Seemingly the payback begins now for the Bobcats: They'll get a top-four draft pick -- and hopefully for them, No. 1 (probably Kentucky's Anthony Davis). They'll have as much as $20 million available under their salary cap, depending on which of several amnesty strategies they might employ.
The Bobcats experienced the worst season in NBA history. They lost the season-finale 104-84 at home to the New York Knicks for the worst winning percentage (.106) in the league's 66-year history.
They forced rookies into veteran roles. They saw potentially key players -- D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette -- miss huge chunks of a 66-game season due to injury. They were that bad, somewhat by design, but never to this degree.
So says their iconic owner:
"This was going to be a trying year -- we knew that -- but did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way," Michael Jordan told the Charlotte Observer.
"I didn't anticipate a season anything like this, but we had to make some difficult decisions, with (buying out) Boris (Diaw), for instance. And we had to play the rookies, (Bismack) Biyombo and Kemba (Walker) more than they were really ready to play."
There might be only four players -- the two rookies plus Augustin and shooting guard Gerald Henderson -- who the Bobcats would bring back if no one had guaranteed contracts. Augustin might leave (he's a restricted free agent, as is power forward DJ White).
Some major issues for the offseason:
--Is Paul Silas and the coaching staff back? Silas's contract is expiring. Whether any of this was Silas's fault, a fresh start seems logical.
--What do the Bobcats do in the draft if they don't get the first pick? Does someone like Kansas' Thomas Robinson or Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist make a difference on a team with so many needs?
--What do they do to address terrible low-post defense? Shot-blocker Davis would obviously help a team that regularly gives up 60 or more points in the paint.
--Will cap space truly make a difference? How hard will it be to recruit top-line free agents to a franchise so far from contention?
Highlight? What's a highlight? At least for entertainment value, Gana Diop air-balling free throws occasionally moved the meter.
Small forward Corey Maggette's month-long hamstring strain, during a victory in New York Jan.4, started the Bobcats on a string where they lost 22 of 23. This team never had a go-to scorer in Maggette's absence.
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