SOUNDS GREAT!”
Best case scenario for both Augustin and the organization is either a sign & trade for another decent prospect or draft pick. If that type of offer isn’t on the table, I’d prefer the team to sign him to a reasonable $5-$6million per year deal and let the two PGs battle it out for supremacy. Augustin will turn 25 during next season and has shown marked improvement during his development. If he plays lights out, trade him in the summer or entertain offers for Kemba Walker. Either way both sides have something to show for the tumultous journey that they’ve traveled together.