Oh, boy. Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins have been traded for DeSagana Diop. In the short term, this probably makes the team better. Diop has a solid defensive reputation, and he'll probably be a real upgrade on Hollins's raw energy, even if the offense is actually a downgrade.
Hollins was a vaguely intriguing fringe NBAer, and Carroll had gone from nice bench option to mostly useless within three seasons, so they're not really giving up much for a guy who can make a difference in limited minutes. As I wrote before, Diop's the mirror image of Nazr Mohammed, above average on defense and atrocious on offense. He'll help. However, it's an open question whether he'll be enough of an upgrade on the group of big men they've been using behind Emeka to push the Bobcats into the playoff conversation.
The real hell of it, though, is that Diop's contract is stupid long and for silly money. Also as I wrote before, in that same post linked above: Diop is signed for the same length of time as Matt Carroll, but instead of a declining contract over time, it increases to over $7 million by 2013.
Cue Weezy's "Milli".
Jason Richardson's deal is $13.3 million in 2010, and $14.4 million in 2011.
Matt Carroll's is $4.7 million, $4.3 million, $3.9 million, and then $3.5 million.
Boris Diaw's is $9 million, $9 million, and $9 million.
Raja Bell's is $5.3 million.
Diop's is $6.0 million, $6.5 million, $6.9 million, and then $7.4 million.
Hollins is not signed past this year.
Examine that money. In two deals, the Bobcats started out on the hook for:
$18 million in 2009-10
$18.7 million in 2010-11
$3.9 million in 2011-12
$3.5 million in 2012-13
Now, they're committed to:
$18.3 million in 2009-10
$15.5 million in 2010-11
$15.5 million in 2011-12
$7.4 million in 2012-13
From the start of the season, they've saved $3.2 million dollars for the summer of 2010, for a total of roughly $7.7 million of cap space, pending any further moves. Without trading for Diop, they'd have about $9 million of cap space.
And... no... no... that can't be... Did they add $11.6 million in the summer of 2011? Apparently, they did.
There is only one motivation for this trade, and it sure as hell isn't the long term health of the franchise. Larry Brown and Co. have acquired a shot at the 7 or 8 seed and getting swept by the Celtics, Cavs, or Magic in the first round in exchange for sitting in cap space purgatory in 2011(!), and maybe even 2012(!!!).
Cap space is not always the answer, but it certainly doesn't hurt. It's absolutely possible to build a team attractive enough for a superstar to take them to the next level, but there's gotta be cap space to sign that guy. These moves don't make the Bobcats absolute playoff contenders, and they totally screw the Cats' chances at signing a significant free agent before the summer of 2012, barring a trade that moves Diaw or Wallace for someone who expires that summer or before. By cutting off the free agent route, our future is totally tied to the draft, now.
Again, the motivation behind this is not the franchise's long term health; it's to get Larry Brown a playoff appearance before he bounces. Getting to the playoffs is fun, but it's not that much fun if it isn't a step toward getting even better.