The Charlotte Bobcats are overachievers so far this season. They hold the fifth seed and the fourth best record overall in the Eastern Conference. Barring a meltdown in their remaining 53 games, the Bobcats are on pace for the franchise’s second playoff appearance.
The Bobcats success hasn’t been without struggle. Recent injuries to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) and Jeff Taylor (achilles) have shortened the team’s depth. The Bobcats weren’t getting much scoring from either before the injuries.
Despite an increase in field goal percentage, Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t shown much offensive improvement and continues to be a work in progress with his jump shot. Taylor, known to be a better perimeter shooter than Kidd-Gilchrist, was shooting below 30 percent from 3-point range.
Right now, it’s the Anthony Tolliver show.
Tolliver signed a one-year contract with the Bobcats in the offseason and leads the team in 3-point percentage at 42.9 percent.
Tolliver’s backup, Chris Douglas-Roberts, was recently called up from the D-League. Douglas-Roberts hasn’t fair well in limited action, but that’s to be expected given the circumstances. Neither should be high minute players, but the Bobcats don’t have another option in the short-term.
Taylor is out for the remainder of the season, but Kidd-Gilchrist should return to the team next month. The Bobcats are allowing 97.1 points in his absence, compared to 91.6 points with him in the lineup.
Still, the Bobcats will need something more if they want to be opportunistic and make a playoff run in a depleted Eastern Conference. A forward with scoring punch would be welcomed, but the Bobcats likely don’t want to jeopardize future flexibility. Luol Deng, Evan Turner, and Jeff Green are just some of the forwards who have been floated in rumors.
Deng is the most prominent name and his skillset fits defensive-minded coach Steve Clifford. Recent talk is that the Chicago Bulls do not intend to trade Deng and hope to re-sign him in the offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. It would be difficult to imagine Chicago moving him to Charlotte to negatively impact the first round pick they received in the Tyrus Thomas trade.
Currently, the Bobcats are limited in the trades they can make. The team has reached the 15-player roster limit and likely won’t receive great interest from pieces they would like to move.
Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon are both expiring contracts, but it’s hard to see the former being moved. Sessions is one of the best third guards in the league and a big luxury for the team behind Kemba Walker.
The Bobcats would love to move Gordon, but his roughly $13 million salary this year makes a trade difficult. The Bobcats aren’t likely to take on a worse contract to match salaries.
Bismack Biyombo could be an option, but it’s hard to imagine a team trading a useful scorer for his services. The Bobcats could always sweeten any deal with a first round pick from the Detroit Pistons or Portland Trail Blazers, which will likely be available in next year’s draft.
The Bobcats could send the same message to their fanbase as they did with the Al Jefferson signing, by trading for a perimeter scorer before the deadline. Fans are starting to get behind the Bobcats improved team and slowly, a new culture is beginning to unfold.
A playoff appearance before the Charlotte Hornets rebrand could prove to be valuable to the organization and the team’s young nucleus. The Bobcats are in a good situation to take advantage and make the most of this year’s team.