March 23, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson (15) drives past Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) during the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bucks win 112-92. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Bobcats Face Interesting Choice With Henderson

Gerald Henderson wants to get paid, but the Charlotte Bobcats are considering other ideas.

Negotiations with Henderson reached an impasse Wednesday, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Henderson is reportedly seeking an annual raise up to $8.5 million on his next contract.

Talks stalled enough that the Bobcats are exploring sign-and-trade possibilities for their starting shooting guard. The Bobcats still prefer to re-sign Henderson, according to Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, but are preparing themselves for either outcome.

The Bobcats extended a $4.5 million qualifying offer to Henderson before the start of free agency. Since then, they’ve signed Al Jefferson, first round pick Cody Zeller and re-signed Josh McRoberts. Maligned forward Tyrus Thomas was waived by the team Wednesday, to clear $18 million off the Bobcats salary through 2015.

Henderson likely expected more interest during his free agency. He turns 26 in December and is coming off his best season as a pro. It’s logical for the Bobcats to be hesitant about giving a big contract. Henderson hasn’t been durable and didn’t show signs of being a core piece until late. He averaged a career-high 15.5 points and shot 33% from three last season.

An alternative could be Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Monta Ellis. Ellis turns 28 in October and is arguably the top free agent available. He is looking for a new team after the Bucks reached an agreement with O.J. Mayo on a $24 million contract.

Wednesday, Ellis fired agent Jeff Fried and is believed to be hiring Dan Fegan. Ellis chose not to exercise an $11 million player option for 2013-14, in hopes of signing a bigger contract. He has received interest from the Bobcats, as well as the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings. A report by ESPN’s Chris Broussard stated Ellis could make a decision by Friday.

Ellis has a significant connection to the Bobcats. President of basketball operations Rod Higgins was the general manager for the Golden State Warriors when the team drafted Ellis in 2005 and remains high on him. He would further shrink the Bobcats backcourt size, but maintain the team’s strong perimeter scoring. The Bobcats had four guards average double figures in scoring last season.

The market for Ellis’ erratic game-changing scoring isn’t as strong as it once was. Henderson has never produced at the level of Ellis in Golden State and isn’t as talented of an isolation threat. Ellis is known for making some acrobatic finishes and going on big scoring streaks. However, Henderson brings more defensively, where Ellis isn’t as well-regarded and has the size, athleticism and lateral quickness to defend at least three positions. Ellis and Brandon Jennings weren’t a seamless fit in Milwaukee, which raises skepticism to whether he could co-exist with Kemba Walker.

It’s still safe to assume the Bobcats will work something out with Henderson to retain him for next season. With little outside interest, there isn’t much leverage on Henderson’s side. He could sign his qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, which would sit well for the Bobcats financially. The Bobcats would have the cap space in 2014 to either replace Henderson or find a suitable replacement through the draft or free agency.

A sign-and-trade this offseason would have to be convenient and overpaying Ellis, while arguably a better and more marketable talent, isn’t a clear solution. Based on Henderson’s four seasons in Charlotte, handing him a bloated salary wouldn’t be any better.

Tags: Charlotte Bobcats

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