I've managed to put a lot of useless writing together this time, so I won't bore you out by talking about it. This is done in 4 phases, with the NBA draft, coaching search, a lot at our own roster, and potential targets for us in free agency.
1st round: Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Andre Drummond
Davis is the obvious pick at number one. If we don't end up with him, I think we'll go in the order above. The lowest pick we'll have is #4, so I don't see Drummond becoming a Bobcat, but Robinson, Beal, and Kidd Gilchrist all would fill major holes for the team.
2nd round: Fab Melo, Quincy Miller, Festus Ezeli, Kevin Murphy, John Jenkins, Darius Miller, Kris Joseph, Draymond Green, Tony Wroten
The options open up a bit more for the 2nd round considering we don't know who'll be there, but there will be several talents available at our spot regardless. Whether we are lucky enough for Miller, Melo, or Ezeli (another Focus guy) to fall to us or we end up having to take Green or Murphy in the 2nd, we'll be able to get a quality player.
Stephen Silas - Do not want as a head coach, yet. I think he still has a few years of work to do as an assistant before he is ready to take full ownership of the team. I wouldn't mind keeping him on as an assistant here, but we have to get as much away from our culture as possible. Bringing in Silas as a HC wouldn't be a fresh start for us.
Nate McMillan - I think would be a good hire, but may be "too stuck in his ways". It may be pointless talking about him as he may expect a much larger salary than his buddy Mike would prefer to pay. Either way, he has established himself as a solid head coach as the Trailblazers have seemed to overachieve year after year despite the injury problems they've had with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. The way he was dismissed makes you wonder though if there is something about him that's a turn off to those in higher positions.
Mike D'antoni - If nothing else, D'antoni's name would bring a hint of legitimacy back to the organization. I'm confident his sets would help with creating plays for some of our most offensively gifted players (Walker, Henderson, Maggette, Augustin), but I'm worried about how defensive players like Bismack and maybe Anthony Davis would develop under D'antoni. I'm also worried about Jeremy Lin being our starting PG once the new season begins if we hired him. But, I guess that's still better than the drubbings we've taken this year.
Mike Malone - I like Malone because he is a popular guy. There, I said it. I don't know anything about his strategies, sets, or anything else to give a true opinion of him. But from everything I've read, they've said that Malone is guy players won't to play for and his an outstanding teacher. Some of the same compliments Tom Thibodeu used to receive under Doc River's staff.
Brian Shaw - I really think Shaw is ready for a HC gig, but I'm not sure if injecting his knowledge into a team as raw as ours will be a smart move for either party. You don't want a coach that's going to overcomplicate things to the point where their own players are confused as Kurt Rambis was doing with the Timberwolves last year. We don't have players capable of running a triangle offense. However, Shaw is a young coach and could learn to grow with the team as well. I don't know, I guess it just depends on how stubborn the coaches are. You never really know until they get that power.
Patrick Ewing - I'm scared to death to hire Patrick Ewing, but I really don't know why. I think he could communicate well with the players, assemble a great staff to help, and especially help Bismack and possibly Davis grow into more effective post players, but for some reason it's easy to imagine it all turning out to be a disaster. And I really have no idea why. I guess it's the fact that he's one of "Mike's boys" like McMillan that has me worried. But at least Nate already has the experience. I don't think the door should be shut on Ewing though. He deserves just as much a chance as some of the other names out there.
Jerry Sloan - Honestly, who wouldn't want Sloan as their coach? He is one of the greatest coaches of all time. I mean, sure his age worries me a little, but he's never been a Larry Brown type of coach. He actually plays his young guys and puts them in position to succeed. He's out there, but would he be interested in coming to the Queen City?
Stan Van Gundy - Who wouldn't want Ron Jeremy coaching their favorite team. I gained a lot of respect for Van Gundy when he got tired of hiding the truth and came out and said that his superstar, Dwight Howard, wanted him fired, which will more than likely end up with him being fired. Either way, Van Gundy has proven to be a smart, cunning coach, and I would love to have him and his offense here. You have to wonder though just how often he and M.J. would clash. That would be worth the price of admission alone.
Mike Woodson - Woodson will probably be fired once the Knicks are swept and the quiet pursuit of Phil Jackson begins, but he doesn't deserve it. The Knicks are just a poorly built team filled with ball hogs, knuckleheads, has beens, and people who think that human flesh always beats out shattered glass. I think we'll look into him, but I still see him as a stop gap coach more than anything. I'm interested in hiring a coach that will be here for the long term, and I'm not convinced that Woodson is that guy. I'm also not convinced that he's not.
Kemba Walker - Kemba ended the season on what I feel was a good roll running the point guard position and seemed to show signs of becoming a more willing passer over the last few weeks. I think we should go ahead and hand him the reigns of the position for next year. He'll have a lot of work to do in the off season, both with passing the ball and shooting, but there is no need to delay his development coming by bringing him off the bench again next year. He has proven to have the ability to consistently lose defenders in the NBA, which is something very few people really do. The problem is what he does with the ball once he shakes free. I actually see another John Wall in him right now and the stats would back up my claim. If the Wizards can be happy with Wall, why can't we be happy with Kemba for the short term? It's just my opinion, but again, I think he should be anointed starter for next year. He finished his rookie year averaging 12 ppg and 4 apg and will be in the second year of his rookie contract earning $2,532,960.
Bismack Biyombo - Mack wasn't as impressive after the all-star break as he was before, but he still showed me enough signs of development to have faith in him turning into a special player. Regardless of that though, he's just not ready to be a solidified starter at this point in his career. I know I may catch some flak for saying this, but I don't think the D-League should be out of the question for him. That or having him as a role player. He can still disappear at times from the books statistically even when playing the entire game, and centers like Greg Monroe and Al Jefferson have shown that they can flat out dominate Biz by using their strength and post moves. The pump fake is especially devastating towards his defense. Like I said, he showed me enough to have continued faith in his development and I'm interested to see what he can do after a real training camp, but I'll need to really see improvement in his game over the first half of the season or I may end up suggesting trading him while his stock is still somewhat good. I know he has the potential to lead the league in blocked shots, but that can only take you so far. We need him to be a more consistent rebounder and scorer in the paint. His offense at times was surprisingly good, but we'll definitely need more from him if we ever plan on being a winning team. Biz finished the season averaging 5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2bpg, and 5th in the league in blocks per minute which is still more than I expected from him when the season started. Like Kemba, he'll be on the 2nd year of his rookie contract but will be earning a little more at $3,007,920.
Gerald Henderson - Henderson is definitely a piece that we should continue our rebuilding phase with. However, I'm not so sure he's good enough for us to anoint our SG of the future. He'll only be making $3,101,326 next year so there is no doubt in my mind that his contract is a great value for his production at this stage. But there are still concerns about his shooting as his 3 point shooting percentage only jumped from 19% last year to 23% this year. Combined with the equally inept perimeter shooting of Carrol, and this is just a guard rotation we can not move forward with. Luckily for us, Henderson still manages to get buckets, averaging 20 ppg over his last 8 games and 15.1 on the season, and plays Tony Allenesque defense, but the improved shooting is going to come from somewhere. At the least, we are going to have to improve our depth chart in this area, either with a more competent backup or a player that can probably push Hendo back into the 6th man role (Beal maybe?) he once flourished in while playing with Jax and Crash. Either way, Henderson is a steadily improving piece and should absolutely be brought back as a piece of our puzzle.
Byron Mullens - I can't remember ever having a player that I could be so excited about one night and so mundane about on others. Mullens has the potential to be anything from a poor man's Dirk to a poor man's Gary. If you didn't know, Gary is some old guy that plays at the YMCA all the time. He's tall and has a short jumper so he's useful as a player, but when anyone even close to his size is matched up on him, he's rendered ineffective immediately. Mully is going to have to get in the weight room and improve his overall body strength so that he can get better positioning for rebounding and get a little bit more lift on his blocked shots, but he's still a player that I'm thinking can come in next year and make a significant improvement on his 9ppg, 5rpg campaign of this year. At $2,253,061, he's worth his deal and could turn out to be a long term building block for our front court rotation. I think he'll definitely be back and I am excited about what improvements he can make in his game.
Tyrus Thomas - It really would be nice if we had an owner with deep pockets that would have no problem erasing Tyrus and his $8,000,000 salary from the books via the amnesty, but we don't. Yes, I think Tyrus is a waste of space on this roster but it's really not a smart move to amnesty him at this point. For one, you end up creating $8 million more in cap space for an undesirable free agent class and two, Tyrus MAY just get his form back. I've been on his back long enough this year, so let me play defense for him one time. This was a lockout season, he was coming off an injury last season, everyone on the team was almost just as horrible, he had to play out of position a lot this year, and was severely underweight for the most part of the year. Although he only finished with averages of 6 ppg and 4 rpg, he seemed to be turning back into his old self near the end of the year. His stats don't really show it, but he was beginning to look more active and lively on the floor. Hopefully though, some sucker comes and offers a bad of peanuts for Tyrus to take him and his attitude off of our hands. If not though, that's fine. He just may be able to turn back into the 10 and 6 guy he was off the bench before this year. And that's a player that could definitely help us, especially if focused on defense. I can pretty much guarantee Tyrus will be back. But that doesn't mean I like it.
D.J. Augustin - I really think we set ourselves up for the worst by not dealing Augustin at the trade deadline last year. Though his 11 ppg and 6 apg are still helpful to a rebuilding squad, his RFA status makes thing a little bit more complicated than they would be any other year. He and Walker just aren't a natural fit together despite playing well with each other at times. The bottom line is we need more defense at the point guard position and this just isn't a combination we can continue forward with as our back court of the future. Well, actually, we can, but it's really an all in or all out situation. Augustin has a qualifying offer of $4,385,415, a relatively low number that I would actually sign him to a four year extension for. My dream scenario is that no team approaches him and they all set their sights on the guards in the free market. At that point, I think we should move him at the deadline for a playoff team in need of another point guard for the a run. However, if that doesn't happen, and another team comes and offers like a 5 year, $30 million dollar deal or something then I think it would be in our best interest to let D.J. walk, despite how much I would really hate to lose him for nothing.
Corey Maggette - I honestly think Maggs still is a good player in the NBA. With an expiring $10,924,138 contract, barring injury, there should be a few contenders ready to make a play for him. Though he only averaged 15 ppg this year, I'm not really going to hold that against him too much. He was caught up in the team's inconsistency. Either way, he's not a piece of us for the future considering his age so it's best we try to make a move. The key is what would other teams be willing to give us. We may ultimately just let Maggette expire, just like we did Boris, especially if every offer made entails us taking on another bad contract. But I have a good feeling that we'll be able to get something of value for Maggs either in the offseason or at the deadline. He looks mediocre now, but on a team like the Lakers or Spurs, I could see him flourishing like he was 25 again.
Matt Carroll - Honestly people, what kind of 3 point specialist ends his season shooting under 19% from the 3 point line? Carroll has always been a player not good enough to play consistent starter minutes but always plays better when starting. When coming off the bench, his natural role, he has been ice cold. Unless there is a team willing to give him a starting spot in the NBA (lol), his effectiveness and years in the league will be coming to an end shortly. Carroll's contract next year will be an expiring deal paying $3,500,000. I'm not sure if ownership plans on using him in a trade, but I really can't picture any team wanting to trade for him anyway despite his expiring deal. It may be best to just cut ties with him now or use the amnesty on him and give his roster spot to a developing d-league player who has something to offer. Again, what kind of 3 point specialist shoots 19% from the arc? He may be here next year, but he will/should be gone before the start of the year, deadline at the latest.
Jamario Moon - It's still perplexing exactly why Moon was signed in the first place. I mean, yeah, I understand that we flirted with that back in the preseason, but when you're approaching infamy as the worst team in the history of the league, what's the use in signing a 31 year old who has flamed out the league multiple times already as opposed to signing a young guy who could turn out to be a diamond in the rough. Moon finished the season with us averaging 2 ppg, 3 rpg, and shooting 29% from the floor. I hope to never see him in a Bobcat's uniform again. He needs to be escorted from the premises.
Cory Higgins - The biggest thing to infuriate me about the front office this year was the team bringing on Higgins and then guaranteeing his contract for the duration of the year. I honestly feel like I'm getting "played" by the organization when they make "in house family" moves like this while the team is so epically bad. This is one thing that will have to change if anyone is ever going to take us serious. Rod Higgins, your boy has to go. We need effective NBA players and he just isn't one of them. Having a buddy who owns a team has it's perks, but damn dude. Stop abusing the system. Not only does Jordan have "yes men" around him but he also has guys that he can't seem to say no to. I wonder what Cho thinks about all of this. Either way, that's all I'm going to say on that. I'm just going to trust that the organization makes the right decisions and parts with the younger Higgins. If not, we may really be in serious trouble.
DeSagana Diop - If nothing else, Diop is a good player to have on the team to motivate me into believing I can achieve anything in life. I mean, really, if a big oaf like him can earn $7,372,200 this year playing a sport he is absolutely terrible at, then why can't I run for president of the United States? Diop, despite his size and all that jazz, just doesn't belong in the NBA. He, much like Carroll, I think is an amnesty candidate this year or should just be flat out released so that a young prospect can take his spot. $7 million for 1 ppg and 3 rpg? Good grief. That contract is a small market franchise killer. Thanks Mavericks!
D.J. White - White is much like Augustin, an effective player that we can't get tied down into a long term contract with because of his position. His QO is $3,001,750 which I'm sure we'll extend and no one will match, but I don't think it would be wise of us to sign him to a multi-year deal. Though he was one of our more consistent performers, averaging 7ppg and 4 rpg while shooting 49% from the floor, our glut at the PF spot could make him a casualty. This will especially hold true if we win the lottery and are able to select Davis. If not, I think there is a small chance he sticks around. But if anyone makes any kind of multi-year deal for him, I say let him walk. He's a good spot player, but that's just not going to cut it at this time for us, especially with our rotation at the 4.
Eduardo Najera - At times, Najera was the only Bobcat on the floor who really looked like they gave a crap about whether the team won or lost. Despite being an "old head", his hustle was a good thing to have around our young guys and he played with nothing but guts the entire year. There were even times where we've pitched the idea that he should be brought back on a minimum level deal because of that hustle. Those times have come and gone. We need all of the roster spots available for turnover into productive players as possible, and Najera's 2.6 ppg and 2.3 rpg just aren't worth holding onto. Najera isn't done in the NBA though. Another team who can afford to have a crafty vet on their team to make hustle plays will give him an opportunity, but we just can't afford to bring this team back. Goodbye Eddie. It's been a terrible ride, but we do appreciate the effort!
Derrick Brown - I'm having a hard time finding a reason why Brown shouldn't be back. Yes, I am all for roster turnover, but the kid is the definition of cheap efficiency at the SF spot. This is his 3rd straight year of shooting over 50% from the floor, finishing up just around 52%. His 8 points and 4 rebounds off the bench are excellent numbers for a role player and he could absolutely benefit from having more talent around him. I'm not buying the "he's done developing" argument as he's only 24 years old and has shown a steady improvement on defense. Like I say, I'm just having a hard time finding a reason to say "we should not bring Derrick Brown back on a minimum level deal". Now, don't get me wrong, I won't be broken hearted at all if he leaves. I just don't know why anyone would think that he absolutely needs to go. Bring Brown back. At the very least, he's worthy of being the third SF on our depth chart.
Reggie Williams - Williams had a very Derrick Brown like year, finishing up with averages of 8ppg, 2apg, and 3rpg basically putting up the numbers you would typically expect for a salary of $2,500,000. The real concern for me about him at this stage is how his shooting from beyond the arc dropped from 42% to 31% this year. A lot of that can be contributed to the team's poor play and the surgery that caused him to basically miss the entire first half of the year, but he'll definitely need to rebound from his fall off and perform better next year. Either way, we'll be in a good position to move forward with him or let him go as his deal is expiring. I think if we do make a move for him though, it'll be sometime closer to the deadline than this offseason though. He still has potential to be a value pick and is still probably our best three point threat, but you have to prove your worth on the floor.
Just a few targets that I think we'll go after in free agency.....
PG - Derron Williams (won't come, but M.J. will make an offer), Raymond Felton (he may be back), Kirk Hinrich (the perfect ying to Kemba's yang) Andre Miller (a nice stabilizing force, but either he or Kemba will be forced to the bench. Neither will be happy), Goran Dragic (a Focus guy, has been having a nice year in Houston), Johnny Flynn (still young with potential), A.J. Price (still has a little upside), Delonte West (an effective ball player despite the wet willys), Courtney Forston (he should once again be available), Blake Ahearn (would probably have been our best passer this year)
SG - Eric Gordon (close enough to being a star I think we'll look into him), Nick Young (he and Hendo would be a great SG rotation), J.R. Smith (imo, one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA), Gerald Green (because I hope so), Terrence Williams (also because I hope so), Marco Bellineli (a consistent outside shooter who can compliment Henderson well), Alonzo Gee (another Focus guy, still improving), Kelenna Azubuike (all-star potential scoring for a low price due to injury history)
With wing players being such a scarce commodity, could the front office be ready to make a move for a premier SF like Nicolas Batum of the Blazers?
SF - Nicolas Batum (if we get Davis in the draft, we may try to solidify the SF rotation with a surprise signing), Chase Budinger (young, great outside shooter), Steve Novak (we need more shooters, period. One of the best strokes in the league)
PF - N/A, I just can't picture us picking up another PF. Especially in FA.
C - Roy Hibbert (hey, you create cap room for moves like these), Spencer Hawes (he's increasing his earning potential in these playoffs), Daniel Orton (young, cheap, full of potential), Greg Oden (someone will give him a chance, someone), Hasheem Thabeet (should be cheap, and improves interior defense), Kyrylo Fesenko (young, big, and cheap)