It looks more and more like the Calderon deal is getting done without a trade exception coming our way, which would be mighty curious, considering that we'd be giving up two starting-quality players for one starter and one career benchie. (UPDATE: Bonnell seems to believe at least some sort of trade exception is coming our way, while Toronto people aren't including that information in their reports.) Obviously, Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Rod Higgins, and whoever else is negotiating these deals is going to have to dig up a center somehow. Many of you like the idea of Al Jefferson, but what, exactly, do we offer that another team, like, say, the Mavericks, couldn't offer? Another name thrown around was Emeka Okafor, but, as much as I'd love to bring him back (and make my jersey less throwback-ish), he was only mentioned 'round here as a necessary add-on with Chris Paul, which isn't likely to happen with Calderon now on board.
However, I propose that the Bobcats are going to look elsewhere, and try to be creatively cheap with their solution to this problem, because even if they can make a deal work under the constraints of the CBA, it's still real money they'd have to pay in salary.
Jefferson is set to make $13 million, $14 million, and $15 million in the next three years. As good as he is offensively, there are enough questions about his defense and health that I'm not sure the Cats see him as a good investment. I'd argue that virtually any potential perennial All-Star like Jefferson is a good investment for the Cats, even with significant health risks, because the potential gain is so great, given where the franchise is in its success cycle. If they stand pat, or keep adding somewhat above average players like Stephen Jackson and Jose Calderon, they'll be depending on everything coming together for multiple pieces in one season, everything fitting together just right, all in the hope of winning a playoff series. Or two. But without at least one transcendent talent, there will be no championships. So if you get a chance to get that guy... GET HIM.
This is why a max contract to Rudy Gay is slightly more defensible than a max contract to Joe Johnson. Why it's okay for the Bobcats to trade anyone off their roster (even though, emotionally, I can't even begin to contemplate trading Gerald Wallace). And it's why everyone thinks David Kahn is out of his mind to want to trade Jefferson. He already has a guy who, conceivably, could lead a championship team, and he's choosing to jettison him for Darko Milicic and depth. Yikes.
So who are the creatively cheap options? I'll start the rosterbation with suggesting Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, the guy who was in the D-League last year. If the Grizzlies just want to dump his contract, we'll send them Reggie Evans. Done and done.
Dude can't play offense worth a damn, but the guy is a legitimately great shot blocker, and while this team could use a more complementary player to Tyrus Thomas, maybe an offensive-minded player while TT plays D, it's not necessarily a bad thing to pair two similar post defenders with our aggressive on-ball defenders. I mentioned a no-fly zone with Tyson Chandler pairing with Tyrus. Thabeet and Thomas and Wallace would be a no-takeoff zone. It wouldn't even be considered to drive the lane on those guys. We'll win by keeping you under 90 points.
Find someone else who's not quite on the radar, a lower-budget guy who could help us out at center.