The Charlotte Bobcats’ front office is very open to the prospect of a trade before the NBA’s Feb. 21 deadline. As president of basketball operations Rod Higgins told the Observer, “I don’t think there’s any limits to what we’d try to do.”
Understandably, the Bobcats aren’t publicly detailing what they might investigate, though they acknowledge canvassing every team in the league for possibilities.
The Bobcats like their youth and still believe in the draft as the primary source for sustainable success. But they also have some obvious holes. While they’re solid and deep among their guards, they’re hurting for low-post scorers and rebounding. They have two players in center Gana Diop and power forward Tyrus Thomas combining for about $17 million this season and playing little.
With that as the backdrop, here’s some conjecture – not “sources,” not “rumors,” just educated guesses – on who could make sense for the Bobcats to investigate:
• Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies small forward: It’s probably a given the Bobcats have already made inquiries about Gay. They should have drafted him back in 2006 when they wasted the third overall selection on Adam Morrison.
Gay would offer scoring punch and make them longer at a front-court spot. But he’d come at an expensive price. He makes $17.9 million next season and $19.3 million the following season. Memphis is listening to offers because the Grizzlies face serious consequences under the NBA’s new, stricter luxury tax.
At that salary, the Bobcats would have to be certain Gay is the player to build around. Is he all that? And what would Memphis expect in return? Primarily expiring contracts (Diop, Reggie Williams, etc.) or real assets like first-round picks or rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?
• Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings big man: Rookie Thomas Robinson hasn’t been much so far, but the Kings did invest a high draft pick in him. Thompson, who averages 7.2 rebounds this season, is seemingly redundant to what Robinson does. Thompson signed a significant contract extension that averages over $6 million for each of the next four seasons.
• J.J. Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers big man: Hickson, who played college ball at N.C. State, has the back-to-the-basket moves no current Bobcats big man possesses. With the Blazers already owing LaMarcus Aldridge big money and rookie point guard Damian Lillard looking like an eventual max player, can the Blazers afford a big investment in Hickson?
• Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns guard/forward: Taking Dudley late in the first round in 2007 was maybe the Bobcats’ best draft pick ever. Then he was sent to Phoenix in the package for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell.
The Suns just let coach Alvin Gentry go and are obviously re-evaluating their roster. Dudley, who can play anything from shooting guard to power forward, would add size, versatility and moxie to a roster in need of all three. He has three years left on his contract, but at an affordable $4.5 million per season.