During a solid 2009-10 season for the Bobcats, we had our first All-Star in Gerald Wallace, we had our first winning record, and we had our first playoffs birth. With all of that momentum, great things were expected for the future. Then things fell apart.
Before the 2010-11 season even began, Raymond Felton left in free agency and Tyson Chandler was traded for dust and bad contracts. Then Larry Brown finally weaseled his way out of town after a poor start. Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas, and Gana Diop were hobbled with injuries, and fan favorite Gerald Wallace was traded to Portland. The season ended with a 34-48 record and no discernible direction as a franchise.
And just like that, we began our rebuild.
Paul Silas was hired to replace Brown as a stopgap while his presumed successor (Stephen Silas) is groomed as an assistant, and in a stroke of irony, former Portland GM Rich Cho was brought in to take Rod Higgins’ position. Prior to the draft, a deal was orchestrated to send Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, and the #19 pick (Tobias Harris) out of town in return for Corey Maggette and the #7 pick (Bismack Biyombo). We followed that selection with All-American point guard Kemba Walker.
The 2011-12 lockout shortened season will begin with a new hope.
But not the type of hope you would imagine. This year will undoubtedly be an ugly one, filled with big losses and growing pains. Bismack Biyombo is locked in a legal battle with his Spanish team and cannot workout or play for the Bobcats until it is resolved. There is currently only one center on the roster, and he is better served as a five minute per game backup. The only guy proven to be able to score 20 points is Corey Maggette. There will be all kinds of growing pains from Kemba learning how to run an NBA offense, to Henderson taking a more prominent scoring role, to Tyrus learning how to stay out of foul trouble.
So where is the silver lining?
There are currently eight guys (nine if Cunningham is retained) aged 25 or below. And with a bad season, we should have another top youngster or two on the way to help out next season. We are also due to have over $10 million in salary coming off the books, with much more coming after next season. There is no denying we dug ourselves quite a hole over the past few years, but it is equally evident that we are fixing that as we build the way smart small market teams should, through the draft.
Have faith Bobcats fans!