Gerald Henderson isn’t as rich as he hoped following a career year in 2012-13.
According to reports, Henderson sought up to $8 million per year before agreeing to a three-year, $18 million contract with the Charlotte Bobcats. With no outside bidders, the team wasn’t compelled to fulfill Henderson’s monetary desire.
Henderson might have Jeffery Taylor to thank.
After being selected with the 31st pick by the Bobcats in 2012, Taylor averaged 19.6 minutes in 77 games with a little over six points per game as a 23-year-old rookie. Early in the season Taylor’s minutes were consistent, but Henderson’s late scoring surge made him less of a contributor.
While he’s expected to come off the bench, it’s reasonable to expect a jump from Taylor this upcoming season. At 6’7, with good foot speed and athleticism, Taylor has the upside to guard all three perimeter positions.
According to 82games.com, the Bobcats gave up five less points per 100 possessions with Taylor in the lineup. He played behind both Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, who were net negatives defensively. Like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor’s defensive ability could blossom under Steve Clifford. He was one of the few bright spots on a team who was 29th in opponents’ points last season.
Taylor’s biggest improvement must be his perimeter shooting, where he shot a streaky 34.3%. With the addition of Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller and more pick and roll opportunities for Kemba Walker; off-ball shooting has become more of a focus for the Bobcats. Taylor could become the main recipient of an ensemble of wide open three-point opportunities. He has good mechanics and elevation on his shot, but like the rest of the team’s players, would benefit from more fluid offensive possessions.
In ways Taylor mirrors the build and skillset of former Bobcat Jared Dudley, who the team foolishly traded in 2008. While not as athletic, Dudley has made a solid career out of efficient three-point shooting and solid team defense. Dudley was a valuable weapon playing alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix and should do the same alongside North Carolina native Chris Paul in Los Angeles. If Taylor can come close to mimicking Dudley’s production and playing style, the Bobcats would be more than pleased.
Let’s not get too far ahead here. Henderson is the team’s captain, starting shooting guard and one of their top priorities in the offseason. The Bobcats wanted him back, but not at an overwhelming cost.
Henderson is the longest tenured Bobcat on the roster and statistically has improved each season. Henderson averaged 18.9 points on 46.2% shooting after the all-star break. He got to the line at a higher rate and showed more confidence in his long-range shooting as the season progressed.
More minutes aren’t being guaranteed to Taylor, particularly with high paid veterans on the roster. However, an emergence would make way for Henderson as a trade chip, or his departure from the team. Henderson’s contract contains a $6 million player option for 2015-16. Provided his production maintains or continues to increase, he could become an unrestricted free agent at age 27.
Until then, having both players on the roster is a good “problem.” The Bobcats led the league in backcourt points last season and will return all four of their double-digit scorers. If the team’s future is of importance, Taylor will be tested with more responsibilities this season.