In the past few weeks there have been quite a few rumblings floating around the NBA blogosphere that suggest Charlotte is looking to make a full blown run at the playoffs and add some offensive firepower before the Feb. 20th trade deadline. There’s a split opinion when the topic of making a playoff push this season -vs- ‘tanking’ comes up. You have Kemba Walker, for example, who says it’s “ridiculous” for fans to think the Bobcats should tank this season. I agree with him. On the other hand, you have a contingency that believe this summer’s draft is a goldmine and anyone would be foolish to make a run at one of the final playoff spots in the eastern conference. I can understand that perspective too.
Evan Turner and Taj Gibson are the names that we’ve heard connected with the Bobcats over the past few weeks and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders gives us an inside look on just why Charlotte is looking to buy in his latest piece.
The Bobcats are also buyers as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches, according to league sources. Rival executives have said that Charlotte has been actively working the phones for weeks, looking for potential trades that would allow them to bolster their roster for a playoff push.
The Bobcats have been shopping Ben Gordon’s $13.2 million expiring contract and may be willing to part with a first-round pick (still possibly owed Portland & Detroit 1st round picks this summer) if the right player becomes available.
When the Bobcats signed Jefferson over the offseason, many wondered what the front office was thinking. Why splurge on a marquee free agent now when the team was still very much rebuilding and a loaded draft class was on the horizon? Well, the team was sick and tired of being the laughingstock of the league and losing so many games. They gave Jefferson a three-year contract worth $41 million, and then re-signed starters Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts.
The biggest difference between last year’s squad and this year’s is coaching.
Clifford is the third coach in three years for the Bobcats, and he’s showing why he should’ve been handed the reins on a team years ago. Clifford started his coaching career 30 years ago at the high school level and served as an NBA assistant for 12 years before getting his first head coaching gig. This season, he has done a tremendous job preparing his players and coaching to their strengths. Charlotte has seen their points allowed per 100 possessions jump to seventh in the league, just one year after finishing dead last in that category (and just about every other defensive category, as a matter of fact).
The Bobcats have reportedly inquired about Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson among others recently, which shows how aggressive they are being as Feb. 20 approaches. Charlotte will continue to work the phones in the coming weeks and weigh their trade options. Unless something drastically changes, the Bobcats will be buyers at the deadline.
The Queen City Hoops panel got together and discussed the possibility of Charlotte dealing for Evan Turner – does it make sense? Could it actually make the team better? Is it worth giving up what Philadelphia is likely asking for in return?
Spencer: My thoughts on Turner is that he would only add value to this roster as it’s currently constructed as a 6th man – a shot in the arm scoring boost off the bench. Brining on Turner would obviously slice into Hendo + MKG’s minutes to an extent, and as much as some out there believe that’d be a positive, defense is what has gotten Charlotte to where they are currently and I just don’t know how the best defender on the team getting less burn is all positive.
Hendo would have to sacrifice minutes as well, and although I’m more inclined to get on-board with the idea of this, let us not forget that Hendo can play off the ball very well – Turner not so much. So much of the offense goes through Kemba and Jefferson that it worries me that adding a ball dominant guard such as Turner to the lineup would threaten this style. To play around a guy like Al Jefferson, offensively, you have to be good off of the ball. Turner currently has a usage rate of 23.2 – Hendo is 21.6. Also note that Turner manages this usage ratio while playing with arguably the most ball-dominant guard in the entire league – Tony Wroten.
Note: Chris Barnewell, from Rufus On Fire, and I discussed this over twitter and he raises a good point when you look at the statistical comparisons.
— Chris Barnewall (@ChrisBarnewall) February 4, 2014
Overall, I could get on-board with this trade if it were a Ben Gordon expiring contract & Evan Turner swap, but that’s not happening. Philly is in obvious rebuilding mode and their fishing for draft picks. It’s likely they’ll at least be asking for Portland’s pick in addition to Gordon’s expiring, which honestly wouldn’t be a killer, but all for a guy who I’d think Clifford would use as a 6th man – well, it’d certainly be a head scratcher. In addition to that, if the Bobcats pick outside of the top-10 then it goes to Chicago (completes Tyrus Thomas trade) and if Detroit picks inside the top-8 then they get to keep their pick this summer – the Pistons top-8 fate is still very much in the air. This could potentially leave Charlotte with no first round picks if they did part ways with the Portland pick via trade.
Greg: It just depends on what they’d give up for him. If it’s a pure salary dump for Gordon, with maybe a second-rounder thrown in, I’d be fine with it. Turner can sop up the minutes currently going to Chris Douglas-Roberts and replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a marginally better offensive lineup. But Turner doesn’t bring much they don’t already have: He can’t shoot, he’s not a great defender, and his improved production this year is almost entirely because of the 76ers’ light-speed pace. He’ll be entering restricted free agency, as well, which means giving up any asset of value would be a mistake.
Mathew: I would not pull the trigger on this one. However, if I was the Bobcats and I was going to do the deal I would propose Turner, Jason Richardson, and their first rounder due from New Orleans for Henderson, Gordon, and the Bobcats first rounder due from Portland. This would allow the Bobcats to pick up what looks like a better first round pick this season as well as control the rights to Turner after this season by way of restricted free agency. Even if the Sixers were to agree to this deal I wouldn’t love it, as Turner is a fairly similar player to Henderson. They are both plagued by an inability to shoot the three and rely too heavily on the midrange game. I’d pass and wait for a better opportunity as the deadline approaches.
Michael: The Sixers have made their desire for draft picks evident, and it seems that one of Charlotte’s potential three first round picks, and Ben Gordon’s expiring contract would be a very enticing trade for Turner from the Sixers’ side.
In addition to their own pick, which may be in the lottery depending on the ‘Cats’ playoff push, Charlotte receives Portland’s 2014 first-rounder (top 12 protected), and Detroit’s 2014 first-rounder (top 8 protected).
On the Bobcats’ end the trade would improve them on the offensive end, where Turner could provide some wing scoring to support Jefferson’s production in the paint, and Kemba Walker’s production from the point. Charlotte struggles to score at times, and Turner has the ability to create his own shot and generate some scoring, although he needs the ball in his hands to be extremely effective. Still, he is an upgrade over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Gerald Henderson, one of whom could then be moved to the bench to deepen the team’s depth.
It may be a bit of a gamble on Charlotte’s end, as who is to say that Turner stays this summer, but short term he makes them a bit better and his addition probably pushes them into the playoffs. If the Bobcats really want to make it to the NBA’s second season, the playoffs, then the gamble is a move they should make.