The Charlotte Bobcats have the worst record in the NBA for the second year in a row. After starting the season 6-4 under first-year head coach Mike Dunlap, the team went on to lose 18 in a row. In the midst of that, Ben Gordon, one of the team's few veterans, found himself at odds with Dunlap and on the trade block.
The Bobcats' Outlook
Michael Jordan's Bobcats are in full rebuild mode. They have both the second-worst offense and defense in the league. They've had three first-round draft picks in the last two years, taking Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, none of whom project as a franchise-changing star. They're likely to have a top-three pick in this June's draft again, but it's unclear if there is someone in the draft that could be the offensive anchor the Bobcats will need going forward. Do they trade that pick now or in June for a young scorer or continue to build from within?
The other dilemma is getting big name free agents to sign in Charlotte after this season. They can finally get rid of DeSagana Diop's contract this summer and it's possible they could find someone to take Tyrus Thomas off their hands. Their cap space this summer could change if they find a trade partner for Ben Gordon, who has become a thorn in the team's side in recent weeks.
What To Do With Ben Gordon
It has become clear that the Bobcats would love to move Gordon. First are the financial implications. Gordon has a $13 million player option for next season. If he exercises that, Charlotte will have a fair amount of salary cap space (around $17 million) to play with this summer. Second, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowksi reported Gordon and Dunlap are at odds after a confrontation at practice earlier this month.
That same report stated that the Bobcats and Brooklyn Nets had discussed a deal involving forward Kris Humphries. No word on whether talks moved past the exploratory stage, but at the very least it showed the Charlotte front office is ready to move on from Gordon after less than a year.
Over the weekend, ESPN's Marc Stein reported Charlotte and Toronto Raptors have discussed a trade involving Gordon and Andrea Bargnani, whom Toronto seems desperate to unload. Bargnani would be a questionable fit with the Bobcats, who already have defensively challenged Byron Mullens on their roster. Likewise, that deal doesn't make a ton of sense for the Raptors who are overloaded at the wing, though they don't have anyone with Gordon's shooting ability.
To Trade Or Not To Trade
The last thing the Bobcats should want to do is move Gordon for someone who is going to cost just as much or even more next season. However, they have a young team with a young coach. The last thing that combination needs is a grumpy veteran like Gordon who is going to undermined their coach in front of other players. Don't be surprised to see Gordon go, but what they get in return probably won't be that helpful to their current team either.