Being practical is a very good thing. It implies you have a realistic view of who you are, where you are going, and what you are capable of achieving. It also requires patience and an understanding of what is feasible. Unfortunately, the sports business can require thick skin if you expect a majority of your fan base to be practical. A more accurate term for most sports fans I know is “fickle,” floating around like a feather in the wind and expecting miracles and championships every season. They don’t appreciate practical; they want sexy, flashy, and exciting. For a team coming off the worst season in NBA history, it would have been tempting to make a big statement to the fans by opening up the checkbook this summer. But the Cats are still in the early phases of a rebuilding process and this means the team has to be practical.
This has been an interesting offseason for the Bobcats. When you look at the big picture, the roster assembled for next season will not be competing with the Heat, Lakers, or Thunder for an NBA championship. Charlotte failed to land any big name free agents but if you take a look at each move we made this offseason, you’ll see an encouraging trend. Each move made us a little bit better. No, the Bobcats won’t go from worst to first but the roster is improved and I fully expect the team to be far more competitive next season. Let’s take a look at the moves made since the end of last season.
1) Bobcats traded Maggette to the Pistons for Ben Gordon and a future 1st round pick. I won’t go into a deep breakdown since this was already covered on the site but the Cats got the younger player and addressed a major need with 3 point shooting. Not to mention the pick from Detroit has a high likelihood of being a lottery pick. These are the exact kind of deals rebuilding teams salivate over.
2) Selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor in the draft. A very good night for the Cats. There were lots of rumors about the front office wheeling and dealing for stacks of draft picks but Cho and company stayed practical and took the second best player in the draft with MKG. He is athletic, really defends, and is in attack mode constantly on both sides of the floor. And more importantly, Kidd-Gilchrist will provide some much needed leadership abilities. With Taylor, it appears the Cats may have landed a steal for a second round pick. He wa also a very practical pick; not much flash but loads of substance. Taylor is a fundamentally sound player, great perimeter defender, good athlete, and solid outside shooter. The only knock some insiders had on the Bobcats’ draft was the fact we picked two SFs but I like that the front office took the best players available and locked up the weakest position on the roster.
3) Let Augustin go to sign Ramon Sessions. I’ve always liked DJ but it just seemed like a foregone conclusion that it was time for him and the Bobcats to part ways. Given Kemba’s slight stature, bringing in a bigger PG to pair with him was a must. I thought the Sessions signing was a sneaky good move because his deal (2 years, $10 million) maintained future cap flexibility and Ramon is an upgrade over DJ in just about every statistical category.
4) Claimed Brendan Haywood off the amnesty waiver wire for 3 years, $6 million. I loved this move. Haywood is 32 years old but locking up a legitimate 7 footer who rebounds, defends, and scores efficiently for $2 million per season is a steal. If you don’t believe me, check out Diop’s salary. Speaking of Diop, Haywood is an enormous upgrade over Gana and provides the Cats a true center and mentor for Biyombo.
As I mentioned earlier, none of these moves viewed independently catch the casual observer’s eye but when you take a step back and view what they mean contextually for next season’s roster, you start to see a better and deeper team. There are still a few empty roster spots to fill but the Bobcats are comfortably two deep at each position right now. Kemba/Sessions at PG, Henderson/Gordon at SG, MKG/Taylor at SF, Mullens/Tyrus at PF, and Biyombo/Haywood at C. Throw in the fact Gordon can play some PG and we also have Reggie Williams at both wing positions and the talent pool, although light by NBA standards, is far and away better than last season. I also like that most of these players can play multiple positions so Coach Dunlap will have the ability to use lots of different lineups, especially small ball units who can press and trap to force the tempo.
I know the Bobcats were mentioned in lots of flashy rumors before the draft and during the free agent frenzy in July. I don’t pay a lot of attention to those rumors because GMs tend to play mind games but regardless of the reasons, they didn’t pan out. For me, that’s fine. Flashiness gave away to practicality and when you’re building from the ground up, slow and steady wins the race. Improve with every transaction and eventually we’ll get where we want to go. Practically.