After weeks of anticipation, the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline deadline went out in a small wimper for one of the teams who were expected to make a big bang. After being linked to the likes of Evan Turner, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Arron Afflalo, the Bobcats left Thursday by making a small move with an Eastern Conference cellar dweller. In a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bobcats received veteran backcourt players Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. While Adrien has been one of the golden boys of QCH, this deal is basically centered around Ridnour, Neal and Sessions.
As we’re now removed from Thursday’s deadline; Greg Pietras, Dakota Schmidt and Michael Kaskay-Blomain give their take on the four player deal with Milwaukee.
1. On a scale of 1-10, how do you see this deal in terms of helping Charlotte out for the rest of the season and/or for the future
Dakota: 5. Similar to the majority of Thursday’s deadline, this deal with Milwaukee is just another average, boring deal. With that said, this deal could help out Charlotte for the remaining two months of the regular season because of the duos ability to score from the perimeter. For his entire career, Neal has been a solid three-point marksman (40% from beyond the arc) while Ridnour is one of the best mid-range shooters in the league.
Michael: 4. I don’t see the deal with Milwaukee moving the needle much long-term for the Bobcats, but it could help them in their playoff push this season. Neal is a solid outside shooter, which Charlotte needed to add, and will help to balance out the offense. Luke Ridnour is a solid shooter as well, as he will serve as a solid back-up point for the time being, but I don’t view either as long-term solutions for Charlotte.
Gregory: 4-ish? The Bobcats will miss Sessions, particularly on the second unit, but the trade gives them more depth in the right places and some versatility. Charlotte was frequently forced to play Sessions next to Kemba, and now they have to personnel to play more traditional lineups. That may not be a good thing: Kemba and Sessions actually formed the team’s best two-man combination that played at least 150 minutes together, going by +/- per game. In general, Sessions was effective, but the bench was still incredibly creaky before the trade. This gives them playable options in two positions rather than one.
2. How much of an upgrade or downgrade is Ridnour as a backup PG over Sessions?
Dakota: Considering the fact that the two teams basically swapped expiring backup point guards, I really like Ridnour in terms of his possible fit for Charlotte. While he’s had a below-average season with Milwaukee, I still think that he could be a solid 10-15 minute backup PG behind Kemba Walker.
Michael: You lose a little speed and slashing ability with Ridnour compared to Sessions, but in reality, it shouldn’t matter much. Ridnour is a solid shooter who can run an offense and hold down the point guard position for periods of time. It may be a slight upgrade, if anything, but again, no real long-term value.
Gregory: I think it’s a downgrade, but giving Henderson and Kemba a slight bump in minutes could help cover for that. Ridnour’s been pretty poor this year, and the combination of injuries, inconsistent minutes and a barren roster in Milwaukee didn’t help. He won’t need to be as dynamic at Sessions was, just steady enough to soak up some minutes. In any case, I don’t think it’s a significant enough drop to derail the team. And if he bounces back to his career stats, he’ll be an asset.
3. Was it really necessary for the team to pursue Neal when they have a similar player in Ben Gordon?
Dakota: As an adamant Gary Neal basher, I never really saw Charlotte’s desire to pursue him when there were other less selfish perimeter options on the market (Troy Daniels)? While I’ve talked about his solid ability from beyond the arc, Neal is just a mediocre/below-average overall player who’s prone to take a lot of awful shots. With Ben Gordon rotting away on the Bobcats bench, I really didn’t see the need for Charlotte to get Gary Neal.
Michael: Pursuing Neal wasn’t necessary, but it does add to their offensive attack, and could help them with the upcoming playoff push. Neal will help to space the floor and open up the rest of the offense for Charlotte. Ben Gordon has not been able to contribute consistently, which they’re hoping Neal will be able to.
Gregory: Gordon and Neal have similarities, but I assume the situation with Ben is toxic enough that they’ve distanced him from the team. Charlotte now has a competent shooter at every position except center, which opens up a number of lineup possibilites. Most interesting (to me, at least), they can play Michael Kidd-Gilchrist additional minutes without sacrificing floor spacing, which should help the team’s defense on the whole.
Neal himself isn’t anything special, but this is a team that serves three-point shooters well. The combination of Al Jefferson drawing double-teams and a group of willing passers has Anthony Tolliver making a career-best 42 percent from three, and even Josh McRoberts is hitting 39.5 percent of his attempts. Neal’s a career 39 percent shooter from long range, and that threat should open up the paint for others. If they can improve the offense, even just a bit, while maintaining the defense, they should hold on to that playoff spot.