NBA Draft: Bobcats ready to deal
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó With a revamped front office and a roster in need of upgrades, Michael Jordanís Charlotte Bobcats have a message for the rest of the NBA.
Anyone want to deal?
Holding the ninth and 19 picks in tonightís NBA draft, the Bobcats are considering a variety of options to jump-start their rebuilding process. Theyíve discussed packaging both picks to move up in the draft. Theyíll consider trading one of the picks for a veteran. And nearly every player on the roster is available in a larger deal for the right price.
Rod Higgins, recently promoted to president of basketball operations, said Wednesday he and new general manager Rich Cho have been ěconstantly on the phonesî looking to swing deals.
ěRich and I are talking to every team around the league,î Higgins said. ěWeíre trying to gauge interest in our team as well as seeing whatís there in terms of the draft, in terms of different players on different rosters.
ěWeíll be prepared to take our picks (Thursday) or who knows?î
Jordan, gearing up for his sixth draft with the Bobcats and his second since becoming majority owner, attended Wednesdayís final player audition that included second visits by Florida State forward Chris Singleton, Kansas forward Marcus Morris and Texas guard Jordan Hamilton.
Also on hand was Bismack Biyombo, a shot-blocking forward from Congo who has played professionally in Spain.
ěThe day before the draft, I feel like theyíre probably going to choose between the guys that are here,î Morris said. ěHopefully, they choose me.î
It may not be that easy. While Higgins said theyíve narrowed their choice to between four and six players with the ninth choice, they may not keep that selection. Higgins acknowledged theyíve discussed deals in which they would give up the pick to acquire a veteran.
ěObviously, a starter,î Higgins said. ěProbably somewhere between the 22- to 25-year-old range, where he has an upside and he can be with your team for quite a long time.î
After trading Gerald Wallace to Portland in February for two first-round picks that also created needed salary-cap space, the Bobcats have made it clear theyíre ready to remake the roster. They have plenty of holes, from no healthy center signed for next season, to lack of depth at shooting guard and small forward.
Starters such as Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw could be on the move. Higgins has also said teams have inquired about the ninth, 19th and 39th picks.
ěNow itís up to us figure out whatís real and whatís not real,î Higgins said.
At stake is the future of a team thatís struggled to win and create an identity with Jordan in charge.
The expansion franchise has made the playoffs just once in its seven years and has never won a postseason game. Charlotte went 34-48 in a 2010-11 season that saw Jordan fire coach Larry Brown and bring in Paul Silas.
Jordan then last week hired Cho, recently fired as GM of the Trail Blazers, to work with Higgins.
If deals are scarce amid uncertainty with no long-term collective bargaining agreement, Wednesdayís workout could signal Charlotteís moves. Silas said the 6-foot-9 Morris, a candidate at No. 9, performed better in his second workout in Charlotte than the first. Silas added he has fewer concerns now about him playing small forward.