The lockout is over. Free agency is just about done. Games are under a week away. A lot to look forward to, right? Probably not if you're a Bobcats fan.
Let me be frank. I love this team to pieces. Other than the Raptors, my hometown squad, the Bobcats are the only team whose games I simply must watch. Blame Ben for sucking me into this whirlpool of hilarious front office decisions and fan favorites.
Since I started watching the Bobcats religiously, I've seen two "franchise" players (notice the quotes!) be traded away for seemingly nothing. I've seen a team that looked to be a perennial 7th and 8th seed become a laughing stock of inexperienced kids and misfit toys. I've been stripped of Shaun Livingston. I've had to watch Tyrus Thomas go through Tyrus Thomas injuries. The quotes of Stephen Jackson are no more. The reckless dynamo that is Gerald Wallace was traded. Larry Brown was fired. Jordan became a villain during the lockout. Things have gone so far downhill that I'm beginning to question my love for this franchise.
But I've been here before. You've been here before. The Bobcats have an all-time winning percentage of .387. That's third worst in the league, behind the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers. This really isn't anything new.
So what is there to look forward to? Jordan seemed intent on exclusively generating revenue when he first purchased the team from Robert Johnson in 2010. He treated his players as advertisements. They all wore his shoes. As great of a player as Jordan was, he has no eye for talent but insists on having a say in every decision the franchise makes. And if there was a way for Jordan to cut costs, he'd do it before you could blink.
But late last year, we saw a change. Something awoke from within Jordan (probably financial losses) that altered his vision for the Bobcats. No longer was he content with the status quo, with being a mediocre team. To generate revenue effectively, you need a winning team. And the only way to build a winning team in a small market is through the draft.
Crash was unexpectedly dealt to the Portland Trailblazers for youth and expiring contracts. Dante Cunningham proved to be a decent role player in spot minutes, and the pick acquired in the trade eventually led to Bismack Biyombo.
And then Jordan hired Rich Cho. Cho has an excellent (albeit short) resume themed around building and patience. His reputation around the league is encouraging: he's ardent but collected in his approach, and innovative in how he evaluates talent and roster moves. Paul Allen messed up by letting him go, and Jordan capitalized. I sometimes wonder if Jordan was captivated by Cho's tenacity in the Gerald Wallace negotiations. Nevertheless, hiring Cho may have been his best decision yet.
So it's not all bad. Cho reportedly had a lot of say in who the Bobcats drafted, and came out big with Kemba Walker (whom after one preseason game looks like he may have been a steal at 9), and Bismack Biyombo (whom may end up being among the defensive elite in the NBA). The roster has been stripped to the bones. Contracts are mostly short and manageable, youth is prevalent, and the team is poised to build with Cho at the helm.
Look, it's going to be ugly. There's absolutely no doubt about that. The Bobcats might win 15 games if they're lucky this season. That's not to say they're heading in the wrong direction, nor is it any reason to get upset. This is the healing process after dumping the abusive partner. It's going to hurt. You're going to want to complain and say things like "Crash wouldn't have done that!" or "Man, Hendo can't give us the quotes that Jax could." Heck, you might even drop an "I sure miss Ammo."
Don't fret, Bobcats fans. I hate to be cliché, but here's a bunch of clichés. Every cloud has a silver lining. We're all in this together. You can only go up once you've hit rock bottom. Patience is a virtue.
You get the point.
Keep your heads up, friends. It can only get better. And it will.