The Charlotte Bobcats have surprised everyone with a solid start to the 2012-13 NBA season, sitting at 7-7 and for the moment holding the eight and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether or not that spot holds 68 games from now is anyone’s guess, but trade talk is going to swing around eventually.
After all, the Bobcats have some pieces we all know they’d like to move, while other commodities like versatile point guards (Ramon Sessions) and bench shooters (Ben Gordon) could be chased down by other playoff contenders. The Bobcats might want to hold onto their assets for their own playoff run, but being such a young team with budding talent, they will likely listen to any and all offers that involve high draft picks, more young talent, or that could help free up unwanted conctracts (Tyrus Thomas, anyone?).
With that said, let’s take a look at the most likely Bobcats trade rumors that could start swirling:
Tyrus Thomas – PF
Thomas is on the shelf for a couple of months with a leg issue, but once back, he could be the subject of some Bobcats trade rumors. He’s a heck of a talent, but he’s one that hasn’t really panned out quite as expected over the course of his career, and some might say he’s a bust. Regardless, he still offers highlight reel dunks and can make an impact as a rebounder and shot-blocker. The big problem, however, is his heavy contract, which pays him out more than $8 million in each of the next two seasons. The Bobcats will have a tough time finding a team willing to take his salary on, regardless of his talent and potential. Bank on Thomas sticking in Charlotte for at least one more year unless a crazy deal comes Charlotte’s way.
Gerald Henderson – SG
Henderson is a solid all-around offensive player and is improving his outside jumper, but he’s been hurt for the majority of Charlotte’s hot start (crazy that we’re calling it that, right?), so he could end up being deemed expendable. The fact that he’s in a contract year (team option) is what makes him a strong trade chip. Not only could a potential trade partner get a quality young player with a little upside, but if he didn’t pan out down the stretch, they could let him walk for nothing when the year is up (or just sign him on the cheap). The Bobcats like Henderson and he fits well in their offense, but with Ramon Sessions playing so well with him out, it’s not crazy to think he could end up being shipped off elsewhere.
Ramon Sessions – PG
Sessions has been having a terrific year (16.5 points per game), but he’s probably maxing out at his current production and he has some limitations (defense, size, consistency). Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very solid player, but he’s now played for five different teams in the past four years. He’s quickly becoming the NBA journeyman that he doesn’t want to be, and a healthy Gerald Henderson returning soon could play a hand in ending his time in Charlotte. Obviously that doesn’t make sense given his success and the team’s record, but due to how well he’s playing, you know the Bobcats will receive calls about him all the way up until the trade deadline. I personally think they should keep him because he’s such a versatile player, but he has value so I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Charlotte part with him for picks or maybe some post help.
Ben Gordon – SG
Gordon is an inconsistent one-trick pony, but he’s doing exactly what the Bobcats were hoping he’d do when they brought him in – shoot and score. He can also man the point in a pinch, but in the end he’s a three ball shooter who can also get to the rim. However, he’s older than their other guards and if a call comes in (and it will due to the need for outside shooting around the league), I find it hard to believe Charlotte won’t bite. He’s clearly an asset to them offensively (13.5 points per game), but the return of Henderson and the play of Sessions and Kemba Walker would alleviate his absence. Don’t be shocked if a team like the Lakers or Mavericks try to improve their outside shooting with a trade later in the year.
Brendan Haywood – C
Haywood is your classic “what you see is what you get” big man. He can do everything at a solid level, but at his age (33), he can’t be counted on for starter minutes and his production will be inconsistent. With that said, he’s a big, strong body that can do the dirty work and doesn’t mind it, either. He’s a strong asset to be paired with Charlotte’s youth, but his experience and defensive aptitude arguably belongs on a better playoff team. I don’t see Charlotte actively trying to get rid of him, but other teams should show interest. It could be hard to unload his salary, however, as he’s due over $8 million per year over the next three seasons.
Not all of these guys will get traded, and heck, maybe none of them will. That’s the beauty of starting 7-7 when everyone probably expected you’d be 1-13 at this point. Right now this is a playoff team with the right amount of glue guys (Gordon, Sessions, Haywood), and the right amount of young, maturing pieces. I think most of those younger pieces (Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo) are your “untouchables” that simply will not be traded. But after them, even with the team playing well as a whole, the franchise would listen to any and all offers due to depth and/or contract situations.