There are two ways the Charlotte Bobcats can go.
They can tank, lose games they ought to win and get a guaranteed lottery pick. I believe in karma (for people other than me). I believe that because of the Bobcats consistently abysmal lottery luck they will, if they get in, win a higher pick than their record suggests. The 2014 draft is vast. It looks like a reward.
When I say tank, Rd Higgins, Charlottes president of basketball operations, looks as if he was stricken by a sudden disease.
Of course, the Bobcats arent going to lose intentionally. You cant ask a starter such as Kemba Walker or a reserve such as Jeff Adrien to give less than they have. You cant ask anybody on the roster, any player or coach or executive. They didnt make it to the NBA by going at half speed.
But there are ways to subtly slip into the lottery. As the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches, the Bobcats could draw in instead of reaching out for a player who can lift them.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said before the Charlotte-Dallas game at Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday that Charlottes actions will depend on whos available and what makes sense.
At halftime, Higgins says he cant put a percentage on the likelihood of a trade.
But the thing you should know is were definitely shaking the tree, he says.
Higgins wants to trade. He wants to improve.
He goes so far as to say that he hopes a trade pans out.
Higgins is tired of losing. They all are. They won fewer games in 2011-12 than some teams win in two weeks. They won seven. Last season they won 21.
The Bobcats impressive 114-89 victory against Dallas gave them 23 victories. Theyre in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and 1½ games behind seventh-place Brooklyn.
Obviously, they dont want to finish eighth or seventh and open against Indiana or Miami. Theyre six games below .500. Going into Tuesdays games, only four teams in the conference were above .500. Atlanta was one game above and Toronto three.
With center Al Jefferson (30 points Tuesday) playing like an all-star and the Bobcats creatively and consistently and, against Dallas, beautifully finding ways to get him the ball, they can be pretty good.
Of course the Bobcats cant give up a player and undermine the progress theyve made.
But how long do they wait? The season is their 10th. They made the playoffs once, and they were guests, swept by Orlando. And they made the playoffs only because of two veterans who, as talented and as versatile as they were, had peaked. They were never as effective again.
The Bobcats are (said to be) interested in Philadelphias 6-foot-7 Evan Turner. Give him room, or the opportunity to create it, and watch him work. He averages 17.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists. He shoots 43.1 percent from the field. (Hes not a 3-point threat; he shoots 28.7 from deep.)
In the last 10 games, however, Turner and his team have gone into the sorry, Rod tank. In that span Turner has averaged 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Hes shot 37.8 percent from the field.
The Bobcats presumably are offering Ben Gordon, whose contract expires after the season, and a first-round pick. But which pick? They own Portlands, which will be late, and Detroits, which will be good to decent.
Turners contract also expires at the end of the season. He might want max money and hes not a max player. But by joining Jefferson and Walker and Josh McRoberts, who had 13 assists all by himself Tuesday, he would get opportunities he doesnt now.
A wing that can score is an interesting concept.
So is trading not to move up in the draft but to win.
Sorensen: 704-358-5119; email@example.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen