2011 Free Agent Targets Who Fit The Plan



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…


Charlotte Bobcats NBA Draft Preview: Part 3



In Part 2, I talked about some strategy that the Bobcats could possibly use in making the 12th pick and made some generalizations about which players may or may not be available at #12.  In Part 3, I’ll go into more detail about the players that are likely to be available to the Bobcats at pick #12.

A quick review: There are eight guys who will definitely be gone: Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill and DeMar DeRozan.

Then there are three guys who will probably be gone: Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn and Brandon Jennings.  In this point-guard heavy draft, these guys have been searching for a safety in the mid-to-late lottery.  In Chad Ford’s latest Mock Draft, he has them going in the 8-11 range.  But with the Nets at #11 supposedly in need of a big (and with this draft being described as underwhelming and unpredictable in general) I think there is a small, but not irrelevant, chance that one of these guys could be available to the Bobcats at #12.

Could the Bobcats use a lottery pick on a point guard who didn’t work out for them for a second year in a row?  I suppose anything is possible (especially with Jordan and Brown making the pick) but have to guess that they wouldn’t.  With the Bobcats having been pretty clear that they intend to keep Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin, point guard is a relative strength on our roster.  We have other needs that are more important.

Lets turn our eyes to the players that we’re pretty sure will be available at #12:  Gerald Henderson, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Austin Daye, Jeff Teague, DeJuan Blair, Eric Maynor, Tyler Hansbrough, James Johnson, BJ Mullens, Ty Lawson, DaJuan Summers and Sam Young.

To cull the list even more, we’ll strike Young, Summers and Johnson — #12 is just too much of a reach for these guys.  I’ll also strike Teague, Maynor and Lawson because they’re all pure point guards.  Mullens is intriguing, but one 7-foot-plus project on the roster (Ajinca) is enough — off the list.

I’ll strike Hansbrough for a couple of reasons: one, the Bobcats can’t be eager to reinforce the perception that they’re actually the Charlotte Tar Heels; and two, they have to be wary of a white player who was dominant in college, but has questionable athleticism for the NBA (coughAdamMorrisoncough).  James Johnson is out of the discussion; he did work out for the Bobcats, but is an out-of-shape forward tweener who has no buzz going right now.  (Update: as I prepared to post this, just saw Bonnell’s blog post from tonight which informs us that Johnson is coming back for a second look on Wednesday.)

DeJuan Blair is intriguing, as the Bobcats have a need for depth at the power forward position.  However, he’s a relatively unathletic rebounding specialist who relies on a wide frame to grab those rebounds, has played at a heavy weight, and has known knee issues.  Sounds a little too close to Sean May for me.

Austin Daye is an interesting talent; everyone compares him to Tayshaun Prince and the feeling is that he’ll be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round.  But he’s extremely weak and a little raw for the NBA.  In a few years he might make a good hybrid forward, but the Bobcats need help now at other positions — off the list.

Earl Clark is the first guy on the list that I think the Bobcats could potentially pick at #12.  He’s a long, athletic forward who’s similar to, but more ready to contribute than, Austin Daye.  Clark is most often compared to Lamar Odom, as opposed to Tayshaun Prince, to give you an idea of the slight difference between Daye and Clark.  Clark is just the kind of player whom Brown likes, and would only be a minor reach at #12.

Now we get to the two guys who are obviously at the top of the Bobcats draft board: Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams.  The Bobcats invited these two back for a second look on Monday with Micheal Jordan in the house to observe.  Here’s the breakdown for these two.

Gerald Henderson played three years at shooting guard for Duke.  He goes 6’5″ and 215 pounds.  He increased his scoring average from 6.8 to 12.7 to 16.5 ppg over his three years at Duke.  He is considered a pure shooting guard, with tremendous athleticism and an improving outside stroke.  He plays great defense, and seems ready to contribute right off the bat.  Here’s video of Henderson after the workout, with some comments from Larry Brown towards the end.

Terrence Williams played four years at shooting guard at Louisville.  He goes 6’6″ and 215 pounds.  He averaged 8 points as a freshman, then 12, 11 and 12 his last three years of college.  That stagnation is probably the biggest concern on Williams’ resume (the other is his, ahem, eccentricity).  While he’s clearly a shooting guard, he’s considered more versatile than Henderson.  Williams has better ballhandling ability, is a better passer and can probably play a little small forward in a small lineup.  Similar to Henderson, he’s considered a great defender and will likely be ready to contribute in his first year.  Here’s video of Williams from the workout.

Here’s a great breakdown by DraftExpress.com on the shooting guards in this draft, with a bunch of great info and statistical analysis that helps to differentiate between Henderson and Williams.  Rumor has it that Williams really impressed Larry Brown at the workout, met with team officials afterwards, then pulled out of a Tuesday workout in New Jersey with Henderson, Hansbrough, etc.

So as I wrap this up on Tuesday night, all signs are pointing to Terrence Williams as being the guy as long as the Bobcats don’t trade the pick.  Seems like Williams would be OK with it.  Hell, judging by the interest he had in Jordan’s gear at Monday’s workout, he may even pay Michael to wear Jordans.