A Brief Look At Some Recent Rebuilding Projects

Rebuild- 1. To build again. 2. To make extensive restructural repairs on. 3. To remodel or make extensive changes on.

That's rebuilding defined by the online dictionary. I don't know if it's the best one to reference from, but it was the first thing that popped up on Google so it's gotta be worth something right? Speaking of Google, has anyone else heard about this SOPA and Protect IP? Our rights are being stripped..............

Sorry, almost turned this into something political. Back to the NBA and this whole thing we call rebuilding. Everyone knows that we, the Bobcats, began our own little home repair plan when we acquired Dante Cunningham, Joel Pryzbilla, Sean Marks, and two first round picks for the face of our franchise player Crash in a last second deal at the deadline of the 2010 NBA season. Some even go further back to point to the start of our renovation plan, when we allowed Raymond Felton to walk to the New York Knicks for nothing and dealt Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks for the unguaranteed contract of Erick Dampier, Matt Carroll, and Eduardo Najera.

Regardless of when it actually began in Michael Jordan's mind that we needed to start from scratch, it's no longer a secret that this is what phase of the NBA pecking order we're in. The decimation of the Bobcats by the Orlando Magic in the playoffs followed by Larry Brown openly complaining to players about roster moves and the poor start to the next season prompted Jordan to measure his actual money invested into the team against their actual value on the court and forced him to make a move. It's still debatable whether M.J. did it because he was concerned with the team's ability to get better in the future or whether he just wanted to save himself a few million bucks. Either way, I think it was the right move.

Not every rebuilding project is based around an owner looking to go cheaper though for better or worse. Some are simply based on a front office feeling like they've maxed out the potential of their current rosters, teams like the Jason Kidd New Jersey Nets and the Detroit Pistons championship team. Some teams are forced into rebuilding by superstars leaving through trades or free agency, such as what's going on down in New Orleans with the post Chris Paul era. Whatever the case may be that leads to team's being "blown up", the immediate results of the project are almost never positive.

Which is why no one should be surprised that the Bobcats are currently struggling. The hope is that we'll turn into the Thunder of the east, a team full of young, developing talent and high draft picks that can step into the championship picture once dominant teams like the Lakers, Heat, Knicks (lmao), and Bulls begin falling apart from age, injury, or cap issues.

Here are a few teams that come to mind when I think of rebuilding and the steps they took to get there. As you can see, not every rebuilding project that beings actually ends in success or, for some teams, ends at all.


Rebuilding teams hope to turn into the new Thunder. Could this be Walker, Henderson, our draft pick, and Bismack in a few years?

Seattle Supersonics/ Oklahoma City Thunder - The move to blow up the Sonics was a result of both treading around mediocrity and wanting to create a buzz for the team's potential move out of the northwest. The Sonics, coached by Nate Mcmillan and built around franchise cornerstones Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, were coming off a surprising 52-30 season that began going south once they were eliminated from the playoffs. With McMillan leaving to become the Portland Trailblazer's head coach, the team finished the next year with a 35-47 record prompting the blow up to go into full fledge mode. The team selected Kevin Durant with the number 2 pick in the draft that year, and also turned the pick they received back from Boston into Jeff Green (who still ended up on Boston in the end). Where the Thunder really began making moves to be successful today happened after Lewis signed a contract with the Orlando Magic. The deal ended up being a sign and trade, so in return, the team received a future 2nd round pick and a $9.5 million trade exception. Amazingly, the Thunder turned that minimal return into two first round picks (who were capped out with a full roster already) and Kurt Thomas. The next year was absolutely brutal for the team though as they finished with a record of 20-62, the worst in franchise history which would turn out to be their last in Seattle.

Their start in OKC wasn't very pleasant at all to begin things. After adding point guard Russell Westbrook to the squad with the 4th pick of the draft that year, the team started off with a 1-13 record prompting ownership to fire coach P.J. Carlesimo and replace him with then interim coach (now coach of the year candidate) Scott Brooks. That didn't bring much of a change as the team dropped to 3-29 (horrible!!!) before finishing the last half of the year with a 20-30 record, ulitmately finishing at 23-59. The team over the second half was vastly different from the team in the first. Not roster wise, but competitively speaking. The team was growing up at a very rapid pace.

With the 3rd overall pick of the draft the next year, the Thunder added James Harden and the rest is pretty much gravy. The team kept wheeling and dealing to find holes in the roster and replace them with the likes of our own D.J. White and Byron Mullens, Eric Maynor, Nick Collison, and several others and have just continued to grow. They finished that year with a 52-30 record and haven't looked back sense. Though the Thunder haven't won a title yet, they have layed the blueprint for how a small market team who can't depend on free agency to attract stars stays financially healthy and competitive.


The Pistons are going to need more young, cheap, developing players like Monroe to escape mediocrity

Detroit Pistons - It's hard to put a gauge on what Joe Dumars has going on in Detroit, but I'm not sure you can call it rebuilding. Whatever you choose to call it though, it's the exact model that I hope the Bobcats avoid. After several straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and losing Ben Wallace as a free agent to the Chicago Bulls, the Pistons decided to head into a new direction fearing that their team would never be strong enough to compete for an NBA title again. Their official rebuilding began once the front office dealt steady point guard Chauncey Billups (who had just a year ago signed a long term extension) to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson and his expiring contract. After that, the Pistons and Iverson have never been the same again.

The issue with the Pistons is they never established a plan of consistency. It's hard to tell if they even tried. After dealing away Billups, from the outside looking in, I thought the franchise would have hope of building a true winner. I knew that Iverson was never meant to be in Detroit long term and he was just a great expiring contract. But what I didn't know was that the front office planned on using the saved money to sign two glorified role players like Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon to long term, cap killing deals. What I perceive as incompetence of the front office stretched into this offseason when the Pistons rewarded Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey with questionable extensions as well. Though the Pistons have been able to add some very talented young players to their squad with Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, and Brandon Knight, it's not hard to see these team floating around mediocrity for the next decade or so as moves like this continue. This is the NBA. You have to get worse before you can get better.


The glory days for Minnesota no doubt goes back to the Cassell/Garnett/Sprewell era

Minnesota Timberwolves - The Timberwolves have been basically rebuilding since Kevin Garnett was traded away to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and other pieces. Unable to establish any consistency in their roster building since their big three of Sam Cassell, Garnett, and Latrell Sprewell departed, the Wolves at one point became the joke of the league, and to some, still are.

My thoughts on that? Not so fast. General manager David Kahn has wisely built the Timberwolves from the ground up but are a fair warning to all rebuilding teams that things don't always work out as planned. However, if you take a look at their roster now and over the past few years, they have remained in relatively great position financially and talent wise. No matter which way you put it, acquiring Michael Beasley for a 2nd round pick is a steal. They've also made several moves in the draft over time to net them young talents like Wes Johnson, Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio, and other young guns that can eventually grow into a perrenial playoff contender together. The primary issue for the Wolves has been their unprofound love for stacking the roster with point guards, but with Rick Adelman in the fold, I think they'll have an opportunity to be a playoff contender as soon as, well, actually this year.


It will take a little luck for us to end up with a Rose caliber player as opposed to Beasley, the number 1 and 2 picks

Chicago Bulls - The Chicago Bulls are just now finishing up on the project that began immediately after their last appearance in the NBA Finals after the 1997 NBA season. At that point, the Bulls had to begin one of the most extensive rebuilding projects in the history of the NBA from top to bottom as Phil Jackson chose to take a sabbatical from coaching, M.J. retired for a second time, and Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman had already made up their minds they would like to leave as well after winning three straight NBA championships. After top draft picks Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler failed to pan out, Jayson Williams' horrific career-ending motorcyle accident, overspending on the likes of Ron Mercer and Brad Miller, and the Elton Brand and Ron Artest experiment not going according to plan, the Bulls have finally turned it around and become a contender again. Though they were by far the best regular season team in the eastern conference last year, they did have to go through the hell that we are going through now. Only winning 13 games during the lockout season (50 games), they went on to only win 17 the next season (which was a full 82 game season), 15, 21, 30, and 23 games (all full schedules as well) until they finally managed to jump back itno the playoff picture after the 04-05' season finishing with a 47-35 record. At that point, they were beginning to look like a team treading water, fighting for a low playoff seed every year with a core built around Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas, until a 33-49 finish at the end of the 07-08 season and a "lucky" bounce in the lottery allowed them the opportunity to select Derrick Rose with the number 1 pick in the draft. Combined with fellow lottery picks Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, defensive coaching guru Tom Thibodeau, and free agent pick ups Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer, and the rest is history. The Bulls are a great team again after basically a DECADE of suffering through mediocrity and failure.


The Nets were once a perrenial contender for the eastern conference crown

New Jersey Nets/New York Knicks- The only real reason that I chose to mention the New Jersey Nets is because they took almost the same exact route that the New York Knicks did. Don't see the comparisons? Well, for one, this team decided to go into rebuild mode because their team lead by Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson were beginning nto fade from championship contender to mediocrity in a hurry. The Knicks were never there in the first place but were capped out and needed to start over. While the Knicks were busy acquiring young studs like Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofy Mozgov and others, the Nets were busy picking up the likes of Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and collecting other assets like the pick they got from the Lakers in the Joe Smith/Sasha Vujacic swap and the first rounder they got back in a trade for Terrence Williams. Like the Knicks, the Nets also threw all of their pieces into one player and may end up paying the consequences for it. The Knicks are struggling with Carmelo Anthony as the center piece of their offense only team. The Nets are struggling with Derron Williams being the only true talent on their team (though Marshon Brooks and the injured Brooke Lopez are good as well). But unlike the Knicks, the Nets still have a fear of losing Williams as he isn't locked into a long term contract so he may very well be dealt by the deadline again this year if he continues to show no true desire to stay for their move to Brooklyn.

So, overall folks, no matter what road you choose to take towards rebuilding, not all of it works out. We're all still waiting on teams like Sacramento and Golden State to show improvement from their rebuilding but they haven't. We're also looking to see at how well the Wolves and other teams end up improving over the year. Bottom line, their are no guarantees. I know we all want to be like the Thunder, but first, we need to find a Kevin Durant type of star with our top pick next year to implement into our squad. But keep in mind that a team with Durant on their roster once went 23-59. When you look at it like that and our team's record, you'll see we're right on schedule. How it will turn out, that remains to be seen.


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