Back to the NBA grind, where hope happens. Or lack of it, as the case may be. With Gerald Wallace and Raja Bell returning for tonight's game in Orlando, DJ Augustin finally healthy, and Vladimir Radmanovic now in the fold to come off the bench, the Bobcats are at full strength for the first time in the team's new iteration.
First, and foremost, we missed Gerald. A lot. As much as people seem to enjoy the Bobcats' notion of winning basketball, it's extremely vulnerable to roster upheaval. Instead of sinking our hopes on one healthy superduperstar and several relatively replaceable parts, each starter, except Raymond, is not good enough to carry the squad, but also too good to be easily replaceable. It puts a strain on the bench to be better than any other team's bench, because when our number four guy goes down to injury, he's better than a lot of other teams' number four guys, and thus it's harder to replace his production. I don't want to top out as a six seed. I want to win a championship.
Let's say the Mavericks lose their minds and decide they are willing to part with Dirk. It'll never happen, but say they offer up a trade of Dirk and Jet for Emeka, Gerald, Raymond, Raja, and May. We'd be trading four starters and a reclamation project for one superstar and a starter with a bad contract. We'd be fools to reject it.
As much as I love Gerald and Emeka, any deal involving them that gets us back a true championship caliber star, we have to take, even if it means getting back some pretty bad contracts as a tax on acquiring that guy, because championships are won by star players supported by solid teammates; they're not won by overwhelming depth in spite of a lack of peak performers.
So, what do we do with Raymond? He's our only player truly on the trading block as we approach the trade deadline. It's okay to leave him be and simply let him go at the end of the season. Really, we'll get a decent backup for much less money after the season. We're not losing out if we just let him go.
But if we can trade him for something, I'd prefer it be for draft picks. Adding years and money in the person of a new player is crazy talk. There's value in an empty roster spot.