2009-10 Season Summary:
It was a season of firsts for the Bobcats franchise. In its sixth year in existence, Charlotte posted its first-ever winning season and made its inaugural trip to the postseason by earning the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Even though they were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Magic, the accomplishments of the 2009-2010 has brought hope for the future.
A couple factors played a part in the team's success. First and foremost was the head coaching job of Larry Brown whose no-nonsense style and experience paid off. The other major factor was the early-season acquisition of veteran two guard Stephen Jackson. The oft-troubled Jackson transformed himself into a key component under Brown and provided the Bobcats with a much-needed scoring punch as Jackson averaged a career-high 21.6 points per game. The arrival of Jackson allowed Gerald Wallace to slide into a role more suited for him as a complementary scorer.
Once again, the Bobcats hung their hat on their defense; allowing the least amount of points in the league. That was a must for Charlotte who finished 28th in scoring and in the bottom-third in both field goal and three-point percentage.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nazr Mohammed/DeSagana Diop/^Erick Dampier
PF: Boris Diaw/Tyrus Thomas/Eduardo Najera
SF: Gerald Wallace/Derrick Brown/Dominic McGuire
SG: Stephen Jackson/Gerald Henderson/Matt Carroll
PG: D.J. Augustin/Shaun Livingston
NBA Free Agents:
^C Erick Dampier (TO)
PG Raymond Felton (UFA)
C Theo Ratliff (UFA)
G Larry Hughes (UFA)
SF Stephen Graham (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $76.7 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Bobcats sign PG Shaun Livingston to 3-year, $10.5 million deal
Bobcats acquire C Erick Dampier, PF Eduardo Najera, SG Matt Carroll, and Cash consideration from Dallas for C Tyson Chandler and F/C Alexis Ajinca
Bobcats sign PF Tyrus Thomas to 5-year, $40 million extension
Bobcats sign F Dominic McGuire to 1-year deal
Bobcats C Tyson Chandler passes on early termination option
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Keep Larry Brown- Brown's name has already been linked to several head coaching vacancies elsewhere in the league. The franchise has improved in both years since Brown's arrival. Michael Jordan and his fellow executives need to make sure Brown does not leave Charlotte. Rarely can a head coach have the type of influence on a team like he does and losing Brown would likely mean a step back for the Bobcats.
2. Point Guard- Incumbent starter Raymond Felton is an unrestricted free agent and could be lured away from Charlotte by one of the teams with a ton of cap space. After a solid rookie season, D.J. Augustin saw his statistics and minutes drop under Brown so it is safe to say, the Bobcats will be looking to bring in a veteran point guard. They do not have any cap space, but could spend their mid-level exception to find a new floor leader. However, this is a weak class of free agent point guards so expect the Bobcats to make a strong push at keeping Felton or trying to swing a trade to bring someone in.
3. Frontcourt scoring- The Bobcats had four 7-foot centers on their roster last season, all of whom are defensive-minded, as neither Chandler, Mohammed, Ratliff or Diop averaged more than eight points per game. The combination of Diaw and Thomas (if he is brought back) does not bring a ton of offensive firepower to the line-up either. While I understand that Charlotte's success is directly related to their efforts on the defensive end, I think they need to bring in a post player who can score the basketball and add some versatility to their half-court style of play.