NBA Draft/Free Agency Preview: The Charlotte Bobcats for One More Year, Then Hornets Luck?
The Charlotte franchise has been named the “Bobcats” since their expansion into the NBA in 2004. The previous Charlotte franchise carried the longtime Charlotte-related nickname of Hornets with them to New Orleans after the 2001-2002 season. However, with the New Orleans team’s new ownership – who wanted a more fitting nickname representative of the New Orleans area – came a new nickname, the Pelicans. This enabled the Hornets to reacquire the “Hornets” nickname, which is expected to curry more favor with the Charlotte locals, who were rabid supporters of the original Charlotte franchise. Michael Jordan is stripping down his franchise in lieu of the name change, which will take effect with the new league year in July of 2014.
As for 2013-2014, the Bobcats are merely playing out the string of a decade-long exercise of futility. They have failed to develop a footprint in Charlotte in the 10 years of the young franchise; ranging from miscalculated draft picks, unwise free agency signings and lopsided trades, of which the team always got the short end. Despite taking their lumps, the Bobcats’ fortunes are finally looking upward. They have drafted decently in the past two seasons, and hope to have a difference-maker fall to them with the 4th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. In 2011, the Bobcats drafted PG Kemba Walker, who had just led his University of Connecticut Huskies to a National Championship two months prior. Additionally, the team drafted F/C Bismack Biyombo and picked up G/F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the 2012 Draft. Tying that young core with veteran G Gerald Henderson (whose contract extension will play a role in determining how the Bobcats approach free agency this summer), the team has a solid, if not unspectacular core. Hired hand G Ben Gordon has a player option for 2013-2014 in the amount of over $13 million, which he will almost certainly pick up. If the Bobcats are able to trade his rather duplicitous production (to that of Henderson and Walker), they will be in good shape to potentially acquire a couple of nice free agents, while also hoping that a player such as Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo.
The decisions of Gordon and the team’s negotiations with Henderson will certainly have an impact on what the Bobcats do further in free agency, as well as in the Draft. Additionally, the Bobcats’ position as 4th in the draft (as there are only four legitimate potential starters in this 2013 Draft class) is tricky, because their fate will be determined based upon what the Orlando Magic do with the 2nd pick overall. If the Bobcats do not land McLemore or even Oladipo, then they will most likely look to fill the rest of their roster with a set of low-cost free agents. Owner Michael Jordan wants to maintain his cap flexibility going forward, because he finally has a young core that GM Rich Cho can build around for the first time in his tenure as owner.
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