So I’ve been lurking on Rufus on Fire for roughly over a year now, I don’t know if it’s because Bobcats fans are just waiting to not be called Bobcats fans anymore, but the fan post discussion has felt deader than Tyrus Thomas’ NBA career lately. I wanted to get some discussion started however, almost no one speaks of it but the Bobnets actually still have a shot of being a competitive playoff team despite this current skid of close games and loses . Of course having both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor be sidelined is going to make a huge impact, but even with this team as is, they’re just one big trade or acquisition away from being sneaky good. Scrappy even.
While the fanbase seems to be split between wanting to tank or worrying about being stuck in no man’s land, I have heard little talk about how to actually make a legitimate playoff push. While Charlotte does potentially have up to 3 draft picks next off season, they’ve been "rebuilding" since 2009 it feels like. You could lean on potential for so long before you should try other options, and let’s face it, the draft has never really been kind to this franchise in the first place. So this is where the Houston Rockets come in, more specifically Omer Asik.
Now before I go any further, I’m going to calm everyone down and say that no, Asik is not a good fit for Charlotte. With the trade deadline quickly approaching though, and Houston running out of suitors(I think Minnesota is in talks this week), I say we approach them to look for a third team to broker something. While Daryl Morey’s demand that he gets a 1st round pick involved in the trade seemed ridiculous at first, Charlotte has potentially 3, I personally wouldn’t mind giving up at least one of them to bring in some decent "right now" talent. The third team in question though should be a team that’s obviously going through some rebuilding phase and may be even worse than the Bobcats. So you were thinking someone from the Atlantic Division too, right? While Boston has pieces, it seems they might actually go for a playoff spot too once Rondo comes back, let’s not even talk about the New York teams, and Toronto’s cap issues and lack of desirable players leaves them out too. So the only other team that seems to have valuable assets while still being dreadful in that division is none other than the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philly is definitely in the running for the "Be sorry for Jabari" race (Yes, I unapologetically stole that from Jalen Rose). They know this is a throw away year despite having some players left over from their playoff run 2 years ago. So why not make a grab for some of them? I wrote up 3 scenarios, ranked Good, Better, and Best (click those for links) that set the table for a big 3 team trade with the Rockets and Sixers.
Good: Charlotte Gets: Evan Turner. Houston Gets: Spencer Hawes, and Charlotte’s Pick via Portland. Philedelphia Gets: Ben Gordon, and Omer Asik
Before this keeps going, I should mention that all these scenarios only work if Philly truly embraces the tank and just goes for being the dirt worst for a season or two. When looking at Turner, he gets a lot of criticism thrown his way, some of it justified, some of it from just having the misfortune of playing in front of Sixer fans every night. Despite his inconsistencies, ET does have a decent offensive game, and his style and size lends himself for playing with MKG either as his backup, or next to him in the lineup. I think he’d be a welcomed addition and since he’s a restricted free agent, his departure from Philly is highly likely anyway so at least they would get a big expiring contract for him.
Personally this is the trade that feels the most realistic to me. No matter how you slice it, Thaddeus Young is a stud, especially this season .He’s been about 40% from the outside this year, and while he isn’t a spectacular defender he can hold his own. His only weak spot is his rebounding, but playing next to Big Al and Biyombo can hide that while being a legit 3rd option on offense. Richardson would probably produce about the same as Ben Gordon off the bench, (after he returns from injury, which is around the All-Star break), but without the crappy attitude and with actual veteran knowledge to give.
Some may think I’m throwing Zeller under the bus by sending him to Philly, but I’m not. I still think he can be a decent player some day but it ain’t happening this season, and probably not in this system honestly. Giving the Sixers a young prospect softens the blow from losing one of their best players, and playing next to a defense first center like Asik may actually be the best for him.
I have to be honest, this is the "Betting the farm/Long shot/Only thing missing from this deal is a sacrificial virgin" option. I would love to see both of these guys come on, but I know the chances are slim and it’s assuming a lot that the Sixers won’t want MKG instead of Zeller, or want to add someone like Jeff Taylor into the package. I’m also aware this scenario would leave Charlotte without a first round pick in the allegedly deepest draft since 2003 if they make the playoffs. In other words, it’s a huge gamble, but to me this is the perfect season to try and take chances. With the addition of these two, you could ideally move Gerald Henderson and McBobs to the bench and suddenly become one of the deepest teams in the league. Yes there wouldn’t be a clear superstar player, but I think this team could be something similar to the early 00’s Pistons with that lineup.
In short, to go for it this year makes sense not just for basketball reasons, but from a marketing and merchandising point of view also. In a season where half the teams in the Eastern Conference are either banged up, too old, under-performing, or just have J.R. Smith on their roster, Charlotte has a chance to raise some hell and beat on those teams. Getting some eye balls on them the year before they turn into the swagtastic New Hornets would energy the city and push the new jerseys and such once they debut. And above all else, maybe this board wouldn’t be all doom and gloom all the time.
Thoughts and comments would be appreciated!