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Will Birdman Fly South...?

Will Birdman Fly South to OKC?

This piece in The Oklahoman (via True Hoop) touches on a subject at the heart of the Bobcats' existence. Chris Andersen was a fantastic player this year. Perhaps he could only play starter's minutes on a certain kind of team, but every other team in the league would have loved to have him for 20 minutes a night off the bench. The Young Rodman comparison is apt.

Here's the thing: For a long time, maybe until his career is over, Andersen will probably be paid less than what he produces, for two primary reasons. First, what he produces isn't generally considered valuable. Points are the price movers for NBA salaries, and only players on the extreme edges of defensive ability -- think Ben Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Andrei Kirilenko -- get paid for that production. Second, Andersen was out of the game for a very long time, suspended for recreational drug use. We don't need to go over the politics of drugs and criminalization and such, but if he's considered a threat to bring destructive behavior to a team, then that will also depress his value.

The Bobcats should be all over signing this player. Andersen would be an immediate upgrade on Diop, since he could play alongside Emeka or replace Emeka in the rotation. If there's any way we can give away Mohammed (unlikely), Diop (even more unlikely), or May (packaged with Freedom Fries in exchange for the option to switch 2nd round picks next year?), then there'd be roster space.

I don't buy the notion that Charlotte -- the city -- can't attract a true superstar; we just need the right pieces to surround him. Besides acquiring talent, the team's goal at the moment is to save money and tread water until the economy recovers, people start spending money again, and new generations of Charlotteans grow up with the Bobcats as a fact of life. Andersen is both a money-saver and is talented.

All this would be more difficult if Bob Johnson's search for a buyer drags on, but the principle of taking on players with irrationally depressed prices is why I dream about putting together the best possible defensive team.