Charlotte Bobcats: 5 Realistic Targets in Free Agency
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With just 30 wins the past two seasons, it's clear the Charlotte Bobcats have a long way to go to become a contender in the NBA's Eastern Conference. The good news is that the team possesses a good young core built around Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a sizable amount of cap space to do some damage this offseason.
The problem, though, is that as a franchise with just one playoff appearance in its history and two consecutively dismal seasons, the Bobcats don't top many people's lists of attractive free-agent destinations.
Charlotte has a lot of holes to fill, and management has staked their rebuilding plan on building through the draft. That means that a huge, splashy move is possible, but not very likely unless it fits into the long-term plan.
This doesn't means that the Cats can't be smart and efficient about adding depth and addressing key needs. These five men fit both of those qualifications and are the five most realistic free agent options for Charlotte this offseason.
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The Charlotte Bobcats need some serious help along the front line. The team was absolutely dismal on the boards last season, ranking 27th in the NBA, and can't rely on top draft choice Cody Zeller to come in and immediately improve that situation.
A big help for this team would be to snag a strong, tough, veteran big man who can command double-teams, score and grab a few boards.
By far the best player available this offseason who fills all of those needs is Utah Jazz free agent Al Jefferson. The Cats have scheduled a meeting with the 6'10" center on Wednesday and could definitely benefit from his interior presence.
Jefferson is considered an elite scorer at his position, with career averages of 16.4 points and 9 rebounds per game, and could help space the floor for the young Bobcats. He won't come cheap and isn't considered a great defender, so he does come with some level of risk.
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Most Bobcats fans don't want to hear that a player could be targeted to replace Gerald Henderson, but even with Charlotte extending a qualifying offer to the 25-year-old guard there is no guarantee he'll be back next season.
If he's not, and the Cats have the option to match any offers, they'll need to find someone to replace his career-high 15.5 points per game from this past season.
O.J. Mayo, most recently of the Dallas Mavericks, is one potentially intriguing option. Mayo, like Hendo, is just 25 years old, and entered the league as one of the most highly-touted high school prospects in some time.
He hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but his scoring average is comparable to Henderson, he's a better ball distributor and can shoot from the perimeter. That's something Charlotte desperately needs after finishing next to last in the league in assists and 27th in three-point shooting last season.
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Dalembert would address the Bobcats need for a veteran presence on the interior without costing nearly as much as Al Jefferson likely would. Over the course of his 11-year NBA career, the 32-year-old has been something of a rebound vacuum and would definitely fill a need going into next season.
The 6'11" Dalembert isn't much of a scorer, averaging only eight points per game in his career, but he plays good defense, blocks shots and gives the frontcourt a sorely needed veteran to help with developing the younger talent.
If he can be had for cheap, he's certainly a player worth a look, given the Bobcats' well-documented struggles with rebounding and interior defense. The main drawback is his age, which means he'll most likely not be around long enough to see the culmination of Charlotte's rebuilding plan.
However, that too is fine, as he only fits a need for this year.
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One of the Bobcats' many needs is a backup point guard for Kemba Walker. Unfortunately, there aren't a ton of options out there that make both financial sense and fit what Charlotte is looking to do.
A potentially attractive option could be former Dallas Mavericks guard Darren Collison, who up until a few days ago was a restricted free agent. That was before Dallas declined to offer the 25-year-old a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Collison, who showed tons of promise when he came into the league, will be looking for his fourth team in the past five seasons, but could be a perfect fit in Charlotte. He's still young and averaged 12 points and five assists last year in a mostly reserve role with the Mavs.
He'll provide depth at guard, and a quality option to run the second unit and distribute the ball.
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Mavericks free-agent forward Brandon Wright has done some job of pulling his NBA career out of the abyss these past two seasons.
Wright, the eighth overall selection in the 2007 draft, found his way to Dallas in 2011 after struggling mightily with Golden State and New Jersey. It was there that he found his game and became one of the most efficient players in the NBA.
The 6'10" Wright averaged over eight points and four boards in 18 minutes per game last season. He's been highly sought-after thus far in free agency, and could make sense for the Bobcats looking to add depth to their frontcourt and scoring off the bench.
Wright also has some familiarity with the state, having played college ball at the University of North Carolina.