Could the Charlotte Bobcats end up with James Harden, Rudy Gay or the Cleveland Cavaliers’ No. 4 overall pick? That’s the latest buzz coming from an assortment of NBA sources.

First and foremost, let’s acknowledge reality: the Bobcats needed to win the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes. After a historically awful campaign this past season, Michael Jordan and the rest of the unfortunate souls that are charged with making something out of nothing in the 28202 had to finally have something go their way during the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery.

Of course, because the Charlotte Bobcats are the Charlotte Bobcats, it didn’t. The first overall pick went to the league-owned New Orleans Hornets (yup, they were still technically league-owned at the time) and, presumably, Jim Rome beat his wife again as soon as the results were announced.

Once Charlotte management found out that it wasn’t going to get Davis this year, they realized that they had come to something of a fork in the road. They could either roll the dice on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal and hope that one of them is a franchise player, or they could trade their selection for a proven star. Thus far, we haven’t gotten any clear indication on which route they’ve chosen.

Here is what’s being whispered about, though:

“Rod Higgins and Rich Cho understand that the Bobcats need more than just a talented rookie, whether it be Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, Thomas Robinson or even Andre Drummond -- to make the Bobcats competitive from their laughingstock of a season.

“One source said that Oklahoma City's James Harden could be in play due to the Thunder's salary situation following next season. GM Sam Presti already has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the books for more than $29 million next season -- and both Harden and Serge Ibaka will command huge contracts after the 2012-13 campaign.” – Jeff Goodman, CBS Sports.

“If the Cavs’ final draft board has Kidd-Gilchrist clearly ahead of others like Connecticut center Andre Drummond, Florida guard Bradley Beal, North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes and Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson, the Cavs could try to package their two first-round picks (Nos. 4 and No. 24) as a starting point to move up to No. 2.” – Jason Lloyd, Akron Beacon Journal.

“The Warriors, Charlotte, Toronto and Brooklyn all contacted Memphis about Gay's availability, according to league sources.” – Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle

Now, it’s important to note that all those rumors are just that – rumors. It’s very difficult to imagine Harden in a Bobcats uniform next year, the Cavs seem content with taking Harrison Barnes at their current position, and the Grizzlies’ sale might mean that Gay isn’t going anywhere. Generally speaking, though, rumors don’t just pop up out of thin air. If sources are talking about it, other people are talking about it.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again – this promises to be a very interesting summer.

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