Monday , Jun , 21 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Bobcats have to pick a direction

(Sports Network) – Charlotte will start to build its roster on Tuesday in the
expansion draft. The Bobcats will select a minimum of 14 NBA players who were
left unprotected for the draft.

Charlotte may not pick more than one player from each team. Each of the 29 NBA
teams have protected a maximum of eight players on its roster who are under
contract or are restricted free agents. All of the 29 NBA teams were required
to make at least one player on its roster eligible for selection by the
Bobcats.

If the Bobcats select a restricted free agent in the expansion draft, that
player immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent and his contract does
not count against Charlotte’s salary cap. Also, the team that loses that
player is not allowed to re-sign him.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Miami’s Brian Grant and Eddie Jones, New
Jersey’s Kerry Kittles, New York’s Allan Houston and Washington’s Jerry
Stackhouse are some of the players that will be available for Charlotte to
select. However, the one thing that those players have in common is that they
make a lot of money.

Picking a player who the fans of Charlotte can identify with could be a good
move for the Bobcats. For example, Stackhouse played his college ball at North
Carolina and has played in two All-Star Games. However, the 29-year-old
Stackhouse, who has averaged 20.9 points per game over his nine-year career,
missed 56 games in 2003-04 because of a knee injury.

Jones, who is 32, played one-plus seasons (98-99, 2000-01) for the Hornets
when they called Charlotte home. He averaged 17.3 points in 81 games for the
Heat this season and is an exciting player. The Temple product has also played
in 56 playoff contests.

Grant, Houston and Kittles are also veterans who the basketball fans in
Charlotte have most likely seen play. Selecting a player in the expansion
draft who has had some individual success in the NBA would give the Charlotte
fans an immediate reason to get excited.

Charlotte could also explore the possibility of selecting players that they
can trade in an effort to load up on future draft picks.

The Bobcats will most likely pass on selecting any of the big names with the
lucrative contracts, and will try to pick players that will either become
free agents or do not make a lot of money. This season, Charlotte will
have a salary cap equal to 66 percent of the cap applicable to the rest
of the league. In their second season, the Bobcats will have a salary cap
equal to 75 percent of the rest of the league. Charlotte will try and stay
away from cap problems.

With the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Bobcats will try and
select the future cornerstone of their franchise. Charlotte could pick one of
the prospects who have made the jump straight from high school or they could
go with a player who has been tested in college. The results of the events
over the next few days will show what direction Bobcats general manager and
head coach Bernie Bickerstaff is pointing the franchise in.

CHL