10 Thoughts on the Lance Trade


Within hours of posting my Draft preview yesterday, news broke that Lance Stephenson had been shipped to the Clippers for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes.
I really like the deal.

  1. Lance had to go.
    Stephenson is a ball dominant guard with a high turnover rate who can’t shoot. That’s basically every single Hornet pain-point bundled together into one human being. Clifford’s system is dependent upon minimizing giveaways and Charlotte has led the league in fewest turnovers committed for the past two seasons. The team already has a ball dominant lead guard (Kemba Walker) who has his own shooting issues. Benching Lance for another season both wastes a roster spot and creates a distraction. He had to go.
  2. Waiving him was worse.
    The team could’ve simply “Josh Smith’d” Lance and eaten the last year of his salary ($9m) for the season. But that’s one sixth of the team’s cap literally gone to waste. They also could’ve used the league’s Stretch Provision and paid out Stephenson’s salary over the next three seasons ($3m per) – which is a better option in some ways until you consider the next point.
  3. The $3m Backup Center.
    Spencer Hawes is owed approximately $5.8m per season over the next three. Once the team either unloads Matt Barnes’s contract or buys him out ($1m cap hit), Hawes’s salary is all Charlotte will be on the hook for. As Kevin Pelton noted in his excellent trade grade piece for ESPN Insider, once factoring in the stretch provision penalty – the Hornets are essentially getting a very good backup center for less than $3m per season. This is tremendous value.
  4. The fit.
    Nearly twenty five years of hoops geekdom has taught me a valuable lesson: Fit is just as important as talent. Every once in a while a Duncan or MJ or Lebron comes along who would dominate on any team in any era. That’s rare. How a franchise develops and uses the player is extraordinarily important for everyone else. Josh McRoberts was headed out of the league before Steve Clifford helped resurrect his career (and earn him another $25m). Is Draymond Green a max guy on the Timberwolves? Does Zach Randolph experience his wonderful second act if he doesn’t go to Memphis? The Hornets are desperate for three point shooting and playmaking. Hawes brings both. Seriously. Just watch some of these highlights:
  5. A Defensive Sieve.
    Steve Clifford built a Top 10 NBA Defense in back to back years with Al Jefferson at center. Think about that. The odds that this foundation will be destroyed with Hawes playing 16-18 minutes a night are quite low. The system remains the same: prevent penetration, get back on defense and commit as few turnovers as possible.
  6. Bismack Biyombo: Superstar.
    Everyone likes Biz. He works hard, is a super pleasant guy off the court and does a few very nice things on it. But some of the reactions after yesterday’s trade made it sound like we were talking about Bill Russell. Biyombo has become one of the top rim protector’s in the game. True. He also stinks at offense and his team struggles to score even when he’s on the bench. I’ve been saying for years that a good team can’t have both Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the same rotation. You have to pick one. And if this trade was made with the intention of letting Biz walk in free agency, then so be it. I want Biyombo to succeed first, succeed on the Hornets second. Put Biz in a situation like Dallas and he can start and never touch the ball outside of a dunk.
  7. How the trade affects the Draft.
    Hawes is essentially a veteran version of Myles Turner or Frank Kaminsky. Expect Charlotte to pass on each of them and focus on finding wings or trading the pick entirely. There’s been some noise about a trade back to nab RJ Hunter and another asset. The team could also package Marvin Williams ($7m expiring contract) with one of Noah Vonleh or Cody Zeller plus the nine pick to grab an All-Star type veteran wing. Cho has been big on collecting assets versus consolidating them so I’d put the chances of this sort of trade at around 25%.
  8. They’re keeping Hawes.
    From Rich Cho’s comments post-trade, it sounds like they’re thrilled to have him and getting Hawes was just as big a part of making this trade as was unloading Lance.
  9. How the trade affects Free Agency.
    All will be revealed between June 30th and early July. Will Biz be extended his meaty ($5.4m) qualifying offer as the team’s third center? Will Gerald Henderson exercise his player option? Will the team turn their back on Jeff Taylor or give him one more shot? Until then, we won’t know for certain how much cap space Charlotte will have to play with. It certainly won’t be enough for a max-type offer.
  10. Cheer up.
    Hawes is going to help on the court and in the lockerroom. The Lance distraction is a thing of the past. The Draft is quickly approaching and the team’s young trio of Cody, Vonleh and MKG are getting better every year. The books are relatively clean and the team owns all of its first round picks going forward. All is good.


Is All the Losing Worth It for the Bobcats?


So what would be worth a record-settingly uncompetitive season of losing? As a fan, it’s really tough to justify why the Bobcats would be so terrible. The chance to select the next mega-talent in the 2012 Draft is nice. Freeing up some cash to sign one or two upper-tier free agents wouldn’t be so bad, either. Maybe, someone could argue that playing time for some of the Bobcats’ youngsters will  develop them into solid players down the line. It’s all kind of hypothetical, so let’s hope the Rich Cho Rehab Plan works out.

It’s All On Cho

After seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely dismantle the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, I can only dream that we see the Bobcats shine so bright on national television in the future. The Thunder are the success story, while the Sacramento Kings or Washington Wizards might show you the other side of the coin. Hopefully, Rich Cho’s involvement with the Thunder/Sonics right before they got it going will result in the same amazing kind of turnaround for Charlotte’s suffering franchise.

Ease the Pain

When it comes to free agency, we should just take two steps and jump straight to the point. Dwight Howard’s not coming. Deron Wiilliams wouldn’t be worth the trouble even if would join the club. No superstars are targeting the Queen City, but a load of mid-level talent could find a a club like the Bobcats a good place to show their skills if they can be sold on the team’s direction. Some role player types like Matt Barnes, OJ Mayo, or Marco Bellinelli might see the Cats as a good fit for their career if the team shows that they’re putting the right pieces into place. If the front office could pull the strings, they might even land a player like Nicolas Batum or Ersan Ilyasova that could breakout and veer toward All-Star status one day. So, rather than betting it all on the NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong balls over the next few years, a few smart steps in free agency could leave the Cats with a bit more control over their destiny.

Alternately, an argument could be made that a star player would be well worth this embarrassing season. Honestly, the Bobcats could really use some luck in this game. Despite their regular appearances in the Draft Lottery, Charlotte just can’t catch the big one. It’s a shame to think that Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Derrick Rose have all landed in the league since the Bobcats’ first tip in 2004, and Charlotte didn’t snag one of them. Will Kentucky’s Anthony Davis prove to be worth this embarrassing season? He’s putting on a show right now in the NCAA Final Four. As Bobcats fans, we’re probably all hoping to catch a legendary performance in Monday night’s Championship game. Could Davis suit up as a Bobcat, and play like the next Chris Bosh? Would that scenario make us all forget about how bad the Bobcats were this season? And if the Bobcats don’t get the coveted first pick, does any other player help to ease the pain? Davis’ teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Connecticut’s Andre Drummond wouldn’t be bad consolation prizes. Whoever the Bobcats might pick, the team will need him to be a guaranteed starter and a potential All-Star – someone that can sell jerseys and win games. That’s not so much to ask, right?

POLL : Does a Top Draft Pick Justify This Season?

  • Definitely Does (38%, 56 Votes)
  • No Way (34%, 50 Votes)
  • Hope So (31%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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Bobcats vs. Magic Playoff Preview Part II


Bobcats Magic 2010 Playoff Preview Bobcats Baseline

Bobcats have hit the Bigtime and are going up against last year’s Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic.

If you missed part one of our preview, check it out here.

ASChin: One more thing that I wanted to touch on before we get to the wings and guards:  We’re dealing with the League’s second best offense (behind Phoenix) going up against the League’s best defense (points allowed).  If defense does indeed win championships, the Bobcats might be able to pull an upset in this series.

On to spots 1-3…

Dr. E: Out on the wings, we’ll have Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes matching up against Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and JJ Redick.  Barnes is a solid player who brings some much-needed toughness to the otherwise soft Magic.  But he’s not going to intimidate Gerald Wallace.

Wallace broke through this season as the Bobcats first All-Star, but is still not appreciated much beyond hardcore NBA fans.  A playoff series against the Magic would be the perfect opportunity for Wallace to insert himself into mainstream basketball consciousness.  Obviously, the Cats need Gerald to play well in order to make the series interesting.

ASChin: Crash is great and we all love him but I’m really hoping that the big stage doesn’t intimidate him like it did during All-Star weekend.  I’m tempering my expectations until I see Wallace handle the higher stakes of the postseason.  Fortunately, Wallace’s ability to settle into BIONIC ROLE PLAYER mode when his shot’s not falling will at least allow him to pull down a dozen boards and alter a few shots until he can ignore the butterflies.  On talent alone the Bobcats win this matchup but if you’re measuring experience, then the Magic’s combo of Barnes and Pietrus trumps here.

Dr. E: I like Pietrus a lot.  On the Magic, he’s a bit redundant; another soft wing who loves the three-pointer (which is why the tougher Barnes starts).  I’d love to see what Pietrus could do on another team where he’s not just encouraged to stand 25 feet away from the basket and launch threes.


ASChin: The shooting guard matchup should be fun.  You have Vince Carter, famously maligned for his Playoff dissappearances going up against Mr. Makes Love To Pressure himself, Stephen Jackson.
Carter’s Playoff numbers don’t look so bad at first glance it’s only when you factor in his 42% FG percentage and some of his late game fades that you realize why he’s earned the reputation.  Jackson’s Playoff averages are actually much worse than Carter’s (39% in 54 games) yet JAX has two major notches on his postseason belt: Winning a Championship with the Spurs in 2003 as a starter and then leading the 8th seeded Warriors past the top seeded Mavs in 2007.
I see these two guys negating each other during the series.  With Vince getting most of his points early in the game and JAX contributing a little more towards the end.  The real battle might be with the backups as sharpshooter JJ Reddick has come on in the second half of the season.  If he can provide a much more consistent bench scoring threat than Bobcats new addition Larry Hughes, the ‘Cats might be in some trouble

Dr. E: In addition to getting Howard into foul trouble and Gerald Wallace being Gerald Wallace, one of the other breaks that the Bobcats need to make the series interesting is for Vince Carter to do what Vince Carter does in the playoffs: underwhelm and shrink.  Bill Simmons mentioned this in his NBA regular season wrapup/playoff preview column, and it bears repeating: last year, down the stretch, the Magic put the ball into Turkoglu’s hands to make a play and he was great at it.  Will Vince, when the pressure’s on, be able to deliver like Hedo did in that role?

I can’t wait until Redick enters game 3 in Charlotte for the first time.  By the way, why do we say that someone was “booed lustily”?  It doesn’t make much sense.  I can understand staring lustily, like Sean May does at crab bread, but booing lustily?  Strange adverb choice.  Whatever the case, Redick will be booed lustily.

ASChin: And the sad part is is that JJ is a much better pro than 2006 #3 pick Adam Morrison will ever be.  Ugh.


Dr. E: And at the point, we have Jameer Nelson vs Raymond Felton.  I have to admit, I was stunned to look at Jameer’s numbers this season and see how far he’d fallen off. His FG% and 3PT% are way down, as is his scoring average, and he’s only playing 28 minutes a game.  I know Jason Williams has been a pleasant surprise at backup PG for the Magic, but jeez.  What happened?  Anyways, the diminutive-but-not-super-quick Nelson is a good matchup for Raymond Felton.

Felton is easily having his best year as a pro — a contract year too, how nice.  Now, the sharps know that Raymond’s improved stats/PER are mostly due to the fact that Stephen Jackson is now around to take all of the tough shots.  Raymond has been able to be much more selective in the shots he attempts, and his FG% has accordingly improved significantly.  But I still worry that he’s already made himself a lot of money this year — more money than the Bobcats might be able to pay.  A strong showing in the playoffs could give a team like New York or Miami googly eyes for Raymond.  I hope Raymond’s not thinking too much about that, but he’s human, so…

ASChin: Hey, now.  I thought this was a Playoff Preview not a 2010 Free Agency Breakdown.  Felton has proven himself to be a solid starter in the League and I imagine that he’ll do well in this series.  He’s played in big games in college (winning a championship with UNC) and (at least according to 82games.com) he’s been the Bobcats best offensive player in the clutch.  He’s bigger and stronger than both Jameer and White Chocolate and still has the speed to beat anybody down the court.  If Ray can keep his shooting percentage up, turnovers down and play his usual solid D, I could see him being the series’ most valuable player in a potential upset.

As for DJ Augustin, I almost don’t want to write anything about him.  He had a terrible sophomore season until finally coming around in April.  I hope he’s figured it out because the Bobcats will need all the scoring (especially outside shooting) they can get.

-DrE & ASChin