The Bobcats and free agency

USA TODAY Sports

The Bobcats have some money to spend and some roster spots to fill. What should they do?

Free agency is one of my favorite times of the year because it's one of the few times that general managers and players show their cards.

It's a fun time filled with chaos, confusion, and my favorite emotion, hope. Hope that a player will agree to a contract offer, that a general manager will target players that fit, that the fans -- you lovely fans -- will stand behind the team no matter what buffoonery occurs over the summer.

Because let's be honest. Everyone thinks they're a general manager. Everyone thinks they know better than the guy who's been doing this for years as a full-time job. We're privy to such a small amount of information and it's important to keep in mind that teams do not make impulsive decisions based on the information that we have. Fact is, when a team contemplates any move, they sit at a table and go through all of the data, interviews, and video available. For hours. Days, sometimes.

But that's not why we're here. We're here to throw everything I just said in the trash and speculate. Because it's fun.

The CBA

First, I'm going to throw some numbers at you. We don't know the exact number yet, but this year's salary cap is expected to be around $58.5 million. Why is that important if the Bobcats want to save money? Well, there's this thing called the salary floor that states a team must spend 90 percent of the cap figure. In other words, the Bobcats need to spend about $12 million this summer, whether they like it or not.

The Bobcats have about $40 million committed to 10 players. This includes Gerald Henderson's cap hold.

So, what should the Bobcats do with their money?

Free agents the Bobcats have contacted

Al Jefferson

I'm okay with them targeting Big Al, personally. Sure, he's a terrible defender. Sure, he's fairly predictable on offense. But he's worth $8-12 million per year. That eats up a ton of what the Bobcats are being forced to spend without making them too much better. Besides, the influence that Jefferson (and Patrick Ewing) could have on Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller gets me excited. Al Jefferson is one of the best post players in the league today. Patrick Ewing is one of the best post players of all time. Just saying.

Basically, if the Bobcats offer Jefferson a high dollar, short-term contract, I'm perfectly fine with bringing him in. I'd have no issue paying him $12-14 million a year over one or two years because it makes them better (without being too good), eats up the $12 million they're being forced to spend without compromising future flexibility, gives them a decent trade chip and should help develop the Bobcats' young bigs.

Maybe I'm being too optimistic. What do you think?

J.R. Smith

Yeah, apparently the Bobcats have been talking to everyone's favorite gunner.

Smith is among the most explosive scorers in the NBA, and, when committed, is a great defender in small stretches. If Smith has any interest in signing with the Bobcats, I have to assume it's because they're offering more money than other teams. As with Jefferson, I'm not against that so long as the deal is two years or less.

He's erratic, fans have a complex love-hate relationship with him, and his name is Earl. That's J.R. Smith.

O.J. Mayo

If you can't have J.R. Smith, why not sign J.R. Smith Lite? Mayo is one of those young guys that just hasn't panned out at the NBA level. He's an excellent shooter (40.7 percent last season)...and that's just about the extent of his skill set. He's a slightly above-average ball handler, I guess.

He's still young, so a longer deal seems reasonable. He'd be an excellent sixth man going forward. Think Jason Terry in his prime, just worse.

Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts

This is a no-brainer. Both are excellent, undervalued players that have shown a commitment to playing hard on a losing team. I sincerely hope both are retained, and I'm sure you feel the same way.

Free agents the Bobcats should target

I felt guilty throwing the word "should" in that heading after emphatically stating that we don't know very much.

But whatever! We want to speculate!

First, let's take a look at the Bobcats' needs. They have two good point guards, a good small forward, and a pretty loaded frontcourt if they acquire Al Jefferson. The team may not be very good, but at least there's some stability on the roster.

The Bobcats don't really have any needs outside of the all-encompassing "talent". Building through the draft can only get you so far. The same goes for building through free agency. Rich Cho once said, "You draft for talent and trade for need." Wise words.

Free agency for the Bobcats should be about filling in small holes and acquiring assets. If you look at Al Jefferson as part of the Bobcats' future, you're probably going to hate that they're targeting him. However, if you look at Al Jefferson as an asset to trade, it's not nearly as bad.

Okay, okay. We can start talking names.

Greg Oden

Yup, Oden's back. He's undoubtedly a huge gamble for any team, but he's been committed to rehab and by all accounts looks better than he's looked in years.

It sounds like Oden's most interested in going to a contender where he only needs to play 5-10 minutes per game. That's the right move for him, but the Bobcats should probably approach him anyway. He was drafted first overall for a reason, and in the few games he's appeared in over the years, it's easy to see why. Despite his mobility issues, he rebounds well and is a terrific positional defender.

Hey, maybe he breaks in his first game. We don't know. But Oden's potential is simply too high to ignore. He's not the talent he once was, but he should be serviceable at the very least.

Alan Anderson

Yes, I am advocating that the Charlotte Bobcats acquire Alan Anderson. Again.

His time overseas helped him develop into the incredible defender and clutch scorer he was in Toronto. He plays like he's been in the NBA for 10 years longer than he has and comes up huge in big moments. This isn't the Alan Anderson that was in Charlotte many years ago. Nope.

I won't lie, though. Anderson does jack a few shots he shouldn't. Still, he knows his role and won't force his game if things aren't going well.

Anderson might be one of the most well-rounded role players in this year's free agency class. He's a stopgap, but he fits and exhibits the character traits the Bobcats are looking for.

Xavier Henry

Henry's only 21 years old, and while he's never shown much promise (his career Player Efficiency Rating is 8.1), I'd be interested to see what he's capable of as he approaches his prime. He's an alright shooter from 3 (39 percent over the last two years) and is pretty athletic.

Maybe he never pans out. I don't know. But what's wrong with taking a flier on a 21-year-old that shoots the ball well?

Al-Farouq Aminu

Much like Henry, Aminu never really panned out the way people expected him to. He's a decent rebounder (10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes last season) and defender and should fit well in Steve Clifford's up-tempo system. He's also pretty easy to please on offense. He doesn't take many shots and knows his role.

He also has a very funny voice that makes me smile and dresses very strangely.

I just like Aminu. He's nothing special, but he's a solid all-around player.

Conclusion

The Bobcats are in a difficult position. They don't want to spend their money, but they have to. There aren't many players available that fit especially well, which forces their hand further. The rebuilding process isn't quite done, but we're getting closer to the finish line. I imagine the upcoming season is the last the Bobcats "tank".

Free agency is a means to an end. Very rarely does a team acquire a player via free agency that changes their franchise. Especially if you factor out superstar players.

The Bobcats should look for young players with toughness and athleticism, a shooter or two, and a couple grizzled veterans to help develop the Bobcats' young core. There's not a lot of that out there, unfortunately.

What do you guys think? Who should the Bobcats offer a contract to?

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