The NBA is league that catches on to patterns pretty quickly and Charlotte won’t be able to sneak up on teams again next season. They have to improve. Specifically they need to find a third scorer and address their need for an additional playmaker.
Charlotte finished just 23rd in scoring and 16th in assists last season. They will have some cap space to make a move or two and will surely at least make a phone call to the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in free agency this summer. But after they hear the dial tone from those calls, the Bobcats should investigate some of the names below to join their roster and help in their transition in becoming the Hornets.
Eric Bledsoe: The Bobcats will have to get in line as teams make a run at one of the league’s star combo-guards. Seeing how well he worked in Phoenix with Goran Dragic is going to give teams increased confidence in pairing him with another guard of similar size. A Walker and Bledsoe backcourt would be nothing to sneeze at and would fill Charlotte’s need for another scorer and playmaker in one single transaction.
Avery Bradley: Coach Steve Clifford likes defense and Bradley’s claim to fame was exactly that in Boston’s system. His offense has come a long way and has probably surpassed his ferociousness on defense. His career-low defensive rating of 109 would indicate exactly that this past season. Still it’s largely believed Bradley was playing for a contract in 2013-14 and wanted to show his offensive game had evolved. Hence the career-highs in points (14.9) and field goal attempts (13.8) to affirm that conclusion. Bradley is an intriguing fit but might not be a big enough splash to keep Charlotte progressing forward especially with Gerald Henderson already on the team.
MarShon Brooks: Looking for his fourth “fresh start” in only his fourth year in the league, Brooks should be a low-budget option for a team in need of an offensive spark. Wherever he signs he will most likely come off the bench and that’s assuming he makes it through camp. His confidence is low but maybe he can earn a role as an instant offense guy for the scoring deficient Bobcats if they give him a look.
Vince Carter: The self-proclaimed “Old Man, Occasionally Amazing” Carter is going to receive interest from contenders as he proved he can still have an impact on the game. VC is quite comfortable coming off the bench and has accepted that he is not the same player from his days with the Raptors and Nets. His 3-point shooting (39 percent) would help create space for Jefferson down low while also providing the team with another veteran. The Bobcats could use him as a starter or reserve player but more importantly as a closer in the fourth quarters of tight games. Plus Carter has North Carolina roots from his college days … it could be a fit.
Pau Gasol: Now that Mike D’Antoni chucked the deuces to the Lakers coaching position, it might mean Gasol has unpacked his bags to stay Los Angeles. But he is still reportedly very interested in researching his options for what might be the final contract of his NBA career. The Bobcats shocked many teams by signing Jefferson and could very well be in the market for Gasol if he is willing to play power forward. The veteran angle and championship pedigree make him a solid fit as well as the 17.4 points. 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks he averaged last season. Keep in mind he did that while playing for a coach he didn’t get along with.
Carlos Boozer: The honeymoon with Boozer and the Chicago Bulls ended a long time ago and they are ready to get him out of town on the first thing smoking. Boozer could be acquired via trade as the Bulls would prefer to get something for their troubles, but smart teams know he is on the amnesty block. Why give up players or picks and absorb the $16.8 million he is owed next season when you can get him on the cheap after Chicago amnesties him? The Bobcats don’t have that many undesirables to make up for Boozer’s salary in a trade. But pairing Boozer with Jefferson would give the Bobcats a formidable low post presence that could contend in the Eastern Conference.
Luol Deng: When I picture Deng in Charlotte I see the embodiment of what Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should strive to be. Deng would be an immense influence on MKG and could do wonders for his development long term. Short term, Deng makes for a complimentary player to Jefferson and Walker who plays at a high level on both ends. It might be too costly a signing but Deng could really help this roster.
Spencer Hawes: Here is a guy who doesn’t mind playing the power forward or center position. He’s primarily a jump shooter and was deadly from 3, posting a career-high 44 percent. Not the most athletic of players, Hawes plays within himself and is good system guy who will never complain about touches. At just 26 years old he can still improve on all aspects of his game. He’s a sneaky shot blocker, eking out 1 per game, but that’s an area under Clifford he can improve upon.
Jodie Meeks: The NBA world wants to know if Meeks’ magical season was just the product of having Mike D’Antoni as his backer or if he can be as good as he was last season consistently. The former Kentucky product averaged 15.7 points per game in 33.2 minutes for the Lakers. The Bobcats need a scoring threat from the outside and he fits the bill better than most. He came on the cheap for L.A. at just $1.5 million but his stellar play should garner him two to three times that with a guaranteed multi-year deal this summer.
Lance Stephenson: Another player that is going to have multiple suitors, Stephenson has been one of the most productive glue guys in the league. He would give Charlotte some flair in the backcourt to pair alongside fellow New York native Walker. He doesn’t fit the need for outside scoring but scoring in general and is a guy who can handle the ball in a limited role. His 4.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds from the shooting guard position are like found money for 82 games. He’s still getting better and could grow into an All-Star caliber player in the right system.
Evan Turner: The Indiana Pacers are very likely to retain his services (especially if they lose Stephenson) but the Bobcats had interest in Turner leading up to the trade deadline. They reportedly offered MKG or a first-round pick for Turner but were rebuffed by the 76ers. He has earned more respect around the league over the last two years and has shed the premature tag of being a bust. He does a little bit of everything offensively (except shoot the 3) that Charlotte can use in their arsenal. Defense is still a work in progress but his defensive rating dropped from 111 on the 76ers to 102 on the Pacers, proving that the system matters and Charlotte has a good one.
The Bobcats aren’t likely to overspend on any free agents especially knowing they will have to ante up to give Walker an extension next season. Plus the Bobcats have a draft pick to use and could address their needs with that selection. But some of these guys may come cheap and could be had on one- or two-year deals. With smart management the Bobcats could be one of the best in the East for years to come.
Tags: Charlotte Bobcats