The Charlotte Bobcats figure to have no more than 10 players under guaranteed contract late today when they open training camp at Time Warner Cable Arena, but much figures to change either today or throughout the weekend.
The NBA and the players settled their dispute Thursday, allowing the preseason and free-agency to commence. The Bobcats face several issues, once 2 p.m. passes and signings and trades can commence:
What becomes of last year's starting center, Kwame Brown? He's an unrestricted free agent coming off a solid half-season as the Bobcats' starter. There were indications Thursday night that the market might be drying up for Brown as a free agent, increasing chances the Bobcats can re-sign him.
What about the Spanish contract hassle involving Bismack Biyombo, the seventh pick in June's draft? Biyombo continues to work out informally with the Bobcats. There was no resolution as of Thursday night to the issues between Biyombo and his former Spanish team, Fuenlabrada, which expects a sizeable transfer fee to clear the way for Biyombo to join the Bobcats.
A Dec. 19 civil trial is set in Spain to determine whether Fuenlabrada breached contract terms with Biyombo. Worst-case scenario, it's possible Biyombo might have to wait for a ruling in that trial before joining the Bobcats. However, settlement talks continue, working toward a way to allow Biyombo to begin his NBA career.
What becomes of swing forward Dante Cunningham, a Bobcats restricted free agent? Cunningham resolved criminal charges in suburban Philadelphia, involving marijuana possession in the off-season. The Bobcats made a qualifying offer of about $1 million for this season that allows them the option to match any other team's offer.
Cunningham's agent, Joel Bell (also the U.S.-based agent for Biyombo) emailed the Observer Thursday night to say Cunningham won't be in Charlotte today to sign the qualifying offer. It's possible Cunningham could draw an offer sheet from another NBA team. The Bobcats would then have to make a quick decision on whether to match, or let Cunningham go elsewhere.
Cunningham's restricted free-agency might have become a moot point had the Bobcats been successful in their pursuit of free agent Mike Dunleavy, a former Duke star. The Bobcats made a pitch to Dunleavy's agent, Arn Tellem, that a source said would have paid Dunleavy about $3 million a season to be the backup at shooting guard and small forward.
Instead, Dunleavy accepted a higher financial offer from the Milwaukee Bucks that exceeds $7 million in total value.
Dunleavy would have addressed Bobcats coach Paul Silas' desire to improve the Bobcats' three-point shooting (second-worst in the NBA last season).
Bobcats management was exploring other options Thursday night, including possible trades. One option could be unrestricted free agent Al Thornton, who the Bobcats have looked into in the last week.