via: Bleacher Report
The fact that the Charlotte Bobcats are clinging to a playoff seed in the Eastern Conference is not much to hang your hat on, but the fact that they are buyers at the trade deadline is truly great to see.
For the first time in the franchise's brief yet agonizing history, Charlotte heads into the trade deadline as a team actively looking to acquire more talent instead of kicking assets to the curb like an estate sale.
When the front office made the surprising splash and landed Al Jefferson this past offseason, another year of tanking was just never in the cards. Charlotte is still hanging on to the eighth seed in the East long after it was widely assumed that they would mail it in.
In a league so heavily influenced by free agency, there is always a large handful of players to be had. Charlotte has no shortage of options when it comes to potential trade candidates.
As far as trade chips, Charlotte has up to three first-rounders in the loaded 2014 draft. They also have the $13.2 million expiring deal of Ben Gordon, a piece that they would be flat out stupid not to move.
The team is in a tricky situation due to the lack of potential superstars on the market. While they must make a move to bolster the roster moving forward, the Cats cannot compromise their future or make a move simply for the sake of creating headlines.
Let's examine some of the potential options and areas of need for the soon-to-be Hornets.
A BIG SPLASH:
Target: Evan Turner
The Sixers have begun to fall back down to earth a bit after a surprising start to the season. As they have begun to lose, rumors have run rampant that they are pushing to move Turner, and the Bobcats are interested, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
The Bobcats being linked to Turner in and of itself is great to see. An E.T. acquisition would be the biggest trade in team history. Bringing him in would make a statement that they are indeed dead set on contending.
The caveat is that Turner's contract is expiring. Given his increasing numbers, he will command a significant contract in the offseason, and Charlotte is not exactly rolling in dough. The Bobcats are roughly $10 million away from luxury-tax territory, so they do have some room to add to the payroll.
This kind of move would go a long way towards both improving the performance on the court and also heightening the culture of the team. Fans need to know this team is serious. Al Jefferson opened their eyes, but Evan Turner would really get them to tune in.
Charlotte cannot go for Turner if it is not sure about retaining him after this season. A one-and-done playoff campaign does the franchise no good. They have been down that road before with the Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson team, but it never lasted. This absolutely has to be different.
Turner would give Charlotte a third scorer along with Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is turning into a truly dominant perimeter defender, but putting Turner next to him would complement him beautifully. His skill set could be just what Charlotte needs.
2 WAY PAINT PRESENCE
Target: Taj Gibson
Rumors have been kicked around recently linking Gibson to the Bobcats, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is a little premature, but Gibson would be a phenomenal pickup for the Bobcats.
Gibson is having a breakout campaign averaging 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds as well as 1.5 blocks for the Chicago Bulls. He continues to win over fans with his spirited play and has truly embodied everything coach Tom Thibodeau has instilled upon his Bulls.
Steve Clifford doesn't have the same personnel in Charlotte, but in his first season he has shown some similarities to Thibs. Gibson could slot right in alongside Jefferson and form a legitimate front line.
Gibson is also under contract for another three seasons after signing his extension in 2012. Having an intense power forward to go to work with Jefferson would give this team the stability they need.
The USC product is in some high demand with the league assuming that Chicago is on the verge of a fire sale. They shipped All-Star Luol Deng out of town for cents on the dollar and are in the midst of another middling Rose-less campaign.
A little convincing could be all it takes to pry a fixture away from Chicago.
Target: O.J. Mayo
The Milwaukee Bucks had a strange offseason during which they spent duffel bags full of money on middling talent. Had they already been on the verge of contention, it would have made sense. From an outsider's perspective, it looked like they were buying mediocrity.
More than halfway through the season, Milwaukee has gotten pounded with injuries and is significantly worse than any other team in the NBA.
Mayo is coming off a bit of a resurgence in Dallas last season and carried that momentum over into the early part of this year. A few months later, Mayo has seen his scoring take a significant hit each month and has become an afterthought on the 9-39 Bucks.
Milwaukee is in full tank mode and is allocating most of the backcourt minutes to the young guards Nate Wolters and Giannis Antetokounmpo. They have no use for Mayo and Charlotte should look to inquire on him.
As far as trading chips, Charlotte has as many as three first-rounders in the upcoming draft as well as Ben Gordon's $13.2 million expiring contract. Milwaukee should be absolutely salivating over getting its hands on those pieces.
Gerald Henderson is a solid scorer, but simply doesn't have the offensive firepower of Mayo. Mayo can spread the floor and score in isolation scenarios in a way that no one else on the roster can even come close to. If Charlotte is serious about a playoff push, a little Mayo would spice up its playoff sandwich.
Target: Jimmer Fredette
It hurts me as a basketball fan to watch Jimmer Fredette wasting away in Sacramento, a team constantly struggling to develop its top draft picks (aside from DeMarcus Cousins).
The Kings have three 20-point-per-game scorers on the roster in Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay. The last thing they need is an offensive-minded guard off the bench, so they owe it to Jimmer to let him try to turn the clock back to his BYU days elsewhere.
Fredette has seen his minutes decrease in each of his three seasons, yet his production has improved each year.
Charlotte has made the second-fewest threes in the league and connects on just 34.7 percent of its attempts. Enter Fredette, the guy who has ascended beyond the regular three-pointer and given us Jimmer range, something the league has not seen nearly enough of. His 47.5 percent shooting from distance this year would give the Bobcats a shot in the arm they desperately need.
Charlotte needs to get Jimmered. Plain and simple.
Target: Brandon Bass
For all the issues Charlotte has had on the court this season, its lack of rebounding has been overlooked.
If it wasn't for Al Jefferson, the Bobcats would be in even deeper trouble than they already are. Jefferson is averaging 10.6 rebounds this year, currently twice as many as anyone else on the roster.
It goes without saying that the big man could use some serious help.
Playing so many minutes alongside Josh McRoberts and Cody Zeller is doing Jefferson no favors. Being the only decent big man on the roster makes the recent torrid stretch Jefferson has put together even more remarkable.
Just think of how much immediate help another big body would provide. Brandon Bass is more than capable of providing some offense and pulling some attention off of Jefferson. He is also an active guy who loves to get after it on the defensive end and on the boards.
The Boston Celtics' entire season has been a dumpster fire. There is no way that anyone on that roster is off limits. Young guys like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have shown some bright signs for the future, though. Cashing in on a veteran trade chip before the deadline is most definitely on their radar, as we already saw with the Courtney Lee trade.
Bass has a similar build and skill set to Paul Millsap, Jefferson's front-line running mate for years out in Utah. Zeller and McRoberts are simply not getting it done, and Bismack Biyombo appears to have regressed. Bass could provide a strong paint presence that Charlotte has been lacking.