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November 30, 2009

The cost of face-saving

Sometimes I wish the Charlotte Bobcats spent less time worrying about how things look and more time worrying  about how things are.

Here's what I mean: A little more than a year ago, they shouldn't have exercised Adam Morrison's contract option. And a little more than a month ago, they probably shouldn't have exercised Alexis Ajinca's contract option. I'm not taking glee in the Bobcats' screw-ups, as some of you accuse me. I'm looking to deal in reality.

Had the Bobcats never exercised Morrison's contract, they wouldn't have traded him and Shannon Brown for Vlade Radmanovic. You can say Radmanovic and Raja Bell became Stephen Jackson (a great trade) but take a step back and think: Wouldn't the Bobcats be better off without Morrison? And don't you think they still would have found a deal with the Warriors that would have gotten Jackson here?

This is where it comes back to Ajinca. There's nothing wrong with taking a chance. The Bobcats thought they'd inevitably get a big man who could help them with the 20th pick. Then Roy Hibbert and J.J. Hickson were chosen and Ajinca became the pick. And it didn't work out so well. He was a long, thin, awkward guy with just enough skill to be a tease.

They came to a hard choice about exercising his third-year option in October. They waited almost to the deadline, then they exercised a $1.47 million  guarantee. If I were running the Bobcats, I might have done the same thing out of fear of being wrong. But at some point any major-league front office must know when to stop chasing potential, and that's never been more important than in these cost-conscious times.

Posted by Observer Sports on November 30, 2009 at 08:59 PM | Permalink


...and the purpose of this blog is?

Posted by: CHAN | Nov 30, 2009 9:16:07 PM

GMs need to understand that drafting on potential leads to your team developing the player's potential and consequently going through the growing pains. Then when the player's contract is up, they sign somewhere else and use their skills and experience they gained to the benefit of the new team. You should definitely draft players that have had decent experiece in college or over seas (i.e. Brandon Jennings) where they went through the learning process.

Posted by: Dan C. | Nov 30, 2009 9:23:52 PM

The point is to know when to cut your losses.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Nov 30, 2009 9:40:12 PM

the real point is they wanted hibbert and should have traded up to get him or get rid of the pick when only garbage was available.

Posted by: joe cool | Nov 30, 2009 9:51:02 PM

Benefit of the doubt goes to Larry....Larry was more involved in the Ajinca decision then the Morrison one (yeah he helped call the shots, but Morrison had only been on the court a couple weeks at most after his knee rehab when they made that decision).

Heck a bigger bone headed decision was exercising McMay's option in the middle of the prior summer. At least Morrison was moved during the season to get us Radmanovic which became part of Jackson...May got us nothing.

Posted by: BlockParty | Nov 30, 2009 10:13:21 PM

Bonnell said: "Sometimes I wish the Charlotte Bobcats spent less time worrying about how things look..."

I bet, that way you'd have plenty more to write about.

Posted by: Will | Dec 1, 2009 12:39:07 AM

Hibbert is garbage.

Posted by: Bro D. | Dec 1, 2009 12:56:15 AM

One thing I find strange on this is that Ajinca seemed to be having a very solid preseason, and then bam, he was pretty much banished. I followed his numbers last year in the D-League, and he also put up some production when given minutes. He still seems very raw, so that might be the one justification LB has in not playing him. Well, I still hope he turns out not being a complete bust, but we'll see. For now, I'm happy the Cats seem to have turned their season around, at least looking at the last 4 games. Some more winnable ones coming up, so let's keep it going.

Posted by: Ari | Dec 1, 2009 1:16:32 AM

i don't think giving morrison his option was a bad move. the guy showed he can take over an nba game on several occassions and under brown didn't get a whole lot of opportunities. he looked even slower after the knee surgery. but that wasn't a bad move. i don't even knock the pick. he looked absolutely great in preseason before he blew his knee out. run back the tapes.....we traded brandan wright and adam morrison for boris diaw and stephen jackson. salaries aside.....these were great moves.

as for ajinca......it costs what 1.47 to take a chance on a guy that looks to have the potential to be great if he can develop his body. thats worth the chance.

if you're looking to criticize a deal.....let it be the matt carroll for diop deal. thats the one that is blatantly horrible and cost us financially big time. or even signing matt carroll long term if they weren't gonna use him.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 1, 2009 8:38:10 AM

Are you insinuating that the Bobcats have made some bone-head moves? Say it ain't so Rick!

Posted by: Stone | Dec 1, 2009 9:39:36 AM

I agree, Rick...to a point.

You are right about picking up Morrison's huge contract option. I still don't understand that move, as it's clear he isn't an NBA-quality player. Of course, I felt that way before he was drafted, and he's done nothing to prove me wrong.

On the other hand, I totally understand picking up Ajinca's relatively modest third-year option. If you draft a raw, young player like Alexis, growing pains are just part of the process. I'd caution against giving up too quickly on him, as I think he's got the athleticism to play at this level.

Here's an example: Jermaine O'Neal. He sat in Portland for his first three or four years coming out of high school. But once he added some weight and got his practice time, he became an All-Star. Not saying Ajincia is going to be that good, but I understand giving him a third year to find out.

Posted by: Gboro cats fan | Dec 1, 2009 10:24:15 AM

It seems a bit early to claim that the Bobcats should "cut their losses" with Ajinca.

A project has no chance under Larry Brown, despite all his talk about teaching. Ask Darko.

Posted by: mcap | Dec 1, 2009 11:07:31 AM

hibbert is garbage but ajinca is hot garbage....anyone would still take him over alexis

Posted by: Elliot | Dec 1, 2009 11:14:29 AM

"A project has no chance under Larry Brown"
That George Lynch thing in Philly worked out pretty well...And Kevin Ollie was on no one else's radar, and played nine years after Brown turned him into something.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Dec 1, 2009 11:28:36 AM


So with a roster spot cleared because of this move, could you give us your opinion of what the bobcats would be smart in doing next?

Also, chandler's option is a player-option so hes gonna "opt-in" and take the money here right? I like the guys skillset but is he the real answer at center here?

Posted by: brendan | Dec 1, 2009 11:50:05 AM

This doesn't clear a roster spot. Anyone under contract counts against the 15-player maximum, regardless of whether he's in Charlotte or the D-League.
But that's somewhat a moot point since they have 14 contracts. They could sign a player any time they wanted, but likely won't unless something irresistable falls in their laps. They're looking to save money, understandably, and teams often do that in a relative harmless way by not filling a 15th roster spot.
Regarding Chandler's player-option: In this economy, with him having a less than stellar season, it's pretty much a lock he'll play next season for $12.2 million, rather than test free-agency.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Dec 1, 2009 12:02:26 PM

Was George Lynch really a project? He was a mid-first round pick, as I recall, and had played four years for high-level college team that won a National Championship.

Not to argue, but it seems to me like Lynch was what he was projected to be - a fundamentally solid role player who could help any team, but wasn't going to be a star. Not exactly a "project" in my understanding of the term.

Posted by: Gboro cats fan | Dec 1, 2009 12:03:04 PM

Darko still sucks. Brown clearly knew what he was doing.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Dec 1, 2009 1:15:10 PM

G'boro Cat:
George Lynch came to the Sixers as a free agent -- and a long way from what you'd call an in-demand free agent. He'd washed out as a Laker and was shipped to the Grizzlies in a trade package.
Larry saw potential and turned him into what he became. That, to me, is developing a project.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Dec 1, 2009 1:33:56 PM

i was going to bring up jermaine o'neal earlier. i mean run me the list of guys that young that didn't start producing until later....then run me a list of 7 footers making less than 2 mil in the league. i'm sorry but that move is just logical.

not to mention we picked up morrison's option and LA paid it. no damage done. its not like we would have gotten anybody better than radmonovic (who turned into stephen jackson) when morrison requested a trade even if his deal was expiring last year.

moving ajinca (and coach lasalle) to maine for a stint is nothing but promising. i just hope we have the opportunity to retain ajinca long term and let that draft pick pay off when he hits his prime in about 4 years. if its not with us its gonna be with somebody else here or overseas. the kid is raw.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 1, 2009 1:59:53 PM

couldn't agree more Rick.

Posted by: flanahan32 | Dec 1, 2009 4:34:50 PM

I remember from following the Pistons team closely that Darko was purely a Joe Dumars call, not an LB one. If the Pistons drafted Wade, they would have won more than one ring.

Anyway, talking about LB projects, you can look at pretty much every player on the 2001 Sixers team, besides A.I. That team really played above their heads and probably had no business making it as far as the Finals. I remember he plucked Raja Bell off the street and all of a sudden he was starting in the playoffs. Also remember guys like Tyrone Hill and Todd McCullogh, even Lynch, Mckie, Snow, and Theo Ratliff.

Posted by: Ari | Dec 2, 2009 1:02:38 AM

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