Tuesday , Oct , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Charlotte Bobcats 2004-05 Season Preview

=== Charlotte Bobcats 2004-05 Season Preview ===

By Warren Blatt, NBA Editor

Inaugural Season

OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: Corey Benjamin (G) – Free Agent; Primoz Brezec (F) –
Expansion Draft; Omar Cook (G) – Free Agent; Melvin Ely (F) – Trade with LA
Clippers; Jason Hart (G) – Free Agent; Eddie House (G) – Traded with LA
Clippers; Brandon Hunter (F) – Expansion Draft; Jason Kapono (F) – Expansion
Draft; Brevin Knight (G) – Free Agent; Jamal Sampson (F) – Expansion Draft;
Tamar Slay (G) – Free Agent; Steve Smith (G) – Free Agent; Theron Smith (F) –
Expansion Draft; Gerald Wallace (F) – Expansion Draft; Jahidi White (C) –
Expansion Draft.

SUBTRACTIONS: Zaza Pachulia (F) – Traded to Milwaukee; Aleksandar Pavlovic
– Traded to Cleveland.

2004 DRAFT PICKS: 1. (2) Emeka Okafor (F, Connecticut); 2. (45) Bernard
Robinson (F, Michigan).

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: PG Brevin Knight, SG Eddie House, SF Gerald
Wallace, PF Emeka Okafor, C Jahidi White

COACH: Bernie Bickerstaff

(Sports Network) – The Charlotte Bobcats officially joined the NBA on May 3rd
and became the league’s 30th team. Charlotte tips off its first season in
franchise history at the Charlotte Coliseum, playing in the Southeast Division
of the Eastern Conference, under the NBA’s new divisional alignment.

In the expansion draft, Charlotte did not select any high-priced veterans with
multiple years left on their contracts. The Bobcats added center Jahidi White,
who played with Phoenix and Washington last season, and forward Gerald
Wallace, who was with Sacramento in 2003-04. The Bobcats received $3 million
and a future first-round pick from the Suns for selecting White, who has one
year remaining on a contract that will pay him close to $6 million.

The 2004 NBA Draft proved to be beneficial for the Bobcats, who got their man
as they selected Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor with the second overall pick.
Charlotte, originally slated to pick fourth in its first-ever draft, dealt
that selection in addition to its second-round selection, 33rd overall, to the
Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 2 pick. Bobcats general manager and head
coach Bernie Bickerstaff showed that he has a plan and that he is going to be
aggressive when it comes to acquiring players that he covets.

Charlotte was not finished putting together its roster after the two drafts.
On July 14th, the Bobcats acquired forward Melvin Ely and guard Eddie House
from the Clippers for a second-round draft pick in 2005 and a second-round
selection in 2006. The team also added veteran point guard Brevin Knight, who
was an unrestricted free agent.

BACKCOURT

Knight and House give Charlotte a pair of veterans in the backcourt. The
seven-year veteran Knight will run the point, while House, who has played four
years in the league, will log plenty of minutes at the shooting guard. Both
players will use the 2004-05 season to try and show the rest of the league
that they belong.

The 28-year-old Knight played for the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards and
Milwaukee Bucks in 2003-04. He appeared in a total of 56 games and averaged
4.7 points and 3.6 assists. Charlotte presents Knight with a great opportunity
to revitalize his career, which has seen him play for six different teams.

House participated in 60 contests for the Clippers last season and averaged
6.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The 26-year-old guard, who spent his
first three seasons in the NBA with the Miami Heat, shot a solid 37.5 percent
from three-point range for the Clippers and has hit on 34.2 percent of his
attempts from beyond the arc during his career. Originally selected out of
Arizona State by the Heat in the second round (37th pick overall) of the 2000
NBA Draft, House, who has averaged just 17.4 minutes of action in 229 games
during his career, will play significant time and could see his career
flourish with the expansion squad.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me,” said House. “I’ve not really had
the opportunity to get into a rotation with a team – not had the opportunity
to play on a consistent basis. Everybody is new here and that’s what I like
about it. It’s not like places that I have been before where a guy has been
with the team for two or three years and no matter what you do, you’re not
going to be able to get settled in.

“You’ve just got to understand that that is the business. You’ve got to
continue to keep working and wait for your opportunity. I think I have a
pretty good one here.”

Backing up Knight and House will be 13-year veteran Steve Smith, who averaged
five points in 71 games for the New Orleans Hornets last season, 26-year-old
Jason Hart, Corey Benjamin, Omar Cook and Tamar Slay. Hart played in 53 games
for the San Antonio Spurs last season and averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 assists,
while the 24-year-old Slay netted 2.4 points per game in 22 contests for the
New Jersey Nets. Benjamin and Cook will battle for minutes behind Knight.

FRONTCOURT

The Bobcats hope that Okafor can be the anchor of their frontline. The
Connecticut product should give Charlotte a player that can block shots and
grab plenty of rebounds. Offensively, Okafor will accumulate his points from
the low post and the free throw line. The Bobcats hope that Okafor proves to
be a consistent player who registers a double-double in points and rebounds.

“I am really happy to be a part of this organization and I am looking forward
to it,” said Okafor. “This is a new franchise, and I’m glad to be here from
the ground up. It’s going to be a lot of challenges, but that’s part of the
fun, facing challenges and overcoming it.”

Wallace, who averaged two points and two rebounds in 37 games for the Kings
last season, will get the chance to start at small forward. The three-year
veteran is an athletic player who could benefit from the opportunity that he
will get with the Bobcats.

White will man the middle for the Bobcats. The 28-year-old center has averaged
six points and six boards during his six-year career. Last season, White
netted 4.3 points and grabbed 4.3 rebounds in 62 games for Phoenix and the
Washington Wizards. White, who is in the final year of his deal, will try and
use this year to showcase his talent to other squads who are in the market for
a big man.

Coming off the bench will be 7-1 forward Primoz Brezec, Brandon Hunter, Jason
Kapono and Ely. Second-round pick Bernard Robinson, Theron Smith and Jamal
Sampson could also stick on the roster. The 6-10 Ely, who can play center or
power forward, should get the most playing time as he averaged 4.2 points and
2.9 boards in his two seasons with the Clippers.

OUTLOOK

The Bobcats will go through growing pains during their first year in the
league. If Okafor shows that he is going to be a force for many years to come,
Charlotte will be happy with its first season no matter how many wins it
registers. Less than 20 victories this season is a strong possibility for the
Bobcats.

CHL