Add in Hollins as a player we wanna keep and I agree =p
ESPN's Bill Simmons has once again taken the time in his most recent article to touch on the Cats,
First, the mission is to win a championship. The goal is not to squeak into the playoffs as an eight seed. If you build a team with a championship in mind, the playoffs will come. If, however, you build a team with the goal of making the playoffs, the championships (or even Finals appearances) won't necessarily happen. It sounds simple, but on a daily basis it's easy to lose sight of the vision.In a 'Which NBA team would you NOT want to take over based on location, attendance, ownership, cap flexibility, can't-miss commodities on the roster and spending ability?' debate, the final choice has to come down to Charlotte or Washington ... and I'd have to go with the Bobcats. They are locked in to nearly $130 million over the next three years for Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and Nazr Mohammed. Just look at that sentence for a second. Charlotte's new marketing campaign should be, "The 2009 Bobcats: Giving hope to wanna-be GMs across the country!
Next, we need to establish Charlotte's status in the NBA. Looking at similar markets that have made the Finals in the last twenty years, they almost exclusively have two of their top three scorers drafted by the team (or involved in a draft day trade). The Spurs Big 3, Dirk and Josh Howard for the Mavs, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson for the Nets, and the list goes on and on. These teams would then add pieces to their core; some bigger, like Jason Kidd, and some smaller, like the random guys on the Spurs bench.(Digression: the only team that doesn't fit this mold in the last five years: Detroit who were the beneficiaries of a particular inexperienced GM trading for Jerry Stackhouse. Sorry Bobcat fans. The silver lining: the only two teams that have done it in the last ten years, the other being the AI-led Sixers were both coached by Larry Brown.)
Building through the draft gives smaller market teams a better chance at locking up star players. Chris Paul will be staying in New Orleans, but likely wouldn't have gone to New Orleans as a free agent.The NBA salary cap rules also work to aid retention and a little extra green from the home team never hurt. Once the core is in place, veterans will be much more interested in joining the team for reasons other than a paycheck. Because these players often have a higher price tag it's best to add them last. Teams that are interested in making the playoffs will often add them first, which hurts the team in the long run. A better team means worse draft picks, means needing to add another veteran (and their contract) through trade or free agency. When teams go this route the window for a championship is at best a few years. Teams that win rings often have to get bounced a time or two before developing the chops for a Finals run (read the first several paragraphs of the above mentioned Simmons article). Building through veterans doesn't allow this, so unless the team is at one of the elite destinations the likelihood of catching lightning in a bottle is extraordinarily small.
So, the big question, how do we get the Bobcats to that level? This isn't a dry cleaner, it won't be done in a day. My plan will take two years to start having results on the court. That does not mean the Finals in 2011, but a young core taking their lumps in the playoffs should be possible.
PATIENCE. (Not to be confused with INACTION)
Let's take a moment and go back to Mr. Simmons original statement, “They are locked in to nearly $130 million over the next three years for Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and Nazr Mohammed.” Every smart person in the NBA knows that the Bobcats are currently attempting to trade from a position of weakness. Be it the contracts or the obligitory arm-flailing, knee jerk reaction to a GM not used to Coach Brown's antics, everyone knows where the Cats stand. Trading from this position will result in either the team taking on more salary (just under a different name) or not receiving fair compensation. All of the trade rumors that have surafced this season have pointed to the team trying to make the playoffs, but not building towards a championship.
The Bobcats front office needs to focus on two things this season. Deciding if they want to build around Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace or neither. If the answer is neither, they're both eligible to be traded, but for the time being should not be shopped. Recommendation: Look to move Richardson, but not if it means taking on a longer salary and only if the team is compensated with young talent, draft picks, expiring contracts or the other team takes on another salary (Nazr or Carroll). Gerald Wallace can be a piece of the building of the new look Bobcats, but he's by no means untouchable.
The other focus should be deciding what to do with Raymond Felton and Sean May. Raymond should be the re-signing priority, but the cost may be too much (6-8 million). Teams like Atlanta and Philly could well be in the market for a starting point guard this off-sesaon and paying Raymond starter money to backup DJ would not be a wise investment. Before scoffing at the suggestion of Sean May, consider this: Forwards that can score from the post, the elbow, the top of the key and the wing aren't exactly common, they're by no means Honda Accords. May's value has certainly dipped with his weight issues, but some team will give him a chance because of the tools he posesses. Again, it's price dependent but signing May at a discount price could be a coup if his head and heart are in the right places. Recommendation: Try to re-sign both, but with what Raymond will likely demand, probably only re-sign May.
In the interest of full disclosure, I recently exchanged e-mails with someone whose been writing about the NBA far longer than I, and I argued that trading Gerald Wallace was the most logical step to cap freedom and that it should be done sooner rather than later. So, I'm a flipflopper, which could be damning to my political career, but is much better than Buyer's remorse.
If the Bobcats cool off on the trade talks for a bit, as the playoffs approach other teams will start to get anxious about improving their team and may see fit to pay more. Take for example Cleveland, as the LBJ to NY chatter reaches fever pitch, the organization is going to feel pressure to deliver a championship in the delusional hopes that it might convince the King to stay. If they continue to play with the idea of using Lebron at the four, they may see fit to acquire a small forward. Suddenly, Wally Szczerbiak or Ben Wallace (and their expiring contracts) become valuable trade chips. They decide to move Wally, in hopes of acquiring an athletic small forward that can be a jack of all trades and a shooter to replace the outgoing Wally. Now, the draft picks they can offer won't be very appealing so they offer someone not in their primary rotation. Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll for Wally's expiring contract, JJ Hickson and (maybe) a late first rounder? It's just an example, but the Cats likely won't score anything close to that if they trade either Wallace or Richardson now.
Remember PATIENCE. Not trading either by the end of this season isn't detrimental to the progress of the team. The offseason priorities should be securing a backup PG, re-signing Shannon Brown, and possibly Sean May. The team's cap space will be limited, but there are only a few restricted free agents to keep an eye on. Outside of Danny Granger the market is fairly bare (for the younger players we want to target). The most important choices will be in the draft. Other than point guard, the team should look to take the best available player, preferably a forward.
Heading into next year, a lot of the large contracts become more trade friendly. Matt Carroll's will have three additional years, but provided he rediscovers his shot, he'll be a deal at less than $4 million per for two of those three seasons. JRich will have only one more year, the prefect length for a team in need of scoring and looking to make a serious playoff push. Even Nazr will only have one more year, but his contract will be the hardest to move. If the Cats stick to acquiring young talent, draft picks, and expiring contracts, the team should be primed for success in 2010.
Ammo will have had two years back from his injury and his role in the NBA should be clear. Picking up the options on DJ, Alexis (maybe) and Jared will be no brainers and provided the team has been succesful in moving either Richardson and/or Wallace, they should be a player in the free agent market. The Cats will not be in the running for the crème de la crème, but there are plenty of mid-level free agents that could help push Charlotte's team towards their first playoff berth.
The roster would look something like this:
DJ, Shannon Brown, Ammo, Dudley, Emeka, May, Ajinca, two lottery picks and one or two 2nd round picks.
If JRich is gone the roster should have either another young talent or a late first round pick. It would be great to keep Crash, but if not hopefully the team will receive something similar.
In addition, the team would have a good amount of room under the cap to add either a very good player or a couple solid players.
Many of the details will depend on the potential trades and draft picks, but if the Bobcats follow this plan the playoffs should be within reach, the team will have a young core led by a point guard entering his prime, speckled with veteran leadership, room for growth, and be free of the albatross contracts currently restrticting movement. Just remember, stay patient, grow through the draft, and add large veteran contracts only after the young core is in place. Well, I'm off to Dubai!
Last edited by Ampsportsduo; 11-27-2008 at 10:55 AM.
Add in Hollins as a player we wanna keep and I agree =p
Good post but do you think that Ray would sign on the low side so he would stay near home? Maybe we sign him to a low contract in hopes that he stays but make it trade friendly if he wants to go. We could use the pg depth and not have to worry about one in the draft. DJ seems to be coming on but he is doing that with Felts on the court with him. We have some pieces like you say that if we hold out maybe we get something in return by the trade deadline. If we capatilize with the right trades and draft picks I think it would be more of a two year plan than three.
I didn't read all of the post, so my apologies if I missed something. However, this is my take on the situation:
With a new franchise, you have to build interest. You do so by winning or being very entertaining.
A. Winning: either you get very lucky with draft picks or you get very lucky finding the right mix of talent. The overall lack of parody in the NBA for the last 20 years shows that most bad teams stay bad, occasionally bubbling up for some mediocre success. We haven't had a possible blue chip draft pick since our inception. It's hard to build through the draft when you can't get that one amazing player. I don't think that's necessarily poor drafting. There's just been so few truly amazing players and they weren't available when we picked. The missed picks we're really talking about are Granger, Roy, and Gay. That's about it. Maybe Bynum, but that was a tough call that the Lakers drew heat for when they made the pick.
Our guys are actually a pretty interesting core, but they need the final piece-- a legitimate big-- to make it all work. So far, they haven't, and legit bigs don't grow on trees.
So, if you can't build interest by winning, you have to be entertaining.
B. Entertaining: they've collected a few fun players to watch and root for in J Rich, Wallace, and possibly Okafor, Ammo, Augustine, and Felton. Some of the other guys have their moments, but haven't established themselves as truly entertaining players to anyone beyond the most die hard NBA nut. We played with a lot of enthusiasm our first two years, but he wind escaped the sail last year, for a variety of reasons.
The big question becomes, how do you build a franchise that stays marketable, builds to become a winner, and remains solvent?
If I knew the answer, I'd be driving a much nicer car. The simple fact is, building a winner is extremely difficult, almost requiring a fair amount of luck combined with smart decision making. A blue chip player is important, but just the start. Lacking such a player, and you're behind the eight ball. Yet, you can't just sign a blue chip player. Of two dozen or so most talented players, only a couple have changed teams via free agency. Most are with he the team that drafted them.
I don't know what the answer is, but I'll be happy to just to have a quality PF. If we can get that in the next calendar year, I think we'll be fine without a lot of major moves.
SOMEONE will pay for THIS!
I hope that Ray would stay, but it is a business and if Ray decides he wants to start somewhere, I'd have to wish him the best of luck.
dnb, having a once in a generation player is certainly a luxury, but lacking one doesn't preclude teams from making the Finals. Look across the league and you'll see that all good teams have build through the draft. Some teams more than others, but every one of them is either headlined by draft picks or heavily supported by them. It's not a science, but hardly a crap shoot either.
If this team got a legit big, what would be the ceiling? Most likely a first round exit, or a dream season second round white washing. And then... several years of lower draft picks while we wait for contracts to expire. Then implement a plan like the one I outlined? Why waste time trying to be a first round playoff team?
I don't buy the exciting part. Portland is one of the most exciting teams, not because of the brand of basketball they play, but because they have a stable of young talent. Is there an exciting team that isn't winning games? Even Golden State playing Nellie ball was far more exciting when they were winning. Winning and building to win generate excitement, otherwise why not just host an AND1 game a couple times a week?
Also, this team would not have hired Larry Brown if they just wanted (on court) excitement. His brand of ball is about winning not high flying low percentage plays.
I agree that there is some luck involved, but you argue against building through the draft and then say,If the best chance we have to get a blue chip player is through the draft, why would you argue against it?Yet, you can't just sign a blue chip player. Of two dozen or so most talented players, only a couple have changed teams via free agency. Most are with he the team that drafted them.
I wrote a big long post and it got deleted. The short of it:
Building through the draft is great, but it hardly garuantees a championship. The poster boys for building through the draft are the guys who got lucky with ping-pong balls (netting Lebron, Duncan, etc.) or just lucky in general (Tony Parker, Ginobli, David West, Bynum, Amare, etc.). Chicago has had a ton of great picks in the last few years and they still don't look much closer to a finals appearance.
I just think we need to keep the best talent we have unless an amazing trade comes up. I think JRich and Wallace are good enough to take over games when need be, as both of them have done it numerous times. If our point guards become consistent, then we're in very solid shape. Okafor, whereever he ends up, is a fantastic defensive anchor. We just need a guy to relieve some pressure off him to cover the middle and be an interior scorer, if we add that piece, everybody gets better. Then we tinker with what we have-- small trades, MLE signings, draft picks-- until we get the right glue to make it work perfect.
We agree on a lot of things. I just don't think there's one easy way to win a championship. And if I'm management, I need to be able to sell seats. So, if there's no clear cut rookie who is going to lead me to the promise land, I don't jettison my talent just to see if a moderate NCAA talent pans out.
As for as the entertainment factor, Portland had a rich fan base for two decades waiting to resurface. We don't have that. We have bittern fans who left the NBA completely because of the Hornets debacle. We can get those back by winning. However, I don't think we have the kind of fan base that is going to be energized by having a Brandon Roy on our team, as good as Roy is. So, if I'm mangement, I'm probably keeping the guys around who sell tickets unless a great trade comes along. That's all I'm saying about that.
SOMEONE will pay for THIS!
I just think we need to keep the best talent we have unless an amazing trade comes up.Okafor, whereever he ends up, is a fantastic defensive anchor. We just need a guy to relieve some pressure off him to cover the middle and be an interior scorer, if we add that piece, everybody gets better. Then we tinker with what we have-- small trades, MLE signings, draft picks-- until we get the right glue to make it work perfect.Concur.I just don't think there's one easy way to win a championship.
"Excitement" isn't going to sell tickets, not in this city. Most people don't care, and some highlight dunks aren't going to make them. Winning can and will. I am by no means in favor of jettisoning (great word choice) talented players for little in return. I'm preaching patience, instead of taking on more salary (Chris Kaman) that won't dramatically improve this team.And if I'm management, I need to be able to sell seats. So, if there's no clear cut rookie who is going to lead me to the promise land, I don't jettison my talent just to see if a moderate NCAA talent pans out.
See the light!We have bitter fans who left the NBA completely because of the Hornets debacle. We can get those back by winning.
They aren't selling tickets.So, if I'm mangement, I'm probably keeping the guys around who sell tickets unless a great trade comes along.
(Digression) Our team is made of great guys, but good character only matters if you're winning. With the other pro teams Charlotte has had, there have been character issues, but this team has been an exemplary group. If nothing else, the FO deserves some credit for that. It's unfortunate that the local paper does such a poor job covering this team. Bonnell does a decent job covering the on the court action, but several times this year this team has done something positive for the community and they never get covered. I suspect it's largely due to the cutbacks at the paper, but this team deserves more love from the local media, which would in turn prompt more local interest.