According to a report in CBSSports' Eye on Basketball blog, the Bobcats are exploring the possibility of trading the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
One scenario, according to the report, has Charlotte sending the pick to Oklahoma City for James Harden.
The Bobcats set the NBA mark for futility last year, finishing with an all-time worst record of 7-59. However, they lost out on the No. 1 pick to the Hornets, where Anthony Davis will surely be taken.
Beyond Davis, the talent in this year's draft is far from knock-you-on-your-backside elite. Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes, all potential options at No. 2 overall, aren't necessarily can't-miss prospects.
Thus, the possibility of Charlotte looking to deal their pick for a proven commodity should come as no surprise. Nor should the fact that Harden is a possibility as said commodity.
Why? While Harden seems to be quickly developing into one of the league's elite shooting guards, there is more or less a 50 percent chance that his career with the Thunder would end following the 2012-13 season.
Oklahoma City already has a large chunk of their salary cap dedicated to mega-deals for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. And following the 2012-13 season, both Harden and Serge Ibaka will be free agents, both likely commanding big money. Oklahoma City would, in all likelihood, stand lose out on one of their young stars to free agency.
The issue, of course, is whether the Thunder feels that the value they would acquire with the No. 2 overall pick would be worth giving up a player that may end up being the league's premier shooting guard in a handful of years. While the concern of losing Harden for nothing certainly hangs over Oklahoma City management's heads, there is still the possibility that the Thunder could find a more lucrative trade option for Harden, or opt to hold on to Harden and instead deal Ibaka.
Regardless of Oklahoma City's involvement, though, the speculation surrounding Charlotte's commitment to the No. 2 pick has been borderline rampant the past several days. So it'd be no surprise if the Bobcats do opt to trade their lottery choice prior to draft night.