No. 8 -- CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
2012-13 RECORD: 21-61, fourth place, Southeast Division; did not make playoffs
ADDED: Coach Steve Clifford; F/C Al Jefferson (three years, $40.5 million); F/C Cody Zeller (first-round pick, 4th overall)
LOST: C Byron Mullens (signed with Clippers); F Tyrus Thomas (waived via amnesty provision); G Reggie Williams (signed with Houston)
RETAINED: G Ben Gordon (picked up player option); G Gerald Henderson (three years, $16 million); F Josh McRoberts (picked up player option)
THE KEY MAN: Swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Bobcats insisted trade rumors involving their rising second-year forward were bogus, but even so, MKG must develop some kind of consistent offense. Mark Price, new to Charlotte's bench as an assistant and de facto shooting coach, said that Kidd-Gilchrist's form was so off last season that he would take baseline jumpers with his feet pointing out of bounds. Charlotte signed Jefferson to give MKG more room to drive, the thing he does quite well offensively. But he'll have to fix the jumper to have any chance to be anything more than a situational player.
THE SKINNY: Charlotte had to show some level of seriousness in improving the roster, so it gave Jefferson a boatload of cash, and gambled that Zeller's all-around game will translate to the pros. For what it's worth, Zeller looked terrific in the Las Vegas Summer League. There is still a long, long way to go to get the locals excited about the on-court product, but the team should at least be representative on offense running things through Jefferson. And the Bobcats, in their last season with that nickname before they become the Hornets again, have more than $20 million in tradeable contracts to move for more pieces (the expiring deals of Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions, plus the very reasonable $2 million of backup center Brendan Haywood, whose minutes will certainly trickle to drips with Jefferson in town).