Five days ago Gerald Henderson celebrated his 25th birthday.
It was the day before Henderson went 2-7 in 18 minutes against the Warriors. Since returning from an injury in November, Henderson’s starting job has gone to second round pick Jeffrey Taylor. Taylor has started 20 games this season, as Coach Dunlap likes what he brings on both sides of the ball as a three-point shooter and defender.
In nine games, Henderson hasn’t been bad. He has a 16.8 PER, a 55.4% TS, and is averaging the most scoring of his career per minute. Henderson’s improved mid-range shooting, athleticism, and defensive versatility has made him coveted by some Bobcats fans over the past three seasons.
However, Henderson was not given a contract extension in the offseason by the Bobcats, and he’ll enter restricted free agency next summer.
When you consider Henderson’s reduced role in a crowded Bobcats backcourt, it’s time for the Bobcats to move on from Henderson.
Since Henderson’s return Gordon hasn’t played 30 minutes or more. It’s disappointing considering Gordon has been our best scoring and shooting threat this season, and currently has the highest three-point percentage of his career (.448).
The problem is the same for Ramon Sessions, whose scoring numbers are down after a hot start. Both Gordon and Sessions were instrumental in the Bobcats hot start early this season, and now have seen their minutes slashed to fit an inferior player in Henderson.
One of the biggest keys for the Bobcats under Rich Cho is to be more careful when managing their payroll. In the past the Bobcats have given out extensions they’ve instantly regretted (Emeka Okafor, Tyrus Thomas), and taken on bad contracts who never produced well for the team (Tyson Chandler, Corey Maggette, Gana Diop). While Henderson certainly wouldn’t command a high salary on the open market, the Bobcats really have no reason to extend him with Walker, Taylor, Sessions and Gordon on the team.
Even extending a qualifying offer wouldn’t make sense. Taylor’s starting job combined with the acquisitions above got the wheels turning on what could be the end of Henderson’s Bobcats tenure.
The good thing is the Bobcats wouldn’t have trouble finding a suitor for Henderson, given his cheap salary. The Bobcats could even combine Henderson with Gana Diop’s $7M expiring or Reggie Williams to take on a higher-salary player. There’s a lot of different ways they can go with it.
Watching this team feels like watching a team that obviously needs a trade to make room for better player impact. For me, Henderson makes the most sense as an asset to sell high on and avoid long-term commitment down the road.