What To Do with Dampier? – Part 2


PLUS: Carmelo Perception vs. Gerald Wallace Reality


MEgo-Mania© has again swept the Association with the latest contestent being none other than Johnny Sucker Punch himself, Carmelo Anthony.  Within hours of Ric Bucher’s ‘Melo scoop, the national rumor mill threw little old Charlotte a bone by insisting that the Bobcats were, in fact, a legitimate dark horse to land Carmelo due to his Brand Jordan ties and the Nuggs cap-strapped lust of Erik Dampier’s insta-expiring contract.  Immediately the internet was flooded with columnists, blogs and commenters weighing in: “What could the Bobcats possibly send Denver to pry ‘Melo away!!!???  Gerald Wallace and Damp’s expiring?  Throw in some draft picks???  Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson too!  Maybe some cash?  And take back Kenyon Martin’s dead weight contract, yeah, that’d would at least make ‘em think about it!!!”

With Steve Austin making a comeback splash this summer in The Expendables, let me channel the spirit of Stone Cold in my response to this nonsense:

“Carmelo Anthony, what?  That mealy-mouth sonofabitch, what?  Couldn’t play lock-down defense on a Roomba, what?  Sucker-punchin’ yellow belly beady-eyed overrated idiot, what?”
(CUT TO: Stone Cold  Stunner on ‘Melo, Austin mocks an incapicitated Carmelo with a two fingered salute while wearing a black t-shirt and jean shorts.  WHAT?)

Someone please refresh my memory.  What exactly has Carmelo Anthony accomplished during his first seven seasons in the Association?  At least Lebron has been to an NBA finals.  Melo can’t even say that.  He’s a high-octane scoring dynamo, a one dimensional player who has a catchy name and often plays on national television.  Basically, he’s the new Vince Carter.  End of story.

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie summed it up best in his Small Forward Rankings last month.  Ranking Gerald Wallace 4th and Carmelo 3rd, he writes:

I would have no problem (with) flipping (Wallace) with Carmelo Anthony on more than a few nights. Anthony’s offense is as good as Wallace’s D, but Wallace’s offense is so, so much better than Carmelo’s defense.


  1. Only two years older.
  2. Costs half as much ($10 million average base versus ‘Melo’s upcoming MAX extension).
  3. Doesn’t dominate the ball.  Can score without having plays called for him.
  4. Plays outstanding man and team defense.  Best rebounding small forward in the league.
  5. Team leader who has the respect of the lockerroom.

So why would the Bobcats consider anything other than a straight swap of Wallace for Anthony?  Simple, Carmelo’s perceived value is higher.  Higher in the mind of the casual fan and higher in the mind of televsion executives who decide which teams get national broadcasts.  Mark Mainstream hears the name “Carmelo Anthony” and associates it with “talented.”  Again, ‘Melo is the new Vince Carter.  The Bobcats are still trying to lure in fans and establish an identity while trying to prevent another season of full-scale financial catastophe.  ‘Melo’s perceived value and name recognition could help.  I just hope the team doesn’t severely over-pay in order to get him.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:


If anything worthwhile has come out of these ME-lo rumors, it’s the fact that the billionaire Kroenke family has grown tired of dropping $20+ million in luxury tax payments to the league every year.  As previously mentioned, the Nuggets aren’t exactly lining the halls with Larry O’Brian trophies so cutting team salary this year (with the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Heat clearly ahead of them) makes a lot of sense.  There’s been a lot of talk of a Chauncey Billups/Dampier straight up swap and I’d be all for it except for the fact that the ‘Cats are currently $8 million over the tax line and need to shed salary fast.  There’s no question that the Nuggets would pull the trigger on a trade that would save them $26 million this season but in order for the ‘Cats to make it happen, they’ll need to make another deal first.


CLT trades Boris Diaw and a future first rounder & second rounder to MIN, NYK or SAC for a future 2nd Round selection.
CLT trades Nazr Mohammed + D.J. Augustin to MIN, NYK or SAC for a future 2nd Round selection.

In order to get underneath the luxury tax, the Bobcats need to shed around $8.5 million dollars from their current payroll.  Fortunately, they might have a couple of ways of doing this in Boris Diaw (plus picks) or a Nazr/Augustin combo.  If I’m MJ, I’m on the phone with David Kahn right now whispering, “y’know, we have this young point guard prospect who we-“  KAHN: “Point guard Prospect???!!!  Did you say Point Guard?????!!!”

The Knicks might also be inclined to take on former D’Antoni favorite Diaw while gaining back a first round pick that can be used in the next decade.  (Although I would be a little concerned that the Diaw/Eddie Curry combo might do to IHOPs what Ewing and LJ did to The Gold Club in the late ’90s.)

In the following scenario, let’s say the ‘Cats find a taker for D.J. and Nazr (even if they have to throw in a protected future first), then…

CLT trades Erik Dampier to DEN for Chauncey Billups

The Bobcats suddenly accomplish both of their current offseason goals: Upgrade the Point Guard position and Get Underneath the Luxury Tax.  The team heads into the preseason with a relatively stacked roster.
Kwame and Diop would try to replicate last year’s Mohammed/Chandler/Ratliff center by committee while a now “huskier” Boris Diaw would rotate between the 4 and 5 spots when Coach Brown goes, uh, “small.”
Chauncey and Shaun Livingston give Larry Brown much bigger options at the point.  McGuire, Derrick Brown, Henderson, Tyrus Thomas plus Crash, Livingston and JAX give Larry Brown a metric ton of “long, athletic” wing players to do his magic with.
Bobcats Salaries Post - Chauncey Trade
From a cap perspective, the Bobcats stay right at the tax line this season while maintaining flexibility going forward.  Billups has a team option for the ’11-’12 season which will almost certainly not be exercised as the league goes into a lockout.  The Bobcats could use their leverage with Billups’ current deal to sign him to a three year contract extension at a much lower per year salary next summer.


A Billups for Dampier swap makes a great deal of sense for both teams as Denver could save tens of millions this season by promoting Ty Lawson and dumping Chauncey.  The Bobcats would likely cement their rise to the top 4 in the East this season by upgrading from Raymond Felton to Billups.  Hmmm…  What else is there to say?  Bobcats win and win big.

Until next time, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats Fans.


THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: Jordan’s Approach to Building a Winning Team in Charlotte




It starts with the city itself.  Once a shining example of the NBA’s ever-growing popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Charlotte finds itself today as a middle aged divorcee six years into a rebound marriage, unsure if it was ever cut out for this pro basketball city thing to begin with.*

The team’s first All-Star and only remaining original member was a bargain bin castoff selected in the expansion draft.  Young Gerald Wallace was worth less to the Sacramento Kings than shedding $1 million from their bloated payroll.

Even though he is only one of a dozen or so current NBA players who can score twenty points a night while preventing his opponent from doing the same, Stephen Jackson was exiled from Golden State for what amounted to a $5 million expiring contract and a poor shooting, non-rebounding Eastern European caveman.

Once universally revered, hall of fame head coach Larry Brown arrived in Charlotte a tarnished brand.  In a League where head coaching vacancies are filled annually by the same retread Temp Agency, Brown had to practically reach out to an old friend in order to secure a job and begin rebuilding his reputation.

And finally there’s Jordan.  A man who could do no wrong on the court is now the man who can barely do anything right off of it.  Joining the names Ehlo and Russell in the MJ ethos are new ones like Kwame and Morrison.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Michael Jordan has something to prove in the game of basketball.


Successful small market teams (OKC, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, Orlando) use the same formula and we all know it: BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT.  Draft stars to cheap rookie deals, treat ‘em well, sign ‘em to big contracts before they hit free agency and keep drafting young talent and signing mid-level free agents to pair with them.  Rinse and repeat.

The Bobcats are currently the worst drafting franchise in the NBA.  It’s not even up for debate.  In six plus years of existence, not once has one of their draft picks sniffed an All-Star game – and the ‘Cats have had more lottery selections than anyone else in that span.  Indulge me for another brief and painful recap:

2004: Emeka Okafor.  GRADE: a solid double. Could have had more picks and taken Big Al or Iggy if Bob Johnson had a clue about running a business, “hmm, buy a pick from Phoenix for $2 million to draft Jefferson, Deng or Iguodala or build a brand new cable sports network from scratch?  What’s the main draw you ask?  Charlotte Bobcats basketball of course!  Brevin Knight every night!”

2005: Ray Felton/Crab Bread May.  GRADE: a sacrifice bunt. Felton a below average starter for a few years, May on his way to hosting Man vs. Food: EXTREME CARBS!
2006: Adam Morrison.  GRADE: whiff.
Not only a whiff but a McGwire Whiff.  The kind where the guy is on ‘roids and whiffs so hard that he blows out both knees in the process.  Embarrassing.
2007: Jason Richardson/Jared Dudley.  GRADE: RBI single. Could have been worse.  At least realized that they didn’t know how to draft and received a couple non-bust assets in return.

2008: Augustin/Ajinca.  GRADE: whiff. Not as bad as the Morrison knee blowout but a close second.  Passed on Brook Lopez and threw away a future first rounder in order to select Freedom Fries.  Jordan was on record as saying that the team sat out the 2010 draft because “Tyrus Thomas was our first round pick.”  No, Michael.  Alexis Ajinca is your 2010 first round pick.  Ugh.
2009: Henderson/Brown.  GRADE: promising single right up the gap.
Henderson looked good in some late season action and is at least athletic enough to belong in the League–although his complete lack of an outside shot scares me.  Derrick Brown has the Gerald Wallace “I’m not intellectually capable enough to realize I shouldn’t be any good” gene – and this is no insult to Crash, look at how the book-smarts have hampered Okatron 2000’s career.  Higher grade for this draft if LB actually plays them next year.
2010: Ajinca by proxy.  GRADE: Freedom whiff.

So there you go folks, somehow with all of this draft day carnage in their immediate past, the Charlotte Bobcats attained a winning record in 2009-2010 and stole the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  So how in the hell did they do it?


Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw.  What’s the single thread that ties these players together?  Why, it’s the fact that their former teams handed them massive contracts and then immediately realized that they’d made a mistake.  “Oh crap, we just signed Joel Pryzbilla to a nine year $80 million contract.  Quick, get Jordan on the phone!”

So in a silly season which saw half of the League’s teams trade away wins for cap space, the Bobcats “philosophy” of taking on bad contracts to win now was just wacky enough to propel them into the postseason.  While other GMs plotted for future dynasties, Jordan mortgaged the farm on the more modest and attainable goal of simply making the Playoffs.  It worked.  The ‘Cats finished the season as one of the Association’s top 15 teams.

Could it be that MJ and crony Rod Higgins are sharking their peers by making fiscally questionable deals to upgrade the team’s talent pool?  Have the ‘Cats created a new “Freakonomics” meets “Moneyball” model that challenges the importance of the amateur draft and free agency?  Is Michael Jordan stealthily playing checkers while the rest of the League plays chess?  Or will all of these questionable contracts and draft day screw-ups eventually cripple the team, making future trades difficult and free agent additions impossible?**

If Jordan and Higgins are intent on foregoing the tried and true paradigm for small market success and continue with their merry spending ways, then I present to you, without further ado…


What makes a Misfit Toy candidate?  Simple: you have to be way overpaid and way underperforming.  If you fit this description then I hope you like pulled pork BBQ ‘cause your probably coming to Carolina!

Ben Gordon 4 yrs: $47 million

Y’think Joey Dumars is just a tad bit regretful for signing a 6’3” sixth man shooting guard to a $60 million deal?  Gordon is way overpaid for his production but could be exactly what the doctor ordered on a team like the Bobcats: Electric bench and fourth quarter scoring.  The ‘Cats are desperate for it.  That said, Dumars is notoriously tough to trade with.  Wonder if a combination of Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson might get this done.

Monta Ellis 4 yrs: $44 million

We’ve been speculating on this one for years.  Ellis hogs the ball and jacks up shots at an unprecedented rate.  Not good on a team with lots of offensive options like Golden State but could be an absolute godsend for the Bobcats, who spent the vast majority of last season spastically passing the ball around on offense like it was a live hand grenade.  Again, wonder if Diaw and Henderson or Chandler’s expiring could get this done.  The W’s are a mess in the front office right now, Higgins could potentially steal something else in return (pick, prospect).

Baron Davis 3yrs: $41 million

A blast from the past, a former home grown product entering the end of his career.  Still has the size and offensive firepower to occasionally dominate a game.  Couldn’t be any worse than Felton and is so overpaid that the ‘Cats could conceivably unload Diop’s longer deal in exchange.

Al Jefferson 3yrs: $42 million

Not sure exactly why Big Al is being shopped so fiercely this summer.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of David Kahn.  If the rest of League’s GMs are playing chess to MJ’s checkers, then Kahn is playing badminton.  Al would be a huge upgrade at the PF spot for the ‘Cats but not quite sure what the T’Wolves would want in exchange.  I’m praying that Kahn would ok a deal that would send out Jefferson and Ramon Sessions (Andre Miller: The Next Generation) for Tyson and Nazr’s expirings (plus a future first rounder).

Emeka Okafor: 4yrs, $52 million

Tied with two others on this list (see below) for the worst contract in the League.  Obviously, it was the Bobcats who signed him to it.  Was such a poor fit in New Orleans that Charlotte actually won the trade by taking back 6ppg/6rpg, semi-crippled Tyson Chandler in exchange.  Hate the contract but could live with ‘Mek’s 16 + 10 if the Hornets threw in Darren Collison.  Diop/Mohammed/Augustin for Okafor/Collison anybody?

Rashard Lewis: 3yrs, $65 million

Sole possession of 2nd Worst Contract in the League.  He’s paid over $20 million a year over the next three.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rashard should gift half his salary to Dwight Howard every season.  Without D-Ho backing him up in the lane, Lewis’s skinny frame and lack of defensive skills would make him an absolute liability.  Don’t think the Magic would trade him (they’re firmly in “go for broke” mode) but his offensive skills and outside shooting would fill a need for the ‘Cats.

Elton Brand: 3yrs, $51 million

Here we go, a good old fashioned back to the basket All-Star power forward.  Only problem is that Elton hasn’t been the same since an achilles injury derailed his career a few seasons ago.  He’s a round peg in a square hole with fast paced Philly but could regain dominance in Larry Brown’s grind it out half-court offense in Charlotte.  Would Diaw/Mohammed (expiring) be enough to get it done?

Hedu Turkoglu: 4yrs, $43 million

We’ve been hearing this rumor for a solid month now.  Hedu and Jack to Charlotte for Boris, Diop and D.J.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense mainly because Hedu can only play small forward, doesn’t defend or rebound well and is essentially not very good.  He’s basically Boris with a worse contract and poorer defense.  Jack and Ray Felton may as well be the same player.  Dud.  Oh and Hedu is one of the other “Worst Contract in the League”ers.  The other one?

Gilbert Arenas: 4yrs, $60 million

I’ve already written about this in length so I won’t rehash it here.  If MJ could swing a deal featuring Diop, Diaw and Mohammed for Gilbert and an asset (prospect or pick) then do it.  It’d be the biggest gamble in MJ’s tenure but he’s shown that he’s most definitely the gambling type.  An Arenas/JAX/CRASH/Tyrus/Chandler core could win 50 games this year as long as everybody stays relatively healthy.  The team would also retain the young talent on the roster and pick up either a pick or a young player like Javale McGee or Blatche from the Wiz for their troubles.

Allen Iverson: free agent.

We couldn’t leave out good old AI.  He’s a free agent and has declared himself ready take on the League again.  The dude has hit rock bottom.  If you’re gonna take a flyer on him then now is the time to do it.  If he would accept a smaller (possibly bench) role and play nice with his new teammates then I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career than with his old coach in the Queen City.  He’d also come cheap.  Think: Flip Murray Advanced.


Don’t be surprised if Jordan pulls off a deal for one of these misfits sometime between now and the end of next month.  MJ sat out the draft and one gets the sense that both he and Trader Larry are chomping at the bit to make yet another move for an overpriced toy in need of a new home.

Until then, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats fans…


*I find it ironic that throughout Charlotte’s twenty plus years of NBA basketball history the vast majority of the city’s successful players have come via trade or as castaways: Monster Mash, Eddie Jones, Mase, Vlade Two Packs, Easy E Campbell, P-Whipped Rice, Curry 1.0, Don’t Tell Me No Bogues, Crash and JAX.  Doesn’t that sort of represent how the city’s success was built as well?  Sure, there are some shining examples of homegrown talent but the vast majority of the Queen City’s brain pool came here from somewhere else looking for a new start.  Buffalo, Rochester, Jersey, Pittsburgh, WV, Ohio, represent BABY BABY!  UH!

**The good news is that the team drafts so poorly that they’ll never have to worry about re-signing their own talent on the open market.  “What’s that?  Raymond is an unrestricted free agent?  He might sign with another team?  Huh.  Anyways, so you’re telling me that a poached egg is actually boiled?  I always wondered how they did that…”