State of the Cap: Charlotte Bobcats

Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:37pm


By Josh Redetzke

[img_assist|nid=1115|title=Gerald Wallace|desc=Icon SMI|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=449]2008/09 Charlotte Bobcats Payroll: $39.8 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million (estimate)
Roughly: $18.2 million under cap

(Exact terms of Matt Carroll’s deal not known, used contract average of $4.5 million for his cap number)

The Good:
Re-signing Gerald Wallace was one of the Bobcat’s top priorities last summer and they did it for a very affordable price. After signing his six-year, $56 million contract extension, Wallace returned the favor by setting career highs with 19.4 points per game and 3.5 assists and his 2.1 steals were good for fifth in the league. If you still don’t think he was worth the money, consider that his stats were nearly the same as teammate Jason Richardson, yet Richardson will make $4 million more per season. Wallace is an excellent player to keep around at that price, especially if he can overcome the nagging injuries that have eaten chunks of his seasons recently.

Another good player to keep around was shooting extraordinaire Matt Carroll. As a role player, Carroll shot a blistering 43.6% from downtown. He doesn’t do much else on the basketball court, but he doesn’t have to. Carroll is paid to shoot bombs and that’s it. The Bobcats hope he will be a key complimentary player down the road. What’s great for Charlotte is that he is paid like a role player and not a starter. Carroll just finished the first year of a six-year, $29 million dollar contract. It shouldn’t be difficult for him to earn it.

There was much rejoicing when the season ended and Emeka Okafor had played the full 82 games without injury. The Bobcat’s best big man averaged a double-double in each of his four years in the league, but he hadn’t shown he could be a durable player until now. With that encouraging sign and his usual 13 and 10 with 1.7 blocks per game, Okafor looks like he might be worth a long-term contract extension, which he is due this summer. Even with the larger contracts Charlotte has accumulated, they still have plenty of room to sign him. As long as they don’t go overboard on the price, Okafor should be a force on the Bobcat’s frontline for many years. Fans should pray that his injury history is behind him.

The Bad:
It’s safe to say that Adam Morrison has been a complete bust. After a sketchy and underwhelming rookie season, Morrison missed his sophomore year with a torn left knee ligament. The moustache is going to find it extremely difficult to do anything in this league and he might go down as one of the worst selections in draft history. Michael Jordan’s drafting resume isn’t getting any better.

Another young player that missed the season because of a knee injury was forward Sean May. The Bobcats at least got a full season out of Morrison. May has played just 58 games in his entire three-year career. The team will be thankful for any production they get out of May next season.

The Future:
After winning 33 games the year before, the Charlotte Bobcats finally decided to spend some money to make a playoff push. They handed out a few contract extensions and made some trades. What was the end result? 32 wins. The strategy didn’t exactly pan out the way they thought it would, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for the Bobcats.

Their biggest and most surprising move was the trade for Jason Richardson. All they had to give up was the 8th pick in the draft (Brandon Wright) and a trade exception, the real downside was taking on Richardson’s contract. It still has three years and $40 million remaining and, at the time, Richardson was coming off an injury filled season that was one of his worst. The risk was high, but thankfully Richardson responded with an excellent year. His scoring average was back up to 21.8 and he shot a career-high 40.6% from the three-point line. As long as he keeps up those numbers, Richardson should be able to earn his hefty paycheck.

With Larry Brown entering the picture, there is renewed hope for a turnaround in Charlotte. The team is trying to make the leap from struggling expansion club to playoff participant. That is a possibility in the top-heavy East. The Bobcats have some talent to work with in Richardson, Wallace, and Okafor. If Raymond Felton can improve his shooting, he’ll be one of the better point guards in the conference. Charlotte could add even more talent this summer since they are well under the cap and own the ninth pick in the draft. This team will certainly be capable of winning more than 32 games and the experience of coach Brown might be exactly what they need.

Free Throw:
If the going gets rough in Charlotte, will Larry Brown get going? The longtime coach has had many short stints in the NBA. I wonder how long Brown will hang around if the players don’t respond to him right away and the losses start to mount.

Grade: B-

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