By: Joel Brigham Last Updated: 8/8/09 6:57 AM ET | 1621 times read
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It's hard to decide what to make of the Charlotte Bobcats. On the one hand, it's easy to point to the franchise's failure to make the postseason in its five-year existence and call them one of the league's worst. There have been questionable trades, lateral moves, and cost-cutting dumps that has left Charlotte with a relatively unimposing and blasé roster.
But then one looks at the success of some of the more recent draft picks like D.J. Augustin and Raymond Felton, and how they were able to turn the draft rights to Brandan Wright into Jason Richardson, which turned into Raja Bell and Boris Diaw, and somehow things don't look so bad. This was a team, after all, that fell just four games shy of making the playoffs in 2008-2009. Coming down the stretch last season, it really looked like they were going to do it.
But they didn't, leaving the question, which is it? Are the Charlotte Bobcats a promising young franchise on the way up, or are they a quagmire of mediocrity destined to lose money and ballgames for the better part of the next decade?
Not the easiest one to answer, is it?
The problem is the team's apparent lack of identity. Most organizations know if they are a veteran team contending for perennial playoff appearances or a young group of burgeoning players still years away from being competitive. Somehow, the Bobcats are the perfect storm of the former and the latter.
The future of this team lies in Augustin, Gerald Henderson, and Felton (a restricted free agent who still has not been re-signed). Yet the team is steeped in veterans, many of whom just do not seem destined to be Bobcats long-term. Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, Vlad Radmanovic, and Bell all have contracts that will expire in the next two seasons, yet Gerald Wallace, Diaw, and Sagana Diop are on the books longer. The fact that Diop is signed through 2013 says that there's just no plan in Charlotte.
None of this is to say that some of the guys under contract aren't respectable ball players. Wallace, Chandler, Bell, and Diaw will be instrumental in Charlotte's upcoming year, but few are under the impression that those guys will be enough for a playoff berth. Unlike other teams that have struggled in recent years, there's no heir apparent for three years down the road. No Derrick Rose, no Kevin Durant, no Devin Harris. Not even a Tyreke Evans, really. There's no future in place here, which is equally frustrating for 'Cats fans because the present and past haven't been all that attractive either.
Is this a pretty grim outlook on the Charlotte basketball team? Absolutely it is, but a State of the Bobcats address has to be honest. It's about where the team is now and where the team is going in the future. It would be easy to sugarcoat things—to say that the Chandler trade will change everything, that Henderson will help turn this group around, that Augustin will make a leap this season—but the fact of the matter is that this team still has a lot of work to do if they want to be truly competitive every year. The truth of it all is that they just aren't there yet. That's not to say they can't get there eventually; they just aren't there yet.
This isn't a bad team, but it isn't a particularly good team, either, which brings us full circle:
What do we make of the Charlotte Bobcats?
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