Have the Bobcats Made Progress in the Larry Brown Era?

Idle thoughts as afternoon shifts to evening: Given that Stephen Jackson is a charismatic, transformative, baller, the Bobcats' makeup is totally altered by plugging him straight into Raja Bell's role. Sorry to take you back to high school chemistry, but it's like taking a super-basic substance and replacing it in the recipe with a super-acidic substance. Everything else is exactly the same, but that one change could alter the essential nature of the total mix.

In the end, I can't help but feel kind of good about this trade because even though I don't think it pushes the Cats into playoff contention, and it doesn't give them any further financial positives, it sure as hell makes them more exciting to watch. Did you see them run the break against Orlando? After a year and change of Larry Brown's walk-it-up spot-up-shooting offense, the slight uptick in fast-paced play was like watching doves released from their cage. Gerald Wallace is a freaking freight train, Flip Murray is an unrepentant gunner, Boris Diaw gets off on making the flashy play when a simpler one will do, Raymond Felton so desperately wants to be the hero that he'll do anything to advance that storyline, and Jackson... he's just the acidic substance we need to get our mixture bubbling a bit into a manic soup.

Do I have reservations? Absolutely! I've avoided bringing up old posts until now, but... okay, here goes... We've seen this before. It was exactly what happened with the J-Rich and Carroll trades. Don't believe me? Here are passages that I wrote in January 2009:

Cap space is not always the answer, but it certainly doesn't hurt. It's absolutely possible to build a team attractive enough for a superstar to take them to the next level, but there's gotta be cap space to sign that guy. These moves don't make the Bobcats absolute playoff contenders, and they totally screw the Cats' chances at signing a significant free agent before the summer of 2012, barring a trade that moves Diaw or Wallace for someone who expires that summer or before. By cutting off the free agent route, our future is totally tied to the draft, now.

Again, the motivation behind this is not the franchise's long term health; it's to get Larry Brown a playoff appearance before he bounces. Getting to the playoffs is fun, but it's not that much fun if it isn't a step toward getting even better.

If the team would simply stop messing around and wait out their untradeable contracts instead of trying to look smarter than they are by trading for super high risk, somewhat high reward, contracts in an ill-advised attempt to win quickly, they will have a chance to rebuild by 2011-12, even including Carroll's awful deal. They can still pull it off if they're able to move Diaw for a deal that expires after the 2010-11 season, but the Knicks are their only likely trade partners, and sitting through an Eddy Curry Era might be the only way to achieve that goal of competing in 2011-12.

Tweak some names, and both of those could apply today. Ask yourself: Are we in a better position to compete today or the future than we were on 30 October 2008? I'm not sure we are on either count.

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