Zach Lowe's latest column for Grantland.com focuses on the Bobcats, and the efforts the team is making to move toward playoff contention. As Lowe notes, it's hard to see how the current players and assets held by the Bobcats point to a future as a 55-win team, but that's not necessarily every club's number one goal. For Charlotte, the short-term goal is returning to respectability, and the team feels like signing Al Jefferson this offseason is a step in the right direction. Here are a few of the most interesting tidbits from Lowe's piece:
- The Bobcats considered sitting on some of their cap room, like the Sixers have done, or using it to absorb salaries and gain assets, like the Jazz did, but ultimately decided to spend it on Jefferson. "Of course, we had discussions about those options," said team president Rod Higgins. "We could have just sat on that money. But we've had a lot of losses over the last two years. We've gotten to the point now where we just want to compete. We have to send that message to our fans."
- Jefferson didn't meet with any other teams in free agency besides the Bobcats and Jazz. Utah told Jefferson on July 1st that they weren't interested in re-signing him, which came as no surprise. "I told my teammates all season, 'Utah would be a fool to bring me back, with Enes [Kanter] and Derrick [Favors]," Jefferson said.
- The Jazz did offer to sign-and-trade Jefferson to a team that didn't have room to sign him outright, but the big man was quickly sold on the Bobcats' pitch.
- Lowe suggests that moving Kemba Walker in a Jrue Holiday-esque deal for a 2014 first-rounder could benefit the Bobcats, but the team doesn't appear to be seriously mulling that kind of move. Still, Higgins isn't ruling anything out, telling Lowe, "If there are opportunities to make this team better via trade, we will do that."
- Higgins also denied that the Bobcats ever seriously discussed trading 2012's No. 2 pick (which became Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) in a deal for James Harden.
- Lowe points out that, since none of the Bobcats' young players like Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Cody Zeller, and Bismack Biyombo project as franchise guys, the team should have the flexibility to keep most or all of them long-term. That could put the club on a path similar to the Nuggets, who put together a collection of solid players worth between $6-11MM since moving Carmelo Anthony.
- According to Lowe, executives around the league still aren't sure who makes the final calls on basketball decisions in Charlotte, with owner Michael Jordan, GM Rich Cho, and Higgins all involved in the process.