First of all Bobcat fans, let me apologize before I even get started. This isn't going to be the usual "best case scenario" post that I put up about our team. Nor will it even call for some of the blind optimism that we choose to live by. No, this one will focus on reality and what we can do to turn our dreams into reality. Our latest loss, a 99-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, have all but ended our hopes for a playoff berth and now we can all look forward to the end of the season, the NBA Finals and the upcoming draft. In this thread, I must warn you, there will be nothing but pure pessimism and doubt. I know some of you don't want to hear it, and that's fine, I don't want to say it. But the truth is the truth, and it needs to be heard.
D.J. Augustin - D.J. caught fire for the first couple of weeks after Larry Brown was canned, but hasn't been as spectacular or consistent since. He's dealt with a few injuries over the past months that have undoubtedly inhibited his progress, but at this point, I'm just not sure how much a healthy Augustin would have made a difference. D.J. is doing an excellent job at converging from a shoot first PG to a true point with some of the best assist/turnover numbers in the league. However, one thing that hasn't improved is his defense. And for a team in the position that we're in, we just can't afford to have a player on the floor that needs help so much on defense. This would be a different story if he could produce points/efficient shooting more consistently, but at this point, it just hasn't happened and probably never will. D.J. is probably our most trade-able asset, and it may be in the best interest of the team to part ways through a trade and look for the best replacement point guard in what is quickly becoming a PG dominated league. Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, I mean, the list just goes on and on. I know it's unfair to ask D.J. to produce like those guys, but is it unfair to ask him to work on his defense to be able to stop them from penetrating the lane and causing the whole defense to break down? I don't think so. I also don't think he'll ever be able to do so.
Gerald Henderson - Before Gerald Wallace was traded, Henderson was in a decent position allowing him to grow as a super sixth man into a potential starter and a possible future star. This is the role that I felt was perfect for him. Once Crash was dealt, Hendo was forced into an unfamiliar position and was annointed our SG of the future. Though I still believe that he has that potential, I also will need to see more scoring from him before I am able to say he is that great. With all of the injuries on our team, at this point, Henderson should be putting up consistent 20+ point games and establishing himself as the leader of the team. Instead, his averages have remained consistent with what he was putting up with a healthy squad, and that's somewhat troubling. It's doubtful we can find an affordable SG in free agency or in he draft that is an upgrade, so our best bet at this point would probably be to keep him as the starting SG for next year as well. However, being a full time starting SG in the NBA averaging 15 points on a team as offensively inept as ours won't cut it, despite how elite his defense already is.
Stephen Jackson - Captain Jack is still by far the best player that we have on the team and his hamstring is probably the biggest reason that we have faded down the stretch. Considering he is a year older and wasn't able to finish out the season strong, his trade value appears to be at an all time low. I'm pretty sure he'll return next year at least as long as he doesn't snap. Remember, right now, we are going through the same thing Golden State went through that caused him to demand a trade. I really think M.J. is the only reason Jax didn't flip ou this year.
Boris Diaw - Boris is truly an enigma. We've all seen his ability to dominate when he wants to and we've all seen his ability to disappear. Frankly, I'm tired of the disappearing act and I think management is too. Being that Boris will be in the last year of his deal on a pretty high salary, I'm pretty sure he'll end up traded away for other "assets" as Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed have been over the past year.
Kwame Brown - It's just amazing that a man so big can have hands so small made of stone. Although Kwame has shown flashes of excellence and the skill necessary to be a starting center in the NBA, too many times has he let us down with his turnovers from not being able to just catch the ball. Kwame Brown should be a role player (occasional starter) at best and I'll be very happy to see him return for the right price. Charles Oakley has assisted in making Kwame a much better big man, and I think it's essential for him to stay in Charlotte to continue his development.
Tyrus Thomas - What a difference a few months, injuries, and temper tantrums can make. In the eyes of many Bobcat fans, Tyrus has gone from a potential franchise building block to an overpaid and immature role player. The thing is, he is still very young and very gifted. However, he's been in the league for years now and still is viewed by most as a project. Those types of players almost never get it right. Michael Jordan and Rod Higgins signed Tyrus to a big extension hoping that he would continue the growth he began last year under Larry Brown. Well, now that Larry is no longer here, that progress has been temporarily derailed and I'm not sure if Silas has the same patience for him. It's hard to tell with all of the injuries he's had since Silas took over, but I'm guessing that he can be had for the right price.
Shaun Livingston - Livingston has starting PG skill and is on a good deal so I think he'll more than likely be back. There have been several times his year where he has been our most efficient player and his defense has saved us at times where D.J. was getting destroyed. The only things that worry me about Livingston is his horrendous outside shooting (which he knows not to take) and his reconstructed knee. As far as backup PG's in the NBA go, Livingston is one of the best out there (outside of the Aaron Brooks and Raymond Felton's of he world). I think he should and will be a Bobcat next year as he will sill be under contract and more than likely won't be dangled in trades.
Dante Cunningham - We're in a bit of a pickel here with "Inferno" as Blazer fans like to call him. He'll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and has shown more than enough to warrant being signed to an extension. However, you don't want to overpay for a player of his caliber seeing as though he doesn't have the credentials to warrant a big money deal. It all depends on how much money another team is willing to offer if he is brought back or not. My bet right now is he stays, but we'll see how it turns out.
D.J. White - White has shown to be the most consistent at playing like a true PF on our team and is locked in to a multi year deal on a cheap contract. You can pretty much bet that he'll be a Bobcat next year. Hopefully he continues to progress with more consistent playing time, but I don't think he should be viewed as anything more than a role player at this point in his career.
Joel Przybilla - Pryzbilla will not be a Bobcat next year, I fully guarantee it. With his knee being such a redundant problem and him having a not so secret desire to return to Portland, it's a foregone conclusion that he's played his last game as a Bobcat. His worth was always his expiring $7.4 mil contract, so his loss isn't a big factor. Combine that with the fact that he was extremely mediocre while here, and I'm not sure if we, the fans, want him back anyway.
DeSagana Diop - Sagana was starting to come on "strong" once Silas took over, but immediately went down with a season ending injury which turned out to be a lot costlier than we could all imagine. Being that he has two years left on his deal after this one and is coming off a severe injury that will more than likely take part of next season (if there is one) to heal, it's pretty safe to say that he will be a Bobcat for the foreseeable future. I'm confident Silas can find a way to make great use of him one day, but until then, he'll remain one of the NBA's most notorious cases of "dead money".
Matt Carroll - The pain of the last few losses we have suffered has been somewhat offset by the......uh...re-emergence..... of Carroll. Over the past few games, he's reminded us why the Bobcats took a chance on him in the first place and that he can be an effective player when called upon. Though he should never be starting, he has been able to live up to his $4.3 mil salary which gradually decreases over the last two years of his deal. Although he has played so well the past few games and teams may be more willing to take on his pay, I still just don't see anyone dealing for him. I'm pretty sure he'll be a Bobcat next year, and may be one of the most effective role players we have.
Eduardo Najera - Najera will be entering the final year of his deal and more than likely will be included in a trade somewhere along the way as a throw in to match salaries. He's had a pretty uneventful year this season other than a huge 3 point shot that helped us beat the Celtics, so we're not losing much if he is traded.
Dominic McGuire - McGuire should be a benchwarmer in the league, point blank period. I know that there have been times this year where he has looked very impressive, but at the same time, this is the NBA. A lot of players can look impressive when given extended playing time, no matter how bad they are. I'm all for bringing him back at the minimum on a one year deal, but anyhing else is too much for a player of his caliber. My guess is that as long as no other team comes calling for his services at a higher rate, (contract expires at the end of he year) he'll be back. But to be honest, I couldn't care less. Larry Brown has put a permanent sour taste in my mouth everytime I say his name, so that may add to my lack of empathy for him, but players like him are 12th men on contending teams.
So, taking into account MY player evaluations, I really feel as though we will start the regular season with a team of leftovers consisting of:
Shaun Livingston, Gerald Henderson, Stephen Jackson, Kwame Brown, Matt Carroll, Dominic McGuire, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White, and DeSagana Diop
That leaves D.J. Augustin, Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, and Eduardo Najera as our best trade assets next year.
At this point, our weaknesses would range in this order: Starting C, Starting PG, Backup SF, Starting/Backup PF, Backup SG. Here are some REALISTIC ways I think we could address those....
Trades: Using Diaw, Thomas, Augustin and Najera, what kind of trade packages can you come up with to benefit the team? I'll add mine later. The final roster listed at the bottom presumes Tyrus and Diaw were traded for Jamison and a draft pick, Najera was released, and Augustin was dealt for a first round pick.
Free Agents: Nenad Krstic, Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Rasual Butler, Anthony Parker, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Kenyon Martin, Chuck Hayes, Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster, Jamario Moon, Shane Battier, Michael Redd, Sasha Vujacic, Jason Richardson, Jason Kapono, Samuel Dalembert, Josh Howard
I actually still believe that D.J. Augustin is a keeper, but I understand how his liabilities on defense may cause others to feel like he isn't a long term solution and this is a pessimism thread so for the sake of this writing, he has to be turned into something worth holding on to. Although there is no way to predict how our team will look next year or who will stay or who will go, I see our depth chart working out like this...........
PG Maalik Wayns, Shaun Livingston, Garrett Temple
SG Gerald Henderson, Sasha Vujacic, Matt Carroll
SF Stephen Jackson, John Henson, Jamario Moon
PF Antawn Jamison, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White
C Samuel Dalembert, Kwame Brown, DeSagana Diop
Although a few things have been left out, such as our hypothetical compensation for D.J., I think this is pretty much how the team will look next year. We won't be great or much improved, but I think we'll be a threat again to make the playoffs with our added depth and will have room for bigger and better things the year after.