Basketball

Bobcats falling behind in East

You know that prediction I made that the Charlotte Bobcats would make the playoffs next season?

I might need a mulligan on that one.

Most anyone in the know in the NBA would endorse the reasoning that if you're not getting better, you must be getting worse. In the face of what the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors are doing, the Bobcats got worse the past few weeks.

The Raptors and the Wizards finished behind the Bobcats last season -- the Raptors with two fewer victories, the Wizards with 16 fewer. Since then, the Wizards effectively exchanged the fifth pick for veterans Mike Miller and Randy Foye, and the Raptors came to terms with Orlando Magic free-agent forward Hedo Turkoglu.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats have done nothing to address that lack of depth at power forward. Think the Raptors and the Wizards are still looking up at the Bobcats? Me, neither.

Obviously, free agency just started, and there's plenty that could be done before training camp opens roughly three months from now. I'm not advocating some panic move that overpays to improve marginally.

The truth is, panic moves are what placed them in this predicament.

Their two worst cap-management decisions in recent memory were trading for Nazr Mohammed's contract and picking up a $5.25 million option on Adam Morrison's rookie deal. They gave up expiring contracts for Mohammed because then-coach Sam Vincent was such a nag about a lack of big men. As best I can tell, they exercised Morrison's option because, had they not, they couldn't have traded him without his permission.

They have yet to find a taker for the $13 million left on Mohammed's deal, and they had to take Vladimir Radmanovic's contract (also about $13 million over the next two seasons) to move Morrison.

Radmanovic is a useful reserve, but I'm not sure his contract is cost-effective. Likewise, center DeSagana Diop could work out, but they owe him an average of about $6.7 million over the next four seasons.

Neither Radmanovic nor Diop would effectively fill this team's need for a power forward behind Boris Diaw. And neither one is such a scorer that he can make something from nothing with the shot clock expiring.

This team still has a huge asset -- coach Larry Brown. The current roster should benefit from being together in a Brown training camp. But that isn't enough, compared to the ways other Eastern Conference rosters are improving.

They need a Brandon Bass or Antonio McDyess at power forward, and they could use a scorer who can create his own shot. All that requires money and some creative way to undo one or more past mistakes.

Figure all that out, and you're the eighth seed in the East.

Fail to do that, and you start to resemble the Memphis Grizzlies.

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