The most remarkable thing about the Charlotte Bobcats isn’t that they’ve won only seven games in a season that may go down in NBA infamy.
It’s that they’ve had that much success with a roster that is so obviously incapable of competing.
Besides D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson, the Bobcats don’t have any players who would likely crack the playing rotation of a contending team.
Corey Maggette has been sidelined much of the season because of injuries. Tyrus Thomas has been an overpaid underachiever. Rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo could be good players — someday.
Who’s presiding over this mess? Oh, right, only the greatest basketball player ever.
Owner Michael Jordan has introduced Charlotte fans to a new kind of hang time, which involves waiting, and waiting, and waiting for wins.
At 7-47, the Bobcats have had few highlights other than a shocking come-from-behind victory over Orlando last month. They won their season opener against Milwaukee, proceeded to lose 26 of their next 28 games, and that was that.
Charlotte still has not won consecutive games all season.
Their current 11-game losing streak is only their second-longest skid of the season, behind a 16-game slide that lasted nearly a month and was the longest in franchise history.
“It’s been so hard,” Coach Paul Silas said earlier this season. “I’ve had sleepless nights.”
More could be on the way.
Should the Bobcats fail to win another game, they would finish a season with a .106 winning percentage that would rank as the worst in league history. The benchmark for futility is presently held by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, whose 9-73 record over a non-lockout-shortened season left them with a .110 winning percentage.
It took the 76ers three more seasons to get back to the playoffs.
Charlotte hasn’t even been competitive in most of its defeats. The Bobcats have lost 17 games by at least 20 points, and their negative-12.8 point differential per game is on track to become the second-worst in NBA history, trailing only the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks (negative-15.2).
Silas has done what he can with his team, which is little. He’s tinkered with lineups and even juggled his staff, giving son Stephen, the team’s lead assistant, a chance to coach a game last month against New Jersey.
Predictably, the Bobcats lost.
The team’s slide into oblivion can be traced to a few botched personnel decisions and a youth movement that started last year when Charlotte traded productive veteran Gerald Wallace and then Stephen Jackson, essentially gutting the team that made the playoffs under Larry Brown in 2010.
But the Bobcats were headed toward disaster long before that.
In 2005, then-general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff declined to make a trade that would have brought point guard Deron Williams to Charlotte. The Bobcats were painfully reminded of the blunder in March when Williams dropped 57 points on them during a victory by New Jersey.
Jordan compounded matters in 2006 as operations chief by drafting Adam Morrison when Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo were there for the taking. All you need to know about Morrison is that he’s now playing for Besiktas Milangaz of the Turkish Basketball League.
The Bobcats have been left with a roster that would make a junkyard owner wince.
So what now?
A team spokesman said General Manager Rich Cho and Rod Higgins, the team’s president of basketball operations, were traveling this week and unavailable for comment.
Jordan hasn’t said much recently with the exception of a terse statement in which he denied a report claiming that he intended to sell the team if its latest efforts to rebuild and turn a profit fail.
Cho, a former assistant general manager with Oklahoma City, has said he intends to model the Bobcats’ makeover on that of the Thunder, which has lowered the boom on the rest of the NBA after drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden in successive years.
Charlotte will have a top-four pick in a strong 2012 draft that could net them Kentucky’s Anthony Davis or Connecticut’s Andre Drummond. They’ll also have, according to some estimates, as much as $21 million in salary cap space this summer to woo free agents.
In the meantime, the Bobcats will continue to give their young players increased roles while absorbing losses and criticism.
“If you don’t have a thick skin,” Cho told the Charlotte Observer, “you shouldn’t be in this business.”
Some might look at their record and say the Bobcats aren’t.