The idea of "trading down" in an NBA draft is something you don't often see, because the practice is usually relegated to NFL circles, with rosters of 50-some players and 11 to a side. NBA teams? They run five to a side, 15 players on the roster, and five of those players rarely see time.
The Charlotte Bobcats? They're made up, almost entirely, of those bottom-five players. Which is why, in an NBA rarity, you might see the team dip down in Thursday's draft in an attempt to build up possibly the weakest roster in NBA history. And with the second overall pick a clear step down from the top pick (which the New Orleans Hornets will most assuredly use on Kentucky big man Anthony Davis), and no real distinction in draft-watchers' eyes in the difference between the prospects available with the second, third, fourth or even fifth pick, why not try to attempt to grab one of those helpers and a shot a lower rung first-rounder?
Especially when you've apparently put together one of the more advanced scouting systems known to man or Jor-dan. New Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap actually told the Associated Press on Monday that dealing downward "makes a lot of sense," which makes sense to us as hoops watchers if not much sense to us as poker players. But maybe Dunlap (and, by extension, the formidable mind of Bobcats GM Rich Cho) is already a hand or two ahead of us. The Bobcats coach goes on, from the AP and through the fine work of Steve Reed:
That's one of the reasons he said the Bobcats are taking a ''hybrid thinking'' approach to Thursday night's draft, which means evaluating the talent available at No. 2 while simultaneously looking into the feasibility of moving down and picking up an additional first-round draft pick.
He said the option of trading down ''is on the board.''
''I think anybody in our situation would have that on the board,'' Dunlap said. ''(Our) people are very smart up top. So options and thinking of your variables is a very smart thing to do.''
As with anything in the hours leading up to this draft, this could be a plant of sorts. But it's one that makes sense on several levels, especially when you consider the potential fight for Florida guard Bradley Beal.
Beal makes sense, in a wing-heavy draft (a rarity of sorts, in the recent NBA pick 'ems), to both the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers. As soon as the Wizards pulled the trigger on the deal acquiring Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza (two paint chippers if we ever saw just one), Beal's name immediately came up as a floor-spacer meant to make things right. Washington, with the third pick, would seem to be the perfect setting for him, leaving Cleveland with Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a consolation prize.
If the Cavs think there is a significant difference between the two, though, they might be amenable to sending their fourth pick to Charlotte for the second overall pick, along with Cleveland's 24th overall pick, and perhaps some cash considerations along the way. Two-for-one, for a Bobcats team that needs 12.
This, sadly, shows you just how far the Bobcats have to go. The team's finances are still a mess, and though the group is making smart strides in rebuilding and letting Cho take the reins, the potential for Jordan to waltz in last minute will always be there. Whether this means his competitive drive is getting the best of him, or worries about his checking account are taking over the front office play-calling. Only a trip through this draft and actual offseason will be able to tell us. And even that might not be enough, as MJ gets impatient between this offseason and February's trade deadline.
In the meantime, trading down would not be a bad move, or a sign that losing the top overall pick got to Charlotte — because that ain't a sign, that's a damn billboard. It certainly wouldn't be a function of weakness or apathy, though, as the team attempts to chip away at this mess.