Hitting the middle -- can the Bobcats get younger, cheaper... and better?

The Bobcats are in an odd position at the moment. The standings say they're in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, and if the season ended today, they'd be in the playoffs, just ahead of three other teams. However, their production just hasn't been very good this year, whether you judge from the statistical record or watch enough games to think you've got a handle on what they do.

Assuming that making the playoffs would be unequivocally good for the franchise's finances, but also assuming that the franchise's longer-term competitiveness would benefit from trading bigger contracts and getting a lot younger, the Cats find themselves in a bit of a dilemma.

I'm no gambler, so please forgive me if I'm getting this wrong, but there might be an opportunity to "bet the middle" with this season. Essentially, can the Cats trade bigger contracts, get a lot younger, and still make the playoffs?

I suppose it's a bit of a magic trick, to get younger, get in a better payroll situation, and stay just as good a team, or get better. How would the Cats do that? I'm guessing it would have to start with trading Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw, and depend on who they get back. But why would anyone trade their young talent for either of those players? Do you see a path to hitting the middle?

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