Bobcats 2012 Offseason Report Card


Rich Cho has been one busy dude. Just three months after wrapping up a seven win throwaway season, the Bobcats general manager/internet phenom has executed a massive upgrade of the roster. How and what has he accomplished? Let’s have a quick recap:


Cho swung a pre-draft deal with former Executive of the Year/Chad Ford Idol Joe Dumars, sending oft-injured SF Corey Maggette and his expiring contract to Detroit in exchange for sharpshooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first round pick.

The aforementioned Mr. Ford panned the trade, questioning why the Bobcats were taking on Gordon’s extra year of salary. He failed to mention the fact that Cho copped a lightly protected draft pick and a better player out of the deal. As John Hollinger pointed out, the Bobcats NEED to add contracts over the next few seasons just to hit the league’s salary floor.

RESULT: Bobcats clear up SF spot, gain a potent 3pt shooting/scoring machine off the pine, add yet another extra first round pick to the vault.



The Bobcats surprised everyone yet no one when they selected the second highest rated prospect with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist immediately steps into the team’s starting lineup to provide lockdown defense, transition buckets and good vibes. Everyone seems to love the kid and if his first Summer League contest was any indicator, MKG might go down as the best selection in the team’s brief history.

With the first pick in the second round, Cho selected Vandy’s Jeffery Taylor, a sharpshooting swingman whose athleticism and on-ball defense all but guarantees him a spot in the rotation.

RESULT: Bobcats add potential star in MKG, future Bruce Bowen/Dell Curry hybrid in Taylor.



Let’s start with what the organization didn’t do. Eduardo Najera and Boris Diaw finally came off the books, freeing up around $11 million in cap space. D.J. White was not extended his qualifying offer of around $3 million and is likely finished in Charlotte. Derrick Brown was extended a $1 million qualifying offer but with the way both draft picks have played thus far in Summer action, I could see that offer being rescinded soon. Finally, D.J. Augustin was let loose after several failed sign & trade scenarios.

With this sudden influx of cap space, Cho inked Ramon Sessions to a two year $10 million deal, won the Brendan Haywood amnesty bid at $6.15 million over three seasons and has just enough juice left over (via cap exceptions or amnesty) to sign a veteran PF (Kris Humphries or Carl Landry).

RESULT: Sessions provides an immediate upgrade as a big backup to Kemba Walker while Haywood gives the Cats an inexpensive option to go big and experiment with Bismack Biyombo at the four.

GRADE: Incomplete. Cho isn’t finished. If Humphries or Landry signs, give him a solid “A” for addressing need with value.


It’s July and Mike Dunlap has coached all of two Summer League games but the buzz is undeniable. This guy is here to bust his tail developing prospects into players. The approach is inspiring and hopeful. This could be the rare coaching change that significantly upgrades the win/loss columns.

RESULT: Cho & Rod Higgins found their man. We’ll reserve judgement until the games start to count but thus far Bobcats fans have to be excited about Dunlap’s potential.


Armed with few assets outside of the draft, Cho found a way to turn Najera, Augustin, White, Maggette and Brown into MKG, Taylor, Gordon, Sessions, Haywood and (potentially) Landry. This is a significant talent upgrade. Combined with the development of last year’s young players and a new coaching philosophy, this team should surprise a lot of people come November.



Offseason Prescriptions for the Capped-Out Cats (Part 3)


Chapter III: Prescription B (Not for the Faint of Heart)


Alright.  We’ve made it this far.  First I stated the problem.  Next was an easy and elegant solution.  Now we go all in.

Quick Recap:
1.    The Bobcats are capped out before re-signing Tyrus Thomas or Raymond Felton.
2.    Team needs more consistent play from the PG position, more scoring from the low post, and more scoring in general.
3.    Team has no draft picks and few assets outside of their core players to trade in order to improve.

On the evening of June 24th, the Washington Wizards will select Kentucky PG phenom John Wall with the first overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft.  It’s a no-brainer.  After trading away stalwarts Antwan Jamison, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler during the season, the Wizards are marching confidently along the rebuilding path.  Wall will step in and immediately be the team’s poster boy for the future.  With one timely drop of a ping pong ball, things suddenly look rosy in the District.  There’s just one small, $80 million, gun-brandishing problem.  His name: Agent Zero.



Step 1. Charlotte trades Boris Diaw, Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop to Washington for Gilbert Arenas, Javale McGee and a first round draft selection (2012).

The Wiz are posturing something ridiculous about having Gilbert move to the off-guard position in anticipation of John Wall.  Uh, yeah.  Does anybody really think that Washington wants The Outlaw anywhere near their new Savior?  Sure, taking on a poo-poo platter of Diaw, Diop and Nazr while giving up a potential star in McGee and a high draft pick would suck but let’s face it, having Arenas anywhere near the Wiz bench pretty much negates any new excitement that Wall would bring to the team.  Gilbert is a 28 year old Point Guard with $80 million dollars left on his contract who was just released from a halfway house and has had three knee surgeries in the past three seasons.  If somebody is willing to take a guy like that off their hands AND save the organization $35 million in the process, you gotta make the move, right?

So why would I propose such a trade for the Bobcats?
First off, let me just say that Gilbert is a PR nightmare for certain but if Charlotte fans were willing to accept Stephen Jackson (y’know, the guy who charged into the stands and attacked fans only to later one up himself by unloading a gun at a strip club), then I think we can deal with a some of the Arenas quirkiness from time to time.

Secondly, well, there’s quite a few positives so let me just list them:
1.    Bobcats get to unload The League’s Worst Contract a.k.a. Gana Diop a.k.a. Black Shrek.
2.    Diaw’s exit clears space for Tyrus Thomas to start.
3.    Team replaces Raymond Felton with an electric scorer (and, when motivated, an underrated defender) in Arenas.
4.    Javale McGee is one of the League’s best offensive prospects at the Center position.
5.    The draft choice that the Bobcats receive would recoup the one that the team traded away in the Tyrus Thomas trade.
6.    The trade would save the Bobcats over $3 million in cap space next season, allowing the team to add depth via free agency.

Obviously, the biggest drawback to the trade is long term money.  Gilbert will be 32 years old when his deal expires in the summer of 2014 (see chart).  He’ll be paid over $22 million for that season alone.  Ouch.  Yeah, the numbers are ugly.  The move is overly aggressive and could either propel the team deep into the Playoffs (if Arenas stays healthy and focused and McGee develops) or could cripple them for the next three seasons.  MJ is known as a gambler, I think he’d be inclined to make the move.

Step 2. Charlotte Re-Signs Tyrus Thomas.

Same as in Prescription A.  Three years, $18 million sounds about right.  A starting spot might pique his interest in returning.

Step 3. Sign a backup Power Forward.

As discussed in Prescription A, possible low-cost candidates include Drew Gooden or Kris Humphries.  I like Humphries potential.

Step 4. Fill out the bench.

Arenas’s scoring abilities sort of negates the need to bring back Flip Murray.  The team could go in another direction here and sign a veteran “pure-playmaking” PG in the mold of Eric Snow as well.  Theo Ratliff has at least another year in him and could serve as a mentor to McGee and Ajinca.

Prescription B Chart


The move is ballsy. Could a volatile nucleus of Arenas, JAX, CRASH, Tyrus and one or two of their youngsters (most likely McGee and Henderson) be enough to propel the Bobcats into contention in the East over the next few seasons?
The risks are HUGE.  Zero could play another stupid prank or blow out his knee(s) again.  Jax could unload one of Gilbert’s guns in a public place.  Crash may wonder openly why he’s the only sane person in the locker room.  The team would be capped out until 2013.
But take a look at the depth chart going into next season:

PG: Arenas, Augustin, Murray
SG: Jackson, Henderson, Murray
SF: Wallace, Brown
PF: Thomas, Humphries, Ajinca
C: Chandler, McGee, Ratliff

If the ‘Cats can win 44 games with last year’s squad then upgrading via Arenas and McGee while having Thomas and Chandler (contract year) for an entire season could very well propel the team to 50 plus wins and home court in the first round of the Playoffs.  The team would also have enough draft picks and young prospects on the roster to make a move for a veteran during the following summer if they so choose and make a run for local favorite (and certain turnstile mover) Seth Curry after he completes his second and final year at Duke in the 2012 NBA Draft.

As for Prescription C, I’ve decided to save that one for later.  Let’s see how the Draft and the early days of free agency play out first.


Offseason Prescriptions for the Capped-Out Cats (Part 2)


Chapter II: Prescription A (Simple & Clean)

In part one of my Capped-Out Cats column, I soberly laid out the current Bobcats salary cap situation in order to highlight the tight financial quarters which the team currently operates under. We as fans cannot realistically prognosticate the team’s ability to improve itself without first having a realistic understanding of what it is up against. Or, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.”

Thus far we’ve identified the team’s salary situation (nearly capped out with two key free agents yet to re-sign) and we’ve established the team’s needs moving forward into next season (starting PG, traditional low-post presence, bench scoring). The challenge is to find a way to accomplish them both:


Step 1. Charlotte trades Boris Diaw to Chicago for Kirk Hinrich.

Can’t think of a more eloquent trade for both teams. The Bulls currently employ only six players, three of which are starters (Deng, Noah and Rose) and will be making a run at one of the top free agents in the League this summer (potentially Lebron James or Joe Johnson). Diaw starts for the Bulls immediately (or is the team’s sixth man in case of a Bosh or Boozer signing) and allows Derrick Rose to play off the ball in certain situations. Also, Diaw and Hinrich have nearly identical contracts (Boris is due an extra million in ’11-’12) and nearly matching PERs (Hinrich: 11.61, Diaw: 12.80).

For Charlotte, the deal nets them a tough defending starting point guard without having to go over the cap to sign one on the open market. While Hinrich isn’t going to any All-Star games, he’s at least Raymond Felton’s equivalent (especially in the five seasons proceeding Derrick Rose’s arrival) and is big enough at 6’3” to move over to shooting guard for a few minutes a game when needed. Hinrich isn’t a pure point in the mold of a Steve Nash or Chauncey Billups but won’t need to be on a team that runs its offense through shooting guard Stephen Jackson.
Again, the overwhelming positive of this trade is that it allows the Bobcats to maintain a player of comparable quality at the point without having to add a dime to the payroll.

Step 2. Re-sign Tyrus Thomas.


At current market value, I can’t see Tyrus commanding anything north of 3 years $18 million. The Hinrich trade makes re-signing Tyrus much easier by a.) allowing the team to match a poison pill offer should another team extend one and b.) freeing up a starting spot for Thomas – thus making the idea of returning to Charlotte that much more enticing. A best case scenario would have Tyrus sign an incrementally escalating deal (see chart below) that would start at $5.5 million.

Step 3. Sign or trade for a backup power forward.

After making the moves for Hinrich and Thomas, the ‘Cats will have a little less than $4 million to sign a free agent backup PF. The team is in desperate need of a low post scorer who can battle for rebounds down low. At this price point, there’s not a lot of options. One could be Drew Gooden, who signed a one year partially guaranteed $4.5 million deal with the Mavericks last summer and was traded to the Clippers midseason for his efforts. A two year deal (either fully or partially guaranteed) at $7 million might get his attention. A more under-the-radar prospect would be New Jersey’s Kris Humphries who impressed often on a bad team. Humphries is a beast of rebounder down low (averaging almost six and a half boards in twenty minutes of action) and is a bit of a black hole when he gets the ball in the low post. Basically, he’s the anti-Boris Diaw and that sort of style could mesh well with Larry Brown’s Bobcats.
Another option for the Bobcats is to add power forward depth via trade. While I don’t like the idea of the team trading away expiring contracts in this Prescription, one such deal could have the team ship off Nazr Mohammed and the last remaining year of his contract ($6.8 million) to the Sacramento Kings for bruiser Andres Nocioni ($6.8 million in ’10-’11, $6.6 in ’11-’12).
The negative in this scenario would be adding another mid-level salary contract year for a mediocre player in 2011-2012 but Nocioni’s toughness and ability to play both forward spots combined with the cost savings of making a cap neutral trade might swing the Bobcats into making the deal. Add in the fact that the ‘Cats could then use the remaining $3.5 million on re-signing veterans Flip Murray and Theo Ratliff to minimum deals and the trade could provide much more than it costs.



In this Prescription, the Bobcats manage to re-sign Tyrus Thomas, add a comparably talented starting Point Guard in Kirk Hinrich, find a low post bruising backup forward in Andres Nocioni and make good on last year’s mistake of trading away Flip Murray. Amazingly, they could do all of this while CUTTING SALARY (nearly $2 million) from last year’s payroll while keeping all of their young players (Augustin, Ajinca, Henderson and Brown) and key veterans.

The team’s depth chart looks like:

PG: Hinrich, Augustin, Murray
SG: Jackson, Hinrich, Henderson, Murray
SF: Wallace, Brown
PF: Thomas, Nocioni
C: Chandler, Ratliff, Diop, Ajinca

NEXT UP: PRESCRIPTIONS B + C (Not for the Faint of Heart).