The 2012 NBA draft is complete and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky and Jeff Taylor of Vanderbilt are your newest Charlotte Bobcats! The rebuilding is far from complete though as we have a few more years of developing and suffering before we're sniffing the playoffs again, but there are still plenty of opportunities to make trades and acquire future assets.
Now that I know Rich Cho has been using my NBA2K12 method (explained below) to building a team, it'll become easier to predict what moves we could potentially make as we progress throughout the off-season and get back to our full 82 game schedule next year.
First of all, this is NOT a video game here. Real life takes into account so many other factors that a video game just can't. A game can't tell that Kyle Lowry and Kevin McHale aren't getting along or that Ray Allen may just not be content coming off the bench behind a noob like Avery Bradley. Well, maybe they can. There is a "chemistry" feature on the game that decides how good your team fits and how well they get along. A problem on either side could lead to a disastrous season.
But for me, 2K12 (well, all 2K's) give the player a chance to play NBA GM and watch how it progresses over the years within a matter of minutes. I love the challenge of building a contender on the game (I do that more often than I actually play), but one of the strategies I've used to build a winner was to 1) Have every undesirable contract come off the books at the same time, 2) Trade productive players ready for extensions or retirement (but not franchise players) for high draft picks, and 3) Trade expiring contracts for undesirable contracts that expire when you need them to. It's a strategy that sets you up for long term success. (I also like to make trades for the future, like Miami's next 2 first round picks for a Hornets' first round pick three years from now).
There's more to it of course, but these are the main points that I use in building my franchise. With the Bobcats not trading Boris Diaw for any tangible asset at the deadline last year, and with D.J. Augustin possible becoming a player we lose for nothing, it was kinda hard to tell exactly what the teams strategy was. And then it happened......
The Bobcats took on an extra year of Ben Gordon's ridiculous salary in exchange for Corey Maggette and his expiring contract, and in the process, were able to obtain a valuable draft pick in the future, which can be flipped in another trade or can be used to select another young gun in the future. Either way, we obtained more assets without restricting our long term goals as the 2014/15 season will still be the year we have plenty of cap room. With three expiring contracts this year, I think it's very possible we make another move on the level of the B.G. for Bad Porn deal.
Desagana Diop 1 year 7.3 Million
Matt Carroll 1 year 3.5 Million
Reggie Williams 1 year 2.5 Million
Since the Bobcats have it looking like they just want to keep all money open for 2014/15, that gives us room to take on players with one more bad year on their deals. These transactions may not be as easy or smooth as Maggs' deal was (as he's still a serviceable player), but I feel as though we may find some good short term help and draft picks in some of these moves that are out there to make. I've scoured the league and have come up with a list of players I think we will seriously look at moving one of our three expiring contracts for.
* Kemba is the future, but we could use a veteran stop gap/mentor
Steve Blake (Los Angeles Lakers) 2 years 4.0 Million - The Blake experiment in L.A. didn't quite work out as expected, joining the ranks of the growing list of point guard failures they've endured in the modern era (maybe why they wanted the Chris Paul trade so bad). Either way, Blake would provide a good veteran presence here and would instantly become the best PURE point guard we have on the roster. He could probably teach Kemba Walker a thing or two about running the position and becoming a floor general. Lakers look to try to be rebuilding some, but I think they may still be wiling to part with a late 1st round pick or early 2nd round pick to eliminate Blake's contract from the books.
Luke Ridnour (Minnesota Timberwolves) 2 years 4.0 4.0 Million- Ridnour is still a hell of a player as he demonstrated against us in a game last year, finishing with 15 points, 14 assist, and 5 rebounds, and like Blake, would provide a pure PG with leadership skills at the most important position on the floor for us. I'm not sure how willing Minnesota is to part with him as he's still very productive on a reasonable contract. But the Wolves also have holes in other spots, particularly SG, and have 2 other capable points on their roster with J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio. They'll also eventually get to a point where they'll need money to re-sign other players, but they're in pretty decent shape cap wise so that shouldn't factor heavily into their decision on what to do here. They probably won't give up an asset to get rid of him, but the possibility is always there.
Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) 2 years 3.7 Million - Would the Magic give up a 1st round pick to get rid of Duhon? Well, let's take a look at the facts..........they are over the luxury, they are desperately trying to keep Dwight Howard, and they are still a playoff team. All of this leads me to believe they would have no problems at all giving up a pick to create extra space to sign a buddy of Dwight's, hoping to convince him to stay. Although I don't think Duhon's salary is that outrageous (I kinda do, hated him since he's been at Duke. Go Tar Heels!!!), he's proven that he's no more than a fringe rotation player over the years and could probably use a change of scenery. Sure, career averages of 3.8 ppg and 2.4 ppg are absolutely horrid for a PG, but again, you're talking about a team coming off a 7-59 season. He would help. And so would Orlando's pick.
* Really feeling like we could use someone to challenge Gerald Henderson for starting minutes or provide quality back up minutes to.
Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons) 2 years 8.5 Million - When Joe Dumars handed Stuckey a 4 year, $28 million contract extension, he did so with the thinking that Stuckey could be his point guard of the future. What he's shown he is since then is a good "combo guard" of the future, which prompted the Pistons to begin reevaluating their choice and selecting Brandon Knight out of the draft last year. It's unknown whether Dumars really loves Stuckey that much or is still trying to save face for getting rid of Chauncey Billups all those years ago, but either way, a change needs to be made somewhere. They've begun with the Ben Gordon trade, and more than likely are comfortable moving forward with Stuckey as their starting SG, but the potential remains for him to be traded at some point. There's not really a deal to be had here, but we could probably get into a three team trade centered around Stuckey going somewhere else, with us receiving an asset back in return and Detroit receiving a cheaper player with an expiring contract to go along with it. I'm sure some of you could come up with a deal. I'm much too lazy.
Thabo Sefolosha (Oklahoma City Thunder) 2 years 3.6 Million - The Thunder have a legitimate contending core built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka that look to be in the championship hunt for years to come, which could cause some money issues. Other than trading away Ibaka and/or Harden, the team will have to look in other places to stay financially healthy as they continue towards their first title. One of those places could be with a player like SG Sefolosha, a lock down defender who can also hit a few shots when he needs to. Although I don't see the Thunder trading away a first round pick to get rid of him (especially when a player like Perry Jones III slips all the way to the bottom), they may be willing to part with Sefolosha for an expiring or a trade exception to create as much cap space as they can to keep their core together. 3.6 million may sound like a lot for a player averaging 5 point and 3 rebounds per game, but his numbers would no doubt shoot up here and he would provide another perimeter lock down defender to go along with Gerald Henderson. You see the job he did on LeBron in the Finals?
*MKG and Taylor are the future
Marvin Williams (Atlanta Hawks) 2 years 8.3 Million - I think the chances of us taking on Williams would be significantly higher had we not taken two SF's in the draft, but there is still a chance we take on his contract for a multitude of reasons. For one, most of the hate that he receives (understandably) comes from him being selected over Chris Paul when the draft came around (Atlanta had needed a good PG for years at that stage), but he's still a productive player. He's a 6'9 wing who can play decent defense on the perimeter and can stretch the floor (39% from 3 point land last year) and also comes from UNC (not that that should mean much these days). I could see him topping his career high of 14.8 ppg easily here next year and Atlanta has shown a willingness (in rumors at least) to be open to dealing picks to clear him off the books. SF went from our weakest position to our strongest overnight, but I do believe there is a bit of potential here for a deal to be made.
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls) 2 years 13.3 Million - Before the draft, there were all kind of rumblings about Deng possibly being moved to the Toronto Raptors or the Golden State Warriors for their draft picks, but ultimately, nothing ever happened. There's still time for something to happen, and it probably will, considering Chicago's situation. Think about it, their star player Derrick Rose may be out until January with his ACL injury, they need to resign Omer Asik who is a restricted free agent, they possess an under performing (though still effective) Carol Boozer who is on a massive contract, and they are primed for cap hell soon. And that's before taking into account that even if fully healthy, they're probably still only the 2nd best team in the east (though they'll probably still be better in the regular season than the Miami Heat). It kinda makes sense for Chicago to
rebuild re-tool now while they can. For us though, a deal for Deng makes no sense at all considering our selections on draft day and the fact that he is still so valued. They'll want something extra for Diop (a 1st round pick undoubtedly), but we won't go that far with it. He fits the criteria though.
Shawn Marion (Dallas Mavericks) 2 years 8.6 Million - Looks like there is a good chance that Mark Cuban isn't as smart as he has lead people to believe and probably just gave up on a championship winning team for absolutely nothing. Someone, whether the Brooklyn Nets or Dallas is going to come out a HUGE loser this off-season when Deron Williams chooses to sign a long term deal with the other club. If Williams chooses New Jersey, Dallas would be backed into a corner and may elect to begin the rebuilding early. Which kinda takes a deal for Shawn Marion out of the equation. Although I do think we could make great use of him (even considering our rookies), the Mavericks look to appear to be rebuilding themselves, trading the rights to Tyler Zeller for the rights of Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, and Jae Crowder. Considering this, I think they won't be freely handing out picks any more as Lamar Odom recently burned them. And they'll probably want their cap space this year, so we probably can't help much in that department either. Like Deng, he is a player where the circumstances don't fit, but he fits the criteria.
Richard Jefferson (Golden State Warriors) 2 years 10.2 Million - It's almost like the Spurs immediately regretted their decision to sign R.J. as soon as they did it. It was a very un Spurs like move. It even cost them a first round pick to get rid of him (in exchange for Stephen Jackson, these are the kind of moves we are trying to make) and sometimes, he looks like he's done. On other nights, he looks like he had a little bit left in him. Either way, he doesn't make a big enough impact on the court to warrant a straight up deal, even for our worthless expiring contracts. It may be best to let sleeping dogs sleep. Or put them to sleep.
Metta World Peace (Los Angeles Lakers) 2 years 7.3 Million - Lol, I'm not even gonna go there with this one. Artest would probably be the most entertaining sports figure we've had in Charlotte since Grandmama, but he is way too crazy to add to our squad. Every since I heard the story about him approaching Kobe in the shower and telling him he wanted to be on his team, I haven't considered him in his right mind at all. All of the following events, the name change, the "accidental" elbow to the head of James Harden have backed up my theory.
Hedo Turkoglu (Orlando Magic) 2 years 11.4 Million - Like Duhon, Turk could more than likely be had for an expiring deal so Orlando can have more money to surround Dwight Howard with real star talent. A 6'10 SF, he would add more height and outside shooting (38% career 3 point shooter) and a veteran presence to our squad. Although motivational issues would probably be a concern (what vet wants to play on such a poor team?) Hedo is a very willing passer and a player that could really help if he bought into Dunlap's philosophy. I see this as a deal that we could very well make, with us acquiring a first round pick for taking on such a crazy contract for a mediocre player.
Linas Kleiza (Toronto Raptors) 2 years 4.6 Million - I could see something like a Carrol for Kleiza deal going down. He's a 6'8 SF who can stretch the defense with perimeter shooting but isn't particularly athletic. He's an underrated rebounder (in my opinion of course) and could possibly serve as a third SF that keeps us at the cap floor. I think a player of this caliber for our expiring contracts is probably one of the more realistic options. The Raptors are trying to put together a winning team and have a solid nucleus. Adding Steve Nash (who they are after) would be a monumental move for the franchise and creating more cap room to escape mediocrity could be one of their bigger selling points. I like Kleiza, but I'd rather just spend the money on our own free agents next year. That is, unless the Raptors would be willing to give up a couple of 2nd round selections on top of it. Doubtful.
Trevor Ariza (Washington Wizards) 2 years 7.3 Million- The recent trade of Ariza and Okafor to the Wizards would put this potential deal on hold for a while, but we could make a deal around the deadline. (See Okafor below)
* I really hope D.J. White isn't still our best post player next year
Charlie Villanueva (Detroit Pistons) 2 years 8.1 Million - Only if Detroit had another 1st round pick to give to us, they'd probably seriously do it just to get rid of ol' Charlie V. Having to use 1st round picks to attempt to undo your mistakes is one that we can't afford to make. That's why you sign people like Tyrus Thomas to con...........wait, what? I can't clown them. We did the same crap. Oh well. The Pistons probably aren't interested in moving another pick, but Charlie V. (6'11, career 35% 3 point shooter) could really stretch the floor here. We would probably do a straight up trade of Diop for Villanueva (seriously), but we can't bail out Detroit that much can we?
Hakim Warrick (Phoenix Suns) 2 years 4.64 Million - I really don't think we have any room at all for a player like Warrick on our roster (picture Derek Brown, PF version), but Phoenix has some nice pieces that I wouldn't mind taking.
* Mullens and Biz just ain't ready yet
Chris Andersen (Denver Nuggets) 2 years 4.8 Million - Birdman is the one player I'm convinced we can make a good deal for considering all circumstances....1) Denver needs to free up room to keep their core in tact. They'll have some trouble doing that this year, and even more next year, so it helps. 2) They are a young team looking for the right veterans to help them make a push (aka, don't want to keep adding draft picks) 3) They have a plethora of big man. What's there not to love on our end? Oh, he's 33? Oh, he has a lot of tattoos and a bit of a reputation? Oh, he only averaged 5 and 5 last year? I don't care, he's a high energy player, and if the Nuggets are willing to give up a future protected first to get his salary off the books, I'd take it. He'd fit in in the short term.
Andris Biedrins (Golden State Warriors) 2 years 9.0 Million - Biedrins has been such a disappointment so long, that the Warriors just may be willing to give up a weak protected pick just to get him off the books. Every since being a double double player in 08-09 (12 points, 11 rebounds), he has been able to do jack squat since, not even under Mark Jackson. I don't know, but I think a nice change of scenery could do the kid well and he could possibly rekindle some of that magic here under the (hard ass that we've never seen really coach) new coach Mike Dunlap. He only averaged a pathetic 1.7 points and 3.7 rebounds last year though, so I think G.S. would HAVE to include a lottery pick for anyone to bite.
Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs) 2 years 3.6 Million - I can't really see the Spurs trading Bonner. I'm not sure how he's stuck around that organization that long (or the NBA for that matter), but he's a big guy that can drain a 3, so I guess that's always useful to someone. The Spurs may be looking to rebuild soon (especially if Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili hang it up) and they may give up a late round pick to give up to clear his him off the books, but if they wanted to, I would be more than happy to accommodate.
Emeka Okafor (Washington Wizards) 2 years 13.53 Million - Ah, our good buddy Emeka, finally about to come out of the albatross of a contract that we signed him to. Like Ariza, he'll need a little while to be traded, but we could make a play for him at the deadline, especially if the Wiz are still struggling after acquiring so much veteran leadership this offseason. Oak is still a productive player when healthy and could actually serve a role here (like Gordon will) while just serving as another piece of the puzzle towards our rebuild. Double double machines that can block shots really aren't that easy to come by.
There are other players that fit our criteria as well, but I think their teams would be looking for a lot more than a salary dump to give them up. Those players are Andrew Bogut of the Golden State Warriors, Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets, Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers, Monta Ellis of the Milwaukee Bucks, Andre Igoudala of the Philadelphia 76'ers, Anderson Varajeo of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers)
So what say you Rufus on Fire? Should we engage in trade talks for any of these players? Using our expiring contracts to make straight up deals, or deals for picks, or should we just let Carroll, Diop, and Williams expire?