Here's a small sneak preview of the column I'm writing about Erick Dampier and his brief time with the Charlotte Bobcats for Wednesday's newspaper:
And with the No.2 pick of the 2004 NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select….
That’s how it seems, anyway, after the Bobcats waived center Erick Dampier Tuesday and got rid of his unguaranteed, $13.07-million salary for next season.
This release sounds OK in principle on first glance. The Bobcats were able to get below the luxury tax and Dampier is too old to help them much on the court. The Bobcats certainly aren’t good enough to be paying a luxury tax.
But chase this one down the rabbit hole far enough and you won’t like what you see. Essentially, the Bobcats have made two trades in the past two summers that got rid of center Emeka Okafor and ended up with hardly anything but payroll relief.
Okafor was once the NBA Rookie of the Year in Charlotte. Even though Okafor will always be a somewhat robotic player, he was still an asset.
The Bobcats basically traded Okafor to New Orleans for Tyson Chandler last summer in large part because Chandler’s contract had fewer years left on it. Then they traded Chandler away to Dallas in July and picked up a couple of spare parts and Dampier’s non-guaranteed salary.
At the time of that trade, Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins called Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract extremely valuable because of the relief it could afford another team. Higgins sounded like he was holding a winning poker hand.
Turned out he wasn’t, and today Higgins and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan need to be called out on that. Fans don’t care that Jordan is saving a few million by not paying a luxury tax. They aren’t cheering today: “Yes! We waived a guy with a huge salary!”
They want to see a better product on the floor, and right now there’s little way to imagine that the Bobcats are a better team in 2010-11 than they were in 2009-10.
I guess this is the move that Jordan warned us about – the one that gets the Bobcats out of a salary mess and better equipped to do the next good deal down the road.
It’s just amazing to me that in only six years the Bobcats got into that big of a mess in the first place.