Bobcats weigh options leading up to draft

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

By Mike Cranston
Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown had just finished putting four more prospects through a pre-draft workout Monday when part-owner Michael Jordan shouted to him from the balcony above the court.
The two briefly discussed how theyíd spend the rest of the day. And there was plenty to do ahead of Thursdayís NBA draft.
iI worry about drafts. You donít want to make a mistake,î Brown said after the elusive Jordan disappeared from view. iThe nice thing is theyíve gotten a lot of players here that we could evaluate personally. Weíve gotten to watch a lot of film. I think weíre going to get a good player. Iím excited about that, but weíve got two more days ahead.î
And, seemingly endless scenarios. The Bobcats, who hold the ninth and 38th picks, have worked out 43 players after second-round prospects Richard Hendrix of Alabama, Will Daniels of Rhode Island, Anthony King of Miami and Russian pro Nikita Shabalkin showed up Monday.
Missing was Florida big man Marreese Speights, a projected first-round pick, who canceled the workout. Likely high picks O.J. Mayo of Southern California, Jerryd Bayless of Arizona, Kevin Love of UCLA, Eric Gordon of Indiana, Brook Lopez of Stanford and D.J. Augustin of Texas have also not worked out for Charlotte.
iBecause an agent doesnít want his kid here is not going to affect us at all,î Brown said. iIf he can play, is talented and is a good kid, because he was told not to be here is not going to impact that at all.î
Players refusing individual workouts are just one of the many variables in a draft full of uncertainty.
Brown is confident point guard Derrick Rose of Memphis will go No. 1 to Chicago. Forward Michael Beasley of Kansas State isnít expected to slip past Miami at No. 2. But Brown thinks any other player in the draft pool could be around at No. 9.
iIt just takes one team to fall in love with a guy and that can change everything,î Brown said. iWeíre just looking at a lot of players we think are talented kids and try to work out every scenario that might possibly happen. Weíre pretty confident that we like the ninth pick.î
But trade talk is consuming the league. The Bobcats pulled off a draft night deal last year, sending the eighth pick, Brandan Wright of North Carolina, to Golden State for proven scorer Jason Richardson.
Facing pressure to reach the playoffs next season, Brown and Jordan, who has final say on all basketball decisions, may want to take that route again. The Bobcats need immediate help at center and power forward.
iEverybody talks. Whether you can get a deal done, itís really kind of difficult in our league,î Brown said.
Unlike last year, the Bobcats have little room under the salary cap, making trades complicated. But Brown said NBA champion Bostonís success after overhauling its roster last offseason by bringing in veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is leading to more trade chatter.
If the Bobcats keep the ninth pick, they might take a player who has refused to work out for them. The 7-foot Lopez would provide the Bobcats would much needed size and muscle up front.
iThe last three or four mock drafts Iíve read heís been at 9,î Brown said. iInitially, everybody thought he wouldnít go past No. 3. That could all change in the next day or so. I would doubt that Beasley or Rose would be there, but there are scenarios that could possibly put anybody else there.î

Notes: Hendrix was limited in the workout after straining his left quadriceps in a weekend audition for San Antonio. iIf he had gone to (North) Carolina he wouldnít have been hurt,î joked Brown. Hendrix faced constant ribbing by ex-Tar Heels Brown and Jordan for his decision to attend Alabama over North Carolina after an intense recruiting battle. iThey gave me a hard time throughout this whole workout,î Hendrix said. … Brown feels PG Russell Westbrook of UCLA, who worked out for Charlotte last week, could slip to No. 9. But Brown acknowledged he would take time to develop. iYou donít look at some of these kids like theyíre going to have an impact on your team right away,î Brown said. iHe falls into that category, but heís certainly highly thought of.î