Ya know, the Charlotte Hornets were actually a pretty good team. I don't know what makes so many people forget, I often forget myself, but for a few years, the Hornets were actually one of the top teams of the eastern conference. I've almost convinced myself that we actually would've been in the Finals or Conference Finals for a year or two if our current owner, Michael Jordan, hadn't been there to take us out like a cold blooded assasin everytime. Looking back on things, we were actually just a small part of a bigger picture that saw Jordan come in and abuse, basically, the entire league. Add the Hornets up there with teams and people that Jordan's heroics ruined. Also on the list.....the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Charles Barkley, the Atlanta Hawks, and anybody else that was around at that time competing for the ultimate goal, an NBA title.
We may just be in a similar predicament this year and for the next few years with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh holding down the Heat, the Big
Three Team in Boston of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo etc., etc., and the other "dynasties" that I foresee popping up with the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, especially if Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul end up in Madison Square Garden. That's not even mentioning squads like the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, who could get better or worse over the years, but only seem to be getting better with time. So, let's face it, for the next few years, unless we start building a super squad of our own, we'll probably end up stuck in 6th place or worse for years to come. And since that's the case, what's the rush to rebuild? Peep my logic.
To me, the Bobcats under Larry Brown were a completely different team. In my To Rebuild Or Not To Rebuild post a few weeks ago, I labeled them as the worst team in the NBA. And I don't think I'll get too many people on the site to disagree about that statement because it was absolutely terrible (as Simon Cowell, or Barkley would say) the way we were playing and the sense of urgency we were playing with. On most nights, we looked like just another team being ran off the floor at a local gym by the super team that somehow came together during the picking of the squads when you weren't there. And, that happens in the NBA sometimes. However, that doesn't make up for losing by THIRTY to the Wizards, without John Wall at that. While they are the same team on paper with the coaching change being the only thing of signifcance, I feel as though we are now actually a pretty decent team, and far from the worse.
I won't get too much into the change of philosophy and confidence for the team, the results speak for themselves. However, what I feel like getting into today is the rebuilding that we were so ready to embrace a few weeks ago. With the way the team is playing, I just don't feel the need to. And with the way the Eastern Conference is shaping up, I think it's even more vital for us to stay in the state that we are currently in.
I'm open to making some moves to improve the team, but what move is going to really be made to push us over the top (wherever that is)? I don't really think there is one out there. Whether it's acquiring Jason Thompson, or Chris Kaman, or Troy Murphy, I don't think these deals make us better in the short term, or long term. A few points to illustrate my point (original right?) on why we should stand pat and my new plan for the future.
1. It's just not realistic to be aiming for a championship right now:
Like I say, it's just not that feasible right now to see the Bobcats contending for a championship next year or 5 years from now, so why not be happy with where we are at? The Heat (barring injury) are only going to become more dangerous over the years as none of their core 3 are even in their prime yet. The Knicks look to be in a decent position to bring in Melo and CP3 in the coming years, so that's going to be another big three we are going to have to deal with. Then, add on top of that the ever improving Chicago Bulls and the immortal Boston Celtics, and at best we're a 5 seed. The only thing we can hope for is fhat the Magic and Hawks give up on their goals and get into rebuilding mode, or that Dwight Howard parts for the Lakers to get out of the East. Either way, point being, we are going to have to be EXTREMELY lucky with our moves to put ourselves in position to make a run.
2. We won't get fair value in return for any offers we make:
Everyone knows this, and that's the reason I shoot down a lot of trades brought up on the site (sorry if I offend anyone). First of all, there is no one out there in free agency that is going to help us next year and there is no way that we can put ourselves in position to sign the top players. We're already over the salary cap as is, and trading away Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, or Boris Diaw won't do much to help that next year. Nazr Mohammed is coming off the books, but we will still have a ton of money committed to the cap unless we move at least 2 of our core players from the books. I just don't see the purpose when the free agent market isn't attractive at all for our needs (dominant big man, young scorer) and there already being several teams out there with younger core players and a lot of cap room to spare already (Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards...etc.) Basically, any free agent that we get next year is going to come because they are in love with the city of Charlotte or couldn't get a deal anywhere else. So throw free agency out the window. If' we're not getting draft picks back (which we wouldn't be under most scenarios), then trading our best players for cap space is only going to have us going backwards on the court. Other than a few young guns that we would have to overpay for, no one on the market is going to come in and be able to duplicate the contributions that Crash, Jax, or Boris are giving us. So what are we looking forward to?
3. M.J. promised the city of Charlotte that the Bobcats will be in the playoffs, because he knows they need to:
Let's not forget that although we on R.O.F. may be willing to go through another rebuilding period, the city of Charlotte may not be able to. The team needs to make money now and can't afford to wait 3 or 4 years to have another playoff atmosphere. With all of the cost cutting that Jordan has been doing, there is no reason to think that he can't use every dollar he gets. He's going to lose A LOT of money of the Bobcats fall out of playoff contention or their franchise faces are traded away for money. The Tyson Chandler trade didn't hurt too bad because he was basically only here half a year, but trading Crash would have a more negative effect. Especially if it's for money.
So, what do I suggest? I think it'll actually do us a lot better to just sit still and wait for the storms at the top of the eastern conference to pass. We should make our move in 2012/2013. Why?
1. Because this is the year that we will be free from all of the doom and gloom Bob Johnson's staff put us in. That year, all of our "trash" right now turns into gold. Stephen Jackson can drop 40 points on any given night, but the best package we can get is an expiring contract like Caron Butler's? No! Not right in my eyes. Like I say, if we're not getting draft picks back, we're only hurting ourselves. How about let's wait a couple of years so we can be on the opposite side of the spectrum. The only way to upgrade your team in the NBA is through assets, whether they are draft picks or actual players. Since trading away future draft picks at this time should be a complete no no, our players are the only assets we have. And in my eyes, players are like stocks. Being a fringe playoff team ini the east has dropped everyone's stock severely, but I promise in 2 years, they'll probably be the highest that they've ever been.
Crash will be a 30 year old SF on an expiring 11.50 million contract. Barring injury, he'll be one of the best trade pieces on the market in the whole NBA that year. We could squeeze a lot more than a trade exception out of a team for him then.
Stephen Jackson will be 35 and on an expiring 10 million dollar deal. Although I don't see his stock getting much higher because of his age, it'll still undoubtedly be higher than it is now. I don't think his play will fall off too much by then and teams would still be willing to give him a shot to push them over the edge because his "toughness" will never fade.
And get this, even Desagana Diop and Matt Carroll will be off the books that year, making them valuable trade pieces, or letting the misery that is their contracts finally expire.
So, basically what I am saying, is are we really trying to fool ourselves into thinking that jumping head first into blowing the team up is going to get us on a level to compete with the Heat and Knicks? I think staying as we are (not adding salary unless making trades to net us draft picks) is the best way to go. And staying pat doesn't mean we'll be locked into this cycle for years, it just means being happy being a fringe playoff team this year and next. The 2013/14 Bobcats are going to be our biggest opportunity to right this ship.....
SG Stephen Jackson exp 10 mil (Gerald Henderson)
SF Gerald Wallace exp 11.5 mil (Derrick Brown)
PF Tyrus Thomas (Maybe Boris at a lower salary)
C ? (Maybe our draft pick from this year)
I just think as a franchise, we'll be in a better place to make moves later as long as we resist feeling the absolute need to make moves now.