The Charlotte Bobcats are a little bit further ahead of schedule than they or anyone else projected this season, even after signing Al Jefferson over the summer. But that's more of a result of the Eastern Conference's stagnancy than their own record. Charlotte is 23-30 but remains in the eighth and final spot in the East standings, a half game ahead of the Detroit Pistons. Still, they've been linked to a few rumors lately and should be active around the trade deadline.
Adding more offense
Defense has been Charlotte's calling card this season, but the offense has left much to be desired. They're scoring 98.8 points per 100 possessions, which is good for 25th in the league, per NBA.com/Stats. Beyond Jefferson and Kemba Walker, Charlotte has no consistency on that side of the ball, and they're expected to be active as the deadline approaches in hopes of putting more points on the board.
Philadelphia swingman Evan Turner is definitely on Charlotte's radar. The Sixers have made clear their intentions, and their record suggests they aren't fibbing. Philly is looking for draft picks, which the Bobcats have. If Charlotte is looking to make a move, it has the ability to do so, writes Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
The Charlotte Bobcats, clinging to the eighth playoff spot in the East, will be aggressive buyers at the deadline, league sources say. The team's interest in Sixers guard Evan Turner is real. Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie wants a first-round pick for Turner (and the same for Spencer Hawes). The Bobcats can offer their Detroit pick if they're serious about making a push.
Few observers felt the Bobcats would be buyers once the February trade deadline came rolling along, but here they are on the playoff bubble and looking to improve right now. And Turner makes sense for this team. He would add a much-needed scoring punch and would provide depth on the wing beyond Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson.
But what do the Bobcats have to offer?
One week away from trade deadline keep hearing execs say Suns/Bobcats are teams to watch. Since both armed w/assets they seem willing to use— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 13, 2014
Charlotte actually comes across as a decent trade partner. They're armed not just with draft picks, but also a big, fat expiring Ben Gordon contract worth $13.2 million. It's amazing they've still managed to stay $12 million under the luxury-tax line with that price tag on the books. Nevertheless, it's there and can certainly be used.
But more attractive is the list of draft picks the team possesses. Here's a better look at the Bobcats pick situation as it looks at the moment, courtesy of Basketball Insiders.
- 2014 - Owe first-rounder (top-10 protected in 2014, top-8 protected in 2015, unprotected in 2016) to Chicago Bulls (Tyrus Thomas).
- 2014 - Owed first-rounder (top-12 protected through 2015, unprotected in 2016) from Portland Trail Blazers (Gerald Wallace).
- 2014 - Owed first-rounder (top-8 protected in 2014, top-pick protected in 2015, unprotected in 2016) from Detroit Pistons (Corey Maggette).
- 2016 - Owe second-rounder (top-55 protected) to San Antonio Spurs (Theo Ratliff).
As you can see, there are possibilities for Michael Jordan's team. But are they worth the price? Will acquiring a guy like Turner, who has not played up to the standards you'd expect out of a No. 2 overall pick, and making a run at the playoffs be worth sacrificing possibly three first-round picks in the upcoming draft? Only time will tell.
The Bobcats are in a fun situation right now: they're exceeding expectations this season and they've got the assets to get even better right now or save their chips for the near future in what is supposed to be an excellent rookie class. Let's see how the franchise handles it this time around.