It seems every trade proposal on this site includes the Charlotte pick. It's a throw-in, much like Taj was included in every trade proposal this summer. But what's the real value of the Charlotte pick. What's the likelihood of the pick turning into a (high) lottery pick. My original thinking was that the chances were very low. What were the chances that Charlotte wouldn't have one good year between 2012 and 2016 and ruin it for us?
Here's the list of the 30 NBA Franchises and their longest consecutive playoff drought over the last 20 years. (20 years was an arbitrary choice by me to go back)
Atlanta: 8 years 1999 – 2007
Boston: 6 years 1995 - 2001
Charlotte: 5 years 2004 – 2009 (note, current franchise began in 2004)
Chicago: 6 years 1998 - 2004
Cleveland: 6 years 1998 – 2005
Dallas: 10 years 1990 – 2000
Denver: 8 years 1995 – 2003
Golden State: 12 years 1994 – 2006
Houston: 4 years 1999 – 2003
Indiana: 4 years 2006 - present
LAC: 8 years 1997 – 2005
LAL: 1 year (two times)
Vancouver/Memphis: 8 years 1995 – 2003 (began play in 1995)
Miami: 2 years
Milwaukee: 7 years 2001 – 2008
Minnesota: 6 years 1990 – 1996 & 2004 – Present
New Jersey: 3 years 3 separate times including present
Charlotte/New Orleans: 3 years 2004 – 2007
New York: 6 years 2004 – 2010
Seattle/OKC: 4 years 2005 – 2009
Orlando: 3 years 1990 – 1993 & 2003 – 2006
Philidelphia: 7 years 1991 – 1998
Phoenix: 1 year (3 times)
Portland: 5 years 2003 – 2008
Sacramento: 5 years 1990 – 1995 (streak began in ’86)
San Antonio: 1 year 1996
Toronto: 4 years: 1995 – 1999 & 2002 – 2006 (began play in 1995)
Utah: 3 years 2003 – 2006
Washington: 7 years: 1997 – 2004
1) Only 8 franchises avoided playoff droughts of 4 years during the last 20
2) Bad franchises stay bad for long periods
If basketball weren't a game of skill, and it was simply chance such as a dice game, the odds of making the playoffs in any given year would be 53% (16 out of 30). The chances of any one team missing the playoffs based on this percentage for 4 consecutive years would be less than 5%.
But basketball is not a game of chance (Tony Douglas 3 point streakiness excluded), and franchises are not inherently equal. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, if ever agreed to, could dramatically impact the ability of teams to compete for free agents and retain it's own players. So without knowledge of what will happen, it's kind of a fruitless conversation, but as of today, some franchises have pretty significant advantages in owner resources and or willingness of owner to absorb a temporary loss, market desirability, franchise revenue, tv market, etc. (I still think the major reason Lebron chose Miami is because the girls in the nightclubs are significantly better looking than Cleveland's or Chicago's - no offense). Where does Charlotte fit into all this? Not very well.
With a small fan base, a small stadium, a small potential tv market, and an owner that has already shown he needs to cut payroll to stay afloat (i.e. The Chandler trade, and not resigning Felton), Charlotte seems to be playing with one hand behind it's back. Probably it's best selling point is the legend of its owner, but the current crop of stars knows him more for his failures as a GM than his ring years.
We really can't compare Charlotte with the Lakers and Heat of the world in terms of ability to turn a franchise around quickly. Is Charlotte rebuilding and on the upswing? A look at their current rotation with age based on their leading players by minutes:
Boris Diaw 28
DJ Augustyn 23
Tyrus Thomas 24
Matt Carroll 30
Kwame Brown 28
Is there anybody there to build around? Gerald Wallace is a fine player, but is he top 30 in the league? 40? 50?The Bobcats made 7 trades since 2008 involving 21 players and about all they have to show for it is a declining Stephen Jackson, a coach killing Tyrus Thomas, a franchise losing money. OK, don't believe me? How about ESPN then. I don't have an insider account, but here's a lines from an (outdated) August article in the Charlotte Examiner:
In fact, even with majority owner Michael Jordan in place, arguably one of the best coaches in the game in Larry Brown and a roster full of young talent, the two ESPN insiders have Charlotte ranked dead last in the NBA in future power rankings – which predicts a franchise’s success through the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons. The Bobcats are not even close to reaching success, according to their system. On a 1,000-point scale, Charlotte scored a 176. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who placed 29th on the list, scored 326 – nearly doubling the likelihood of team success.
Let's assume the Bulls don't have the patience or the gambling habit needed to wait out the string of hopeful losing seasons in Charlotte. But I think we can safely say that each year the the protection kicks in and pushes the draft choice a year down and lowers the protection, the value of the pick will increase. A few years down the road, some teams are going to start looking at that pick as a potential top 1 - 5 pick in the not too distant future. Today, it's a throw-in.
I know we need to upgrade SG. But let's not move this pick yet. Let's invest it for a few years and reap the hopefully much higher rewards later.
I would hate to see us trade Taj, because I think we are going to need big man depth in the playoffs to have any chance against Orlando or Boston, but he's played himself into a valuable asset and probably is worth as much as he's ever going to be worth on the trade market. If Houston can turn Carl Landry into Kevin Martin, I'm optimistic. Buy low, sell high.
By the way, I realized I oversimplified the protection clauses by just talking about making the playoffs or not. I realize the protection changes over the years and Charlotte will have to be worse and worse to realize our best scenario. This post was already long enough.