With nowhere to go but up, the Charlotte Bobcats are at least looking busy.
And it seems like more than that. It seems like the Bobcats really were embarrassed by last season – as well they should be -- and are trying to ensure it never happens again.
The Bobcats now have a new coach, a new No.2 draft pick and two new backcourt scoring threats. On Thursday, at the point guard position alone, they ditched D.J. Augustin, agreed to terms with veteran backup Ramon Sessions and basically handed over the starting job to Kemba Walker. And they are trying hard to acquire Kris Humphries, the ex-Kardashian who averaged a double-double last year and who would become the Bobcats’ biggest free-agent signing ever.
Meanwhile, owner Michael Jordan finally talked about the team’s direction Thursday and went so far as to compare rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Scottie Pippen.
Of course, Jordan is optimistic by nature. He compared Bismack Biyombo to a young Hakeem Olajuwon in December, and that one hasn’t quite worked out yet.
But it is true that Jordan and front-office men Rod Higgins and Rich Cho are doing something to try and improve a team that lost its final 23 games of the season to finish with a preposterous 7-59 record and the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.
New coach Mike Dunlap was a scratch-your-head sort of hire, but at least his ideas sound good so far. Ben Gordon, the new combo guard, surely will be a better scorer and less injury-prone than Corey Maggette. Kidd-Gilchrist might end up as Gerald Wallace redux, which is fine – I was always a Wallace fan and hated to see him go. Humphries would be an excellent “get,” as would shot-blocking center Brendan Haywood (also a possibility).
As for handing the team over to Walker, it had to happen.
The Bobcats didn’t need two undersized point guards. Augustin was a pure shooter and can certainly play – he has already signed with the Indiana Pacers -- but he mostly seemed just good enough to get you beat. Walker is a far better driver with a more assertive personality. If someone can teach Kemba how to shoot the ball the same way every time, he could become a good NBA starting point guard.
Throw in Gerald Henderson – the team’s best player at the moment. Throw in Biyombo. Throw in whatever big man (or two) the Bobcats are about to sign with some of the money freed up by Augustin’s departure you’ve got a decent nucleus. It’s not playoff-worthy, but isn’t winning only one out of every 10 games, either.
All sorts of problems remain, of course, too numerous and too depressing to list here. You don’t solve 7-59 in one offseason.
But what you do is what the Bobcats are doing. You don’t blow everything up – that’s impossible in today’s NBA anyway. You take a calm, measured approach to change and then you hope that once or twice you get lucky with someone like Humphries.
The Bobcats didn’t get lucky in the NBA draft lottery. Anthony Davis will forever be known as the big fish that got away. But they are putting themselves in position to get lucky at some point. Mike Krzyzewski calls it “orchestrating moments.” You don’t just wait for something good to happen. You coax it along. You try to make something happen.
The Bobcats are at least doing that.
Scott Fowler: 704-358-5140; email@example.com