It’s been nearly two weeks since the Charlotte Bobcats traded the former face of their franchise, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trail Blazers for two first round draft picks, Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks (later waived).
While some questioned the move that traded away the Bobcats best player, other saw in it the potential for the future that the Bobcats had to take a chance on. Wallace was the only veteran player that other teams were keen on trading for and also the only player that the Bobcats could get a decent haul in return. And so began the first step in the rebuilding process for Charlotte. The previous roster was more than likely able to get to the playoffs, but it simply had a low ceiling. The team wasn’t going anywhere above a 6th seed in the near future.
Since Crash was traded, the team has struggled, to say the least. Charlotte is 1-5 since the trade deadline, with the only win coming against the Sacramento Kings. To make matters worse, Stephen Jackson has a hamstring injury, and probably will miss a few games or more.
And yet, the Bobcats are still eyeing the playoffs as they sit one game out of the eighth seed. While this is nice in the short run, Charlotte’s front office should really be focusing on the long run plan. But what should they do?
The Current Roster
So what happens with what the Bobcats have now? The way I see it, there’s three guys Charlotte must keep: D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas and Gerald Henderson. They’re a solid core with which to surround a scoring star. Everyone else is expendable. Expect to see the Bobcats have a fire sale this offseason. I especially imagine that Boris Diaw will be gone ASAP. I like his skillset, but his effort is always in question (with good reason. Diaw is inconsistent, seemingly incapable of stringing good games together). Furthermore, if Stephen Jackson can be traded for a package that includes draft picks or young talent, bid him bon vayage as well. The team will probably get worse next season as it continues to enter full-on rebuilding mode, but it’s required progress. I just hope Charlotte understands what’s happening and whatever’s left of a fanbase doesn’t abandon the team.
It is absolutely crucial that Charlotte drafts well. They cannot make an Adam Morrison-sized slip-up. If they do, the Gerald Wallace trade will be an utter failure. The trade had to happen, but the Bobcats must draft smart. Charlotte has their first round draft pick and New Orleans’ (top-7 protection) for this upcoming draft. I think you’ll see the Bobcats make a push for the playoffs, leaving them around 15th overall, while the Hornets should be somewhere around 19th. Considering this draft is so weak, I don’t think the Bobcats will mind abandoning slightly better draft position in favor for postseason revenue. It will probably be somewhat easy to trade up for a higher pick. Whether it’s this year’s draft or the next, the Bobcats have to be looking at drafting a pure scorer and a center.
I’m still a little skeptical on the ability of Charlotte to bring in upper echelon free agents, despite the fact that the G.O.A.T. owns the team. But if he can make a big splash, as he’s promised, it could happen this year as the Gerald Wallace trade freed up a good bit of cap space. However, that’s still up in the air considering CBA talks. Perhaps they make a run at Nene or Greg Oden or some other big man as their depth at the position is beyond weak. Also, though I know it’s not exactly free agency, but the Bobcats could make an effort to trade for O.J. Mayo, since it seems his stock is a low at the moment. I could also see Charlotte try to sign a 6th or 7th man to shore up their bench scoring, which right now is centered around Shaun Livingston. Regardless, the Bobcats have to make major steps towards rebuilding their roster immediately and getting talent through the free agency would be a nice start.
Cardboard Gerald is the manager at the Bobcats SB Nation blog, Rufus on Fire. He’s also a little twerp that’s into not just the NBA, but also doodling, hip-hop, TV and sneakers as well. You can follow him on Twitter @CardboardGerald.