The NBA Finals have begun, the draft is a mere 16 days away and the beginning of free agency is less than a month (July 1) from being upon us — minus the first part of that last sentence, it’s a Bobcats fan favorite time of the year. A time to talk about all of the up-and-coming free agents that Charlotte could land, but probably won’t. A time to debate who the next savior of the team will be with our pick in the top-5. A time to dream about how the future could be, one day, bright for this struggling franchise.
Okay, re-focus with me now. One very important aspect to Charlotte’s summer is going to be in deciding what soon to be free agents that are currently on the roster will be retained. The headline names include Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Byron Mullens and Jeff Adrien.
Gerald Henderson: This is without question the most intriguing/debateable free agent that will be up for grabs come July 1. Hendo has a qualifying offer worth approximately $4.5 million, but it’s almost certain that there will be a team that offers more than $5mil/year — the ultimate question is where exactly Hendo’s market value is going to fall.
He finished the season very strong — Hendo averaged 18.9 PPG & 4 RPG after the all-star break (30 games). This is a classic case of a player over-achieving towards the end of his contract in search of a fat new deal, but was Hendo’s late season performance as much of a smokescreen as it seems? That’s what GM’s around the league must ask themselves and the majority opinion to that question will give us Hendo’s market value.
I’d venture to guess that if that number grows greater than $6mil annually, Charlotte will elect to let him walk. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Cho did try to trade Hendo at the trade deadline for a package that included the names J.J. Hickson & Timofey Mosgov.
– 50% probability Henderson signs a new contract with Charlotte.
Josh McRoberts: McRob came over from Orlando for Hakim Warrick and did nothing but ball out for 26 games — 9.3 PPG (50.5% FG), 7.2 RPG & 2.7 APG. McRob can really see the floor well for a big man and on top of that is a great passer. That’s probably the most refreshing skill he brought to Charlotte. Not only does he have above average athletic ability for his 6’10 frame, but he proved to be a high IQ player who can create offense by passing and shooting.
Not sure that he’s been an unselfish player for his entire 5-year career in the league, but he’s morphed into one + has passing abilities that remind you of a guy like Boris Diaw. McRoberts is going to be cheap + has proved to be solid role player. 2 years/$5mil isn’t outrageous.
– 75% probability McRoberts signs a new contract with Charlotte.
Byron Mullens: Wow. I’m going to do my best to keep this short and snappy, because it doesn’t usually end pretty when I get started on Mully. What can I say, he’s a coaches worst nightmare. Byron can look like the best player on the floor and the worst within back-to-back possessions. Mully took 3.9 3PA/game last season and he’s 7-feet tall — just go ahead and let that sink in.
The Bobcats have one of the more rare commodities in basketball with Mully — a true 7-footer that can stretch the floor. Yet, with the shot selection + decision making that he possesses on both ends, many times that rare commodity is a waste. No team wants a center that consistently lingers around 40% from the field — It’s the true adversary of offensive efficiency.
*Forces self to be optimistic* — Byron did show flashes of improvement last season. He got significantly better on the glass + seemed to have a more polished offensive game around the basket, although the willingness to play from that area wasn’t there. Byron attempted more shots (157) from 25-29 ft. than any other place on the floor.
Charlotte’s most glaring need is a big man that can play near the basket and force defenses to send an extra defender. Otherwise, you’re always very easy to guard. Mullens doesn’t bring this to the table and it’s not smart to assume he ever will.
Mullens basically has the exact same qualifying offer as Gerald Henderson ($4.5mil) because of the fact that he met ‘starter criteria’ in 2012-13 season + met the 41 starts/2,000 minutes required to meet the qualifying offer equal to that of the 9th pick of his draft class (via ShamSports.com). Can’t imagine that the interest around the league is anything more than lukewarm around paying Mullens more than what his qualifying offer is worth.
– 65% probability that Mullens signs qualifying offer deal with Charlotte.
Jeff Adrien: An energetic type of player who is physical/strong + can rebound the ball. Could be a nice role player for many teams in this league.
If Cho does indeed decide to amnesty Tyrus Thomas + Byron Mullens ends up elsewhere due to a sweeter offer, then I could see Adrien back in Charlotte. Although it seems highly unlikely at this point, there is the possibility that both Tyrus & Mullens are on this roster next season — that would leave little, to no room for Adrien.
A lot will depend on how the Bobcats address their frontcourt needs this summer. Do they seek to add a star through free agency/trade, or do they go get a player like Anthony Bennett in the draft? If either of those situations manifest themselves, then it’s hard to imagine that Adrien will find his way back in Charlotte.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see Adrien back in Charlotte due to the fact that all signs point towards Cho addressing some of the frontcourt needs this summer through either the draft, free agency or a trade. On top of that, you have McRoberts, Mullens, Tyrus & Adrien all wondering whether or not they’re going to be back next season — Adrien is likely towards the bottom of that list in priority for the front office, so you do the math.
– 35% probability Adrien signs a new contract with Charlotte.