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Where Might the Bobcats Trade Felton? Eastern Conference

Fact: The Charlotte Bobcats drafted DJ Augustin, a point guard.

Fact: They also drafted Kyle Weaver, who they hope will play point guard.

Conclusion: Raymond Felton, the current point guard, is likely on his way out. Barring a dramatic development, he won't be a Bobcat past this season.

While the team is already denying that Felton will be moved, no one buys it. They will trade Felton if they get a reasonable offer. The Knicks are the most oft-mentioned trade partner, but we'll get to them in a moment, because I've compiled the list of Eastern Conference teams in need of a point guard, looked over player salaries on Hoops Hype, and I've used the RealGM Trade Checker to show what they might offer for Felton. Of course, this ignores that teams might go the free agency route for their point guard needs. I'll continue with Western Conference teams tomorrow.

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks picked up Mike Bibby last season, but, playoff performance notwithstanding, he's pretty much done as an NBA starter. At least his contract expires after this upcoming season. Speedy Claxton is on the books, and so is Acie Law IV, but neither is the answer. They're in a bind if they want to re-sign both Josh Smith and Josh Childress this offseason, because that would leave them potentially without the flexibility to also re-sign Joe Johnson and Al Horford in a couple years.

Unfortunately for Charlotte, Billy Knight's no longer running the Hawks, so trading Felton for, say, Marvin Williams probably isn't in the cards. Felton would have to get a raise in a sign-and-trade because Williams makes much more money, and that involves convincing Atlanta that Felton could be a playoff-caliber floor general for the next few years. He's almost certainly an upgrade on either Bibby or Law any way you slice it, but even Williams, the odd man out if you only got to keep three of the four young cornerstones of that team, is probably more than Atlanta would want to give up.

Miami Heat
They have Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, and Michael Beasley. Give them an average NBA point guard and a serviceable center, and they're an instant playoff contender. That said, among guys under contract for next season, Marcus Banks is not that point guard, and Mark Blount is not that center.

Outside of those first three, though, the Heat don't really have anyone that makes sense for the Cats. I mean, Udonis Haslem belongs on an NBA roster, but in Charlotte, with Gerald Wallace entrenched and Jared Dudley a cheap, capable, backup in the 3/4 'tweener role, he's not an upgrade.

It is possible to put together a deal for Shawn Marion, but I can't imagine either team would go for that. The Heat can probably get a better package somewhere else, and the Cats would have to commit to Marion long-term to make it worth their while, and that would mean sinking roughly $40 million per year on three swingmen in Marion, Richardson, and Wallace. As good as they are right now and Marion will be for the next few years, Richardson was showing signs of decline before his rejuvenation last year, and Wallace had concussion issues, both of which are scary enough without the prospect of being unable to pay a quality big man or a quality point guard.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Trivia question: How many players do the Cavs have signed for the 2010-11 season? If you answered ZERO, you are correct! Cleveland is already in a powerful position to offer LeBron the highest possible salary when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2010, and they'll also have the resources to offer a max deal to someone like Chris Bosh.

To make a deal with the Cavs work, you pretty much have to believe that Charlotte gains just by removing Felton from the roster so that Augustin can start. They could get Joe Smith, a nice complementary big man to Okafor and Mohammed, it's rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as far as building for the future. Besides Smith, no one else's salaries fit.

A sign and trade of Felton for Sasha Pavlovic might fit, but, again, what need do the Cats have for another swingman?

New York Knicks
There are a lot of problems with the David Lee for Raymond Felton rumors. Chief among them is that Felton isn't the right kind of point guard for the system D'Antoni ran in Phoenix. He excels at penetrating the lane from out of a half-court set, because he's strong enough to take it to the rim through and against the trees. Where he struggles is when he has to make an instinctual snap decision with what to do with the ball in a fast-moving situation; he's not so good on fast breaks or other situations where he doesn't know what he's going to do before he does it. Granted, this is my subjective impression of his game, based on watching 70-plus Bobcats games last season, and the Knicks could have data that contradicts my impression, or D'Antoni might be planning to run a slightly different offense in New York than he ran in Phoenix.

The trade makes a little sense for Charlotte, again, if you agree with the notion that removing Felton from the roster will help Augustin. However, Felton's contract doesn't match up with Lee's, and the Knicks don't have many guys with easily moveable contracts. One possibility is trading Felton, Morrison, and Davidson for Lee and Rose, but Morrison is probably enough of a question mark now, even this early in his career, that I think the Knicks would hesitate to take him on as a condition for getting Felton.

Thus, it appears that a straight-up one for one deal would require a sign-and-trade for Lee, which makes no sense for either Lee or the Bobcats. Lee is a decent power forward, and I'm sure he knows that in free agency it only takes one GM to make a dumb move and offer him far more money than he's worth, so he's unlikely to accept a new contract in line with Felton's per-year salary, even if it's for multiple years. For the Bobcats' part, why would they sign a big man to a longish term deal if it's a big man they know will never be an All Star or anything like that? Their biggest roster problem over the years has been giving a little too much money to too many individual players until it all added up to a puddle of mediocrity. Acquiring David Lee in order to sign him for (relatively) big money over three or more years would be counterproductive to building a winning franchise.