Friday, February 25, 2011

OK, Bobcats fans, exhale.

Seemed fitting that the skies above were a little grey with rain on the day after the Charlotte Bobcats traded away their one and only All Star player, along with a valuable big man at the NBA trade deadline.

Gerald Wallace was sent to Portland for Joel Pryzbilla, Dante Cunningham, and Sean Marks, along with a pair of future first round draft picks. Then, the Bobcats sent center Nazr Mohammed to Oklahoma City for Mo Peterson and D.J. White.The moves have some folks angered, others confused, and others still wondering if the Bobcats have surrendered their season.

The answer is yes, but they did so with an eye to the future.

Look, I'm not a fan of breaking up team continuity, especially when that team appears to be moving in the right direction. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bobcats, pre-deadline, would have made the playoffs. After the events on Thursday, I think it's a reach. Not because of who they got back, but because of who they lost. They lost their identity when Wallace went to Portland. Wallace did so many things for this franchise, both on and off the court. I spoke with a member of the Bobcats staff on Thursday night. He was sad that Wallace was traded. Not just any sad, but sad. Wallace meant so much to so many members of that franchise, his loss will be felt like losing a family member.

Losing Mohammed stings as well, because now the Bobcats are pinning their center spot on Kwame Brown. A guy that once upon a time, was a punchline in the league. He has been a solid contributor this season, but there has to be a fear factor involved now. The :what-if" game is in effect. What if Kwame gets hurt? The guy they call the "Vanilla Gorilla," (Pryzbilla), isn't exactly Mohammed off the bench.

So yes, in my estimation, the Bobcats got worse. But they had to get worse before they could get better. There is now a future for this franchise. Before Thursday, they were tight to the salary cap, and close to the luxury tax. Now that Wallace and Mohammed's contracts are elsewhere, the Bobcats have some money to spend, and a couple of future first round picks. It sounds good in theory, but now the onus is on the front office,

The Bobcats drafting history isn't exactly stellar (see Adam Morrison, and Sean May, both no longer holding NBA jobs). They need to hit some home runs with the June draft, and they also need to lure a name into this organization. Whether it be by trade or free agency, this team will now need a bona fide superstar. A guy that people get excited about. A guy that makes fans say, "I need to get a ticket to tonight's game to watch (insert name here) play,"rather than saying "I need a ticket to see (insert opposition team name here) tonight."

I said this Thursday morning during my radio show on Fox Sports 730, that the Bobcats are so very close to being loved in this town. The Hornets hangover still lingers, but the Bobcats are making in-roads. The question now is, did they burn some of that good will by sending away arguably the team's most popular player for 3 players with no chance of being long term solutions, and 2 unknowns in 1st round picks?

The team also waived Sherron Collins, Derrick Brown, and Dominic McGuire on Thursday. Those moves were necessary to clear roster spots for the newly acquired players. I've been told that the Bobcats would like to bring back Brown and Collins if they clear waivers. It's a gamble, but one they had to make to look to tomorrow.

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