I only came for two days of playin', but every time I come I always wind up stayin'...
Tonight, the Bobcats take on the Miami Heat. I can't find word on whether or not VladRad's going to get there in time, so it's not clear who's going to start at small forward. Most likely, Larry Brown will start Augustin and Felton in the back court together, and then it probably makes the most sense to start Diaw at the three and Howard at the four. As much as I'd love to see Cartier Martin start at the two, Dwyane Wade makes that a particularly dicey proposition.
After two disappointing seasons, Wade is in the middle of a resurgence. If LeBron wasn't staking his claim on the MVP for the next six years, Wade might be the leading candidate this year, for a team that was expected to struggle to make the playoffs and even now is only three games above .500. Either way, he's clearly one of the five best players in the league again. The Bobcats have no answer for him, and even though the rest of the squad might have one on one advantages over their Heat counterparts, Wade is the supernova in this constellation.
Also, a little more on the VladRad trade:
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm weighs in with why he loves the moves the Bobcats have made recently. I agree with certain aspects of his post. There's no use trying to compete with everyone else for free agents in the summer of 2010. It's a fool's errand. That said, at the beginning of the season, Charlotte was in great position to spend a ton of money on free agents in the summer of 2011 to join Wallace, Okafor, and Augustin, because Mohammed's and Richardson's deals were going to expire that season. Instead, we've added salary.
Where I vehemently disagree with Moore is the notion that being the six seed next year and the year after is okay. No. It is absolutely not okay.
Unless we draft an extraordinary superstar--we're talking better than Brandon Roy, a Kevin Durant type guy--we now have a near-zero chance of being a title contender. Cap space is no panacea, but it's another avenue toward a title, and we've cut it off completely, not just for 2010, but for the entire foreseeable future.
That's because the earliest we'll have real cap and roster space is the summer of 2012, after Diaw's deal expires. Unfortunately, that's one year before Gerald's deal expires, and, again barring exciting draft picks, I imagine free agents that summer won't want to join a team with that kind of future uncertainty. The next year is one year before Emeka's deal expires, too. As I've pointed out before, playoff teams almost always feature All Stars. As awesome as Gerald and Emeka are, they aren't perennial All Stars. If we draft someone awesome, this year or next, he likely won't be able to carry the team until the current core is rebuilt, which simply delays all hope of being a title contender... Ugh.
It's not okay to top out as a six seed for two years and then rebuild because I want, first, sustained success, or, failing that, for my team to sell out everything for a title. The Bobcats' current strategy aims for neither.