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"Carmelo to the Bobcats" is not a clear-cut proposition, no matter the goal

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Trading Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw for Carmelo Anthony would probably make the Bobcats better now, because 'Melo would be an upgrade on Crash and Tyrus Thomas would be an upgrade on Diaw. The primary downside to such a move would be filling the starting lineup with three volume scorers who take a relatively high number of shots to get their points, followed by a near-total depletion of the team's bench depth, followed by the fear that if Larry Brown sticks around to coach these guys he might actually make Dominic McGuire the starting power forward instead of Thomas.

However, there's also a real upside to trading for Anthony, even if we do it knowing that he's a rental for the rest of this season and nothing more: cap relief.

The very-best-case scenario in which the Bobcats acquire Carmelo Anthony allows us to keep Wallace. Perhaps the Nuggets could be convinced to take on Stephen Jackson instead, to go with Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson's bloodied and beaten career. (Or Derrick Brown; LB probably wouldn't care about dumping either or both of the 2009 draftees.) 

That would give the Cats the most talented five-man lineup they've ever had, with complementary skills and a clear set of roles on both offense and defense.

However, even if the Nuggets insisted on Wallace, Diaw, and both Brown and Henderson -- or anyone else the Cats might have to offer -- there's a legitimate argument that Charlotte should take it and be glad that Denver is willing to take those contracts. I don't know what I'd do, because Wallace is an exceptionally good piece who could be the second-best player on a championship team, and there is something to be said for taking care of players who "mean something" more to a franchise than others do -- word of how management treats players gets around, and they know which organizations take care of their guys.

But I'm also attracted to the idea of ditching as many long contracts as possible, especially in light of the coming CBApocalypse that might totally reset the bar for player contracts. Since no one's really sure how that'll break down, maybe it's in the franchise's best interest to be as close to a cleaned slate as possible, with the flexibility to pursue many different courses of action.

Of course, day to day reality complicates the decision of whether to continue striving for a playoff spot or to reset the building process. How much money are the Cats losing each week? How much more will they lose if they admit defeat and trade the pieces that make them semi-competitive? In the long term, is there much difference in trying to trade one or two big contracts for a superstar, or clearing out cap space to compete for a free agent deal?