Can the Bobcats afford to improve?

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Just a reminder, from Hoopsworld:

Chicago Bulls: Receives 2013 first-round pick (top-12 protected in 2013, top-10 in 2014, top-8 in 2015, unprotected in 2016) from the Charlotte Bobcats via the Tyrus Thomas trade on 2/18/10.

via Draft Pick Debt | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors.

The rare trade that was bad at the outset, worse a year later, worse two years later and continues to be worse.

Now, let’s be clear, there is no threat of the Bobcats improving to 13-plus this year. That thing could be top-three protected and Charlotte should feel safe. But top ten in 2014 could be a trick. If the Cats were to get an impact player in 2013 (in an admittedly weak draft from where we’re at right now), manage any good trade or player addition, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist giving them anything, there’s not a lot of reasons to think the Cats are absolutely out. But losing that draft pick would set them back. They honestly need to be terrible until 2015. Not going to be a problem, I hear you joking. But even terrible teams go on bursts where they improve to mid-lottery for a year and then regress.

That trade continues to severely hurt the outlook of the team. They’ve got a lotto-protected-through 2014 pick from the Blazers, so that’s not going to cover them. They need to find a way to take on salary to get a draft pick, in all honesty. But that’s going to be problematic for the team and ownership. The Cats are in a bind for talent and improvement, and fan support. And worst of all, they have to pace their improvement so they don’t get buried in the long-term.