by: David Kay
2008-09 Season Summary:
The Bobcats were a playoff contender for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference until they lost seven of their final eight games. Still, Charlotte showed some signs of life, finishing with their best record in their short five-year history. They made some aggressive moves during the season to try and improve their roster, trading for veterans Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Nazr Mohammed while at the same limiting whatever cap space they may have this off-season. First year head coach Larry Brown brought the best out of this group and leaves a positive outlook for the future.
C: Tyson Chandler/DeSagana Diop/Nazr Mohammed
PF: Boris Diaw/Alexis Ajinca
SF: Gerald Wallace/Vladimir Radmanovic/Derrick Brown
SG: Raja Bell/Gerald Henderson
PG: Raymond Felton/D.J. Augustin
Head Coach: Larry Brown (2nd year)
2009-2010 Team Salary: $59.8 million
Projected 2010-2011 Team Salary: approximately $58.0 million
Off-Season Grade: Failed
When the Charlotte franchise was given new life, they went about building their roster the right way; not over-paying veterans and building a team of talented youngsters. Along the way to their current position a couple things happened to stunt the growth of their franchise.
1- Their young players never fully reached their potential or ended up being busts (see Sean May and Adam Morrison.)
2- They took on some terrible contracts and made some bad signings.
With little cap flexibility this off-season, the ‘Cats were very quiet until they pulled the trigger on a trade that seemingly came from nowhere. Charlotte dealt their rock down low, Emeka Okafor to the Hornets for Tyson Chandler in hopes of saving some money in the long-run; a strange move for an offensively handicapped team to trade one of their leading scorers for a defensive minded player.
One of the biggest moves of the summer was the deal they never reached. Raymond Felton is entering the final year of his rookie contract but the Bobcats were unable to reach a long-term extension with their point guard, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer unless a deal is made during the year.
Drafting Gerald Henderson seemed to be a move made more out of necessity since the Bobcats didn’t have a lot of depth in their backcourt. I think he could be a nice player at the next level but nothing more than a role player.
Charlotte actually got worse this off-season which doesn’t put a lot of optimism into this up-coming season. Larry Brown has worked wonders in his long coaching career and will have to wave a magical wand again this season to get the Bobcats into the post-season. The ‘Cats finished dead last in the NBA last year in scoring and will certainly be near the bottom of the league again this year as they lack a major scoring punch. If I was running this team, I would do everything in my power to try and un-load overpaid players like Mohammed or Diop who have pretty awful contracts. Don’t be surprised if Felton is traded if it seems unlikely that a contract extension will be agreed upon between both sides.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2010:
It’s becoming common for Charlotte to end up with a lottery pick and that will likely be the case next summer. Since they will be over the salary cap barring a trade or two during the season, the Bobcats won’t be able to spend any money in the off-season.
At some point, this franchise needs to find a superstar. If that is to happen in the next two years, it will have to come via trade. For an organization that is reported to have financial struggles, the likeliness of that happening doesn’t seem grim. Plus, there are not a lot of desirable players or expiring contracts on the roster to move.