INSIDE THE NBA

Charlotte Bobcats must keep Josh McRoberts

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comMarch 13, 2014 

Roughly this time each NBA season - two-thirds of the way through - I remind myself to look at the Charlotte Bobcats' player salaries to see if anyone is vastly under- or overpaid.

Ben Gordon is gone, so that's more a "How much did you pay for a future first-round pick?" issue. The more interesting situation going forward is starting power forward Josh McRoberts.

Boy, is he underpaid.

McRoberts makes slightly more than $2.6 million this season. That makes him the eighth-highest paid player on this team. He is the third-best player on this team behind Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Some perspective:

It's not rookie Cody Zeller's fault he makes $3.8 million. That's the system, and if the Bobcats drafted Zeller fourth overall, he should make that much. But if you've watched the last 60-some games, two things would strike you about McRoberts and his backup, Zeller.

One, McRoberts is a lot better than Zeller. Two, that isn't going to change at the start of training camp in October or anytime in the foreseeable future.

Again, not Zeller's fault. He has potential for the same reason the Bobcats like McRoberts in this time in basketball when a power forward's skill set should include the ability to make 3s, pass and dribble.

The Bobcats signed McRoberts to a two-season contract. This and next season is guaranteed, but McRoberts can opt-out after this season and hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

This was a very cost-effective move by the Bobcats. But even before the team played its first regular-season game, owner Michael Jordan acknowledged to me the prospect of McRoberts opting out was worrisome.

They want him back. As Jordan put it so well, McRoberts is the Bobcats' "connect-the-dots" guy because of his sophisticated passing.

I've no idea how this will work out in July. Here's how it should work out:

The Bobcats should make a fair, but preemptive, offer that keeps McRoberts around. I think Josh gets it he's valued here, and he should want to keep playing for Steve Clifford.

After so many misadventures at upgrading the talent - Adam Morrison, Gana Diop, Tyrus Thomas - shouldn't you retain somebody who's been about as cost-effective as any player in franchise history?

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