Michael Jordan has been in the Charlotte Bobcats’ front office since 2006, and he’s been the majority owner of the team since 2010. In that time the Bobcats have made the playoffs once, a mediocre first round campaign that Jordan paid heavily for. In the years following that 2009-10 run, though, the Bobcats have been miserable, losing frequently while often whiffing on good draft picks (while still owing a future first rounder to the Chicago Bulls due to a poorly-conceived deal for Tyrus Thomas).
With several NBA teams going with a “youth movement” (read: tanking in the hopes of being able to select Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or anyone else from the loaded 2014 draft), the question of tanking was brought up to Jordan in an interview he gave on Friday with the Associated Press.
The Bobcats don’t tank, Jordan says. He swears. From the AP:
The Bobcats owner scoffed at the idea Friday, telling The Associated Press, ''I don't know if some teams have thought of that. That's not something that we would do. I don't believe in that.''
He then laughed heartily and said, ''If that was my intention I never would have paid (free agent) Al Jefferson $13 million a year.''
You don’t believe in tanking? You’ve never tanked? So that fabulous 2011 offseason, one that saw you draft a raw project center in Bismack Biyombo alongside Kemba Walker, the one where your top offseason veteran signings were Reggie Williams and Melvin Ely, you weren’t tanking? You were really trying in the season that saw you finish with the worse winning percentage in NBA history?
Or the 2012 offseason? The one that saw you deal for Ben Gordon just so you could grab a future first round pick from Detroit (Gordon promptly tanked the season), the one where you counted Ramon Sessions as your primary free agent target? That wasn’t a tank job?
Jordan went on to point to the unsure nature of identifying prospects as part of the reason his Charlotte Bobcats – who would never, ever tank a season – wouldn’t dare dream of tanking for draft picks:
''It's not guaranteed (the player) you are going to get is going to be that star anyway,'' Jordan said. ''I did read that certain teams are thinking about doing it. But I'm not one of them. So let's alleviate that conversation.''
Here’s the problem. The Bobcats have stunk, on purpose, for years, with little payoff. The issue is that they’ve had terrible lottery luck – whiffing on projects like Biyombo, falling down in the draft despite good odds, and possibly missing with the second overall pick from 2012, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. We like MKG quite a bit, but he struggled terribly in his first year, and the only true potential star player during Jordan’s reign as personnel helper has been Kemba Walker, who was taken ninth overall.
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The Bobcats have gone just 28-120 over the last two seasons, a horrific run, and really all Jordan has to show for it is Kidd-Gilchrist and rookie big man Cody Zeller. He also earned some cap space along the way, which allowed Jordan to sign Al Jefferson to big bucks over the offseason – a curious move that could produce enough wins to keep them out of the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, but not enough to even dream of a playoff run. Wiggins and Jabari Parker are probably worth going for, and Jordan is giving up on his personal brand of tanking in the worst possible year.
This has not worked out well.
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