The Sports Bank‘s NBA Off-season team needs pages begins at the bottom. The Charlotte Bobcats gave new definition to the word “bottom” this past season by finishing with the worst win percentage in NBA history. Michael Jordan faces a long road ahead to get the Bobcats out of the gutter and there certainly isn’t a quick fix in the near future. (At least MJ has a hot fiancee to look at. Speaking of hot, the smoking Bobcat dancer above is Brittany Kerr who auditioned for American Idol this past year. Check out more pics of her.)
Charlotte Bobcats (7-59 last year)
2011-12 Season Summary:
Historically, it was the most pathetic season in NBA history for Charlotte. The Bobcats finished with just seven wins which was not only their worst finish in franchise history, but replaces the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers with the lowest win percentage the league has ever seen. They finished the season with a 23-game losing streak which included an embarrassing 28-point defeat at the hands of the second worst team in the league, the Wizards. The ‘Cats were actually so horrible that legit conversation was sparked about whether they could be the NCAA Champion, Kentucky Wildcats.
In no way should any of that come as a surprise. Their roster was filled with mediocre talent (that might even be too kind) as guys like Byron Mullens, Derrick Brown, and D.J. White saw significant roles with Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, and rookie Kemba Walker acting as their go-to scorers. Charlotte released unhappy veteran Boris Diaw late in the season to free him of the mess.
It’s hard to find a glass half-full approach but I’ll try. Walker and fellow rookie Bismack Biyombo gained a ton of experience and appear to be young pieces for the long-term puzzle. You can add D.J. Augustin, Henderson, and Mullens into that category as well but the rest of the roster is certainly replaceable.
Michael Jordan has his hands full in trying to turn this team around and is close to entering Isiah Thomas territory in terms of ruining NBA franchises. He deservedly received a great deal of criticism for how the organization has been run since he became primary owner with former Bobcats head coach Larry Brown even claiming Jordan’s front office staff is nothing more than a bunch of “yes men.”
2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Byron Mullens/$DeSagana Diop
PF: Bismack Biyombo/Tyrus Thomas/*D.J. White
SF: Corey Maggette/Reggie Williams/~Derrick Brown
SG: Gerald Henderson/%Matt Carroll/>Cory Higgins
PG: #D.J. Augustin/Kemba Walker
PF-Eduardo Najera (UFA)
#PG-D.J. Augustin (RFA)
*PF-D.J. White (RFA)
$C-DeSagana Diop (PO)
%SG-Matt Carroll (ETO)
~F-Derrick Brown (RFA)
>SG-Cory Higgins (RFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $43.2 million
1. Face of the franchise: Right now, Kemba Walker is the Bobcats’ most recognizable player. After that, the list would be D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette, and Gerald Henderson. Realisitcally, none of those guys should even be starting on a competitive NBA team let alone the “star” player. Charlotte needs to find a face of the franchise in the worst way possible. If they don’t land the first overall pick in the NBA Draft and get Anthony Davis, that likely won’t happen this off-season since no big name free agent will want to join a rebuilding team.
2. Frontcourt scorer: As it stands for next year, the Bobcats frontcourt consists of Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo, DeSagana Diop, D.J. White, and the massively overpaid Tyrus Thomas. None of those five players averaged double figures in points with Mullens being the only somewhat low post presence. Even landing Davis wouldn’t totally solve this issue so Charlotte needs to find a big man who can provide some offense in the paint.
3. Go-to wing option: If you haven’t already picked up on this; in no way should Maggette, Henderson, or Walker be the number one scoring option on any NBA team. Charlotte needs to find someone who can fill it up from the outside. They finished dead last in the league in scoring and were the only team in the NBA to shoot less than 30% from distance.
4. To amnesty or not to amnesty?: Charlotte still has the option to amnesty a player since they did not do so after the new NBA labor agreement last off-season. There are two obvious candidates; Maggette who is owed almost $11 million next season or Tyrus Thomas and the three years, approximately $26 million remaining on his contract. Thomas makes more sense for the long-term since Maggette’s expiring contract could possibly be used as trade bait. Releasing either player would clear even more cap space and put the Bobcats more than $20 million below the likely league salary cap number.
5. Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will a winning franchise in Charlotte. There is no quick fix to make the Bobcats a relevant NBA team so patience will be needed on behalf of everyone involved; management, players, fans. With that being said, MJ needs to be smart with his decisions (not exactly his M.O. as a front office executive) and not waste money overpaying free agents but rather starting at the ground level and building this team through smart draft picks (not a strength of MJ either.)
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.