I needed a night and a lil Cuervo to full digest the big Bobcats trade. I awoke today, not upset, but optimistic.
It's been just over twelve hours since the great shakeup of '08 began for the Bobcats. The team sent leading scorer Jason Richardson and consumate glue guy Jared Dudley along with a 2nd round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, and Sean Singletary. Reactions have ranged from reserved optimism to outrage, but regardless of what some of the pundits are saying, this trade is a positive for this team. The immediate concern for the team will be scoring and who will take the big shot, but in all other aspects the team should be improved.
Phoenix fans are ecstatic that the team finally has the shooting guard they've longed for, but also because they remember Golden State J-Rich. He's no longer the high flyer and attacks the basket only in spurts. He's become more Allan Houston than a poor man's Kobe. The trade that acquired him was designed to give the Cats a go-to scorer late in games, but more importantly it was to make the team a relevant threat to make the playoffs, which it never did. Already in this young season, he's been out because of that pesky knee that has plagued him since he came to Charlotte. Jason has aged in front of our eyes, and appears to be doing so at a rate approaching Mel Gibson in Forever Young. Slight exaggerations aside, if his knee became a chronic issue, his large contract would have become the albatross on the team through 2011. His 19 points/game will be missed by a team that already struggles to score, but statistically he provided little else. By the time this team was in position to be a contender in the East, J-Rich would've been a mere shell of the electric player he once was in Golden State.
I hate to see Jared Dudley go. He made all types of plays when he was on the floor, and that's the best compliment you can pay a player, but his trade value would never be higher, nor will his minutes/game. Personal feelings aside, he's still a role player in this league. He could make the open shot, has a high basketball IQ, but will constantly be plagued by the lack of a good position for him.
On the flip side, the Bobcats gained two players who have started in the Western Conference Finals, bringing with them more playoff experience than the entire Bobcats roster. The acquisitions improve the team's defense and the loss on the offensive end should be marginal. Raja's a capable 3-point shooter and the team's offense generates spot up opportunities through which he should excel. Boris Diaw's ability to effectively score out of the pick and roll will be a welcome addition since so much of the team's offense is predicated on it. Diaw also has the ability to stretch the defense opening driving lanes for the point guards, another primary element of the Larry Brown offense. With Steve Nash, Amare, and Shaq these guys were not primary options on the offensive end, something that could change here in Charlotte. Diaw responded during the 2005-06 season, some will say because of impending free agency, but also because he was out of the shadow of Amare. Free of that shadow, Diaw should again emerge as a legitimate starter in this league. A perceived throw-in Sean Singletary could also prove to be a steal in this trade. He's young, but Larry saw something in him to specifically target him. Don't forget that it was also Larry who wanted DJ, whose had one of the brightest rookie campaigns this season.
It's tough to watch a fan favorite go, but J-Rich's deaprture should prove to be a positive in the long run for the team. He will thrive in Phoenix as a secondary option on the offensive end, but this should not be interpreted as a failure of the team's front office. The situations both teams find themselves in are dramatically different. The value of this trade must be judged solely on the incoming Bobcats performance.It's difficult to say how the remainder of the season will play out, because the team doesn't appear to be done wheeling and dealing, but the future in Charlotte is brighter, even if one of the brightest stars to ever don the uniform is departing.
As an aside, a tip of the cap and a thank you to J-Rich and Duds for everything they gave the fans on the court and off.
Quotes from many of those involved.