2012 NBA Offseason: Charlotte Bobcats

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Charlotte Bobcats (Last Year: 7-59)

2011-12 Season Summary:
Historically, it was the most pathetic season in NBA history for Charlotte. The Bobcats finished with just seven wins, which was not only their worst finish in franchise history, but replaces the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the lowest win percentage the league has ever seen.

Charlotte finished the season with a 23-game losing streak, which included an embarrassing 28-point defeat at the hands of the second-worst team in the league, Washington. The Bobcats were actually so horrible, that legitmate conversation was sparked about whether they could beat the NCAA Champion Kentucky Wildcats.

In no way should any of that come as a surprise. Charlotte’s roster was filled with mediocre talent – that might even be too kind. Guys like Byron Mullens, Derrick Brown, and D.J. White saw significant roles with Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, and rookie Kemba Walker acting as the team’s go-to scorers. The Bobcats also released unhappy veteran Boris Diaw late in the season to free him of the mess.

It’s hard to find a glass half-full approach, but I’ll try. Walker and fellow rookie Bismack Biyombo gained a ton of experience and appear to be young pieces for the long-term puzzle. You can add D.J. Augustin, Henderson, and Mullens into that category as well, but the rest of the roster is certainly replaceable.

Michael Jordan has his hands full in trying to turn this team around and is close to entering Isiah Thomas territory in terms of ruining an NBA franchise. Jordan deservedly received a great deal of criticism for how the organization has been run since he became primary owner, with former Bobcats head coach Larry Brown even claiming Jordan’s front office staff is nothing more than a bunch of “yes men.”

2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Byron Mullens/$DeSagana Diop

PF: Bismack Biyombo/Tyrus Thomas/*D.J. White

SF: Reggie Williams/~Derrick Brown

SG: Gerald Henderson/Ben Gordon/%Matt Carroll/>Cory Higgins

PG: #D.J. Augustin/Kemba Walker

NBA Free Agents:

PF-Eduardo Najera (UFA)

#PG-D.J. Augustin (RFA)

*PF-D.J. White (RFA)

$C-DeSagana Diop (PO)

%SG-Matt Carroll (ETO)

~F-Derrick Brown (RFA)

>SG-Cory Higgins (RFA)

Offseason Transactions:

The Bobcats acquire SG Ben Gordon and 2013 lottery protected first-round pick from the Pistons for SF Corey Maggette.

2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $44.5 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Face of the Franchise: Right now, Kemba Walker is the Bobcats’ most recognizable player. After him, the list would be D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette, and Gerald Henderson. Realisitcally, none of those guys should even be starting on a competitive NBA team let alone the “star” player.

Charlotte needs to find a face of the franchise in the worst way possible.

2. Frontcourt Scorer: As it stands for next year, the Bobcats’ frontcourt consists of Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo, DeSagana Diop, D.J. White, and the massively overpaid Tyrus Thomas. None of those five players averaged double figures in points, with Mullens being the only somewhat low post presence. Even landing Davis wouldn’t totally solve this issue, so Charlotte needs to find a big man who can provide some offense in the paint.

3. Go-to Wing Option: If you haven’t already picked up on this: in no way should Maggette, Henderson, or Walker be the No. 1 scoring option on any NBA team. The Bobcats need to find someone who can fill it up from the outside. They finished dead last in the league in scoring and were the only team in the NBA to shoot less than 30% from distance.

4. To Amnesty or Not to Amnesty?: Charlotte still has the option to amnesty a player since it did not do so after the new NBA labor agreement last offseason. There are two obvious candidates: Maggette, who is owed almost $11 million next season or Tyrus Thomas, who has three years and approximately $26 million remaining on his contract.

Thomas makes more sense for the long-term since Maggette’s expiring contract could possibly be used as trade bait. Releasing either player would clear even more cap space and put the Bobcats more than $20 million below the likely league salary-cap number.

5. Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will a winning franchise in Charlotte. There is no quick fix to make the Bobcats a relevant NBA team, so patience will be needed on behalf of everyone involved: management, players, fans.

With that being said, Jordan needs to be smart with his decisions (not exactly his M.O. as a front office executive) and not waste money overpaying free agents, but rather start at the ground level and build this team through smart draft picks – not a strength of Jordan’s either.

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