Not long after the trade for Diop went down, I got an email from Rob Mahoney at the The Two Man Game (which provides, and I quote, “Completely biased and unbalanced coverage of the Dallas Mavericks”), and the question was questions: Did I want to exchange a few in regards to the trade? Of course I would. So, my answers to his are here and his answers to mine are below:
1. Should I be concerned that Diop signed a large extension and immediately had his production drop? Is this a Jerome James type situation or more a case of the new coach not having a role for him (like the Walter Herrmann and Sam Vincent)?
You should definitely be concerned, but not because of the typical contract year drop-off. Diop was great for the Mavs…in 2005-2006. The problem has been his production since then. Don't ask me how, but he somehow got himself quite a contract from the Mavs despite a season-long suckfest. That is the reason why everyone in Charlotte should be worried. Diop's statistical production has dipped, he hasn't shown much progression at all in his offensive game, and his rebounding/shot-blocking has been lacking in anything that could ever be called “tenacity.” Rick Carlisle obviously felt more comfortable playing Erick Dampier than he did Diop, but I think that's more a product of just how underwhelming 'Gana has been this year. If he can return to his former self with a bump in minutes, that's great. If not…you've got a very expensive benchwarmer on your hands.
2. Are you as amazed as I am that a former Tarheel is gathering dust for Dallas and the Bobcats did not figure out a way to include him in the deal?
I have zero doubt in my mind that MJ keeps someone on staff just to figure out which of his cronies/fellow alumni might be available via trade or free agency. Don't get too excited, but I see Charles Oakley in your near future.
But I wouldn't be surprised if Jordan rejected the idea of Stackhouse's virtually expiring contract simply because of the bruised egos and hurt feelings from their days with the Wiz. Plus, I'm sure that “Stack as Next Jordan” episode didn't help. Methinks Jordan isn't his biggest fan, despite their Carolina blue ties. You can always count on Jordan to let his feelings get in the way of franchise economics!
3. What you have seen from Emeka and what you know of Diop, can the two co-exist on the court, despite Emeka's somewhat lacking perimeter mobility, or will they only be able to play against more traditional lineups?
Playing Diop and Emeka against the fleet of foot lineups that are all the rage these days is going to pose some problems. Diop can be a presence inside when he wants to be, but he really has no business chasing around more agile 4s and 5s, especially if they have three-point range. But provided the match-ups are a little more traditional, like you said, I think they can definitely coexist on the floor. Between the two of them and Gerald (or, conceivably a lineup that featured say, Felton, Wallace, Diaw, Okafor, Diop), the Bobcats should be able to kill it on the boards and with on-ball as well as help-side interior defense. All that said, Diaw makes for a much more natural fit alongside Diop. But DeSagana should be able to be a capable back-up 4/5, and definitely has more discipline and experience than Hollins.