Executives from other teams tell Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that they believe the Bobcats will be buyers at the trade deadline, as Kennedy notes amid a chat with readers. Charlotte is clinging to a one-game lead for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bobcats are 28th in the league in points per game, and despite a regression defensively in the past month, Charlotte’s most pressing needs appear to come on offense. The ‘Cats are also without backup small forward Jeff Taylor for the season because of injury, so they may look to add depth at that position. The Bobcats are over the cap but more than $10MM away from tax territory, so they appear to have the flexibility to add salary.
Ben Gordon‘s $13.2MM expiring contract could appeal to other teams looking to clear cap space, so president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and GM Rich Cho could dangle him in talks if they’re willing to take on long-term salary in exchange. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors looked at a few plausible scenarios involving Gordon earlier this month.
Charlotte’s 2014 first-round pick is ticketed for the Bulls if it falls outside the top 10, but the Bobcats could receive two other first-rounders this June, including a potential lottery pick from the Pistons. The ‘Cats could use one of those draft choices as trade bait, too.
It’s no surprise that front office types around the league have come away with this impression of the Bobcats’ plans, given Charlotte’s investment in Al Jefferson this past offseason and the team’s struggles in recent years. A playoff berth would help generate interest in the club as it prepares to rebrand itself with the Hornets nickname next season. While the allure of keeping their own pick could be a reason for the Bobcats to abandon their playoff push, the team wasn’t thinking that way when it signed Jefferson, and it seems unlikely the ‘Cats will reverse course now, as Kennedy explains.