Trade season approaching
Fudge whatever y'all been hearing
Fudge whatever y'all been wearing
A Woj-ster about to come alive again
- Kanye West
Trade rumor season is officially upon us now that December 15th has passed, permitting free agents who were signed last summer to be traded. So with that in mind, we here at SB Nation have our team sites preparing trade season primers to break down each team's position and needs as talks start heating up.
Are the Bobcats buyers or sellers?
This is the first year in a while that this has been much of a point of discussion. Charlotte's surprised as an upstart fringe playoff team in a woeful Eastern Conference full of bombing teams starting rebuilding efforts and surprisingly bad slow starters. Coach Steve Clifford has the team playing tough defensive ball, which has given the Bobcats the edge to keep them in games with even the better teams in the league, at least until fourth quarter struggles set in.
It was no secret that signing Al Jefferson was an indication that the Bobcats were ready to start shifting gears from a full-on rebuild to something a bit more. Still, the general thought was that though Charlotte had vastly improved their roster in the past few years, there was still much room to improve before transitioning to a focus on playoff contention.
Depending on who you ask, the Bobcats might be moving in that direction sooner than possible, which could put them in the position to be one of the teams 'buying,' especially if the Chad Ford report is based in truth.
Even if it's not, the time for the Bobcats to be sellers has mostly passed. This is one of the best seasons in recent memory to drop your team into the basement in the interest of building through the draft, but with possibly three first round picks on the immediate horizon, one wonders how long you can possibly stay in rebuilding mode, which is an exhausting time for fans who must be patient with the front office's vision. If anything, it seemed that the Bobcats would be open to selling for the right assets, especially with veterans Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon on expiring contracts.
But as Chad Ford reported yesterday, the Bobcats could look to be buyers and focus on the playoffs sooner than expected. This would put them into a more aggressive mode to try and turn young talented with potential (players or picks) into players with a bit more experience and current value, or possibly disgruntled players or ones with big contracts. This may not be enticing to some but, hey, it is what it is.
If the Bobcats are buyers, what are they looking for?
Without a doubt, Rich Cho, Rod Higgins and the Bobcats front office would be looking for a perimeter play with a very consistent three-point shot. Charlotte is dead last in team three-point shooting at a miserable 28.8 percent, behind the Pistons who are at 31.2 percent.
The lack of shooting has been a major factor in Bobcats losses as they give up a big chunk of scoring to opponents in 3-pointers, which outpaces the Bobcats' offensive efficiency. Just the other night we saw the Bobcats more or less handle the Lakers easily, but because they couldn't keep up with Los Angeles' triples and didn't get to the stripe as often as usual, Charlotte couldn't close out the Lakers' offense.
A shooting guard with experience and who doesn't need to handle the ball much would be best, as the team gets antsy and hurried in the fourth quarter when they find themselves with leads and rush into poor shots and abandon passing the ball. It would also be good if said guard was a half-decent defender. I don't think anyone particularly wants another Ben Gordon.
The other news is that the Bobcats are apparently in the mix for Omer Asik trade talks with the Rockets, per Chris Sheridan's source. I'm not sure how that would work with Al Jefferson at center currently, but I guess it's something to keep your eyes open for.
If Charlotte is a seller, what are they looking to get back in return?
Pretty simple: someone who can help the Bobcats future. Whether that's a draft pick or a young player with talent that might be miring on a bench somewhere, I'm sure either would be worth a look for the Bobcats.
What players are available?
If the Bobcats are truly interested in winning sooner rather than later, they might want to keep more of their players than once thought. But with just about any team, any player is probably available for the right price.
But that's not to say that some Bobcats aren't more available than others. The Bobcats tried to find someone to take on Ben Gordon for a year ago without any takers, though I'm sure teams are definitely chomping at the bit this year! Still, someone might be interested in his huge expiring contract if they want to part with a big salary player. Ramon Sessions has an expiring contract that's pretty inexpensive and has been decent for Charlotte, especially excelling at getting to the rim and drawing fouls. For contenders trying to shore up point guard depth with experience, he could be a target. As for the rest of the team, there's probably no untouchables but the value goes up with the young players.
Kemba Walker's extremely unlikely to be dealt anywhere as the most promising young player on the Bobcats. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn't quite at that level, but he's probably a little low in value if the Bobcats want to get a decent return for him after his hand injury. Gerald Henderson is on a friendly contract that could entice teams looking for a guard with a diverse skill set and some decent defensive chops. Josh McRoberts, who the Bobcats snagged from the Orlando Magic for freaking Hakim Warrick, could be nearing his peak value if Charlotte is interested in selling high. However, McRoberts is one of the key players that maked this offense tick so the Bobcats might want to hold on to him. And Al Jefferson isn't going anywhere just yet, especially the way he's been playing, though that could change if he goes super saiyan this winter. Jeff Taylor has been inconsistent and though he still has promise, I doubt the Bobcats are not open to talking with teams about deals that would include him. Same goes for Bismack Biyombo.
At which position do the Bobcats have a surplus?
There really isn't one, especially recently because of injuries at small forward that have opened up minutes for shooting guard and power forward as players at these positions have to cover for the small forward gaps. But when healthy, the Bobcats have a logjam at power forward and center. Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Adrien are defensive-minded big men that at times struggle on offense and do some of the same things. Usually as time for one increases, it decreases for the other. Anthony Tolliver has also been getting minutes and Cody Zeller has to get time too. Oh, and McRoberts is starting. The positions change depending on the lineups and the player's skills so a lot of times Biyombo will be at center behind Al Jefferson.
I'm not one who scours the league looking for prospective trade targets for the Bobcats so I'm no good at this. I'll leave that up to the folks in the comments. Depending on your thoughts of the Bobcats' outlook in this trade season, the surplus of draft picks could prove instrumental in prying talent away from teams, so there are a lot of opportunities to be had, I'm sure. Trade season in the NBA is arguably more exciting than any other major sport (though the NHL's is pretty good too), so have fun with your imagination but I wouldn't believe everything that gets reported. Some leaks are how teams put out feelers for how a trade is percepted or misdirection plays. And don't forget to get text notifications for Adrian Wojnarowski's twitter account as the February 20 3 p.m. EST trade deadline approaches!