Originally written on Trade Street Post  |  Last updated 11/17/14
I could bore you guys to death with another game recap, or I could compile some data and present everyone with a few details that may point to the direction we go in during the off season.  What’s that?  You’re curious about the future?  You really wanted to read a recap to see what was different about the latest matchup, but you’re curious as to what information I may or may not know?  Well, keep in mind that this is researched data that I have found online, and merely points that I wanted to bring out for everyone to run with.  This isn’t set in stone, and I don’t have Rich Cho’s direct cell number (I don’t have MJ’s either).  This is just things to think about and watch for as the season comes to a close for us in a little over 2 weeks from now.  Jump with me friends; let me share my data…   So, along with death and taxes, we all know that contracts end.  For a Bobcats fan, there may be some celebration as DeSagana Diop’s Contract comes to an end this summer.  His $7.3 million contract fades away for us.  This has been one that we have been waiting for, so it probably isn’t a huge surprise for everyone, but it is a point that is well worth mentioning.  The less notable contracts that also end this summer include Reggie Williams and his $2.5 million deal, Jeff Adrien and his $653K deal, and Josh McRoberts and his $3.1 million deal.  For quick math, that’s $13.55 million off the books.  Is this of some importance?  I believe so, because part of our rebuilding plan is to get better through free agency and the draft.  We’re pretty much a lock for one of the top 4 picks in this year’s draft, so that is a given.  Where the road gets bumpy is when you look for a superstar.  Mr. Cho, in his infinite wisdom and technical specs of every available player, is doing all he can in order to snag the best talent available that also has the most upside.  “Best Player Available” will win out over “team needs” almost every time for our Bobcats.  I want to get back to the free agent market.  I want to focus there because, much like the draft, there aren’t tons of players out there that we want to throw money at in order for them to become a Bobcat.  I believe when shopping in the free agent market, we will be looking for best talent available for the money, while also looking for team needs.  Mr. Cho will take into consideration how the player’s work ethic is, talent level, where they are in regards to their ceiling, how high is their ceiling, and a whole plethora of other categories that most fans don’t even think about.  Now I mentioned that we would be freeing up $13.55 million in cap room with the expiring contracts.  We also have 2 qualifying offers that will need to be exercised…or not.  Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens are both up for qualifying options on their contracts.  Will there be a bidding war for these guys?  Will both want to remain loyal to the franchise?  Will the franchise want to be loyal to the players?  This is not mine to answer.  I can only point out that Henderson’s Q.O. is a little over $4.2 million and Mullens’ is right at $3.3 million.  I like both guys and what they are capable of bringing to the team, but I also know our franchise’s history with players and qualifying offers (it ain’t pretty).  From this point on, other than data in regards to $, this is purely my speculation and opinions. In my personal opinion, I could see Henderson being pursued, and Jordan making him a Bobcat for at least 3-4 years.  He might even be making north of $7 million per season.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  As for Mullens…well…I think they could probably offer McRoberts a contract that’s similar to $2 million per year for perhaps 3 years, and then you can save more money in the free agent market.  Again, to make the math simple, let’s go with a $7 million contract per year for Henderson, we let Mullens walk, and we give McRoberts a $2.5 per year deal.  That puts our salaries at $47.39 million.  Ben Gordon has a $13.2 million player option that he’ll absolutely take, so unless we move him like we did with Maggette, he’s a Bobcat for 1 more year.  Tyrus Thomas will be in yet another year of his ever-growing contract.  He would be due right at $8.7 million next season.  I firmly believe that he will be amnestied this summer.  There’s no way any team would take him in trade, so let’s figure in a Thomas amnesty.  That drops our salary to $38.69 million.  The minimum salary level is $49,337,000, so we automatically have some money that needs to be spent.  That’s $10.65 million to spend to get to the minimum. The cap is currently set at $58,044,000, so in addition to that $10.65 million, we would have another $8.7 million to spend to get us up to the cap.  We’re at $19.35 million that could be spent on a free agent.  You don’t have to pay luxury taxes until you hit $70,307,000, so you could even figure in an additional $12 million and be under that tax threshold.  MJ doesn’t want to get near that unless he believes we are playoffs capable.  With $29 million to play with, Hendo and Kemba as building blocks sprinkle in Gillie the Kidd & Bismack and I believe it’s time to spend.  I know what you’re thinking.  Who can we spend wisely on?  Keep reading… Obviously, we have all been screaming for help in the frontcourt.  We need bigs.  We need scoring bigs.  Are there solutions to that problem in the free agent market?  I’ve done some searching and let me share what centers I am seeing available that are actually worthwhile additions to the team: Centers: Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson, Chris Kaman, & DeJuan Blair are the only “quality options" that I’m seeing in the free agent market.  Now, I would include Greg Oden in this discussion, but I have a feeling that there may be some apprehension as to his maturity level, the health of his knees, and whether we can get him without overpaying for him.  In the discussion of overpaying, would we want to take on the Dwightmare?  His last year of his contract has him making a little over $19.5 million.  Is he a max player?  I’m sure that he is.  His ugly mess last season, and the terrible season in LA this year leaves one wondering if he will truly be an unrestricted free agent, or will the Lakers pockets open up and pay whatever it takes to keep him.  Would he fit in Charlotte?  Well, we’ve never had a center that we could run our offense through.  I also believe that Howard would like to be the “BIG FISH” on a small team.  I just don’t know if he would come back to the East coast, or if he has what it would take to get us to the next level.  I firmly believe that we will most likely steer clear of him, but who really knows.  If the money worked out, we could still have plenty of room to land someone else in the 2014 free agent market, which promises to also be quite nice.  If you look at the rest of this list, do you gamble on Bynum’s knees?  Blair is an undersized but effective player.  Kaman’s ship might have sailed as well.  IF we were to snag a center in free agency, I could see us grabbing Big Al.  Jefferson brings the traditional big man game to Charlotte and can teach Biz how to battle in the paint on offense.  It would also leave the door open to draft a player like Nerlens Noel.  Having a guy like Big Al on the roster to mentor Biz and Noel…whew…that could be tons of fun.  My best guess at Free Agent Centers?  We go after Al Jefferson Power Forwards: Paul Milsap, Lamar Odom, & Josh McRoberts are all I have on the list.  For the long and short of it, I don’t see Odom coming to the East coast.  If we don’t land Big Al, I could easily see us going after the other big guy in Utah.  Paul Milsap could easily be the power forward we try to woo if Big Al falls through.  The last year of Paul’s contract is at $8.6 million, but he’ll demand more than that in this next contract.  Again, Milsap can help improve Biz in the paint and make him a better scorer.  I mentioned McRoberts because I think he’s a guy we must keep on our roster.  The chemistry he brings when he’s on the floor is amazing.  The ball movement is the best it has ever been.  Regardless of what happens, I think he needs to stay a Bobcat. My Best Guess at Free Agent Power Forwards?  Paul Milsap is the only guy I could see pursuing at this position.   Small Forwards: I don’t see anything happening here.  (See Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael and Taylor, Jeff)   Shooting Guards: Not tons on my list, and if we re-sign Hendo, as I expect we will, I don’t see a need to do much.  Manu Ginobili, Kevin Martin, Nick Young, and Wesley Johnson could draw some attention from us if we decide to draft a shooting guard and/or don’t re-sign Henderson.  My best guess at Free Agent Shooting Guards?  We may go after Ginobili if we draft a Shooting Guard and don’t resign Hendo or we go after any of the others if we keep Hendo.   Point Guards: Bruce, dare I go there.  There’s this CP3 guy that will be an unrestricted free agent…Funny thing is that he’s pretty much it.  Nolan Smith could be interesting, but…why?  With Ramon Sessions, I think we’re pretty well off at the Point Guard position.  Don’t get me wrong…drafting Noel or Len, then having a PG like CP3 could be a blast, but with Kemba where he is this season, I just don’t see a big point guard signing this summer in Charlotte.   Bottom line?  I believe we pursue a C or a PF in free agency.  I believe that we may see some other roster shakeups if we are able to trade Gordon away.  Obviously, it is too soon to determine, but never too soon to start looking at dollars and sense. I’m thinking the next logical article forthcoming, that isn’t a recap, will have to deal with whom we should draft.  With luck, I will be able to get into a pre-draft workout again this year, and can try to get a vibe as to the direction we go in from it.  Will it be Nerlens Noel?  Bennett?  Len? McLemore?  Time will tell, right?  I’d love to start hearing some feedback folks.   Let’s Go Cats!    
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