Trading Boris Diaw


After sixteen games and thirteen losses for the Bobcats, we’ve learned three things:

  1. Charlotte is headed for a Top-5 draft pick
  2. Byron Mullens has way exceeded his expectations as the token awkward white guy off the bench
  3. Boris Diaw has officially worn out his welcome.

With the loss of Kwame Brown, Diaw began the season as the starting center. To his credit, he played like a man possessed in the first three games, posting a 11.7-11-7.7 line. He even showed up big in the two games at Madison Square Garden with a total of 46 points, 13 boards, and 13 assists on 74% shooting. But the rest of the games have been downright ugly. 4.8 points. 5.1 rebounds. 2.3 assists. 30% shooting, including 13% from beyond the arc, and just six free throws in eleven games. It doesn’t even look like he’s trying very hard.

But this is Boris “The Enigma” Diaw we’re talking about; the big man who doesn’t dunk has never been predictable. Then again, he’s predictable in one way: he’s got a bit of Baron Davis in him. If he’s in a losing environment, he’s huddle into his shell. But if he’s playing in an important game—say against a former team like Atlanta or former coach like Mike D’Antoni—he plays above and beyond his normal abilities.

Normally, an enigmatic big man would be no problem for a bad team. Even at $9 million it wouldn’t normally be a big deal. But he’s eating up valuable minutes that Mullens, Bismack Biyombo, D.J. White, and Tyrus Thomas could really use. Now, none of those four are spectacular, but all four need playing time to grow and mature. Diaw is in the final year of his contract, but it’s more than apparent now that he needs to be moved before the season ends.

There is, however, one major issue when it comes to trading Boris Diaw: the $9 million pricetag on his head.

Most contenders don’t have that much cap room just lying around, so they have to ship off another big contract to take on Diaw. Not only that, but among players making around $9 million per year, most are either a) worth about $9 million, and wouldn’t be in a trade for Boris Diaw or b) have multiple years left on their contract, which the Bobcats don’t want to take on.

With that in mind, there are a handful of teams interested in Diaw. They are going to be a contender with a need for a big body off the bench. The Knicks, Celtics and Lakers would all fit that mold, but none of them have any cap room—unless they’re willing to move Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett, or get someone inebriated enough to take on Metta World Peace. In other words, it’s not going to happen.

There are two realistic types of trades that will set Boris Diaw free from the temptations of Carolina Barbeque: a straight salary dump for a draft pick or swapping contracts in return for a young player. Let’s take a look at each possibility.

I’d like to think that around the trade deadline, some contender will get desperate. Maybe one of their bigs goes down, so they offer the Bobcats a late-first round pick for Diaw’s expiring contract. But that’s not happening. Again, the Lakers would have been a great fit once Andrew Bynum inevitably goes down with a knee injury, but they’re nearly $30 million over the cap. Realistically, no one will offer a late first for Diaw, and nobody picking at the top-half of the second round will want an aging, expensive forward. So the Bobcats will be looking at a late-second round pick. Joy.

In my opinion, swapping contracts is a much more realistic, even productive, way to try and trade Diaw. Think the Nazr Mohammed trade that landed Morris Peterson and D.J. White. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many matches. Memphis was a good match—O.J. Mayo would’ve been a sweet return—until they acquired Marreese Speights. Denver would also be a good fit, too, but the only contract the Bobcats would conceivably take back would be Andre Miller, who the Nuggets wouldn’t want to move for Diaw if they had to give up someone like Jordan Hamilton.

In the end, I only found one team that was a good trade partner Boris Diaw: the Los Angeles Clippers. After Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, their best big man is Brian Cook. Yes, that very same Brian Cook whose career highlight is being traded for Trevor Ariza. Los Angeles has the cap space to take him on, provided they can find a new home for Mo Williams.

With Kemba here for the long-haul and D.J. (at least momentarily) still here, it doesn’t make sense to trade for free agent-to-be Mo Williams. But if they could find a third team, this trade could work out. And that team is the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets still need a point guard after (twice) trading Chris Paul, so Mo Williams would be a perfect fit. Here is my proposed trade:

Charlotte gets: Xavier Henry (NOH) and Randy Foye (LAC)
Los Angeles gets: Boris Diaw (CLT) and Trevor Ariza (NOH)
New Orleans gets: Mo Williams (LAC)

From Charlotte’s prospective, they’re going to lose Diaw at the end of the year, so anything they can get in return for him is a plus. Xavier Henry may not have lived up to his rookie expectations, but he didn’t get any burn last year—not so far off from Gerald Henderson’s rookie campaign. Randy Foye is not a major piece in the deal, he’s just a salary equalizer, he’ll depart through free agency next summer.

This works out for the Clippers on two fronts: they get a very nice backup big man and an answer at shooting guard. Chauncey Billups won’t make it through the whole season at the 2, and he certainly won’t be able to guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili in the playoffs. Ariza is a prime perimeter defender. Plus, this allows Eric Bledsoe to finally get some extra PT.

New Orleans finally finds a replacement for Chris Paul, plus salary relief from the nearly $22 million left on Trevor Ariza’s contract. Henry wasn’t playing, since he was buried behind Marco Belinelli and Eric Gordon on the depth chart, so that’s not a huge loss. What this comes down to is saving a bit of cash while figuring out the point guard situation.

However the Bobcats deal with this Diaw Dilemna, it’s unlikely to end out great. The best they can hope for is to pick up a young player or draft pick—someone around the level of Henry may be the best they can do. That is, unless they are intent on trading D.J. Augustin before he hits restricted free agency, opening all kinds of possibilities.

I’ll be pretty surprised if Boris Diaw ends the season a Bobcat. He can certainly help some contender as a 6th or 7th man; the only question is whether or not GM Rich Cho can find a big enough bite for a chubby, lackadaisical, finesse forward.

-Ben Weinrib
you can follow Ben on Twitter @benweinrib

Balanced Clipper Attack Sends Bobcats Under .500


Charlotte Bobcats @ LA Clippers 2/23/10

Charlotte can’t overcome Stephen Jackson’s worst game as a Bobcat as they lose 98-94 to the Clips on the road, falling a game below .500 (27-28) and deadlocked with Milwaukee for 8th place in the Conference.  The ‘Cats trail early, turn the ball over, play defense for around two thirds of the game and can’t withstand a late charge by the home team.  Any of this sound familiar?

AP recap here | Box score here

He Was Due for One

The story of the game for the Bobcats has to be Stephen Jackson’s “Jamison“-like stinkbomb.  JAX went 1-16 from the field and ended up fouling out late in the fourth with 7pts, 5asts, 5TOs, and 6 boards.  He never got it going and the ‘Cats threw away a winnable road game thanks to the backcourt’s poor shooting.  JAX and backup point guard D.J. Augustin combined to go 2-24 from the field.  Ouch.
Jackson was lucky to not be T’d up several times as he repeatedly directed his frustration onto the officials.  Before tonight’s game, JAX had scored in double figure in ALL of his 45 games with the Bobcats.

The fact that Jackson’s stinker came a day after his “tired from fatigue” comments doesn’t bode well for a team that has no real backup at the shooting guard position.  Hopefully the coaches will stop rubber cementing Gerald Henderson to the bench from this point on.
One positive note from this development: It did seem as if Jackson’s frustration came from his inability to help his teammates when they needed him, rather than some ego-fueled scorer’s rage.  You like to see that in a player.

How ‘Bout Them Clippers!

For people still wondering why Mike Dunleavy is still employed in any capacity, just take a look at the talented roster he’s assembled in the past couple of years:

  • Baron Davis: B-Diddy can still bring it when he’s motivated and has at least another 3-4 solid years in him.
  • Chris Kaman: Has mastered the 15-foot pick & pop, is a solid rebounder and has apparently vowed to add a 3-point shot to his arsenal in the next two years.
    Too bad that Hollywood has moved on to 3D for all of its monsters, freaks & aliens.  Kaman could have picked up a lot of side-work in the offseason as sort of a poor man’s Peter Mayhew.
  • Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin: Three solid prospects picked in the last few drafts, two of which have All-Star potential.
  • Craig Smith, Travis Outlaw: Talented guys in their mid-20s who could definitely be in the rotation for a contending club.
  • Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden: Quality “Rent-a-Veteran” players who make enough plays every night to put your team in a position to win.

Add in a MAXplayer like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh (they have the cap space to do it) and a real coach and this team could be VERY GOOD next year.

The Clips went nine deep tonight and (unlike the Bobcats, who essentially got production from five guys with Nazr out with a back and D.J./JAX ineffective), ALL NINE PLAYERS contributed.  It was death by a thousand cuts with Butler dropping corner threes at will, Eric Gordon scoring the ball from everywhere on the court and Baron balling in spurts like it was the year 2000.  Six players dropped double figures for LA while new backup PG Steve Blake notched 7 assists.  Good times to be a Clips fans.

Who Steps Up?

The Bobcats rallied hard in the third quarter when they erased the Clips’ 13-point lead at the 6:36 mark and went up 64-62.  They couldn’t hold on as no one (aside from Boris Diaw) could step up their game in Jax’s absence.  Gerald Wallace had one of his super-stats games (32pts, 12rbs, 4steals, 5asts) but he’s not the team’s Go-To guy in the 4th.  That’s JAX’s job and tonight he just wasn’t delivering.  Raymond tried but couldn’t do it.  Boris was aggressive and could have nailed a three with 2:50 to go that would have put the Cats up by six but it rimmed out.
The Bobcats will need to find a strategy that will allow them to win games even if their clutch scorer is cold.  Hope they figure it out soon.


  • Tyrus Thomas (10pts, 4rbs, 3blks) showcased both a fifteen AND a twenty footer.  He also had a nice post scoop & score on Jordan in the second half from the block.  Didn’t realize he had these moves already.  Hopefully LB will stick around at least for another season to help tutor T2 to the next level.
  • Diaw looked great tonight and nearly logged the franchise’s first triple double with 20pts, 9rbs, 9asts.  He looked aggressive and alert.  Clippers broadcast team was gushing over him all night.
  • As much as I loved Crash’s line tonight, I HATED the number in the minutes column: 48.  How is this team going to make the Playoffs when the top two guys are already running on fumes?  Coach Brown needs to suck it up and let Gerald Henderson & Derrick Brown play through some mistakes.  Besides, they can’t be any worse than Augustin, right?
  • Who would you rather have: DeAndre Jordan ($736,000) or Tyson Chandler ($12 ka-gillion)?
  • Bobcats should be sold by the end of the month.  Word has it that MJ has until the 28th to match the Postolos Group offer.  We’ll have an in-depth article on this later on in the week.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…


Zach Randolph for Radmanovic and Mohammed?


Randolph for Radmanovic and Mohammed?

So you’re Rod Higgins and Larry Brown.  You just found out that the Grizzlies tried to take Zach Randolph off of the Clippers’ hands by offering them Darko’s expiring deal and Greg Buckner – only to have Clips owner Donald Sterling turn them down.  You look over at each other and think:

“Sterling must feel like an idiot right now.  He could have cleared up cap space AND opened up the four for Blake Griffin all in one deal and he turned it down.  He’s probably desperate now.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Radman and Nazr really aren’t in our long term plans and they don’t really fit the Larry Brown profile…hmm.  But Z-Bo is a nut-job and he plays less defense than Kurt Warner.  Dude can really score though…hmmm….”

Let us lend virtual Rod and virtual Larry a hand at making this decision.  Y’know, Benjamin Franklin was one of our wisest men and before he would make any major decision, he would take out a sheet of paper and…well, you know the rest.

So let’s break this down Benjamin Franklin style!


Radman and Nazr make a combined total of $12.9 mil in ’09-’10.  Randolph makes $16 mil.  The Bobcats would have to swallow the additional $3 million out of their remaining cap space.
In ’10-’11 Radman and Nazr are owed a total of $13.77 mil while Randolph is owed $17.3, a difference of $3.6 mil.  All three contracts expire at the end of the ’10-’11 season.

UPDATE: Bonnell just reported on the ‘Cats salary situation heading into free agency.  To make the the Randolph trade work, the ‘Cats would have to use their trade exception from the JRICH trade and bundle in Ajinca to make this work.

DECISION: Is Randolph worth an extra $3+ million per season?  Is one big contract easier to trade than two smaller ones?

ANALYSIS: Randolph will play over thirty minutes a night and score 18-20 points while doing it.  Vlad will be lucky to see eighteen a night and Nazr will serve his usual role as tackling dummy.  If the experiment doesn’t work, the ‘Cats have a major expiring salary to deal next season.

Zach Randolph starts...


Here’s where it gets tricky.  The Bobcats already have a starting PF and he’s damn good.  After last December’s trade with Phoenix, Boris Diaw partied like it was 2005.  The question is whether or not Boris could make the move from effective starter to equally effective 6th man playing the same amount of minutes subbing at both forward spots.  Diaw didn’t respond well to it when Amare returned to the lineup in Phoenix so it is a major risk with this move.

The Randolph/Diaw combo would make for an incredible composite:
Diaw, a point-forward who is an underrated defender and selfless to a fault and Randolph, a black-hole low-post scoring machine who prefers to play hard only when his team has the ball.

DECISION: Is Randolph’s low-post scoring enough to offset his notorious lack of effort on defense?  Would Boris remain as effective as the team’s 6th man?

ANALYSIS: Productivity is a non-issue here.  Randolph gives the team a serious low-post scoring threat for the first time in franchise history.  Playing alongside Emeka would cut Zach a little more slack on D as well.  The issue is chemistry.  Could Boris make a smooth transition to the 6th man role?

...and Boris is the Sixth Man


Could Larry Brown really tolerate a guy who hates playing defense as much as he likes “simulated sex shows?”  Well, LB did put up with Iverson for a while.  The bigger question is whether Charlotte could put up with Randolph.  The city spent the past four years taking out their collective NBAnger on Sean May and he was a Boy Scout compared to #50.
I can only imagine how many Tom Sorenson columns we’d see comparing Zach to Derrick Coleman (and the Eldridge Recasner incident).

DECISION: Is Charlotte Ready for Zach Randolph?



POLL : Trade Mohammed & Radmanovich for Zach Randolph?

  • Make the Deal - Get Randolph (37%, 18 Votes)
  • No Deal – Zach doesn't fit the team (53%, 26 Votes)
  • No Deal - Charlotte won't welcome Zach (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Clippers 2/9/09


1.  The Bobcats hold serve at home tonight against the aimless LA Clippers, 94-73.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats go to 20-31; still 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot.

2.  The final score is just a tad misleading.  This was an ugly, sloppy and close game in the first half.  The Bobcats pulled away a bit in the third, then put away a tired Clippers squad (finishing up a seven game road trip) in the fourth.

3.  With Gerald Wallace (lung), Raja Bell (groin) and Juwan Howard (toe) out, the Bobcats started with DJ/Felton/Diaw/Okafor/Diop.  New guy Vladimir Radmanovich, despite not having gone through a practice with the team yet, was the first reserve off the bench and ended up playing almost 30 minutes.

And Sean May played for the first time December 11.   I’m pretty sure that I heard as recently as last week that he was still 6-8 pounds away from making weight, and I know he can’t lose a pound a day, so I was surprised to see him out there.  He logged 6 minutes spanning the first and second quarters — and shouldn’t have.  Within seconds of coming in he mishandled a Diaw pass for a turnover (charged to Diaw) and looked very tentative and rusty in general.

4.  Let’s not bury the lead here, though.  The story of the game was the successful debut of Radmanovich.  He looked uncomfortable in the first half, but got in a groove later, and ended with 13 points (5-10 FG, 3-5 3PT), 4 rebounds and 2 assists.  All three of his made three-pointers came during the decisive fourth quarter.  Needless to say, he’s an upgrade over Morrison.

Since he’s got the rap of being a poor defensive player, I tried to watch him a bit on that end.  While he’s a more athletic defender, and thus a better one, than Morrison, he tended to “freelance” a lot: slacking off his man to shut off some imaginary passing/cutting lane, taking weird routes through screens and such.  Fortunately, the Clippers aren’t good enough to take advantage of that, but it will be interesting to see if a better team can.

5.  Okafor had a nice game, with 19 points (8-14 FG), 16 rebounds (4 offensive) and 3 blocks.  He was fairly aggressive in making cuts, post moves, and looking for his offense in general.  I guess that’s what you do when you have Zach Randolph guarding you.

Nice game for DJ Augustin, too: 17 points on 7-10 FG.

6.  Mixed bag from Raymond Felton.  Good news: 15 points, 8 assists and a big +21 +/-.  Bad news: 6-16 FG and 6 turnovers.  As a Felton apologist who knows that it’s better for everyone if we trade him before the deadline, I’ve been working hard to divest and disengage myself from him.  It’s coming along pretty well, too.  Instead of an impassioned “Damnit Raymond!” every time he clanged a shot or had a bad turnover, tonight I mostly just nodded knowingly: that’s Raymond.

The way this is going, I should be able to call myself a former Raymond Felton apologist by the time the trade goes down.

7.  Here’s all you need to know about the Clippers, from Marcus Camby:

“The last game of a trip, I’ve been around a long time, I know how these games can be tough… especially right before the All-Star break, you tend to lose a little focus. Your mind is elsewhere.”

The candor is refreshing, it really is.  He might as well have just said: “Eff it, man, I’m exhausted and we suck.  Besides, I’ve got to decide which resort I’m staying at in Cabo for the All-Star break.  Can’t make up my mind…”

8.  So after some of the home games in February, the team is letting some season ticket holders into the backstage area to “send off” the players.  Tonight was my night, and I stayed for about 45 minutes or so — not long enough to see everyone come out, but enough.  Juwan Howard came first, then Singletary, Bell, Felton, Radmanovich, Wallace, Diaw and Ajinca.  All the guys were unfailingly gracious and polite, signing autographs, taking pictures, shaking hands and making small talk with the fans.  Raja Bell was downright chatty; Boris Diaw’s ability to ham it up made him a big hit with the younger fans.

Like most Bobcats fans, my wife’s favorite player is Gerald Wallace.  As he made his way down the line, I tried to goad her into getting a picture with him — see, she’s loathe to bother someone famous with a request like that.  It is sorta embarrassing for both parties on many levels.  Her last line of protest was: “But he always looks so mean, I don’t want to annoy him.”  Alas, she got over it and asked, and here’s the result:

Gerald Wallace and my Wife

So much for looking mean.  Thanks, Gerald!

9.  Next game is the last one before the break: Wednesday night, hosting the Wizards at 7:00 ET.