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News » Bobcats weighing options

Bobcats weighing options

Bobcats weighing options
CHARLOTTE -- The obvious solution to the Raymond Felton situation is ...

Anyone completing that sentence with conviction is fooling himself. The thing that makes this so interesting is it's such a quandary. Each potential solution comes with a liability.

Felton becomes a restricted free agent in July. As so often happens in contract years, Felton is performing the best he has as a pro. Against the Washington Wizards, in the Charlotte Bobcats' last game before the All-Star break, he nearly assembled a triple-double (15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, plus five steals).

How can the Bobcats afford to lose all that, plus the leadership Felton provides?

Or maybe they can. The Bobcats used a lottery pick on another point guard, D.J. Augustin, who had 26 points, five rebounds and four assists in that same game against the Wizards. Maybe he's ready to take over.

That's the quandary. So with four days remaining until the NBA trade deadline, we explore the options.

Option: Trade him

It's tidy and safe. Find the best deal you can (that might involve using Felton as bait to induce some team to absorb Nazr Mohammed's contract) and be done with it before you lose any control.

I asked Wizards coach Ed Tapscott about this, since he was the Bobcats' president when Felton was drafted fifth overall. Tapscott said he didn't know all the particulars, but, generically, no NBA franchise can afford to lose an asset of Felton's stature without compensation.

So why not do it? Bobcats managing partner Michael Jordan said Tuesday that trading Felton is still an option, but nothing had been offered worth accepting.

"He may sign that qualifying offer and then we lose him all together [a year later]," Jordan said in a conference call. "That's a risk.

"But does that mean I take less value for what my player is? I wouldn't do it that way."

There's also the rest of the roster to consider. Augustin has played well of late, but more as a wing scorer than a playmaker. Even with forward Boris Diaw around to help with ball-handling, Augustin might not be ready to start.

Plus, trading Felton could impede the momentum this team is generating. They entered the All-Star break on a two-game winning streak and won six of eight before Gerald Wallace went out with a broken rib and partially collapsed lung.

Wallace, Raja Bell (groin strain) and Juwan Howard (inflamed big toe) are all expected back Tuesday against Orlando.

Does management want to mess with that?

Option: Keep him

If other teams want him -- and the trade calls demonstrate that -- then why wouldn't the Bobcats value Felton just as much?

Why wouldn't you want two capable point guards if it's within your power? And Felton can play shooting guard, so there are ways to use him without hindering Augustin's development.

Quoting Jordan, "He's understanding what it means to be a point guard, differentiating that from a two-guard."

Sounds like the right time to commit.

So why not do it? It's not so much a commitment, as a price. Felton makes $4.1 million this season. In a long-term contract, would he want to double that average? Triple?

Jordan addressed that last week: "I don't want his agent thinking we'd be backed into a corner [by not trading him now], that they can ask for anything."

Felton is still a sub-.400 career shooter. This is all about price-versus-value.

Option: Wait it out

At worst, the Bobcats have him one more season before Felton would become an unrestricted free agent. So why not qualify him (at about $5.5 million for next season), offer what you think is fair long term and let him go shop for an offer sheet?

Similar patience got the Bobcats through restricted free agency with Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. You can debate whether they ultimately overpaid for those players, but they didn't lose assets for nothing.

So why not do it? Good chance they will because it buys them time. But there are dangers. If teams are ready to trade for Felton, they have incentive to sign him to an offer sheet.

Offer sheets don't typically work (the Bobcats didn't get Anderson Varejao or Carl Landry), but what if some team with cap room likes Felton enough to make the Bobcats blink?

Or what if Felton just signs that qualifying offer to become unrestricted in 2010? Then leverage really shifts.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 15, 2009


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