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Rufus on Fire Free Agent Roundtable

Unfortunately, lockout news appears grim with the cancellation of more games on the horizon. Regardless, it will come to a conclusion at some point. And when that time comes, the Bobcats will need to look at free agent options. But there likely won't be much space to sign anyone, depending on the salary cap decisions. Putting that aside, I asked our writers what they think about this free agency.

1. What do the Bobcats need? At which positions are they most lacking?

BEN: The Bobcats need pure scoring and an inside presence. The team as it stands currently has no guy who can take on opposing defense and score nearly at will, like a Kevin Durant. They have a decent supporting cast of players, but none of them are great scorers. Corey Maggette is probably the best out of the bunch, but who knows what he can do after that mishmash of a season in Milwaukee. Charlotte needs a dominant scorer and soon. One who could hit treys would also help. Preferably this would come at the 2 or 3, but beggars can't be choosy. The other main weakness is the center position. Kwame is currently a free agent and the only center currently signed to the Bobcats is DeSagana Diop, especially with Bismack Biyombo's contract situation up in the air.

JOSH: What position isn't lacking? Truly, the only position with any perceivable depth is the point. Every other position could use an upgrade or a better backup. The Bobcats have a fair amount of role players, but that's just it - they're role players. Either that or they lack experience. There's no real rush though. The Bobcats are beginning to rebuild, so winning additional games is no bonus for them. Look for young, unproven players or veteran journeymen on short contracts.

DAVID: The Bobcats have needed consistent scoring and rebounding for years. And considering their top two performers in each of those categories (Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace respectively) were traded, I'd say it's still a concern. Rebounding in particular has been the source of major aggravation since so many games in the NBA come down to one or two plays, seemingly most often a loose ball/rebound here and there. The Bobcats have had scorers of course (Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, the Gerald Wallace of two years ago) but currently their most consistent jump shooter is....Gerald Henderson maybe? That jumper Gerald honed near the end of last season was damn near flawless...and pretty darn consistent. The question is can he be your starting two guard for the next 10 years. I don't know. Their best scorer now is probably a healthy Corey Maggette...but you know he won't be your shooting guard for the next ten years. So finding the addition of another consistent scorer who can knock down shots from the outside and heck, while we're at let's have him be able to create his own shot as well. And the rebounding thing looks to have been addressed in this draft at least a little with the addition of Bismack Biyombo. He should be able to do two things tomorrow in an NBA game: rebound and block shots. Anything on top of that is cream cheese. But he's not exactly staring down Dwight Howard anytime. At 6 foot 9 he's not exactly a space-eater in there, but if projections are true he's long enough to be active enough to make a difference. But he will need help. The addition of an athletic big man who can defend the post and clean the glass would go a long way to helping this team. If he can actually score that would be a huge plus, but for right now I just want him to get every rebound he sees.

CONNOR: The Bobcats have needs at several positions, but their greatest needs going forward likely lie at the small forward position and at shooting guard. They've recently drafted a lottery point guard and center, providing them with decent depth at both positions. The Bobcats also traded for Corey Maggette, a small forward, but they remain in great need of another decent player at that position. The Bobcats are additionally in need of a backup (or possibly starting, though I doubt they will look for that this year) shooting guard to play some minutes (likely along with Matt Carroll) behind Gerald Henderson.

2. What do you think the Bobcats can find in this free agency, realistically?

BEN: Realistically, not a whole lot aside from bobbing for apples and hoping the apple you come up with is more delicious than you expect. The Bobcats' budget is limited. They should look for the best talent they can afford that can fit the team, but do expect more than Kwame Brown and a minimum-salary offensive-minded swingman. This free agency class is pretty shallow and the Bobcats don't look to be one of the spenders, as the team is set up currently.

JOSH: Not a lot. Some free agents have already signed overseas, and others will likely find spots on winning teams. This free agent class isn't very deep.

DAVID: Well, that's an easy question. Can I start with you we can't get? Ok, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Aaron Afflalo, Patty Mills...these guys are restricted but those are also the guys I could see becoming part of a rebuilding project here and be valuable. I don't see any of their current teams letting them go...perhaps Mills but even that would be somewhat surprising. For what the Bobcats need and are looking for I have two surprising names: Josh McRoberts and Kris Humphries. I know, I know, but listen. McBob played pretty well last year for the Pacers...easily the best of his career and looked like the guy everyone thought he might be out of high school. He chipped in 5.3 rebounds per game in in just over 22 minutes per game. That's more than anyone returning except Kwame Brown and Tyrus Thomas. It does become somewhat of a log jam inside but I'd rather have too many athletic big guys than not enough. Kris Humphries is another interesting name, he gives you 10 and 10. 10 and 10 every night, and you take that. When Humphries was given minutes last year he was a beast on the boards. Standing only 6'9" he won't give you any more height either but he will challenge for the ball, that's for sure. What else will you get with that? Well that's the concern, there won't be a lot of smart basketball decisions particularly on offense, and the harsh truth is he really should be more complete than he is. But I'm always intrigued to see what a coach can do for a player, and watching Paul Silas tutor Humphries would be an interesting situation. That's all we need to say about Humphries, nothing else needs to be mentioned. There's no need to talk about anything else regarding is situation. For outside scoring, I'd be completely shocked if this happened but J.R. Smith would be a fun option (and one the Bobcats have never really had) for instant offense off the bench. I'd throw DeShawn Stevenson into that category as well but I don't see that happening. Perhaps Nick Young (restricted), a veteran like Jamal Crawford would be very intriguing...and awesome. I think every NBA team should have Jamal Crawford at least once, it should be part of the new CBA.

CONNOR: Realistically, the Bobcats should be able to find depth at the small forward and shooting guard positions. There are few high caliber free agents at those positions (or any position, really), but acceptable rotational players can be found.

3. Can you name a few players you think the Bobcats should look at signing?

BEN: Kwame Brown, for sure. He wants to be here with Coach Silas and won't be expensive. Chris Wilcox could be a possible target if his contract value is done from what he made during his time with Detroit. Other big men I'd consider include Jeff Foster, Josh McRoberts, Reggie Evans; basically any competent, inexpensive big man. Moving on to the swingmen, the options are seemingly endless. Score-first swingmen aren't exactly in a shortage in the NBA. Von Wafer, Steve Novak, Jason Kapono; I'm not going to name them all. One guy I'd like to see them take a serious look at is Tracy McGrady. He can handle the ball, play multiple positions and score. He's not the same guy he once was, but fans shouldn't expect him to be. Hopefully he wouldn't be too much for our wallet, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in consideration for a spot on the Bobcats. I'd love to see the Bobcats go after better players like Marcus Thornton. But the simple truth is that they can't right now. The Bobcats' free agency splash looks like a ripple, but that shouldn't be too much of a worry right now. They need to focus on building through their existing young talent and drafting well before trying to sign good swingmen on big FA deals.

JOSH: Following the theme of young players, I'd be open to DaJuan Summers, formerly of Detroit, maybe Chris Douglas-Roberts of Milwaukee (Ed note: CDR has signed a one-year deal with Virtus Bologna with no NBA out), Jason Smith of New Orleans, Earl Clark of Orlando, and Kyrylo Fesenko of Utah. For short-term vets, Reggie Evans of Toronto, Dan Gadzuric of New Jersey, and you know what? Take a chance on Michael Redd. He might have something left.

DAVID: Sure, Allen Iverson. Just kidding, not really. Seriously though, I still want to see what he can do (I'm betting score 15 per game) but not sure the Bobcats are the right spot. But for one year, coming off the bench (SERIOUSLY!) how could it hurt a team that quite frankly needs people in the seats (don't answer that). Aside from that I might try to sniff out a few gems that have been discarded, some perhaps with a lot of upside (Earl Clark, Shawne Williams, Al Thornton) and try to find one keeper or two that can contribute, or at least be an asset. Are those suggestions insane? Probably. There are also veterans available (Grant Hill, T.J Ford, Chuck Hayes, Shane Battier) that could certainly help bolster a young squad.

CONNOR: Regarding the small forward position, Mike Dunleavy could come at a reasonable price, and he's proven himself as a competent shooter (something the Bobcats desperately need) and shown the ability to play decent minutes for a playoff team. It's possible the Bobcats could look to also add a shooter like Shawne Williams or a player that could at the very least provide depth, like Rasual Butler. Even more scant options exist at the shooting guard position, but it's possible that the Bobcats could acquire someone like Anthony Parker to fit into the rotation or a player like Von Wafer to add depth.

4. What expectations should Bobcats fans have for this free agency class?

BEN: Very little. The Bobcats don't have the room to sign anyone big and fans should be happy to find anyone that contributes consistent minutes without being embarrassed on a regular basis. And that's if they find someone who sticks. Basically, fans should expect the Bobcats to fill holes in the roster on a short-term solution basis.

JOSH: None. This class is terrible. There are few young gems, and fewer quality starters. Just get what you need for a season, and get out. Give a young guy a shot, like CDR. No harm can be done by this model. We shouldn't expect to win a lot this season anyway.

DAVID: Pretty low. Honestly it sure looks like the Bobcats are gearing up for a run at someone in 2012. Chris Paul's name is always floated out there but there is a ton of talent in the 2012 free agent pool. If the Bobcats' plan of attack stays the same on the other side of this new CBA, they'll look to have a young, energetic, entertaining team that wins no more than 30 games. Grab another lottery pick, and make some moves in that free agent class that will really matter. By then you'll no what you can expect to get form Kemba Walker and Biyombo, and it should be extremely obvious by then what you want to do with D.J. Augustin. That's the class the Bobcats should be focused on.

CONNOR: In comparison to most free agency classes, the Bobcats should hold low expectations for this year's pool. There are virtually no high-profile players in this class (especially now that J.R. Smith has gone to China), so the most probable and satisfactory result that could come from this year's free agency for the Bobcats is the addition of 1-2 consistent rotational players (along with a couple signees that may compete for minutes from time to time). There's no reason the Bobcats should look to make a big splash in this year's free agency, and there's really no way the franchise could, in any case. It seems to me that the plan is to draft well next year in a loaded 2012 draft (especially in the lottery, where the Bobcats will likely be drafting) and hope to sign a high-profile player or two in the much better 2012 free agency period.

5. Overall, how would you characterize this free agency class?

BEN: Underwhelming, but not surprisingly so. With the lockout looming, players signed their player options anticipating CBA negotiations not being resolved soon. Others had no choice but to go overseas. What's left is a poor FA class. Marc Gasol, Jamal Crawford, Tyson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, etc. Not many great options here.

JOSH: I've said it twice. It's terrible. The Bobcats have no use for a starter in their prime, like David West, or a key piece that could put a team over the top, like Samuel Dalembert. There's no point in signing a guy to a long contract right now, because the Bobcats are about to begin playing Russian Roulette with the roster. It's all about starting over, and this is not the free agent class to make a splash in.

DAVID: This free agent class reminds me somewhat of this year's draft class, or at least how I might classify them. This year's draft class was often labeled as one lacking overall star power but consisting of considerable depth, having players that can be in the league for years to come and help teams. That's how I see this year's free agent class, not many teams are grabbing the cornerstone of their franchise this year. But there are plenty of solid players, borderline stars at best for the most part, that can certainly contribute on a team looking to advance. Again, next year is the class most will be focused on headlined by Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

CONNOR: If I had to characterize this free agent class in two words, I would choose "Sasha Vujacic".