State of the Cap: Charlotte Bobcats
2010/11 Charlotte Bobcats Payroll: $59.5 million
2010/11 NBA Salary Cap: $56.1 million
Roughly: $3.4 million over cap
The Good: With three years and $31.8 million left on his contract, Gerald Wallace (a player NBADraft.net has always been high on) picked a great time for a career year, at least for Charlotte’s sake. Wallace made the All-Star team for the first time and posted sensational numbers, like 18.2 points, 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks, 48% shooting, and an incredible 10 rebounds a game. For a 6’7” small forward, that is an awesome total. Wallace uses his amazing athleticism to its full extent, which is why he is such a force around the rim. He even showed some nice range by hitting 37% of his three pointers. The Bobcats were smart to lock up Wallace to a long-term contract. The mid-season acquisition of Tyrus Thomas gives organization a full season to determine if he is a part of the team's future. If not he can again be traded around the 2011 trade deadline as he has value both because of his talent and expiring contract.
The Bad: It’s not difficult to figure out the worst contract on this team. It was the worst last year and it continues to be the worst this year. And if he isn’t traded or bought-out, he’ll be the worst next year as well. Not only did DeSagana Diop put up miniscule numbers this year, he also played in just 27 games. Diop has basically been worthless for this team. That won’t stop him from collecting $20.6 million over a three year period.
The Bobcats are hungry for a decent center, but Diop certainly is not it.Stephen Jackson is locked in for the next three years. Despite being in the league for ten years and coming off a stint with the run and gun Golden State Warriors, Jackson managed to set a career high with his 21.1 scoring average. grabbing 5.1 rebounds and dishing 3.6 assists per night. He doesn’t shoot a high percentage but he is 32 years old. Jackson is owed $27.7 million for the following three seasons.
Last year, Boris Diaw looked like he might just earn that $9 million a year he was being paid. This year, he wasn’t quite there. $9 million is a lot of money for someone who is only the third or fourth most important player on the team. Diaw can really fill up a box score, but he didn’t fill it up enough as his stats were a bit lower across the board. The arrival of Stephen Jackson took away some of Diaw’s shots as his scoring dropped to 11.3 per game. He has two years left on his deal and if he wants to earn it, Diaw will have to get more aggressive and play at a higher level.
Nazr Mohammed was the best center on the team this season. That isn’t a good thing for Charlotte since Mohammed was very mediocre. He’ll be paid $6.8 million next season, though he averaged just 7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds. Also, for the second year in a row, Mohammed missed significant time due to injury. On the flip side he holds an expiring contract and could be a tradable asset this off-season or during mid season trade deadline.
The Future: Normally, Tyson Chandler’s contract would be bad news. He has a player option next year for a gaudy $12.75 million which he will be exercising. Chandler had injury woes yet again and he only managed to put up 6.5 points and 6.3 rebounds when he did play, well below the double-doubles he used to average with the Hornets. However, the acquisition of Chandler was a great move for many reasons. For one, the team was able to unload Emeka Okafor and the ridiculous five years and $62.5 million left on his contract, a huge win in anyone’s book. Secondly, Chandler only has one year left on his deal, which now makes him a very tradable asset. This will be important if Charlotte hopes to improve from a decent team to a contending team.
The Bobcats have some big decisions to make this summer. Raymond Felton is a free agent, so they must figure out if he is their point guard for the future or whether they will look elsewhere. Felton has been okay, and he did have the best shooting season of his career, but he isn’t spectacular. Although, if he isn’t their point guard, who is? D.J. Augustin took a step back and played poorly this year. If they can get him for the right price, the team will probably keep Felton since they don’t have the cap space to replace him in free agency. If Felton is too expensive, they will need to make a trade to replace him. This is where Chandler’s and Mohammed’s contracts come in.
Whether they keep Felton or not, Charlotte needs to make a big trade. They won’t have any cap space in the near future and they aren’t bad enough to get a high draft pick, so their only option for improvement is through trades. Their current roster isn’t going to continue climbing the ladder in the East unless they make a big splash with a trade that adds more talent to the team. They have the players and contracts to do it, so it’s up to the front office to start wheeling and dealing. Hopefully they can recreate the magic of the Chandler-Okafor trade.