With most of the NBA offseason action behind us, team training camp rosters have largely fallen into place. While a few moves might remain, the stories about draft picks, free agent signings and blockbuster trades have gone silent. This is the doldrums of the NBA offseason, a period of weeks where the sports media finds front-page news in the free agent possibilities of basketball luminaries like Matt Barnes. Do you feel that excitement? It's electric.
Over the next few weeks, we'll explore the offseason moves of the 14 teams Detroit will face in the Eastern Conference standings, plus a look at each division out west. Some teams got better, others got worse, and many new challengers will battle the Detroit Pistons for the playoff spot this team's management is targeting. Starting from the bottom up, I give you the
new look 2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats.
2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats Offseason Recap
Draft Picks: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeffrey Taylor (the NBA's second Swedish player. Suck it, Charlotte.)
Trade Acquired: Ben Gordon
2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats Prospective Depth Chart
PG: Ramon Sessions | Kemba Walker
SG: Gerald Henderson | Ben Gordon
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | Reggie Williams
C: Bismack Biyombo | Brendan HaywoodOffseason Analysis
This team needed a whole lot of change in the summer of 2012, but like the Detroit Pistons, they just didn't have the assets to get a good deal done. It's not surprising that Detroit and Charlotte swapped spit this summer, but the exchange felt like the last two loners at the middle school dance finally worked up the courage to step onto the dance floor. Hold me tender, hold me close, Ramon.
Jokes aside, let's take a closer look at that trade from Charlotte's perspective. Essentially, Charlotte spent about $13M to buy themselves a future lottery pick. That's the guaranteed money they'll owe Ben Gordon if he opts in to the final year of his contract. While $13 million might seem steep for a lottery pick, it's a wise bet for a team that would soon have plenty of cap space but little to no interest from free agents. Bobcats GM Rich Cho essentially spent some of his free agent budget early to capitalize on one of his strengths-- the draft. The alternative would be to start next summer with nearly $30M in available cap space that market-minded free agents will avoid like the plague.
In the draft, Charlotte made the safe bet by bringing in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, an athletic wing who does a little bit of everything while boasting solid athletic numbers. Bobcats fans will feel a bit of familiarity in Kidd-Gilchrist, who has drawn comparisons to ex-Bobcat Gerald Wallace. While MKG is an over-achiever on the glass and a solid defender, he was a 4th offensive option in Kentucky and offers little more than a strong drive to the basket. The low scoring numbers and one-dimensional offense may lead to translation issues into NBA games, and there will be questions as to whether he can scale his offense and bear more of the scoring burden.
These weaknesses wouldn't be a problem for most teams, but Charlotte entered this off-season in dire need of an offensive upgrade. They were last in the league in points per game and field goal efficiency in 2011-12, problems that were not addressed with the draft selection of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
One guy that will help is the dashing, the daring Ramon Sessions, who shouldn't be required to share the ball with Kobe Bryant in Charlotte. Sessions is coming off of a career year in 3-point shooting (44% on 97 attempts) while continuing to draw fouls at a high clip and create open looks for his teammates. His presence will help players like Kidd-Gilchrist, BJ Mullens and Ben Gordon, and his individual offense can keep the show going when his teammates are not. Obviously, I've always been high on the kid, and I'm not surprised that Cho got him on such an amazing 2-year, $10M deal. I'm not surprised, but I am jealous...
While Charlotte didn't seem to do much to change their fate in the summer of 2012, they have some noteworthy new pieces. MKG's presence should help out on the defensive end and keep the team glued together on both ends of the court. Brendan Haywood has arrived on the cheap, and he'll add a bit more depth to a previously undersized frontcourt. Ben Gordon was a known commodity in Detroit, but the change of scenery might provide an opportunity to improve. Ramon Sessions has risen to the occasion nearly every time he's been tested, so don't be surprised if he wins more fans in Charlotte this season.
In total, this really wasn't a bad summer for the Charlotte Bobcats. They didn't have the chance to make big moves, but the moves they did make were well-calculated and should provide a bit of upward mobility for 2012-13. They have nearly $15M in expiring contracts next summer and $18M the year after that, and they'll have plenty of draft picks to go with that room to trade or spend. What they don't have is bloat in the way of growth-- they have young prospects with room to grow and nothing to lose in the process. It's safe to say that the worst is very much behind the Charlotte Bobcats.