The Bobcats are sellers, definitely sellers. The Bobcats have gotten so much better since last year but the rebuilding plan is still in extra full force. The early seven-game win spurt was nice but greatly helped by the schedule and several key players being out for some of the opponents. Regardless, Charlotte is not threatening for a playoff spot this year. Any move they would make would likely be to add some assets in the form of either young/more talent (down low!) or perhaps some more draft picks down the road.
One potential move would be to ship Ben Gordon off to a contender in need of some scoring off the bench. Gordon certainly has his limitations, defense and ball handling instantly come to mind, but one thing he can do is score, and score he does. He's also been durable for Charlotte which is something that could not be said about the player he essentially replaced, Corey Maggette. For all of Gordon's shortcomings in the two aforementioned areas, he was not brought here to be a starter he was brought here to be a quick scoring option (who could actually score) and he's filled that role nicely for the Bobcats. Seeing as last year's bench mob was essentially extended D-League roster spots, Gordon is a breath of fresh air off the bench. You can never have too many scoring options...well, the Bobcats can never have too many...so losing him would hurt a little but if they can get value for him it's not out of the question.
Gordon is also an expiring contract after next year. DeSagana Diop is an expiring contract after this season so I suppose someone could overlook the fact that he's DeSagana Diop and try to grab him. But at this point I think the Bobcats have earned the right to celebrate that particular contract coming off the books.
Another player in the expiring contract category is Reggie Williams. Williams has seen his floor time decrease this year, from around 22 minutes to eight, because the Bobcats have more good players than last year. He was brought in as an added three-point threat for a horrible team last year, and that was not a bad signing. But between Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and even Kemba Walker and Byron Mullens, the Bobcats no longer have a shortage of players who are willing and/or (on a good night) able to stretch the defense from behind the arc. Williams might fit in that poor man's Ben Gordon category but I'd guess he'd be more of a throw-in than a center piece.
The objective to any Bobcat moves would more than likely be to add assets in the form of more draft picks. Any talent they would hope to pick up for immediate use would have to be directed to the post. Right now Bismack Biyombo is really the only post "presence" reliable down the stretch. And as much as he has improved (as much as anyone in the league if you ask me, which you kind of did) he still has a long way to go particularly on offense. Brendan Haywood is an NBA player. But small ball has really been the most successful gamble for Charlotte this year and adding a legit big man down low has to be at the top of GM Rich Cho's wish list.
I just can't see anyone willing to take on Tyrus Thomas and his contract at this point. Otherwise, the Bobcats would certainly be interested in unloading him for something. But with each passing day he spends on the bench, in uniform or not, the word "amnesty" has to ring louder and louder in Cho's head. If you get rid of Diop, which you can be just staying put, and Thomas after this year that removes just about every ghastly contract the Bobcats have been lugging around over the last few years. Gordon's contract would still loom pretty large of course, but again that will be gone after next year.
The positive play of rookie Jeff Taylor gave way Gerald Henderson murmurs when he was out injured, and that's certainly something the Bobcats will continue to observe. But Henderson has played well since returning and likely will make a decision regarding his contract just as difficult as you would think
Is anyone off the table?
I honestly don't think anyone in Charlotte is untouchable, but Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are certainly the closest.
Trade ideas? Sure, why not. These range from out there to way out there. All trades have been run though the trade machine so you know they're good.
Let's start with the most popular one in the league, a trade for Pau Gasol.
Charlotte gets: Pau Gasol (2 years, $19M)
Los Angeles gets: Ben Gordon (2 years, $12.4M) and Byron Mullens (2 years, $2.25M)
This will never happen. This would never happen for many reasons but let's say it would (it won't), Charlotte gets the post presence it desperately needs and one that torched most of Team USA in the last Olympics. LA gets a gunner of the bench that could provide some scoring to its second team, and a young big man who could potentially space the floor, kind of a Luke Walton type guy without the passing and natural basketball instincts. How's that for a sales pitch?!
Charlotte gets: Amare Stoudemire (3 years, $19.9M)
New York gets: DeSagana Diop (1 year, $7.3M), Ramon Sessions (2 years, $5M), and Reggie Williams (1 year, $2.6M)
Winner: Charlotte(?), I guess. This one honestly doesn't make sense other than getting Amare out of New York, giving the Knicks an expiring for it and getting a post presence in Charlotte. Sessions would also provide some younger depth behind Raymond Felton at the point and Williams would be basically a throw-in and another expiring. Of all the make-believe impossible trades this is my least favorite because no matter how you slice it you can't get Rasheed Wallace in Charlotte.
Trade 3 (where we REALLY reach)
Charlotte gets: DeMarcus Cousins (2 years, $3.8M) and Marcus Thornton (3 years, $7.5M)
Sacramento gets: DeSagana Diop (yada yada expiring contract) and Gerald Henderson (1 year $3.1M)
Winner: Charlotte. The Bobcats did not extend Henderson before this year which was the right move to see how this season plays out. Based on recent play though I'd guess he's more likely to sign than not. If however, they know that's not the case they can't let another draft pick walk for nothing. So, shipping him to Sacramento for one of the best young big men in the league and an additional scoring threat in Thornton would be a nice get. The Kings would then get two expirings or a potential up-and-coming if not quite star in Henderson.
Trades are Michael Jordan's favorites. They also happen to be what this franchise has done better than drafting, until recently. Cho has made a MONSTER difference in the approach and vision this team has moving forward so Bobcats fans can feel pretty good knowing any move that might happen will come from him. Still, there will have to be a pretty enticing option out there for Charlotte to make any major moves, and even though they certainly have pieces of value (that couldn't always be said) any moves will likely be for future gain rather than immediate impact.