2015/16 Record: 48-34 (1st Round Exit)
|Marco Belinelli||TR – Sacramento Kings|
|Roy Hibbert||FA – 1 Year / $5m|
|Ramon Sessions||FA – 2 Years / 12.5m|
|Brian Roberts||FA – 1 Year / $980k|
|Christian Wood||FA – 2 Years / 1.89m (Partially Guaranteed)|
|Al Jefferson||FA – Indiana Pacers|
|Jeremy Lin||FA – Brooklyn Nets|
|Courtney Lee||FA – New York Knicks|
|Troy Daniels||FA – Memphis Grizzlies|
Off Season Analysis:
The Bees had some great success this off-season. However this is one of those scratch below the surface scenarios and some of the off-season trades and signings leave a lot of questions that the front office may need to answer at seasons end.
Don’t get me wrong; keeping both Batum and Marvin Williams is a great feat for a small market team. A small market team that is unfortunately taking some serious heat due to an egregious law that has cost the great city of Charlotte the All-Star game. The Batum signing in particular is a great sign for the organisation as they were able to sign him at a significant discount, (again lets use my Mozgov measuring stick, 4 years/$64m with no team option). Signing Marvin Williams to the early bird exception 4 years/$54m was a positive move coming off his strong year. However it is the other moves executed that raise some questions.
Firstly let me make it clear, Batum is a great signing. He entered free agency coming off a career season (14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 70 games). In the midst of the enormous raise to the cap,Charlotte were able to secure him at a significant discount of 5 years / $120m, (he was eligible for 5/$154m.) Yet there was myopic execution in Batum’s new contract. Batum’s cap hold was $19.7m and as capologist Nate Duncan wrote about before Batum signed his new deal, this should have been utilised to the full in the first season. A quick explanation, “For the purposes of Charlotte’s other machinations, Batum will only count for $19.7 million no matter his eventual starting salary.” So matter what the his first year was worth, due to the cap hold and having his Bird rights, Batum’s first year would only count as 19.7m against Charlotte’s cap. As a result the Bees could have used this cap flexibility to resign Marvin Williams and the most Courtney Lee. However to avoid paying tax and outing Jordan out as a cheap skate (or still not in control of his gambling issues) the front office opted not to. His first year is on the books at $20.9m, resulting in severe limitations to the Bees cap flexibility.
Another reason why they are going to win fewer games is signing Belinelli, (in my opinion the second worst trade of the season, the first being the Orlando’s move for Ibaka). Charlotte traded the 22nd pick for Belinelli. As a result forcing Lee to explore free agency and sign with the Knicks. Belinelli is a known net liability of defence, with the advance stats suggesting not only is his a terrible net negative on defence, Belinelli’s offensive box plus/minus of -1.3 is surprisingly worse than Lees -0.9. Moreover what makes this trade more head scratching is there were plenty of interesting two-way prospects available at 22, think Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz that would have helped their cap flexibility.
Ideally, if they didn’t trade the second pick, and not sign Hibbert, they could have retained Lee (his cap hold was $9m). On the plus side, bringing in Sessions to replace Lin was a solid move that helps solidify the second unit in Lin’s absence. Adding Roy Hibbert also helps add some defence to the shortcomings of Belinelli and Sessions. However it will be interesting to watch the ying-yang effect of adding in a defensive stalwart in Hibbert at the loss of the low post monster Big Al Jefferson.
The key to the Bee’s season is remaining healthy. If Kidd-Gilchrist can start the season healthy (he has only played 62 games over the past two seasons) he can add a lot to the team. His jump shot is continually showing signs of significant improvement, and that added to his arsenal of defence, slashing and finishing at the rim, he could prove to be a nightmare match up and my pick for this seasons break out player.
The addition of Sessions, Belinelli and Hibbert at the cost of Lin, Lee and Big Al will inhibit the Bee’s win rate this season. Whilst Charlotte did a great job on retaining both Batum and Williams, the Front Office’s shortsightedness on the Belinelli trade and Batum’s contract (whilst not devastating) will have a negative impact on Charlotte this season and next moving forward.
2016/17 Prediction: 44-38
League Pass Meter: 6.5/10
Charlotte will win some tough games, with many teams struggling to contain the nightmare of matching up against Kemba, Batum, MKG and Williams. However this team as presently constructed, is unfortnately destined for a first round exit.
The extra 0.5 is for the hope that Jordan makes a surprise comeback.
*Salary Guarantees Jan 10, 2017.
Salary Cap Situation:
2016/17 Salaries: $100,178,244 (Over the cap team)
2017/18 Salaries: $100,403,213
Max Room: $27.8m
Min Room: $1.6m
2018 2nd (CLE or BKN)
2018 2nd (MEM)
Can MKG have an injury free ‘break-out’ season?
Can MJ stop trying to be the GM?
Will Hibbert’s defence make up for the loss of Big Al’s offence?
How quickly will Belinelli be included in trade rumours?
Will trading pick 22 make Charlotte look as bad as it did in not taking the Boston offer or picking Frank Kaminsky over Justice Winslow?