The best way to improve in the NBA is through free agency. Although the Bobcats have a high draft pick, as we have come to understand, there are no sure things in the draft. Even if they draft an impact player, it will take at least a few years for him to mature and live up to the potential.
During this upcoming free-agency period, the Bobcats have an opportunity to improve their roster and begin their ascent up the ranks of the Eastern Conference.
There is no question that they have a lot of work to do in order to become a playoff contender, and this upcoming offseason could take the Bobcats a step closer to becoming a playoff team.
In order to be a player during the free-agency period, the Bobcats will have to free up cap space. Unfortunately, Charlotte's salary-cap situation does not give it much room to be aggressive.
The two contracts that are especially cumbersome for next season belong to Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas.
Whose contract is hurting the Bobcats the most?
Gordon has a player option this offseason, but he's scheduled to make $13.2 million next season, so there is very little chance that he will opt out.
Thomas' contract is more locked in. He never lived up to his potential coming out of LSU, yet Charlotte is set to owe him $8.6 million next season and a additional $9.3 million in 2014-15.
Neither Thomas nor Gordon have performed at levels that would demand those types of salaries. The contracts are evidence of poor judgement by the Charlotte front office.
The Bobcats will have to take their medicine over the next two years and pay those contracts out, but if they want to evolve into contenders in the coming years, they must become better evaluators of talent.
Some contracts that will be coming off the books in the coming weeks are DeSagana Diop, Josh McRoberts and Reggie Williams. These expiring contracts will free up $12 million and allow Charlotte some room to participate in the free-agent market this offseason.
Will they be in contention to sign the likes of Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Andrew Bynum? No, but this freed-up money could allow them to sign role players, which are critical in establishing a winning nucleus in the future.
A free agent that could fit that description and be affordable for the Bobcats would be Jarret Jack.
Jack did not start for the Golden State Warriors, but he was a solid sixth man who created his own scoring opportunities.
This past season, Jack averaged 13.2 points, 5.5 assists and three rebounds per game. He is not the type of player who would put the Bobcats over the top, but he is a glue guy who can be a major contributor and help the maturation process of the young players on Charlotte's roster.
Golden State has one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the NBA, and Jack’s facilitation has a lot to do with it. If he can bring that type of production to Charlotte, the Bobcats would have a more efficient offense.
Jack's performance in the postseason shows he can play well when it matters most. Despite starting only four games in the playoffs, Jack managed to be second on the team in scoring with an average of 17.2 points per game.
That type of playoff success is something lacking in Charlotte, and Jack's presence could mean a expectation of winning in the Bobcat locker room.
The Bobcats should be geared toward becoming aggressive buyers after next season. By that point, they will have the contracts of Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Byron Mullens off the books, giving them more freedom to sign an impact player.
The NBA is a star-driven league. One player can completely change the fortunes of a franchise, and that is what the Bobcats desperate need.
The team has some young pieces, like Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, that it can build around, but it needs more high-quality pieces to become a winning franchise.
The Bobcats' salary-cap situation does not allow them to sign that type of player this offseason, but next year, they will have enough money.
The Bobcats are not a quick fix. The rebuilding process of a franchise that finished with only 21 wins is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a lot of work from the front office, coaches and players, as well as patience from the fans. But if handled correctly by all parties involved, Charlotte could be in the playoffs within three years.