Bobcats Look to Build on First Winning Season

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I do not think there is a team that I am less interested in watching play this season than the Charlotte Bobcats.  But in an Eastern Conference where the seventh and eighth playoff spots are anyone’s for the taking, Michael Jordan’s squad could very well make their second straight trip to the NBA Playoffs.

By: David Kay

Charlotte Bobcats (44-38 in 2009-10)

2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nazr Mohammed/DeSagana Diop/Kwame Brown
PF: Boris Diaw/Tyrus Thomas/Eduardo Najera
SF: Gerald Wallace/Derrick Brown/Dominic McGuire
SG: Stephen Jackson/Gerald Henderson/Matt Carroll
PG: D.J. Augustin/Shaun Livingston/Sherron Collins
Head Coach: Larry Brown (3rd season)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $65.6 million

Offseason Moves:
-Bobcats sign C Kwame Brown to 1-year, league minimum deal
-Bobcats release C Erick Dampier
-Bobcats sign PG Shaun Livingston to 3-year, $10.5 million deal
-Bobcats acquire C Erick Dampier, PF Eduardo Najera, SG Matt Carroll, and Cash consideration from Dallas for C Tyson Chandler and F/C Alexis Ajinca
-Bobcats sign PF Tyrus Thomas to 5-year, $40 million extension
-Bobcats sign F Dominic McGuire to 1-year deal
-Bobcats C Tyson Chandler passes on early termination option

Off-Season Grade: D
Let’s see… The Bobcats lose their starting point guard in Raymond Felton and replace him with Shaun Livingston.  They pretty much gave away Tyson Chandler in order to acquire Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract.  They were unable to spin Dampier into anything of value so he gets waived to avoid further luxury tax penalty.  Their replacement for Chandler… Michael Jordan’s good buddy, Kwame Brown.

On top of that, Charlotte did not have a first round pick plus they extended Tyrus Thomas for five years, $40 million.  I know Thomas seems to be clicking with Larry Brown, but I have never been a huge Thomas fan and think that deal is a bit outrageous.  Although I suppose the ‘Cats had to do something since he was a restricted free agent and was drawing interest from other teams.

Stephen Jackson Michael Jordan

2010-2011 Outlook:

Coming off their first ever trip to the post-season in the team’s six-year history, (granted they were swept in the first round, but still an accomplishment) the Bobcats should once again be in the picture for the seventh or eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  Who would have thought that of all the players in the league, Stephen Jackson would be the missing link for this Charlotte team?

The Bobcats have been a very defensive-minded team the past couple years as they allowed the least amount of points in the league.  They need to be that type of team because the past two years, they have finished 30th and 28th in the league in scoring.

Jackson provided the team with a much needed offensive weapon when he was acquired from Golden State early last season.  That allowed Gerald Wallace to switch to that of a complimentary role which is he better suited for since no team with Wallace as their go-to scorer will be a playoff team.  The Jackson/Wallace duo will once again need to carry this team on the offensive end.

Elsewhere, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.  D.J. Augustin takes over for Felton at the point.  The former Texas Longhorn had a terrific rookie season but really took a step back last season.  Livingston will back-up Augustin but can he stay healthy for an entire season?  During the past three years, Livingston has played in just 48 games.

Center play will also be a concern.  Nazr Mohammaed, DeSagana Diop, and Kwame Brown are going to have to fill the void left behind by Chandler and Theo Ratliff especially since the power forwards of Boris Diaw, Thomas, and Eduardo Najera are too undersized to play the five.

Looking Ahead to Next Summer:
With only Mohammed’s contract being the only significant amount of money coming off the books, the Bobcats will have little cap flexibility next off-season.  That will also leave them with a hole in the middle.  Charlotte has not been shy about pulling the trigger on trades in recent years so look for them to turn to that avenue for up-grades to their roster.

NBA Power Ranking: 16th

Other NBA Season Previews:
#17 New Orleans Hornets
#18 Memphis Grizzlies
#19 Philadelphia 76ers
#20 New York Knicks
#21 Los Angeles Clippers
#22 Indiana Pacers
#23 Golden State Warriors
#24 Washington Wizards
#25 Detroit Pistons
#26 New Jersey Nets
#27 Sacramento Kings
#28 Cleveland Cavaliers
#29 Toronto Raptors
#30 Minnesota Timberwolves

Check out David’s Fantasy Basketball Rankings

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