Like just about every year, analysts and fans were already calling 2011's a weak draft.
The Bobcats had two first round picks and analysts couldn't quite get a bead on their targets. Having started Kwame Brown and 33-year-old Nazr Mohammed for a combined 80 games, it was painfully clear they needed a big man. But nothing on that roster was set in stone. They had no guard or forward who seemed to possess the dynamic scoring ability required to lead the team, unless you want to count the aging Stephen Jackson. Their best young prospects were D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson, two players hardly cemented as players to build around.
They had their own pick at No. 9 and the 19th overall pick, from Portland (who got it from New Orleans) as part of the Gerald Wallace trade months prior.
Charlotte traded Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the rights to the No. 19 pick to Milwaukee. Milwaukee sent Charlotte Corey Maggette and gave John Salmons and the No. 10 pick to Sacramento. Sacramento gave Charlotte the No. 7 pick and Milwaukee was gifted Beno Udrih. The Bobcats drafted Bismack Biyombo at No. 7 and Kemba Walker at No. 9; The Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette at No. 10; The Bucks drafted Tobias Harris at No. 19.
It was an odd trade then and it's an odd trade today. Charlotte gave up a better player in Jackson, but they had to in order to get a decent return. Maggette's contract had the same length as Jackson's but with $2 million more on his deal. The Bobcats also relinquished their guard depth in sending Livingston to the Bucks, but financially they didn't give up much. All told, Charlotte moved from 19th in the draft to 7th, without giving up their 9th overall pick and without worsening their financial flexibility, to take Biyombo, who they feared would be gone before their 9th overall pick.
Milwaukee did fine too, saving about $10 million with their moves. They moved back in the draft but still managed to get a solid talent in Tobias Harris.
The Kings, meanwhile, might as well have been Homer Simpson working at home letting his drinking bird press the 'Y' key.
They took back John Salmons' terrible contract, which had four years and $31 million remaining on it. And they moved from the seventh pick to the tenth to draft Jimmer Fredette. It made no sense then and it makes no sense now. They took on more money to move back to the draft. Makes sense.
And now nearly three years later, most of the pieces involved in this trade, the players that these teams made these moves to acquire are gone, leaving Biyombo as the only remaining major piece of this trade.
The Kings buying out Jimmer Fredette is just the latest piece to fall. Salmons, who they had acquired from the Bucks, was turned into Rudy Gay and other small pieces. Sacramento is currently a game from last place in the Western Conference.
The Bucks dealt former No. 19 pick Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih last year at the trade deadline for J.J. Redick, who then was traded to the Clippers in a sign-and-trade the following summer. Milwaukee waived Gustavo Ayon right after the Redick deadline trade and Ish Smith dealt to Phoenix in the three-team sign-and-trade deal with the Clippers that sent Redick to Los Angeles. Milwaukee is currently wallowing in last place in the league standings.
Which leaves us with the Bobcats. Corey Maggette made a minimal impact on the team in their historically bad lockout season due to injuries and the team's on-court incompetence and roster weaknesses. Charlotte's front office made an impressive move in the subsequent offseason, swapping Maggette for Ben Gordon and a first-round pick with limited protections. The Bobcats added on another year of a bloated contract to get that pick from Detroit's ever-imploding front office.
Bismack Biyombo is now the only draft pick from this trade still with his original team, but even that could end sooner than hoped when he was picked. The Bobcats seemed to be open to dealing him at the deadline, to the surprise of no one. Biyombo's impact has declined mostly due to his minutes being nearly cut in half, though he's scoring efficiently, blocking a higher percentage of shots and rebounding better on the defensive side. In spite of his 64.5 field goal percentage, Biyombo's still a limited offensive player, something everyone knew when he was drafted. His defense has been solid but clearly hasn't outweighed his offensive shortcomings, which is quite short of the hopes we had for him as the next Ben Wallace.
Biyombo has another year on guaranteed money at about $3.8 million before the Bobcats will be forced to decide on whether to make a $5.2 million qualifying offer to make Biyombo a restricted free agent.
But for now, it seems the most lasting impact of this trade was not the centerpiece of draft picks and young players, but the management and movement of the bloated contract to acquire talent or other assets in a sad showing of inept scouting or retaining young quality players.