National Expansion Draft Chatter


SACRAMENTO BEE - June 21, 2004
In areas he can control, Geoff Petrie is looking at players to choose with the 26th and 48th picks in the NBA draft Thursday. Whom the Kings select might be affected by any players lost to the Charlotte Bobcats in Tuesday's expansion draft. Petrie said he cannot divulge what players were protected from the draft - he said he can't even tell the players. But swingman Gerald Wallace is among those expected to be unprotected.

Wallace's agent, Rob Pelinka, didn't return phone calls seeking comment, but league sources confirmed Wallace will be there for the Bobcats to select. The Kings' top pick in 2001 will be 22 years old on July 23 and has one year remaining on his contract at $1.65 million. His age and salary make him a prime prospect for the Bobcats to see if consistent playing time will encourage consistent production.

The Suns and the expansion Charlotte Bobcats appear to be closing in on a trade that’s been the subject of speculation for months: a deal that would allow the Suns to unload the contract of center Jahidi White and clear enough salary space to go after bigname free agents such as Kobe Bryant, league sources said Saturday.

Under the concept, which has been bandied about for months, the Bobcats would agree to take White, who has one year and $5.9 million left on his contract, if the Suns gave them at least a firstround draft pick and $3 million in cash. Such a trade, which could be announced during Tuesday’s expansion draft, would give the Suns about $14 million to go after free agents.

The Suns acquired White early last season when the club got off to a slow start, in part because of a lack of interior defense. White averaged 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14 minutes per game last season.

NEW YORK TIMES - June 20, 2004
The Charlotte Bobcats, to begin next season as the league's 30th franchise, will hold their expansion draft on Tuesday. Each of the 29 other teams is allowed to protect eight players on its roster. The Bobcats may select from the remaining players, but they cannot take more than one from each team.

Several notable players were left unprotected, including Washington's Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas's Antoine Walker, Chicago's Antonio Davis, Miami's Eddie Jones and Brian Grant, Houston's Maurice Taylor, the Knicks' Allan Houston, the Nets' Kerry Kittles and Portland's Ruben Patterson.

The Bobcats could easily select a team that would make the playoffs, but they would exceed the salary cap and be stuck in a rut for years to come. That is why all those big-name, big-contract players were made available in the first place.

If there is one thing the NBA and the Charlotte Bobcats have learned while preparing for the expansion draft, it's that it's hard to keep a secret. For the last week, the Bobcats, the league's 30th franchise, have been in possession of the names of available players they may select in Tuesday's draft. (The Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers, the two teams in the NBA Finals, had to submit their players on Thursday.)

The list was understood to be a secret one, under orders from the league office, but that hasn't stopped lists from being published. And front-office executives, sensing a lot of hurt feelings, are not happy.

"The league sent a memo saying anybody who gives up a list will be subject to a fine," 76ers president and general manager Billy King said. "It's unfortunate people are speculating, because it's not supposed to be." Full story

Any Mavericks plans could be impacted by Charlotte. The Bobcats have the option of taking Antoine Walker in the expansion draft Tuesday. In turn, they could ship Walker to another team, perhaps New York, which might try to get in the Shaquille O'Neal derby with Walker as part of a package.

However, Walker's agent, Michael Higgins, said Saturday that he doubts his client would end up in LA. "The Mavericks have less than zero to do with what happens Tuesday," he said.

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - June 20, 2004
The Jazz don't want to lose Sasha Pavlovic in the expansion draft Tuesday, but their four-strong depth at his position make the prospect more palatable, Kevin O'Connor said Saturday.

"When we drafted Sasha, we looked at it this way: We didn't have a shooter," said O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president of basketball operations. "We didn't have Raja Bell signed, we didn't have Gordan Giricek on board. With Andrei [Kirilenko], Matt [Harpring], and Gordan and Raja, now we've got five guys, with Sasha, at that position."

The Jazz would like to keep the 20-year-old forward, who started 14 games and averaged 4.8 points during his rookie season. But O'Connor hinted -- and another NBA source confirmed Saturday -- that no deal with the Charlotte Bobcats is in place, or was even proposed before the Jazz turned in their expansion-draft list.

"We're in conversations with them," O'Connor said, and not necessarily just about Pavlovic. Though he's irritated that the supposedly secret expansion lists became public almost immediately, "there's some people on that list that certainly intrigue us," he said. Full story

• It doesn't appear that the Cavaliers will be able to peddle Kevin Ollie to the expansion Bobcats at any price. The new franchise simply doesn't want any long-term contracts. Ollie has four years left.

• Of the players left unprotected to the Bobcats, two whom the Cavaliers would have interest in -- in a trade through Charlotte -- would be Eric Piatkowski of the Houston Rockets and Chucky Atkins of the Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers offered Piatkowski a contract last summer before signing Ira Newble. Atkins is a reliable veteran point guard. The knocks are that Piatkowski is coming off a poor season with the Rockets and that Atkins has a three years left on his deal worth more than $14 million.

NEWARK STAR LEDGER - June 20, 2004
One cannot be sure whom the Charlotte Bobcats will pick in Tuesday's expansion draft, but they are about to acquire their starting center. Any minute now, the Bobs will take JAHIDI WHITE (along with a future first-round pick) off Phoenix's hands, just so the Suns can clear more cap space to go after KOBE BRYANT. It's a big load: White will make $5.9 million in the final year of his deal, which represents one-fifth of Charlotte's cap. An educated guess on some future Bobs: Either DAHNTAY JONES or TROY BELL from Memphis, JUAN DIXON, BRIAN SKINNER (if he doesn't opt-out), MATT CARROLL, TAMAR SLAY , GERALD WALLACE , BRANDON HUNTER , DeSHAWN STEVENSON , CEZARY TRYBANSKI , Utah rookie SASHA PAVLOVIC , and -- if they come cheaply -- free agents MARCUS FIZER and KEYON DOOLING .

DESERET NEWS - June 19, 2004
Speculation continues to the swirl that the Jazz, who have exposed swingman Sasha Pavlovic to Charlotte for Tuesday's NBA Expansion draft, are trying to work a deal of sort some — perhaps one that would persuade the Bobcats not to select Utah's 2003 first-round draft choice.

"The Jazz has multiple first-round picks in the 2004 NBA draft," the Charlotte Observer reported, "so it has the resources to send some compensation Charlotte's way."

Pavlovic was left unprotected in part, it is believed, so the Jazz could instead protect restricted free agent guard Mo Williams. Utah apparently feared Charlotte would take Williams, and the Jazz — evidenced by the fact the team says he is expected to play in the Revue — apparently are intent on re-signing their 2003 second-round selection. Jazz boss Kevin O'Connor was said to be feverishly working the phones Thursday, evidently talking trade with multiple teams.

Rick Fox wasn't offended when he heard the Lakers had exposed him for next week's expansion draft. In fact, he endorsed the move. In any case, he probably won't be selected, which makes the whole discussion moot. The Lakers protected eight of their 10 players under contract, leaving Fox and 21-year-old center Jamal Sampson exposed. Sampson has been told that the Charlotte Bobcats intend to select him in Tuesday's expansion draft, and Fox has heard the same from Lakers officials. Expansion rules allow Charlotte to draft just one player from each NBA franchise, so if the Bobcats take Sampson, Fox is safe.

"I should be able to retire as a Laker,' Fox said Friday. Fox has known for some time that he would be left unprotected, and he took it in stride. "It's the wise decision. If you take emotion out of the mix, it's the intelligent decision,' he said.

If Charlotte does select Fox, he said he will consider retiring. "It would force me to think about those things,' he said. "I wouldn't say it's a guarantee.'

And if the Lakers' breakup becomes too much to bear, Fox might decide to retire anyway, rather than play for a rebuilding team. "I hope some clarity comes in the next month,' he said, "because there's going to be some choices I'm going to have to make.'

While it is unlikely the Heat will lose a player to Charlotte in Tuesday's expansion draft, with the salaries of Eddie Jones and Brian Grant making such a move prohibitive, it is possible the Heat bolsters itself with a player forwarded from the Bobcats. "We have discussions with Charlotte almost every day," Pfund said, "and there are some thing that could affect the draft."...

TORONTO STAR - June 19, 2004
Meanwhile, Rob Babcock said he couldn't comment on a Star story saying the Raptors had left Alvin Williams, Lamond Murray and Milt Palacio exposed in Tuesday's expansion draft to stock the Charlotte Bobcats.

However, he did say there is a chance the Raptors — and several other teams — will be talking to Charlotte about trade possibilities. The Bobcats could select a player from another team and move him to the Raptors in some pre-arranged deal, or they could take one of the three exposed Raptors and ship him to some other club.

"It has been active; all the teams have had discussions with Charlotte because there are a lot of things that could be done," said Babcock. The Bobcats have to select 14 players in Tuesday's draft without regard for salary but will be limited to a salary cap of about $30 million by opening day in October.

DETROIT NEWS - June 18, 2004
Change is inevitable. Just ask the Pistons. After a day in which Metro Detroit celebrated the franchise’s first NBA title in 14 years, a key question will come to the forefront: Which player could be headed to the Charlotte Bobcats?

Each NBA team was required by the league to submit a list of players who would be made available to the Bobcats in the expansion draft. The Bobcats begin play next season. The list was due by noon Thursday. Not every player on the list will be selected.

John Hammond, vice president of basketball operations for the Pistons, refused to comment on the team’s decision.

“I really can’t say anything, because it would result in a substantial fine by the NBA,” Hammond said.

Still, most thought the possibilities included center Elden Campbell and forward Corliss Williamson. Campbell refused to comment, and Williamson tried not to worry about it.

“If I were to get traded or die tonight, it would all be worth it,” Williamson said. “I got my ring.”

NEW YORK POST - June 18, 2004
The Knicks could make a bigger killing in the expansion draft Tuesday than the regular draft. Isiah Thomas confirmed the Knicks are in discussions with the Bobcats about a trade. The Post reported yesterday Isiah had spoken to Charlotte prez Ed Tapscott about trading Othella Harrington, who's in the final year of his contract and whom the Knicks protected, for a player the Bobcats can select in Tuesday's expansion draft.

The Bobcats could also have interest in Dikembe Mutombo, whom the Knicks also protected and is in the last year of his pact, and their second-round pick. Heading the list of players piquing Isiah's interest is Aaron McKie, who has a long-term deal the Bobcats aren't crazy about.

The Knicks are unsure of their 2-guard position because of Allan Houton's knees. Other notables the Bobcats could pick for the Knicks are Ruben Patterson, Marcus Fizer, Lorenzen Wright and Danny Fortson. Houston was left unprotected so the Knicks can shop Harrington and Mutombo.

"We spoke with Allan," Thomas said after winning Father-of-The-Year along with Tommy Lasorda and Gen. Richard Myers, "and he was fully supportive of it. The only way we can continue to improve our team is through trades. Some of the contracts we have are very tradeable contracts. Strategy-wise, we thought high-priced salary players on the list were a pretty safe risk. We're having discussions with Charlotte and a lot of other teams about trying to improve our talent."

TORONTO SUN - June 18, 2004
The Raptors are willing to let Alvin Williams, Lamond Murray or Milt Palacio get away for nothing in return. According to league and Charlotte sources, the Raptors have left those three veterans exposed for the draft next Tuesday that will stock the NBA expansion Bobcats. There is no guarantee one of the players will be taken, though. The Charlotte Bobcats need to choose only 14 players from the 29 other teams and cannot select more than one from any franchise. The chances of them taking either Williams or Murray are remote, unless the Bobcats obtain one of them in order to move them to another team.

"We're not interested in guys who have three or four years left on their contracts," Charlotte general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff told the Charlotte Observer. "The guys we're looking at all have one year remaining."

Williams, 29, has four years and $25 million (all figures U.S.) left on his contract; the 31-year-old Murray has two years and about $10 million remaining. Palacio, 26, has one year at just over $1 million to go. The Bobcats could take one of Williams or Murray and flip the player to another team in a pre-arranged deal, but there's little likelihood of that. Neither has created much trade buzz, Williams because of health issues, and the Raptors could find no takers for Murray when he demanded a trade last February.

Palacio, however, might be attractive to the Bobcats. He has a small contract and he played well enough early last season — before suffering a knee injury — to show he can play backup minutes.

NEW YORK POST - June 17, 2004
Bill Strickland, agent for Allan Houston, said the Knicks' rehabbing guard does not feel dissed by team prez Isiah Thomas for leaving him unprotected in Tuesday's expansion draft. The expansion Bobcats are not expected to pick Houston because they'd have a tough time fitting his $17 million wage under their downsized salary cap, which is 75 percent of the rest of the league.

"I thought Isiah handled it in a classy way," Strickland told The Post. "We were made aware of it and what his thinking is. Allan was fine and understanding why. He called ahead of time, explained the situation, showed a great deal of respect to Allan, who had a chance to chat with him directly."

Isiah wanted to protect Othella Harrington and Dikembe Mutombo because both are in the final years of their contracts, appealing to Charlotte, plus they have trade value. The Post has learned Isiah has spoken to Bobcats prez Ed Tapscott about trading Harrington, who wants out, for a potential player the Bobcats may select in the draft.

WASHINGTON TIMES - June 17, 2004
An NBA source, speaking under condition of anonymity, confirmed yesterday the Washington Wizards will make Jerry Stackhouse, Juan Dixon and Christian Laettner available to the Charlotte Bobcats when the NBA conducts its expansion draft Tuesday. A list of NBA players that made its way onto on Tuesday included the three players, plus Lonny Baxter. However, the source was unable to confirm Baxter's name was included.

The Bobcats, who will begin play next season, must select at least 14 players from the list and can take as many as 29. They are not permitted to take more than one player from any team. Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld is not required to comment on the players. NBA teams are permitted to pay the Bobcats as much as $3 million or offer draft choices to the expansion team to persuade it to select or not select a particular player.

BOOTH NEWSPAPERS - June 17, 2004
Elden Campbell got what he came to Detroit for. He joined the Pistons last off-season looking for an opportunity to play. And he wanted to win a championship. Campbell got both, serving as one of several unsung heroes off the bench as the Pistons claimed their first NBA title in 14 years, winning the best-of-seven NBA Finals, 4-1, with a 100-87 series-clinching win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

"I'm really enjoying it. It's been a long time coming," Campbell said.

There's a good chance there won't be a repeat for the 14-year veteran, who was left unprotected by the Pistons for the Charlotte Bobcats' expansion draft, which will be held on Tuesday. Campbell, who will be in the last year of his contract next season, seems an ideal pickup for the expansion team. He will make about $4.4 million; the Pistons can offer up to $3 million and draft picks to make Campbell more enticing to the Bobcats.

Regardless of what happens next season, Campbell has no regrets about his time in Detroit, especially considering how this season turned out.

"First year (in the NBA), I made it to The Finals -- no cigar. You think that's going to happen all the time, but there are no guarantees or promises that it's going to happen," Campbell said. "So, here I am, 13 years later."

Timberwolves center Ervin Johnson has been left unprotected for the NBA expansion draft, which will take place on Tuesday when the Charlotte Bobcats begin stocking their roster for their inaugural season, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.

Johnson, 36, has one year remaining on his contract and will make $4.99 million next season. The 6-foot-11 center made 16 starts in the playoffs, averaging 2.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. He appeared in 66 regular-season games, averaging 1.9 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Kevin McHale, Wolves vice president for personnel, declined an interview request on Wednesday.

The Indiana Pacers have protected 17-year veteran Reggie Miller from being picked by the Charlotte Bobcats during next week's NBA expansion draft, according a list obtained by the Charlotte Observer. The Pacers did not protect guards Jamison Brewer and Anthony Johnson, forwards Austin Croshere and James Jones and centers Primoz Brezec and Scot Pollard, the newspaper reported. That means the Bobcats could select one of those players in the expansion draft on Tuesday.

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh has repeatedly refused to comment on the list.

If the report is correct, the Pacers protected Miller, center Jeff Foster, forwards Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, Al Harrington and Jonathan Bender and guards Jamaal Tinsley and Fred Jones. Protecting Miller would help the Pacers avoid losing another popular veteran to a new team, as happened the last time NBA held an expansion draft.

When Toronto and Vancouver entered the league in 1995, Walsh gambled that neither team would be looking for a high-priced veteran and left Byron Scott unprotected. The Grizzlies selected Scott.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE - June 17, 2004
Talk persists that Charlotte is trying to move up from the fourth overall pick to land either Emeka Okafor at No. 1 or Dwight Howard at No. 2. The Bobcats could drive the draft order because they have the flexibility of making deals pegged to the expansion draft, held two days before the June 24 NBA draft.

"I need to focus on us," John Paxson said. "We've played out every scenario. I have no control over what Orlando or Charlotte [does]. We don't know what the Clippers are going to do. I can only worry about us."

TORONTO STAR - June 17, 2004
The Bobcats have to choose 14 players in an expansion draft Tuesday and there is always a chance they could take someone from another team and flip him to the Raptors in a pre-arranged deal. Among the centres reportedly available are Minnesota's Ervin Johnson, Lorenzen Wright of Memphis, Phoenix's Jahidi White, Brian Skinner of Milwaukee and Seattle's Jerome James. Getting a big man through free agency or trade to help Chris Bosh and Marshall is what the Raptors seem intent on doing since they remain focused on guards in the regular draft.

The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to expose guard Erick Strickland to the National Basketball Association expansion draft, a newspaper reported Wednesday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoting an unnamed league source, said the Bucks had decided to protect forward Marcus Haislip from the draft. Strickland played in 43 games last season, averaging 5.4 points, 2.1 assists, and 13.3 minutes. Haislip played in 31 games, averaging 3.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 8.5 minutes.

Bucks general manager Larry Harris said that he was not allowed to comment on the expansion list. Milwaukee center Brian Skinner is also included on the list of unprotected players, but he is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent later this month.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC - June 16, 2004
Our good friend at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, reporter Rick Bonnell, has compiled the complete, top-secret NBA unprotected list. We were disappointed to find out it isn't a lineup of the league's deadbeat dads. Turns out it's just the players teams have left exposed to the Charlotte Bobcats for the upcoming NBA expansion draft.

These are the guys who are usually getting old and are way overpaid. Their teams may even bribe Charlotte with cash, draft picks, beer and barbecued ribs just to make these guys and their contracts go away. We realized there are so many players on the list with ties to the Suns that we were able to compile a Suns All-Unprotected Team. Full story

The players the Indiana Pacers left unprotected for the NBA expansion draft contained no major surprises, according to a list obtained by The Charlotte Observer. The expansion draft will be June 22 , unless the NBA Finals go to a seventh game, in which case it will move to June 23.

The Pacers, according to the Observer, did not protect Jamison Brewer, Primoz Brezec, Austin Croshere, Anthony Johnson, James Jones and Scot Pollard. Pacers president Larry Bird and CEO Donnie Walsh refused to confirm the list's accuracy. It falls in line with expectations, however. Although Croshere and Pollard are established veterans, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats are unlikely to claim them because of their high salaries. If the list is accurate, the Pacers protected 17-year veteran Reggie Miller rather than cutting a deal with the Bobcats for their agreement not to select him. The Pacers' decision to protect Miller also indicates a belief that he will return next season.

If a supposedly "official" list circulating is accurate, the 76ers have made veterans Greg Buckner, Marc Jackson, Todd MacCulloch, Aaron McKie and Derrick Coleman available for the June 22 NBA expansion draft.

The Charlotte Bobcats, who will begin play next season, must select a minimum of 14 players and can take as many as 29. They cannot take more than one from any team.

If the list is correct, it would mean the Sixers protected Allen Iverson, Eric Snow, Samuel Dalembert, Kenny Thomas, Glenn Robinson, Willie Green and Kyle Korver. Amal McCaskill and Zendon Hamilton, who will become unrestricted free agents July 1, were ineligible for either list. Sixers president/general manager Billy King declined to comment on the Sixers' list.

Ira Newble may have played his last game with the Cavaliers all because of next week's expansion draft. According to a list released by the Charlotte Observer, Newble, Kevin Ollie, Ruben Boumtje Boumtje and Jason Kapono were all left unprotected. At least one of the four could be gone.

"I don't want to start from the beginning with an expansion team because I just came from a non-winning team [the Atlanta Hawks]," Newble said. "I want to stay in Cleveland because I see the future and this is a playoff-bound team. But if I'm selected, that's [Cavs' loss]. I'm going to play wherever I go and get my check."

The Charlotte Bobcats will become the NBA's newest team this fall. They will select at least 14 players from 14 teams. The Bobcats can't take more than one player from each team. Last week, each NBA team submitted a list of protected and unprotected players. Teams have been allowed to leave restricted free agents unprotected. If the Bobcats select any of those players, they become unrestricted free agents and cannot sign with the team that left them unprotected.

The chances for the Bobcats to select Ollie or Newble is slim because of their ages and contracts. Ollie, 31, signed a five-year, $15.8 million last season and Newble, 27, signed a five-year deal last season worth $14.8 million. Boumtje Boumtje is an unrestricted free agent and it is unlikely the Bobcats will make him an offer, but Kapono, a rookie last season, could get selected because of his two-year minimum salary. Bobcats General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff recently told reporters he's looking for young players and players without long contracts.

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - June 16, 2004
The Jazz's decision to expose Curtis Borchardt and Sasha Pavlovic was supposed to be a secret. Instead, the Charlotte Observer on Monday reported the list of veteran players who have been made available to the expansion Bobcats.

Kevin O'Connor is upset. Asked about Utah's decision to expose the 20-year-old Pavlovic, a first-round pick last year, O'Connor said, "I'm not allowed to speak about our list. But obviously somebody did . . . [and] it's terrible."

Teams were required to send their list of exposed players to the league Friday. By Monday, the list had already been made public.

DETROIT NEWS - June 16, 2004
It appears more likely that the Pistons will leave Elden Campbell unprotected and available to the Charlotte Bobcats in the June 22 expansion draft. The Pistons also will entice the Bobcats to take him by offering a future draft pick and $3 million in cash. That way, the Bobcats would only be responsible for $1.4 million of the final year of Campbell's contract.

"I really don't want to talk about that right now," Campbell said.

The Pistons had considered leaving either Campbell or Corliss Williamson unprotected. They figured, correctly, that the Bobcats would shy away from the three years and $18 million Williamson has left on his contract. By clearing Campbell and the $4.4 million off their books, the Pistons would have a better chance of re-signing both Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur this summer.

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - June 15, 2004
The first clue to the Jazz's summer makeover has been revealed, but its meaning may not be understood for another week or two. Sasha Pavlovic, Utah's first-round draft pick a year ago who averaged 4.8 points per game in his rookie season, was not among the eight players withheld by the Jazz from next week's expansion draft, an NBA source with knowledge of the expansion list confirmed Monday. Also eligible to be drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats on June 22: Center Curtis Borchardt, Utah's 2002 first-round pick.

Borchardt's extensive injury history made his exposure logical, but Pavlovic -- who started 14 games as a 20-year-old rookie and scored in double figures 11 times -- was widely expected to be protected. That the Jazz would risk losing a young, inexpensive player so soon after using a first-round pick to select him is a surprise. Full story

LOS ANGELES TIMES - June 15, 2004
Center Predrag Drobnjak and guard Keyon Dooling, who opened last season as starters, were among the players left unprotected by the Clippers for the June 22 expansion draft, NBA sources said Monday.

Also left unprotected by the Clippers and eligible to be selected by the Charlotte Bobcats were Matt Barnes, Eddie House and Josh Moore. The maximum eight players were protected by the Clippers: Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Quentin Richardson, Marko Jaric, Bobby Simmons, Chris Wilcox and Melvin Ely.

The expansion Charlotte Bobcats are interested in selecting former Marshall star Tamar Slay, the New York Post has reported. The Post said the Nets have left Slay, Kerry Kittles, Alonzo Mourning and Rodney Rogers unprotected. Slay, a restricted free agent, fits the profile of a low-price veteran, typically preferred by expansion team. Slay, a second-round pick by the Nets in 2002, played just 22 games in 2003-04, averaging 2.4 points per game. The expansion draft will be June 22 or 23. The Bobcats must select at least 14 veterans, each off a different team.

NBA officials have confirmed the Heat has exposed guard Eddie Jones and centers Brian Grant and Loren Woods to the Charlotte Bobcats for next week's expansion draft. The decision is another indication that the team would be willing to unload the hefty contracts of Jones and Grant for nothing in return, other than the ability to get below the salary cap and reload the roster in trades or through free agency.

In exposing Grant and Jones, the Heat protected the low-wage likes of Malik Allen, Udonis Haslem and Jerome Beasley. Jones and Grant each have an additional three seasons, at about $43 million, remaining on their contracts, making it unlikely Charlotte would select them. Charlotte will be limited to roughly $28 million in salaries next season, making the $13 million due Jones or Grant particularly onerous.

In the June 22 expansion draft, the Bobcats will select a minimum of 14 players, but no more than one from each team.

Of possible interest to the Heat in the expansion draft would be players Charlotte could then trade to other teams, such as Timberwolves center Ervin Johnson, Suns center Jahidi White, Sonics center Calvin Booth, Kings swingman Gerald Wallace and Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright.

MIAMI HERALD - June 15, 2004
The Heat has reportedly left Brian Grant, Eddie Jones and Loren Woods unprotected for the upcoming expansion draft. That means the Charlotte Bobcats cannot select any of the Heat's other players, including its entire young core. The Bobcats would be unlikely to draft either Grant or Jones because each has three burdensome years remaining on his contract. The Heat was set to part with Woods and would not consider losing him problematic.

Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright was left exposed for the Charlotte Bobcats expansion draft later this month, the Charlotte Observer reported in its Sunday edition.

Citing sources - likely within the Bobcats - the newspaper revealed that Wright, Troy Bell, Ryan Humphrey, Dahntay Jones, Bo Outlaw, Theron Smith, and Jake Tsakalidis have been made available to the Bobcats.

Griz brass remains tightlipped, abiding by league rules that prohibit teams from leaking the names of protected players. The deadline for teams to submit its list of unprotected players passed last Friday. Full story

DAILY BREEZE - June 14, 2004
In preparation for the upcoming expansion draft, every team not involved in the Finals was required to submit protected player lists by Friday. The Lakers and Pistons have until two days after the Finals conclude to submit their lists. The Charlotte Bobcats will draft 14 players from the league's 29 existing teams on June 22 (or June 23, if the Finals goes seven games).

Each team may protect a maximum of eight players, and no team can lose more than one player in the draft. Unrestricted free agents are exempt. The Lakers' decision on whom to protect is complicated by the fact that four players -- Malone, Fisher, Payton and Bryant -- can opt out of their contracts, making them free agents. The opt-out decisions won't necessarily come before the expansion draft. Also, the team holds options on Luke Walton and Jamal Sampson.

ALAMEDA TIMES-STAR - June 14, 2004
Chris Mullin has had plenty on his plate in the seven weeks since agreeing to the daunting task of steering the Warriors toward the NBA playoffs. He's found his coach and is in the process of losing his center. But don't judge him on that.

Short of talking Kobe Bryant into relocating to Oakland, his ability to transform Nick Van Exel into a long-term asset via the expansion draft will be the best gauge of the job he's doing. Make no mistake about it: If Mullin is creative enough in these next nine days leading into formal announcement of the Bobcats' roster, the Warriors will take a Carl Lewis-type lunge into a brighter future. The key to getting the Bobcats to take Van Exel and his $11.7 million contract for the upcoming season is a willingness to use the Warriors' 2005 first-round draft pick as bait.

If Mullin has confidence in Montgomery and his own ability to turn $20 million in cap room into an upgrade over Erick Dampier and Van Exel, giving up the pick is a no-brainer. After all, you're in essence parting with just a backup player when you trade a pick in the mid-teens.

Charlotte -- and just about every other team in the league -- wouldn't see it that way, however. Getting a first-round pick from Golden State, a team that's been stuck in the lottery mud for a decade, is perceived as stealing, so you know offering this gem would get the Bobcats' attention.

Mullin has labeled himself a risk-taker. Well, here's a chance to pay a modest price for an opportunity to explore what's behind Door No.1. Chris, let's make a deal.

BOSTON GLOBE - June 14, 2004
Chucky Atkins heard the news and took a while to digest it. He was told the Celtics left him unprotected in the expansion draft to stock the new franchise in Charlotte, N.C. It doesn't necessarily mean he won't be back in Boston. But it does signify to Atkins that the team doesn't want him back.

"If they aren't going to protect me," he said yesterday, "then I don't want to be there. Why would I want to be somewhere where they didn't want me? If you're going to leave me unprotected, that's a slap in the face to me. I could have stayed in Detroit."

Atkins was one of five Celtics' names that was published today in the Charlotte Observer as players being made available to the NBA Bobcats. The other four Celtics are Jumaine Jones, Ernest Brown, Brandon Hunter, and Michael Stewart. The eight Celtics who were protected were Paul Pierce, Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch, Raef LaFrentz, Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins, Walter McCarty, and Chris Mihm. Full story

Who's going to be the busiest person in the NBA the next two weeks? Try Bernie Bickerstaff's secretary.

Bickerstaff, the coach and general manager of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, will run the expansion draft that will send the league into a tizzy, as literally dozens of teams could swap players, draft slots and future picks with him as the middle man.

Every team in the league has a battle plan for the June 22 expansion draft, and there will certainly be winners and losers in this rare period of player liquidity.

The Cavaliers are in the thick of it and could be one of the teams trying to be creative with Charlotte. It is believed that they have left Kevin Ollie, Jason Kapono and Ira Newble unprotected, meaning Charlotte can take one of them. Full story

The Rockets put together their list of players protected from the expansion draft, employing as many strategies as nearly any team. The Rockets might have wanted to leave their big contracts exposed, but the Charlotte Bobcats are not likely to take anyone featured on Cribs unless it is for another team. They could have exposed players who don't play, hoping to limit the on-court damage.

In the end, the Rockets likely did a bit of both. They protected Steve Francis, Yao Ming, Jim Jackson and Cuttino Mobley. They would like to give Mike Wilks another low-cost shot, and Bostjan Nachbar is worth another look at a relatively good price. That leaves two more players to be protected. Adrian Griffin, who barely played last season and might struggle to ever regain his form, is certain to have been left unprotected.

But now it gets tougher. Eric Piatkowski fell almost out of the rotation and is likely to be unprotected. If he is unprotected, the Rockets would have to choose one of three frontcourt players — Maurice Taylor, Kelvin Cato and Clarence Weatherspoon — to protect. Cato makes the most money but was a starter and has just two years remaining on his contract. The Bobcats are not looking for contracts like Taylor and Weatherspoon's, and they are not expansion-team players, making them the next most likely to be exposed.

The Bobcats must select 14 players, and league teams can lose no more than one player. For the Rockets, that most likely will be Griffin.

BOSTON GLOBE - June 13, 2004
The Celtics dutifully submitted their expansion list to the Bobcats and were sworn to secrecy as to whom they protected. They could protect eight players, excluding free agents (Mark Blount), and an educated guess would start with these six names: Paul Pierce, Jiri Welsch, Raef LaFrentz, Banks, Ricky Davis, and Chris Mihm. Kendrick Perkins also would be a logical protectee unless Ainge is certain he can get a better young center in the draft, like Robert Swift. That would almost make Perkins dispensible and maybe help someone like Walter McCarty land on the list. As for Atkins, his salary will make him unappealing to the Bobcats. But if Atkins is left unprotected (along with Jumaine Jones and Yogi Stewart), that could open up a protected spot for Brandon Hunter. Regardless of who's on the list, the Celtics don't stand to lose anyone of significance. The big loser in the expansion draft could well be Memphis, which could lose someone like Troy Bell, its No. 1 pick of a year ago who rarely played . . .

Pacers most likely to be protected include Ron Artest, Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster, Al Harrington, Fred Jones, Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley. If they compensate Charlotte for not selecting Miller, they could protect another player from the group of Primoz Brezec, Austin Croshere, Anthony Johnson, James Jones and Scot Pollard.

Croshere and Pollard are unlikely to be drafted because of their high salaries, unless Charlotte has a prearranged trade. Bickerstaff has said he will avoid players with high salaries. Free agents Kenny Anderson and Jamison Brewer can't be selected. Full story

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS - June 12, 2004
William Strickland and Isaih Thomas spoke recently about another Strickland client, Allan Houston, one of five Knicks left unprotected for the June 22 expansion draft; the others are Shandon Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Dikembe Mutombo and Moochie Norris. The Knicks could lose a player, but Houston, Anderson and Hardaway all have lucrative contracts and the Charlotte Bobcats are reluctant to assume hefty price tags.

"Business is business," Strickland said. "Isiah is rolling the dice perhaps, but Allan looks at it like the Knicks are doing everything they can to improve the team. This allows the Knicks to protect a younger player who could help them."

Houston, who is scheduled to earn $47 million over the next three seasons, was limited to 50 games last season because of knee troubles - and Thomas could try to trade him this summer.

Currently, the Hornets have 14 players on their roster, eight of whom are under contract for next season: guard Baron Davis, forward Jamal Mashburn, forward P.J. Brown, guard David Wesley, forward George Lynch, guard Darrell Armstrong, center Jamaal Magloire and forward David West.

The Hornets have three restricted free agents under contract, guard Courtney Alexander, who missed last season with a torn right Achilles' tendon, guard Shammond Williams, obtained in a February trade with Orlando, and guard Maurice Carter, signed as a free agent late in the season.

It's possible Alexander could be put on the protected list, because the team feels he has yet to reach his potential and, at 27, has more upside than Wesley, also a shooting guard, because of his size (6 feet 6, to Wesley's 6-1) and athleticism. If that happened, the Hornets had to make a decision on whom to leave unprotected. The most likely candidate would be Wesley. Wesley, scheduled to earn $4.455 million next season, makes his offseason home in Charlotte. Full story

ORLANDO SENTINEL - June 12, 2004
The Magic, according to league scources, will not protect DeShawn Stevenson, Reece Gaines, Zaza Pachulia and Britton Johnsen in the expansion draft. Stevenson, a restricted free agent who was acquired in a midseason trade for Gordan Giricek, was a surprise choice. The expansion Charlotte Bobcats can take up to one player from each team.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC - June 12, 2004
The Charlotte Bobcats received an expansion draft list of available players Friday that likely included Jahidi White and Howard Eisley of the Suns. Charlotte must take a player from 14 teams to start its initial roster. Although Suns officials are not at liberty to discuss names, it is believed that White is a strong candidate for the Bobcats if Phoenix provides incentives.

The Suns can send $3 million and draft picks to Charlotte as enticement for taking White or Eisley. However, White's age (28), contract (one remaining year at almost $5.9 million), defense and rebounding make him more attractive than Eisley, whose age (31), contract (two years at close to $13.3 million) and shooting (36.8 percent last season) make him an unlikely selection.

THE OREGONIAN - June 12, 2004
Center Dale Davis, 35, is one of the eight players protected by the Trail Blazers for the June 22 expansion draft, according to the player's agent. Each NBA team had to submit its list of protected players on Friday, and agent Chubby Wells said Blazers general manager John Nash informed him that Davis was among the eight protected.

"We will not comment on our expansion list," Nash said Friday from Chicago.

Nash has said the team would protect its eight most valuable players and leave the other seven available for the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Davis, who will make $10 million next year in the last year of his contract, was thought to be on the bubble. Wells said he thinks the Blazers want to keep Davis so they can use him in a trade this summer.

"He only has a year left on his contract, and that seems to be the en vogue thing, teams wanting to pick up a guy with a year left," Wells said. "But we will see. It's up to what the Blazers want to do."

Conventional wisdom says the Blazers protected their starting five from last season: Damon Stoudamire, Derek Anderson, Darius Miles, Zach Randolph and Theo Ratliff, as well as Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Ruben Patterson, the Blazers' top reserve, was another candidate to be protected, but the Blazers could have opted to protect Travis Outlaw, last year's first-round pick, possibly leaving Patterson vulnerable.

THE COLUMBIAN - June 12, 2004
The list is in an overnight envelope, sealed, and should arrive at the NBA's offices today. The Trail Blazers won't say who they protected from Charlotte in the expansion draft later this month, but here's a good assumption: Zach Randolph is not available. And here's a bad assumption: The Blazers protected their top eight players.

"That would not be a good conclusion," general manager John Nash said Thursday.

The expansion draft is scheduled for June 22, but would be pushed back a day if the NBA Finals go to a seventh game. Teams have to protect at least one player who is either under contract or a restricted free agent, and no more than eight. Charlotte will select at least 14 players no more than one from a team. That means it's far from a given that Portland will lose anyone. If they lose one under contract, the Blazers would receive a trade exception equal to that player's salary for next season.

Nash said the Blazers never considered protecting fewer than eight players before finalizing the list on Thursday. Exactly which of their 15 players are on that list is unclear. One strategy would have been to protect the top eight: Damon Stoudamire, Derek Anderson, Darius Miles, Zach Randolph, Theo Ratliff, Dale Davis, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Ruben Patterson. That would have left Omar Cook, Dan Dickau, Desmond Ferguson, Eddie Gill, Travis Outlaw, Vladimir Stepania and Qyntel Woods available.

But Nash indicated the Blazers did not follow that strategy. Full story

Sonics center Jerome James has exercised his contract option to remain with the team. That decision was made last month, when he notified the team he intended to return for a third season at a salary of more than $5 million.

Marc Fleisher, James' agent, said yesterday he had been given indications a week ago the Sonics planned to protect James from the NBA expansion draft. But Fleisher has not heard since whether the Sonics actually included James on their final list of protected players, which had to be submitted yesterday.

Each NBA team can protect eight players from the June 22 expansion draft, making them unavailable to the Charlotte Bobcats. All teams except the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers, both in the NBA Finals, had to submit protected lists by yesterday, but the league does not release those lists and teams risk being fined for announcing them.

It is likely the Sonics will choose between James and Vitaly Potapenko for the eighth and final spot. Six Sonics certain to be protected are Luke Ridnour, Ronald Murray, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Nick Collison and Vladimir Radmanovic. Antonio Daniels is likely the seventh.

TORONTO SUN - June 12, 2004
Raptors general manager Rob Babcock kept his cards close to the vest yesterday when asked which player, or players, his club exposed in the expansion draft. However, there are rumours the Raptors may have exposed veteran guard Alvin Williams -- the longest-serving Raptor -- and veteran forward Lamond Murray. Presumably, the Raptors wouldn't mind if they were freed of either Williams' contract (four years, $25.8 million US) or Murray's deal (two years, $10.1 million).

Other possibilities include guards Milt Palacio and Roger Mason, Jr. Morris Peterson is a restricted free agent but will be unrestricted if the swingman is chosen by the Charlotte Bobcats.

How does an opening Charlotte Bobcats' roster that includes former Charlotte Hornets guard David Wesley, former ACC standouts Rodney Rogers and Juan Dixon and youthful prospect Gerald Wallace get your attention as an NBA fan?

Well, those three players may be among the newest Bobcats following the upcoming NBA expansion draft. Full story

NEW YORK TIMES - June 12, 2004
The Charlotte Bobcats yesterday received the official list of players who will be available to them in the expansion draft on June 22 or 23. National Basketball Association rules prohibit the list from being disclosed, so the expansion Bobcats, who will play next season, could not comment on the players. "We have a number of directions we can take, and over the course of the next 10 days we will thoroughly explore all of our options," Bernie Bickerstaff, the Bobcats' coach and general manager, said in a statement.

The Bobcats received the names of available players from every team except the Lakers and the Pistons. Those two teams will send their unprotected lists to the Bobcats within 24 hours of the conclusion of the N.B.A. finals. The expectation was that most teams would try to fill the unprotected list with overpriced and underachieving players. Some of the names that leaked out yesterday from various sources indicated that that was the case.

One Western Conference team executive said that the Dallas Mavericks left Antoine Walker and his $14.6 million contract unprotected. Washington left Jerry Stackhouse exposed with three years and $22.5 million remaining on his contract.

Still, the most striking names were those not on the list. Reggie Miller, who has spent his entire career with the Indiana Pacers and who was rumored to be on the list, was not, according to an N.B.A. executive. Others who were expected to be on the list but were protected included Portland's Damon Stoudamire, who is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $15.7 million, as well as the Blazers' Dale Davis, who will earn $9 million next season.

One source familiar with the Knicks' plans confirmed that Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway, Shandon Anderson, Moochie Norris and Cezary Trybanski were left unprotected. The Nets left Kittles, Rodney Rogers, Alonzo Mourning and Tamar Slay unprotected, a source familiar with the Nets' plans said.

Antoine Walker is among four players the Mavericks left unprotected for the expansion draft that will take place later this month. All NBA teams except for the two still playing in the NBA Finals had to submit their list of eight protected players to the Charlotte Bobcats by Friday. According to two sources, the Mavericks left off Walker, who started all 82 games last season after being acquired in a trade that sent Raef LaFrentz to Boston. They also left Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Danny Fortson and Tony Delk unprotected.

Walker, a forward, is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $14.65 million. If the Bobcats select Walker, it would give the Mavericks a trade exception for $13.5 million, which is what Walker earned this season. That exception could be used to acquire any player or players earning that sum.

The Bobcats must select at least 14 players in the expansion draft, and no more than one from each team. The thinking around the league is that Bobcats head coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff will search for financial bargains in the expansion draft, making it unlikely he would take a high salary such as Walker's. But since Walker's contract is up after next season, he may have some value in trade scenarios that could convince the Bobcats to take him.

On Friday, the Bobcats received the list of players the Spurs and the 26 other teams not playing in the NBA Finals are protecting for the draft. Detroit and the Lakers will submit their lists after the conclusion of the Finals. The Spurs protected Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Rasho Nesterovic, Devin Brown and restricted free agents Ginobili, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Hart.

Alex Garcia also was protected, but the team waived him on Friday after it had already submitted its expansion list to the league. Cutting Garcia gives the Spurs additional salary-cap flexibility — his $620,000 contract for next season was non-guaranteed — though the team may try to re-sign him if he clears waivers. Malik Rose, Matt Carroll and Charlie Ward, who can decline his $1.1 million option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, were exposed to the Bobcats. Unsigned draft picks also are ineligible to be taken by Charlotte, so the Spurs did not have to protect Argentine forward Luis Scola. Scola is expected to try to join the Spurs this summer if he can successfully negotiate a buyout of his contract with his Spanish team.

The Spurs, who would like to shed the remaining five years and $32.8 million of Rose's contract from their payroll, can offer the Bobcats draft picks and up to $3 million to entice them to select Rose. Charlotte, however, is not expected to take him unless it is to trade him to another team because its first-season salary cap will be 34 percent smaller than that of the league's existing franchises.

Though the league is keeping the protected-player lists secret, Charlotte is allowed to make pre-draft deals with other teams to select or not select a specific player.

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - June 12, 2004
If the Jazz thought the lottery was a bad experience, they expect even worse from the expansion draft.

    "I think it's probably going to be a little bit painful," Kevin O'Connor said on lottery night, "but those are the rules, and there's nothing you can do about them."

    They reluctantly followed those rules Friday, by informing the Charlotte Bobcats which two of their 10 eligible players they are willing to lose in the June 22 expansion draft. Each team is allowed to protect eight current contracts or restricted free agents, with the remainder available to stock the Bobcats.

The NBA is guarding the names of the unprotected -- each team must make a player available, regardless of how many eligible players it has under contract, but no team can lose more than one player -- in order to prevent them from being embarrassed. But it's not difficult to narrow down the possibilities on a team like the Jazz. Figure Carlos Arroyo, Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring and Raja Bell are too valuable to lose. Sasha Pavlovic and Raul Lopez, especially while they are rookie-contract bargains, have too much potential to let go. Gordan Giricek is a restricted free agent who wants to stay.

That leaves three logical candidates, one of whom could very well be an original Bobcat next season: centers Jarron Collins and Curtis Borchardt, or less likely, Mo Williams. (Unrestricted free agents Greg Ostertag, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Ruffin and Mikki Moore are not eligible for the draft.) All three have modest price tags and useful talents. Even Borchardt, who has missed 148 of a possible 164 games due to injury, could intrigue the Bobcats; because he has only one season remaining on his rookie contract, at $1.28 million, the 7-footer would represent a minimal risk for Charlotte.

    The Bobcats do not have to choose a Jazz player, but O'Connor admits that's too much to hope for, given their inexpensive salaries. "I would say we would be likely to lose somebody because of where we positioned ourselves price-wise," he said. "We don't have any gargantuan contracts to put out there."

It wasn't long ago when the line of teams interested in Antonio Davis, Scottie Pippen, Eddie Robinson or Jerome Williams would have been a long one.

Now the Bulls can only hope that the new Charlotte Bobcats will select one of those players in the NBA's expansion draft on June 22.

The four high-priced veterans and restricted free agent Marcus Fizer were believed to have been left off the Bulls' list of eight protected players, which teams were required to submit today. Full story

BERGON RECORD - June 11, 2004
The Knicks kept Allan Houston on their playoff roster when it was obvious he couldn't play. But New York isn't expected to protect the star shooting guard from the upcoming expansion draft. Houston should be among several high-priced players available for the Charlotte Bobcats to pick or use in a trade in the June 22 expansion draft.

Kerry Kittles will be on that list. League sources say the Nets will leave their starting shooting guard exposed today, when NBA teams must submit the names of protected and unprotected players. The league won't make the list public.

Unless there is a prearranged trade with the Bobcats and another team, it's unlikely Kittles, who will earn $9.8 million next season, or Houston, who earns $47 million through 2007, will be taken. Houston's contract and arthritic knees make him unappealing to Charlotte and most teams.

The Bobcats' salary cap in their inaugural season is 66 percent of the rest of the league's, or about $32 million for 2004-05. Houston will earn $17.5 million next season. Full story

Front-office executive Ed Tapscott and general manager/coach Bernie Bickerstaff will look largely for young, inexpensive players, perhaps a couple of young veterans who can serve as mentors and leaders, possibly a couple of restricted free agents who would not count against their cap.

That leaves teams putting together lists that might expose players they think are expendable or, in some cases, with contracts they think would not be attractive to the Bobcats; the risk there is that the Bobcats could prearrange trades with other teams for players they select.

King would not discuss specifics of any Sixers list, but here's an educated guess:

  • Protected: Allen Iverson, Eric Snow, John Salmons, Kenny Thomas, Samuel Dalembert, Marc Jackson, Kyle Korver and Willie Green.
  • Exposed: Derrick Coleman, Greg Buckner, Aaron McKie, Glenn Robinson and Todd MacCulloch.

    Unrestricted free agents Amal McCaskill and Zendon Hamilton cannot be included in either category.

    The Bobcats would seem unlikely to have interest in Robinson, who is signed for next season at a little more than $12 million. McKie is under contract through 2007-08, at a total of $24.5 million, Buckner is signed through 2007-08 at a total of $12.96 million. Coleman has $6.5 million guaranteed over the next two seasons.

    MacCulloch, whose career remains in jeopardy because of a foot neuropathy, has more than $19 million coming over the next three seasons; if he were to retire, the team could recoup 80 percent of that via insurance.

    CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER - June 11, 2004
    In other news, several Cavs may not want to hear about being left unprotected for the Bobcats expansion draft on June 22. Today, the Cavs will submit to the league a list of eight protected players that currently are under contract. The list excludes free agents Eric Williams, Lee Nailon and Ruben Boumtje Boumtje.

    The Bobcats will select a minimum of 14 players. They can select no more than one player from each team.

    Teams are not allowed to say whom they will protect, but Cavs players like Kevin Ollie, Ira Newble, Kedrick Brown and Jason Kapono may be left unprotected.

    NEW YORK POST - June 11, 2004
    he Nets yesterday submitted their list of protected players for the upcoming expansion draft. Those exposed were believed to be Kerry Kittles, Alonzo Mourning, Tamar Slay and either Lucious Harris or Rodney Rogers. And while Kittles is the most attractive name, Slay may hold the most appeal to the expansionist Charlotte Bobcats.

    "They can always draft a high-priced guy and then work a deal," explained Nets CEO Rod Thorn, who declined to identify which players the Nets left open. "There will be a lot of high priced guys available, some of them attractive to a team under the cap."

    The Bobcats have made it known that they will broker deals throughout the league, but for their own purposes they are looking at young, inexpensive, energy players. Slay certainly fits that mold. Some of the Nets' protected players were obvious to figure: Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Aaron Williams, Zoran Planinic and Brian Scalabrine were locks.

    Should the Nets lose Kittles in the draft, which is set for June 22-23 if the Finals go seven games, the team would be forced into a trade or free agency mode. The gamble with Kittles is because of his $10 million salary. That likely will scare off Charlotte. But even if the Nets lose Kittles, it would be $10 million off their payroll.

    WASHINGTON POST - June 11, 2004
    The Washington Wizards are expected to expose former Maryland guard Juan Dixon, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse and forward Christian Laettner in the expansion draft, according to a league source.

    Every team except the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons, who are competing in the league finals, must send the NBA a list of eight players by Friday they plan to protect from the June 22 draft to fill the roster of the league's newest team, the Charlotte Bobcats. The Lakers and Pistons will have 24 hours after the completion of the championship series to notify the league of the players they plan to protect.

    According to the source -- who did not want to be identified because the list of unprotected players is supposed to remain confidential by league rules -- Washington plans to protect guards Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Steve Blake, forwards Kwame Brown, Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes and centers Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas. The only other players under contract are Stackhouse, Dixon and Laettner. Full story

    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - June 11, 2004
    Unprotected lists are due today for the June 22 expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats, but it should be anticlimactic for the Bulls. The Bobcats aren't expected to take any of the available Bulls, whose list of unprotected players consists of Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams, Eddie Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Marcus Fizer and Ronald Dupree. Dupree might be the most likely to go because he's inexpensive. And the $3 million the Bulls will offer Charlotte to take Robinson's contract isn't expected to make a difference.

    SEATTLE NEWS TRIBUNE - June 11, 2004
    The Seattle SuperSonics, along with the rest of the NBA teams, will have to submit their list of protected players today which will determine which players will be left available for the June 22 expansion draft. On that day, the Charlotte Bobcats must select a minimum of 14 players, a maximum of one per team, to fill out their roster, which will begin play this year.

    The Sonics likely will protect Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison, Ronald Murray, Antonio Daniels and Reggie Evans, leaving Richie Frahm, Jerome James, Calvin Booth and Vitaly Potapenko exposed. Brent Barry cannot be protected because he is an unrestricted free agent.

    The Sonics are hoping the Bobcats will take one of their overpaid centers to free cap space and give them more flexibility this summer. It seems unlikely the Bobcats will oblige the Sonics, however; Charlotte management has said it is seeking young, inexpensive players initially so that it can have flexibility.

    One interesting dynamic though is that the Bobcats are having discussions with many teams about agreeing to take a player as long as they get something of value in return. In Seattle's case, it is possible to offer its first-round draft pick - No. 12 overall - or a future draft pick to entice the Bobcats to take one of the centers.

    ALAMEDA TIMES-STAR - June 11, 2004
    The Golden State Warriors have a chance to unload Nick Van Exel in the expansion draft this month. The question is: How anxious are they to do so?

    The Warriors must make at least one player available to the Charlotte Bobcats today when the expansion team receives the lists of protected and unprotected players from each of the NBA's other 29 franchises.

    Chris Mullin and his new decision-making crew can protect up to eight of the nine guys currently under contract with the organization. Seven choices for protection are clear: Speedy Claxton, Jason Richardson, Mickael Pietrus, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Clifford Robinson and Erick Dampier. That leaves Van Exel and Evan Eschmeyer. Full story

    FLORIDA TODAY - June 11, 2004
    One of the proposed deals that might make the most sense for the Magic is the expansion Charlotte Bobcats trading Orlando the No. 4 pick and a player claimed in the expansion draft for the top selection. Teams had to submit their lists of protected players to the NBA on Thursday and they will be announced today. One rumor wafting through the gym Thursday was that the Dallas Mavericks will leave guard Marquis Daniels unprotected, meaning he could claimed by the Bobcats. Daniels, an Orlando native, made the NBA's All-Rookie Team after going undrafted last spring and would be highly coveted by the Magic.

    NBA teams were allowed to protect a maximum of eight players in anticipation of the June 22nd Expansion Draft. Those names will be released today by the league. Magic officials would not disclose their list of protected players, but it is believed that guard DeShawn Stevenson and rookies Reece Gaines, Britton Johnson and Zaza Pachulia could be left unprotected.

    Grant Hill, out most of the last four seasons with a broken left ankle, will likely remain on the Magic's protected list -- the strongest indication yet that the Magic feel he will be healthy enough to play next season. Hill still has three years and $47 million remaining on the seven-year, $93 million deal he signed in July of 2000 and has piqued interest from some teams in trade talks.

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS - June 11, 2004
    Kerry Kittles and Alonzo Mourning are expected to be the biggest-name Nets left unprotected on the expansion draft list today, according to a team source. The Nets, like every other team except for the Pistons and Lakers, are to hand in their list of players who will be eligible to be drafted by the expansion Bobcats. The expansion draft is on either June 22 or 23, depending on when the Finals ends.

    The Nets can protect only eight players. Seven of them will be: Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, Kenyon Martin, Jason Collins, Aaron Williams, Brian Scalabrine and Zoran Planinic. The eighth player will be either Lucious Harris or Rodney Rogers. Rogers, who is from Durham, N.C., can opt out of the remaining year on his contract even after being picked by Charlotte.

    Tamar Slay, Brandon Armstrong and Hubert Davis will become free agents and cannot be protected or taken by the Bobcats. Kittles, with one year left on his contract at $10million, is not expected to be taken by the Bobcats unless another team strikes a pre-arranged deal with Charlotte to pick him and then trade him to that team. Once Kittles is unprotected, the Nets cannot trade him until the draft is done.

    NBA teams must tell the league today which eight players they will protect in the expansion draft. But shhhh. The lists are supposed to be a secret so don't tell anyone. The NBA isn't releasing the names of the protected players, which prevents them from being chosen by the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft this month. In fact, the commissioner's office will impose a fine if a team releases the names, because doing so would create an uncomfortable situation for a player draft-eligible but not chosen.

    It's not like a team's list will stay secret for long, if they ever are secret. It just takes a little common sense to figure out the Sonics' list. Six players are certain to be protected: guards Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour and Ronald Murray and forwards Rashard Lewis, Nick Collison and Vladimir Radmanovic. The seventh spot likely goes to Antonio Daniels, who has a low salary ($2.2 million) and the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league last season (4.89). The eighth and final Sonic protected probably will be Vitaly Potapenko or Jerome James. Both make about $5 million. Each is entering the final year of his contract.

    David Bauman, Potapenko's agent, hadn't been told whether Potapenko would be protected. Marc Fleisher, James' agent, didn't return a phone message. Calvin Booth and Reggie Evans likely will be left unprotected. Brent Barry and Ansu Sesay -- both unrestricted free agents -- aren't eligible to be protected or chosen in the expansion draft. Richie Frahm is a restricted free agent eligible to be protected, but it's doubtful he will. If the Bobcats pick him, Frahm will become an unrestricted free agent.

    NEWARK STAR-LEDGER - June 11, 2004
    Houston will not be among the Bobcats' selections, however, because he makes $18 million next season, and Charlotte's inaugural payroll cannot exceed $29 million. Moreover, Charlotte would find it impossible to reroute Houston to a team that really needs him, because no team with cap space will take a chance on a 33-year-old with a bad knee who missed 40 percent of the 2003-04 season. Houston's agent, Bill Strickland, said last week that it wouldn't surprise him if his client was left exposed.

    Kittles is another story. While the Nets value him as a superb partner for Jason Kidd, taking his $9.8 million off their 2004-05 payroll would enable them to budget more salary for free agent Kenyon Martin. Would Charlotte take Kittles and redirect him to another team? It is possible, but it is just as possible that the Bobcats have more interest in Tamar Slay, who will also be unprotected.

    A Knicks spokesman said last night that Isiah Thomas was in the process of calling each agent whose client was to be left exposed. Those players are likely to be Houston, Penny Hardaway, Shandon Anderson, Moochie Norris, and either Dikembe Mutombo or Cezary Trybanski.

    DENVER POST - June 11, 2004
    For now, Ryan Bowen's career as a Nugget is over.

    Denver opted out of the final year of the five-year Nugget's contract Thursday with hopes of signing him later. He will not be a candidate for the Nuggets' unprotected list for the June 22 expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats, which must be turned in Saturday. The only unprotected player on that list for the Nuggets is expected to be guard Jeff Trepagnier.

    The Nuggets feared Bowen would be selected by Charlotte if available. Full story

    NEW YORK TIMES - June 11, 2004
    Isiah Thomas picked up the phone yesterday and called five Knicks. He needed all his charm and charisma to convince them that they were still important players despite what he was about to tell them. Thomas told the players - whom a Knicks official said included Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson and Penny Hardaway - they were being left unprotected in the expansion draft later this month.

    The Nets are expected to leave Kerry Kittles unprotected; Kittles was a starter and key player in the their recent postseason success. The league's 29 teams had to submit a list of eight protected players to the league. The expansion Charlotte Bobcats will select a minimum of 14 players, not more than one from any team. Full story

    ORLANDO SENTINEL - June 10, 2004
    Grant Hill could be exposed in the June 22 expansion draft, which is designed to stock the Charlotte Bobcats.

    The Bobcats are not expected to want Hill, considering his $14 million salary next season would eat up about half of their cap. But they could, acting as a conduit in a prearranged trade, select him and ship him to another team.

    Teams must submit to the league office by Friday the lists of the eight players they are protecting in the expansion draft. (Magic general manager John) Weisbrod would not say whether Hill's name would be on the list. Hill said Thursday that he "gets the feeling he is not" on it.

    Hill said he doesn't know for certain if he will be protected, but adds, "I think they [the Magic] worry about what would happen if I do get right and I play well somewhere else. And maybe they're saying, 'We know he's healthy, but we want to get the cap space and go in a different direction.'"

    SEATTLE TIMES - June 10, 2004
    Each team can protect eight players off its 2003-04 roster, including restricted free agents, and must submit its list before tomorrow's deadline. Charlotte, the NBA's newest franchise, must select a minimum of 14 players from NBA rosters in the expansion draft, which will be held June 22, or June 23 if the NBA Finals is extended to a seventh game.

    Seattle is expected to protect Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, Vladimir Radmanovic, Ronald Murray and Antonio Daniels. The Sonics will likely expose Richie Frahm and Calvin Booth and must decide between Reggie Evans, Vitaly Potapenko and Jerome James for the eighth protected spot.

    Bernie Bickerstaff, the Bobcats' general manager and coach, has said he's looking for young, athletic players with modest contracts in the expansion draft, so it would seem unlikely that Charlotte would select any Sonics.

    BOSTON HERALD - June 10, 2004
    It's looking like Chucky Atkins, Brandon Hunter and Jumaine Jones might be feeling a draft soon - an expansion draft. Those three figure to be the most prominent Celtics left unprotected when the new Charlotte franchise goes to stock its roster. Teams must submit lists of eight protected players by this weekend (Detroit and the Lakers have until two days following the Finals), and the dispersal will take place between the end of the Finals and the June 24 draft.

    Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch, Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins, Chris Mihm and Walter McCarty are presently scheduled to be under the protective umbrella. Mark Blount, who the Celtics also hoped to keep, does not need to be protected because he opted to become a free agent.

    As much as the Celtics like Atkins, he is scheduled to make a total of $8.7 million over the next two seasons. Also, it has become clear that new coach Doc Rivers is as big a fan of Banks as Danny Ainge has been. Even if Atkins remains, Banks will be expected to earn the lion's share of minutes at point guard. The last spot on the protected list reportedly came down to Hunter or McCarty, and while Hunter showed some good - if unpolished - skills his rookie year, McCarty could blossom even further under Rivers, whose desired style of play is a good fit for McCarty.

    With just one year and $620,046 left on his contract, Hunter could be very attractive to the Bobcats. The Celtics might want to check out his summer progress once before leaving him available (he needed to develop his shot mechanics to keep defenses honest), but it may be moot as McCarty's stock rose even further last season. It's questionable whether Charlotte would have any interest in Jones, with a little more than $3.5 million left over the next two years, and Michael Stewart at $4.8 million for next season is pretty much out of the question.

    The Bobcats have been fielding offers from teams willing to deal for a higher-priced player the club might take. That's why the Celts can't consider leaving Raef LaFrentz available, even though he is coming off knee problems and has five years left at an average of more than $10 million.

    DENVER POST - June 10, 2004
    All teams except the finalists must turn in their expansion draft list by Saturday. The Lakers and Pistons don't have to do so until the day after their last Finals game. Teams can protect as many as eight players for the June 22 expansion draft to stock the Charlotte Bobcats. Only unrestricted free agents are exempt. The Bobcats can select one player from each team. The Pistons are not expected to protect forward Corliss Williamson and guard Mike James. The Lakers' Rick Fox is not expected to be protected. ...

    FLORIDA TODAY - June 10, 2004
    NEWS FLASH: Submissions for the NBA's expansion draft are due to the league office by Friday. The expansion draft is being held as a means for the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA's 30th team, to stock its franchise. Each existing franchise will be allowed to protect a maximum of eight players and must make at least one player available to the Bobcats. The expansion draft will be held June 22.

    The Orlando Magic have 10 players under contract for next season, but may decide to leave just one player exposed for the expansion draft. Grant Hill is the likely odd man out because he has played just 47 games the past four seasons and he is still owed $47 million over the next three seasons. Hill is as close as he's ever been to being healthy and he's hoping to make a full comeback this season, but the Bobcats aren't likely to gamble on a such a pricey player because their initial salary cap will be just a fraction of what other teams have available.

    The other significance of the day for the Magic is that it could shed some light on one of the primary trade offers on the table for their No. 1 pick in the June 24th NBA Draft. Charlotte is believed to be offering the No. 4 pick and the best available veteran available in the expansion draft for the Magic's No. 1 selection. The Bobcats have approached the Magic with this proposal because they would apparently like to build the franchise around shot-swatting forward Emeka Okafor.

    Accepting this trade would allow the Magic to potentially fill their two positions of greatest need: center and point guard. Some of the big men possibly available in the expansion draft are Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Elden Campbell, Kurt Thomas, Antonio Davis, Michael Olowokandi, Kelvin Cato, Dale Davis and Chris Mihm. The Magic could use the fourth pick to select either Ben Gordon, Shaun Livingston or Jameer Nelson as their point guard of the future.

    EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE - June 10, 2004
    The Suns will protect eight players — they've already submitted their list to the league — and leave two available for the Bobcats. Citing "very strict rules that prohibit divulging the names", (president Bryan) Colangelo won't talk about who the Suns will protect and who they will expose in the draft. Even so, the Suns almost certainly won't protect two reserves with big contracts: guard Howard Eisley and center Jahidi White.

    It seems clear the Bobcats wouldn't touch Eisley, who has two years and more than $13 million left on his contract. But it's believed the Suns are trying to work out a deal before the expansion draft in which the Suns trade White, who has a contract with one year remaining at $5.9 million, to the Bobcats. Making such a trade would leave the Suns with about $14 million in salary cap space with which to attract free agents, $16 million if they also trade their No. 1 draft pick.

    As an inducement to get the Bobcats to take White, the Suns could offer up to $3 million in cash plus a draft pick or two. The Bobcats likely are listening to plenty of other offers from a host of teams.

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS - June 9, 2004
    With Camby out of the mix for the expansion draft, the Nuggets must leave two players unprotected when they submit their eight-man list to the NBA on Friday. The candidates most likely to be available for the Charlotte Bobcats are forwards Ryan Bowen and Chris Andersen and guard Jeff Trepagnier.

    "That would be a disappointment, but I'd still have to move on, even though in my heart I would want to come back to Denver," Andersen said.

    DENVER POST - June 9, 2004
    Instead of counting on a sure $7.75 million for next season, Marcus Camby is opting out of his contract with the Nuggets in a quest for long-term security.

    The move - one the 30-year-old center openly has discussed since midway through this season - helps Denver in the short-term, giving general manager Kiki Vandeweghe one less front-line player to protect for the June 22 expansion draft.

    With Camby at least temporarily off the roster, the Nuggets now must choose eight players out of 10 to protect from the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, instead of 11. Vandeweghe must present the NBA with his list of protected players by Saturday.

    BOSTON GLOBE - June 9, 2004
    Mark Blount will officially exercise an option in his contract this week, making him a free agent and making the Celtics one of many teams interested in his services, his agent said yesterday.

    Blount is doing the Celtics a small favor with the timing. He has until June 30 to exercise the option, but by doing so this week, he will remove himself from the Boston roster as one of the eight players who would likely be protected in the upcoming expansion draft to stock the new Charlotte Bobcats.

    All teams save the Pistons and Lakers must have their lists submitted by Saturday. Free agents cannot be protected, so Blount will not be on the Celtics' list.

    Malik Rose hasn't seen the list of players the Spurs plan to protect in this month's expansion draft for Charlotte, but he knows one name that won't be on it. His own.

    "It's like a mathematics problem," Rose said. "They have to leave a certain number of players off to protect a certain amount of players. ... They have to protect the guys they think are going to help them the most. And I'm not going to be on that list."

    Teams have until the end of the week to submit up to eight players they wish to protect in the draft, which will be held either June 22 or 23. Charlotte can select no more than one player from each of the other 29 teams, but must choose at least 14 total players.

    The Spurs plan to protect Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Rasho Nesterovic, Devin Brown and restricted free agents Manu Ginobili and Hedo Turkoglu. Bruce Bowen also is expected to be protected unless he notifies the Spurs by Thursday — the day the team's list is mailed to the league — he is not exercising his $4 million option for next season. Bowen can officially take until the end of the month to decide whether to become a free agent. Full story

    CHICAGO TRIBUNE - June 9, 2004
    Besides attending this week's NBA predraft camp, which began Tuesday night at Moody Bible Institute, teams must submit to the league office by Friday their lists of protected players for the expansion draft to stock Charlotte.

    Teams are allowed to protect up to eight players for the draft, which will take place June 22 or 23, depending on whether the NBA Finals last seven games. Charlotte will select a minimum of 14 players and can't take more than one from any team.

    Barring a surprise, the Bulls will protect Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Kirk Hinrich, Linton Johnson, Jannero Pargo, Chris Jefferies and Paul Shirley. The final two will be protected for their small and movable salaries in case the Bulls swing a draft-day deal.

    Bernie Bickerstaff, Charlotte's general manager and coach, will be a popular man at the predraft camp. Teams are allowed to entice the Bobcats with as much as $3 million to take an unwanted contract off their hands. General manager John Paxson could make that pitch for Eddie Robinson, who played in Charlotte when the Hornets were there.

    NEW YORK POST - June 9, 2004
    In fact, the Knicks are expected to leave Allan Houston unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft, according to a league source. Charlotte can't fit Houston's salary under its downsized cap and wouldn't be able to trade him.

    ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS - June 8, 2004
    Word is Kevin Garnett has emphatically recommended to Timberwolves management that the team re-sign free-agent point guard Troy Hudson. However, insiders say the Wolves instead are trying to acquire Earl Watson of Memphis through a Charlotte-NBA expansion draft deal. That way, the Wolves feel, they wouldn't have to give Hudson a higher-paying contract. Hudson would be guaranteed $2.1 million for next season if he were not to opt out of his deal.

    DENVER POST - June 8, 2004
    Back from scouting in Italy last week, Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said the team had "some ideas in place" on whom to protect for the NBA expansion draft, but would not go into specifics. All teams must have a list into the league by Saturday. The Charlotte Bobcats will hold their expansion draft June 22.

    The three Nuggets most likely to be available to Charlotte are Chris Andersen , Ryan Bowen and Jeff Trepagnier. A fourth player, possibly Voshon Lenard, may have to become available if center Marcus Camby does not opt out of his contract to become a free agent before Saturday.

    "I'm hoping that I'll be protected, but we'll see," Andersen said. "I'm just doing all I can, staying in shape."

    THE OREGONIAN - June 8, 2004
    Veteran center Dale Davis understands the reality: Even if the Trail Blazers leave him unprotected in the expansion draft in two weeks, the chances of the Charlotte Bobcats taking Davis -- and, more important, his $10.1 million contract -- seem negligible.

    "More than likely, they probably will protect me," Davis said of the Blazers. "But I don't know which direction they're headed."

    Each team can protect eight players off its 2003-04 roster, including restricted free agents. The Blazers have 15 players to choose from, and the deadline for submitting their list is Friday. Full story

    GM Billy King said the Sixers were close to finalizing the list of eight players they will protect for the June 22 expansion draft, in which the new Charlotte Bobcats will stock their team. "The list changes every day," he said. "I think last week I had a different eight, and it was a different eight the week before. But now we have a pretty good idea." The Sixers must submit their list by Saturday.

    DENVER POST - June 7, 2004
    Rick Kaplan, agent for Nuggets center Marcus Camby, said he likely will talk to Vandeweghe on Tuesday or Wednesday. Camby is expected to opt out of his contract by Friday, the deadline for teams not in the Finals to submit a list of eight protected players for the June 22 expansion draft. If Camby makes his move by then, the Nuggets can protect an extra player.

    ORLANDO SENTINEL - June 7, 2004
    On Friday, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats will receive the list of players exposed by teams in the expansion draft.

    The Bobcats have the No. 4 pick in the June 24 draft. Coach/GM Bernie Bickerstaff is trying to convince the Magic that some veterans in the expansion draft are worth signing and is lobbying them to trade down, working the McGrady angle. Fat chance, Bernie.

    "With McGrady being there, they need somebody who can make a difference," Bickerstaff told the Charlotte Observer. "They need a couple of players who can make them a better basketball team . . . and I'm talking about the here and now."

    NEWARK STAR-LEDGER - June 6, 2004
    You will see many high-priced (and second-rate) players left unprotected for the expansion draft when teams submit their lists on Friday, but there have been faint rumblings that the Knicks could actually leave Allan Houston exposed. It's hardly a given, of course, and agent Bill Strickland hasn't been given any such indication from Isiah Thomas. You may say that Zeke is under no obligation to share his secrets, but he might want to do business with one of Strickland's clients (Rasheed Wallace) this summer.

    So, Strickland can admit only this much, before we get to saber-rattling time: "I've been in this business for 23 years," he said, "and I know organizations will do what's in the best interest of the club."

    Six of the Knicks' eight keepers are undoubtedly Stephon Marbury, Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas, Nazr Mohammed, Michael Sweetney and Frank Williams. The last two will probably be Houston and either Penny Hardaway or Dikembe Mutombo. But does Isiah Thomas roll the dice and keep Othella Harrington, who might have trade value? (Stop that laughing.) Exposing Houston is risky business. Not only would the Knicks president be insulting a two-time All-Star, he would also give Charlotte a chance to redirect Houston to a contending team.

    The Bobcats, obviously, cannot fit Houston under their $29 million cap, because he'll make $18 million next year. But they could ship him off to a team that could really use him -- such as Denver, which has the cap space to accommodate his salary and the flexibility to repay Charlotte with draft picks. Still, some believe the timing might be right for Isiah to risk it. Houston's knee is making slow progress -- Strickland admits surgery is still a possibility, but it's too early for that determination -- and Charlotte cannot get stuck holding the check after learning there is no market for a 33-year-old former All-Star with a bad wheel. Just the same, the minute the Knicks leave Houston dangling, the Bobcats' Ed Tapscott is on the horn with the Nuggets, Jazz or Spurs.

    Anyway, it's a poser. The Bobcats will use the June 22 expansion draft to acquire players, but it's also their first chance at building a future. They must seriously consider grabbing a few big-money players -- Kerry Kittles, Dale Davis, et al. -- who could be rerouted to teams that cannot otherwise acquire such players. We just doubt the Knicks captain will be one of them.

    DENVER POST - June 6, 2004
    As of today, the Nuggets have to expose four of their 12 players for the Charlotte Bobcats' expansion draft June 22.

    If center Marcus Camby opts out of his contract, as expected, before Saturday's deadline for the expansion draft list, the number of unprotected players would drop to three. The three Nuggets expected to be on the list are forward Ryan Bowen, forward Chris Andersen and guard Jeff Trepagnier. If Camby doesn't opt out, guard Voshon Lenard could be among the candidates to be added to the list.

    "I love Denver, the coaching staff and management," said Bowen, a five-year Nugget. "I'm just waiting and looking to see what happens like a lot of people."

    SACRAMENTO BEE - June 5, 2004
    Geoff Petrie, though, always has said he will do whatever he believes will benefit the Kings the most. Deciding which player or players to make available to Charlotte in the expansion draft is the most immediate order of business. The Kings can protect eight players but must make at least one available. Because backup guard Anthony Peeler has an option for next season, if the Kings leave him unprotected, they also must make another player available, Petrie said.

    Petrie said expansion-draft rules prevent him from discussing players involved. He did say that forward Darius Songaila, as a restricted free agent, would become an unrestricted free agent if he were left unprotected and then chosen by the Bobcats.

    Upon perusal of the roster, an educated guess suggests the Kings will protect forwards Peja Stojakovic, Brad Miller, Webber and Songaila and guards Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson. Peeler and/or guard-forward Gerald Wallace could be left unprotected. Wallace, a young, exciting, multipositional yet unpolished player entering the final year of his contract, has expansion selection written all over him.

    Stephen Jackson is expected to opt out of his contract this week and become a free agent, officially leaving the Hawks with four players under contract before the expansion draft on June 22. Without a full roster, the Hawks are still obligated to leave one player unprotected to the Charlotte Bobcats by June 12. Alan Henderson will be exposed, but the Bobcats are unlikely to touch him. The Bobcats aren't interested in large contracts, even if the Hawks offer a second-round pick and the maximum of $3 million to take him.

    WASHINGTON TIMES - June 4, 2004
    Meanwhile, teams must submit their list of eight protected players for the expansion draft to the league by June 12. Although (Ernie) Grunfeld would not comment, three league sources last week reached the joint opinion that the Wizards are least likely to protect Juan Dixon, Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse.

    INDIANAPOLIS STAR - June 3, 2004
    The Pacers first have to get through the NBA's June 22 Charlotte Bobcats expansion draft. The Pacers have until June 12 to submit a list of eight players they want to protect, leaving their remaining non-free agents exposed for selection by the league's newest team.

    The Pacers exposed to the expansion draft could include Croshere and centers Scot Pollard and Primoz Brezec. But more important is whom the Pacers will protect. Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster, Fred Jones, Jamaal Tinsley and rookie swingman James Jones make up the core group the Pacers will build around.

    But what to do then with Pacers legend Reggie Miller? The Pacers can make sure he doesn't get away by sending money and a future draft pick to the Bobcats to ensure they don't take Miller. Given Miller's age, 38, reduced role and the fact he has played his entire career with the Pacers, Charlotte's interest wouldn't appear to be very high.

    The Bobcats also have made it clear they don't want to take on large contracts, meaning Croshere -- who has three years remaining on the seven-year, $51 million deal he signed after the 2000 season -- probably would not fit into their plans, either.

    Each of the league's 29 teams may protect eight players who are under contract or are restricted free agents at the conclusion of the 2003-04 season. The Bobcats can't select a player from every team so it is possible no Pacer will be taken in the expansion draft.

    DALLAS MORNING NEWS - June 2, 2004
    The Mavericks will keep rookie Jon Stefansson on the protected list in the upcoming expansion draft. Stefansson, the first player in the NBA from Iceland, never played in his first season. The goal is to force Charlotte to take a bigger contract, if they select one of the Mavericks' players, said coach Don Nelson.

    Danny Fortson ($5.6 million), Tariq Abdul-Wahad ($5.75 million), Tony Delk ($3.2 million) and Shawn Bradley ($4 million) are the four players the Mavericks are expected to leave unprotected in the draft.

    DAILY HERALD - June 2, 2004
    By June 11, the Bulls must submit an eight-man list of players they will protect in the expansion draft. John Paxson doesn't plan to make the list public, but there aren't many questions about the Bulls' intentions.

    Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich are certain to be protected, with Linton Johnson a strong possibility. Paxson has said he will protect Marcus Fizer, only to keep open the slight possibility of using him in a sign-and-trade.

    The Bulls will not protect Eddie Robinson, Jerome Williams, Antonio Davis or Chris Jefferies. So the final two protected slots will be distributed among Scottie Pippen, Ronald Dupree and Jannero Pargo.

    The Charlotte Bobcats are not likely to select any Bulls in the June 22 expansion draft.

    FLORIDAY TODAY - June 2, 2004
    The deal: Orlando's No. 1 pick to Charlotte for the No. 4 pick and best available big man unprotected in expansion draft.

    Why it makes sense: Charlotte has reportedly already approached the Magic with this proposal because it would like to build its new franchise around UConn big man Okafor. No one knows for sure yet which players will be available in the expansion draft, which will be held June 22. But some of the possibilities include Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Elden Campbell, Stromile Swift, Kurt Thomas, Antonio Davis, Michael Olowokandi, Kelvin Cato, Dale Davis and Chris Mihm. And the Magic could use the fourth pick to select either Gordon or Peoria, Ill., prep star Shaun Livingston to play point guard.

    Why it doesn't make sense: If those players are in the expansion draft, that means they were unwanted by their previous teams. Orlando could get a quick fix here and upgrade its size, but it wouldn't be a smart decision long term.

    SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - May 30, 2004
    Expansion Draft: The Bobcats will select players from existing teams' rosters on June 22, so it's normal to think of this in terms of subtraction -- and the Jazz are probably going to lose a player. But this is also a mechanism that could add a player, too.

    The Bobcats are allowed to broker any sort of deal they can before the draft, with teams asking the Bobcats to pluck a certain player, or avoid choosing a player. But they can also pick-and-trade players, an option that allows teams to acquire a player they covet without having to go through his current team.

    A large number of teams are expected to expose high-salaried veterans in the expansion draft, some on the assumption that the Bobcats won't be interested, some in hopes of shedding salary. Michael Finley of Dallas might fall into this category, for example, or perhaps Damon Stoudamire of Portland; Christian Laettner of Washington certainly will, and there could be a surprising number of big-contract stars in the draft. Most teams would not be interested, or able, to take on overpaid star -- but the Jazz, with draft picks to offer and cap room to spare, could.

    "I've talked to Charlotte," said Kevin O'Connor, Utah's senior vice president of basketball operations, without saying if the Jazz are interested in a deal. "They have a lot of deals to consider."

    One problem: The players available to Charlotte (each team can protect eight signed players or restricted free agents) will be kept secret, even to other franchises, O'Connor said. If the Jazz have someone in mind, they won't be certain if he's available, and can only ask the Bobcats to take him, then wait and see what Charlotte does.

    The Timberwolves, who could have as many as 10 players under contract for next season, can protect only eight for the June 22 NBA expansion draft, which will help the Charlotte Bobcats stock their roster. The Wolves have seven players signed for 2004-05, including Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, Sam Cassell, Ervin Johnson, Michael Olowokandi, Mark Madsen and Ndudi Ebi. But Trenton Hassell, a restricted free agent after the season, and Troy Hudson and Latrell Sprewell also might have to be protected.

    Hudson has an option to accept a $2.8 million contract or opt for free agency. He has indicated he plans to shop his services, but has to make that decision three days after the Wolves season ends. Sprewell has an option for $14.625 million next season. He has not indicated what he is going to do and does not have to make a decision until July.

    Assuming Hassell and Sprewell remain on the roster, the Wolves would be likely to protect them and Cassell, Ebi, Garnett, Madsen and Sczcerbiak. That makes it likely that either the 36-year-old Johnson or Olowokandi, whose big contract and poor season might not make him a good choice for Charlotte, would be left unprotected.

    Charlotte will choose a minimum of 14 players who are under contract or restricted free agents. Only one player can be selected per team.

    CHICAGO TRIBUNE - May 27, 2004
    There's also the possibility the Clippers, picking second, will trade with someone other than Atlanta. Perhaps Charlotte at No. 4 will want Luol Deng, who was a local favorite at Duke. General manager Bernie Bickerstaff has said he doesn't want a high school player as his first pick, although some on the staff believe Peoria's Shaun Livingston is the best prospect.

    The Bobcats will have plenty to offer with their maneuverability in the expansion draft and could move up to No. 2. It's unlikely the Clippers would take a high school player so moving down for Atlanta's picks makes the most sense. But they also could swap with Charlotte or force the Bulls into giving up something, like Jamal Crawford, if the right deal could be worked out.

    The Charlotte Bobcats figure to take one key player in the June 22 expansion draft. The Sonics can freeze only eight players, perhaps leaving Reggie Evans and, hopefully, Jerome James or Calvin Booth as potential Bobcats. If either James or Booth heads to Charlotte, the Sonics could be a stronger player in the free-agent market this summer.

    The Mavs can protect up to eight players for the June 22 expansion draft. The Charlotte Bobcats can choose no more than one player from each team and must draft at least 14 players.

    The Mavs can only protect players under contract and restricted free agents. Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels are locks on the protected list, according to Nelson. Jamison, Eduardo Najera and Shawn Bradley are also probable. Walker and Jon Stefansson are on the fence.

    The Mavs will leave Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Danny Fortson and Tony Delk unprotected. The Mavs can't protect unrestricted free agents Steve Nash, Scott Williams and Travis Best. Re-signing Nash is the Mavs' No. 1 priority.

    If the Bobcats do choose a player off the Mavs' unprotected list, the Mavs receive an assignment exception equivalent to that player's salary. The Mavs could then trade for a player to fit that salary slot. If Walker is chosen, that slot would be $14.6 million.

    SACRAMENTO BEE - May 23, 2004
    Gerald Wallace - He entered the season with visions of a breakout, but sprains to his left knee and foot prevented him from receiving much consistent playing time or developing any rhythm. Wallace needs continued on-court experience and off-court work. He has exceptional athletic ability and always plays hard, but he must learn to play within the team's framework, especially at the defensive end. He'll likely be exposed in the expansion draft. Because he has one year left on his contract and he doesn't turn 22 until July, Charlotte would be wise to look in his direction. If he returns to Sacramento, he should play every practice as if his career depended on it, because in some ways it will.

    NEWARK STAR-LEDGER - May 23, 2004
    The Nets can protect up to eight players in the Charlotte expansion draft, scheduled for June 22 or 23. The Nets will likely protect Jason Collins, Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Zoran Planinic, Brian Scalabrine and Aaron Williams. Rodney Rogers and Lucious Harris don't count against the Nets number: Unless they exercise their player options by the time of the draft, which they likely wouldn't, Charlotte can't take them (because they're technically considered free agents until they exercise their options).

    The only roster players the Nets have under contract that will likely be left exposed are Kerry Kittles and Alonzo Mourning. Charlotte would never take Mourning for obvious health reasons. Kittles would be a possibility and the Nets could sweeten the deal by offering to pay some of Kittles' $9.8 million salary

    BERGEN RECORD - May 22, 2004
    The expansion draft: The Nets protect eight players and lose one when the Charlotte Bobcats build their inaugural roster next month and there's talk they may expose Kerry Kittles. That would still leave them over the salary cap and negate his potential trade value.

    Thus, Rodney Rogers and possibly Lucious Harris or Aaron Williams could be dangled, but expect the likes of Brandon Armstrong or Tamar Slay to go.

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS - May 21, 2004
    In fact, Rod Thorn could lose a shooter if the Nets leave Kerry Kittles unprotected for the expansion draft, as expected. The Charlotte Bobcats could take Kittles, who will make $9 million next season in the final year of his contract.

    The Nets only can protect eight players and that list will likely include Rodney Rogers because the power forward has an opt-out clause in his contract.

    MIAMI SUN-SENTINEL - May 20, 2004
    Each team can protect up to eight players for the June 22 expansion draft, with the Charlotte Bobcats required to select at least 14 but no more than one from any team.

    With unrestricted free agents Rafer Alston, Bimbo Coles, Samaki Walker and John Wallace eligible to be neither protected nor selected, the Heat will need to expose three players.

    While it is the longest of long shots, the process could allow the Heat to escape from the $45 million owed over the next three seasons to center Brian Grant or guard Eddie Jones. The chance of either 32-year-old being taken is remote, but such a selection by Charlotte, perhaps sweetened with the addition of draft picks or other players, could put the Heat as much as $14 million below the salary cap.

    The Heat likely will expose Jones, Grant and center Loren Woods, a restricted free agent.

    MIAMI HERALD - May 20, 2004
    It's unlikely the Heat will be much of a factor in the upcoming expansion draft. With 11 players who are either under contract next season, restricted free agents or have a conditional contract, the Heat has to choose three players to leave unprotected.

    It's probable the Heat will leave Eddie Jones, Brian Grant and a restricted free agent such as Loren Woods unprotected.

    DALLAS MORNING NEWS - May 19, 2004
    The Mavericks' quick dismissal from the playoffs has afforded them ample opportunity to start preparing for what figures to be a hectic June and July. Potential trades and free-agent signings (and re-signings, in Steve Nash's case) will be critical. But one of their first orders of business is to determine which players to expose in the expansion draft that will help fill the new Charlotte Bobcats' roster. It may not be as easy as it sounds.

    The Mavericks and every other NBA team not in the Finals have to turn in their list of eight protected players by June 12, 10 days before the expansion draft. Teams in the Finals have until two days after their series is over. There are six players who likely will be off-limits to the Bobcats, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson says: Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Antawn Jamison, Antoine Walker, Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels. Steve Nash, Travis Best and Scott Williams do not need to be protected because they are unrestricted free agents. That leaves six players on the roster, four of whom will be made available to the Bobcats. Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Danny Fortson and Tony Delk appear locks for the unprotected list. That means either Shawn Bradley, Eduardo Najera or Jon Stefansson also will be on unprotected list. Full story

    CHICAGO TRIBUNE - May 19, 2004
    Marcus Fizer underwent a second surgery Tuesday on the right knee ligaments he originally tore in January 2003. Fizer will be a free agent when the Bulls don't make him a qualifying offer. Chances for a sign-and-trade are slim enough that he might not be protected when the list to stock the expansion Charlotte Bobcats is due June 11.

    Though the Spurs hope to make Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Rasho Nesterovic the core of their team for the foreseeable future, they may still make significant changes to their roster — either this summer or next — depending on how they want to fill around those four players.

    The team can protect up to eight players for Charlotte's June 22 expansion draft. In addition to Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Nesterovic, Devin Brown (whose second-year team option will be picked up), Bowen (provided he doesn't opt out) and Hedo Turkoglu (a restricted free agent) also are expected to be protected.

    The Spurs might expose Malik Rose in the expansion draft, but Bobcats officials have said they're not interested in taking on veterans with long contracts. Rose has five years and almost $33 million remaining on his contract.

    TORONTO SUN - May 14, 2004
    But the most pressing concern, chronologically, is deciding which player to expose in the expansion draft, which will stock the Charlotte Bobcats on June 22 or 23 (if the NBA final doesn't end till June 20, the expansion draft will be pushed back to the 23rd). Teams must inform the league of their decisions regarding unprotected players by June 12.

    Should the Raptors expose one of their lower-end players, like Milt Palacio or Roger Mason, Jr.? Or should they roll the dice and expose someone like Jalen Rose, who probably wouldn't be taken by the Bobcats because he's scheduled to earn close to $15 million US next season? Full story

    SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - May 9, 2004
    Apparently, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats are not interested in using the No. 4 pick in the draft on a high school player. Team officials think even one year of college experience will help a youngster withstand the pressure of being the franchise's first building block. As a result, players such as St. Joe's Jameer Nelson, Wisconsin's Devin Harris, UConn's Ben Gordon and even Duke freshman Luol Deng are more intriguing to the Bobcats than high schoolers such as Shaun Livingston or Josh Smith.

    ORLANDO SENTINEL - May 9, 2004
    You have to keep this a secret. Promise? OK, I'm telling you this in complete confidence: Grant Hill looks better than ever. His left ankle is completely healed. He'll once again be one of the top five players in the NBA next season. Would I lie? But, remember, not a peep to anybody, especially the Charlotte Bobcats. Full story

    DENVER POST - May 9, 2004
    There has been some talk that Orlando Magic forward Grant Hill has asked the organization to put him in the June 22 expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats. A major ankle injury kept Hill sidelined last season from playing regularly since the 1999-2000 season. Hill, who played collegiately at Duke in Durham, N.C., still has three years and $47 million left on his contract....

    For the first time since the 2000-01 season, the Hornets' core group -- guards David Wesley and Baron Davis, forwards P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn and center Jamaal Magloire -- could be split up. Davis, Brown and Magloire are expected to return, but Mashburn is a likely choice to be traded. And Wesley could be the team's designated player left unprotected for next month's expansion draft and claimed by the Charlotte Bobcats, who start play next season. Wesley has two years remaining on his contract that pays him $4.4 million next season and $4.9 million in 2005-06.

    One additional date on the National Basketball Association calendar this summer will be the expansion draft June 22, an event in which the expansion Charlotte Bobcats will have the opportunity to stock their roster with players from other teams. It will not be an occasion that will greatly impact the Milwaukee Bucks. Full story

    Inquiring minds want to know. Who to protect? Who to leave dangling? The die-hard Grizzly fans may think they already have this expansion draft thing figured out. Yet Griz president Jerry West is working the list as though it was a Scrabble board. It's safe to say that he'll probably shuffle a name or five between now (when he's clearly angered by how certain players performed at season's end) and June 22 when the Charlotte Bobcats can pluck a total 14 players from a pool created by the NBA's 29 teams. Full story

    The good news is the roster, which has young talent, won't be hurt by the expansion draft. The Bucks will have no trouble protecting their top eight players from the Charlotte Bobcats, who owe them a much-needed $10 million as part of the $300 million expansion fee distributed to each team.

    NEW YORK POST - April 28, 2004
    Isiah Thomas said he knows which eight players he will protect in June's expansion draft. Vin Baker (whom Thomas said he wants to re-sign) and DerMarr Johnson are free agents who are exempt. That means the unprotected list will be five.

    Four are obvious - Moochie Norris, Shandon Anderson, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski. It's not inconceivable for Thomas to consider leaving sore-kneed Allan Houston as No. 5, with his $17 million wage next season.

    Charlotte said it won't take any high-salaried players because of its smaller salary cap. Thomas may want to protect Dikembe Mutombo and Othella Harrington, in the final years of their contracts and marketable trade commodities.

    ORLANDO SENTINEL - April 28, 2004
    The Orlando Magic are expected to make Grant Hill one of two players left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft, giving the Charlotte Bobcats the opportunity to have the former Duke University star. The Bobcats, though, won't touch him.

    There is a good chance the Bobcats, though, won't bother taking a Magic player, deciding the pickings are more attractive elsewhere. The Magic have 10 players under contract for next season and likely the two left unprotected will be Hill and center Zaza Pachulia, which is not a very attractive menu from which to choose. They likely will protect Tracy McGrady, Keith Bogans, Juwan Howard, Andrew DeClercq, Drew Gooden, Pat Garrity, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines.

    Although Hill was once one of the game's best players - the Magic signed him as a free agent to a 7-year, $92 million contract in 2000 - four ankle surgeries later he has become a medical liability. The Magic would like nothing better than to have the Bobcats take Hill off their books, freeing up valuable salary cap space, but it's not going to happen.

    Although the Magic once thought Pachulia could be a serviceable center, their reluctance to use him last season spoke louder than any words could have. And if they don't want him back, it's hard to imagine the Bobcats taking him.

    BOSTON GLOBE - April 27, 2004
    Brandon Hunter: He may be a candidate for the Bobcats via the expansion draft -- and he'd be a guy at whom Charlotte might take a long look. He's still raw but he showed at times that he wasn't out of place on the same floor as real NBA players. The Celtics hold the option to a second year for Hunter and his future with the team may hinge on what Danny Ainge thinks he can get in the draft.

    Jumaine Jones: He never really got cooking this season, and given what's coming in, it's hard to see a spot for him next year. Ainge might be looking to deal Jones, who has two years left at reasonably short money (a little more than $3.5 million). You'd have to think he'd be left unprotected for the expansion draft, and his salary might intrigue the Bobcats.

    Walter McCarty: I hear Charlotte is lovely this time of the year. And McCarty would make the perfect expansionista: role player, veteran, great guy, excellent in the community. Tommy Heinsohn might have to move to North Carolina to do the Bobcats games. It's hard to see Ainge protecting McCarty, who has two years left at around $2.5 million (the second year is his option). And it's equally hard seeing Charlotte pass on someone like him.

    BERGEN RECORD - April 27, 2004
    Isiah Thomas can protect eight players in the summer's expansion draft. Penny Hardaway and Shandon Anderson could be unprotected, but their contracts make them prohibitive favorites to be passed up. The Charlotte Bobcats could take a chance on Dikembe Mutombo or Othella Harrington. But they also could be used in trades, since they're in the last year of their deals.

    NEWARK STAR-LEDGER - April 25, 2004
    Eddie Robinson was a no-show for his exit interview with Bulls GM John Paxson, which he hopes will expedite his escape from Chicago. "I wouldn't even mind going to the Charlotte expansion team," he said. The problem is, the Bobcats, who will want to keep their payroll in the $25 million to $28 million range, won't want any part of his $6.5 million salary.

    FLORIDA TODAY - April 22, 2004
    NEWS FLASH: With the Orlando Magic playing like an expansion team this season, it was easy to forget the NBA introduces the Charlotte Bobcats into the league next season.

    While Orlando is the odds-on favorite to get the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA Draft after putting together the league's worst record, the Charlotte Bobcats will make the franchise's first selection at No. 4. History reveals that expansion teams have selected average at best with their first selection.

    • In 1995, the then-Vancouver Grizzlies took Oklahoma State big man Bryant Reeves with the No. 6 overall selection. The Toronto Raptors were next, taking point guard Damon Stoudamire. Stoudamire still is in the league and is considered an above-average point guard. Reeves never blossomed the way some thought and back problems cut his career short.

    • In 1989, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected UCLA point guard Pooh Richardson at No. 10. The Magic followed by taking Illinois' Nick Anderson at 11. Anderson had his moments; Richardson never amounted to much more than a journeyman, backup point guard.

    In 1988, the Charlotte Hornets took Kentucky's Rex Chapman at No. 8 and the Miami Heat selected Syracuse center Rony Seikaly at No. 9. Not bad first picks, considering who went after them.

    So the Bobcats will have a tough decision.

    "They've made it clear that they don't want to take a high school kid," said Richard Walker of the Gaston Gazette, who covered the Charlotte Hornets before they left for New Orleans and will cover the Bobcats. "Even if it's someone who's even played one year of college."

    The Bobcats' wish list? 1. Emeka Okafor. 2. Luol Deng. 3. Jameer Nelson.

    "If you play it out, Atlanta probably gets (Dwight) Howard and Orlando gets Okafor," Walker said. "If Deng comes out and is available, they'll jump all over him. With Jameer Nelson, I'm getting a mixed message with him. I suspect he'll drop. He measured just 5-81/4."

    So it's clear the Bobcats don't want to go too young.

    "They want their guy to realize he's going to be a spokesman for the franchise," Walker said. "He has to be good off the court, he can't be a dud. He has to be able to do the interviews and the Bojangles ads."

    CBS SPORTSLINE - April 22, 2004
    Before the annual NBA Draft of children -- teenagers who speak only bits of English and some top-drawer college talent on June 24 -- there will be the expansion draft on June 22 for the Charlotte Bobcats, who begin play in the fall. Each team -- except for the two teams in the Finals -- will submit a list June 12 protecting eight players from their roster. The two teams in the Finals may wait until the playoffs have ended. The Bobcats then may choose a minimum of 14 players -- no more than one from each team -- and unrestricted free agents don't count. Choose a restricted free agent and he automatically becomes unrestricted, so you can be certain Bobcats general manager Bernie Bickerstaff will leave no stone unturned. The free agent wooing period begins July 1, with no official signing until July 14.

    PORTLAND TRIBUNE - April 20, 2004
    As the NBA expansion draft approaches, Portland General Manager John Nash intends to talk to the new Charlotte Bobcats about who they expect other teams to have on their protected lists.

    “Perhaps we can engineer a trade through Charlotte,” Nash says. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

    ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS - April 20, 2004
    The Timberwolves already have eight players signed to guaranteed contracts for next season, and the team intends to re-sign free agents Fred Hoiberg and Trenton Hassell. Troy Hudson is expected to opt out of his contract, so the Wolves might have just two roster spots available.

    "We've already got ourselves kind of situated for next year," Taylor said.

    Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale, who remains high on the potential of 19-year-old rookie Ndudi Ebi, put the 6-foot-9, 200-pounder through a grueling individual workout Monday, which included repeated attempts to dunk a 20-pound ball.

    "The only way you get better is through hard work," McHale said.

    SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - April 18, 2004
    Who goes in the expansion draft?

    The Jazz get to protect eight of their 10 players who are either restricted free agents or under contract for next season, and the Charlotte Bobcats have the right to select one. O'Connor hasn't decided who the two to be offered to Charlotte will be, but he is all but resigned to losing a player.

    "It would be nice if we had bad contracts and that's all we had to put out there, but that's not the case. We've got some younger players and we've got some decisions to make," he said.

    The Jazz have 10 qualified players -- Carlos Arroyo, Raja Bell, Curtis Borchardt, Jarron Collins, Gordan Giricek, Matt Harpring, Andrei Kirilenko, Raul Lopez, Sasha Pavlovic and Mo Williams -- and so must make two of them available to Charlotte.

    Figure on some combination of Borchardt, Collins and Williams to be left unprotected.

    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - April 17, 2004
    Eddie Robinson will be left unprotected for the expansion draft, but the Charlotte Bobcats are looking for players with expiring contracts. Robinson has two years and $14 million left, but Bulls operations chief John Paxson will try to sweeten the deal by adding $3 million, which is the maximum allowed.

    It won't help Robinson's chances of landing in Charlotte that he couldn't find playing time on the second-worst team in the league. Management made it known the reason was Robinson's poor work ethic, and that won't entice Charlotte, despite the fact Robinson played well there during his first two NBA seasons with the Hornets.

    ''I wouldn't even mind going to the Charlotte expansion team,'' Robinson said recently. ''It's obvious they don't want me here.''

    PORTLAND SPORTS TRIBUNE - April 16, 2004
    For now, Portland is allowed to trade with any team not alive in the playoffs. Barring a trade, seven Blazers seem certain to be protected on June 12, the day the list must be presented. Those players are Zach Randolph, Theo Ratliff, Derek Anderson, Damon Stoudamire, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson.

    There is some thought Portland might not protect Stoudamire, who will have one year left on his contract at $12.5 million. But with the Blazers’ shortage in the backcourt, that is unlikely. The choice for the eighth and final protected spot could come down to veteran center Dale Davis, who has one year left at $10.1 million, and 19-year-old rookie Travis Outlaw. Portland is more likely to protect the 6-9 Outlaw, who played little this season but is someone the Blazers are reluctant to give up on this soon.

    Each team’s strategy will include a guess as to what Charlotte is looking for. The Bobcats — who will have only two-thirds of the salary cap the first season, or about $30 million — probably would pass on a contract as costly as Davis’. In that case, the Blazers wouldn’t lose a player. And if the Bobcats did take Davis, the Blazers would lop a major contract from their payroll.

    Charlotte must take a player from at least 14 of the 29 existing teams. The Bobcats, who will play next season, may select as many as 29 players. Conventional wisdom is that they won’t take many more than 14. A team can lose only one player in the expansion draft. A team with a payroll above the salary cap, such as Portland, will receive a trade exception to replace a player, other than a restricted free agent, who is selected from its unprotected list.

    WASHINGTON TIMES - April 16, 2004
    The Wizards are allowed to protect eight players under contract — including restricted free agent Etan Thomas — for the expansion draft that will populate the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats begin play next season in a new Southeast Division where they will be joined by the Wizards, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat.

    Teams are forbidden to make public the names of the players they plan to expose to the draft. However, it is likely the Wizards will place Christian Laettner, who was suspended this season for failing to comply with the league's drug policy, on the unprotected list.

    BALTIMORE SUN - April 16, 2004
    Among the decisions Ernie Grunfeld and his staff will have to make are whom to leave unprotected in the June expansion draft that will stock the Charlotte Bobcats. Each team can protect eight players, but may lose only one player.

    The Wizards figure to protect Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, Kwame Brown, Jared Jeffries, Jarvis Hayes, Steve Blake and Etan Thomas. That means the team will likely have to decide whether to leave Jerry Stackhouse, Brendan Haywood, forward Christian Laettner or local hero Juan Dixon exposed for the Bobcats to take.

    EVERETT HERALD - April 16, 2004
    What will happen in the upcoming expansion draft?

    The Sonics, who can only lose one player and might not lose any, are allowed to protect eight from being selected by the new Charlotte Bobcats. That does not include unrestricted free agents, which means Brent Barry, Ansu Sesay and Richie Frahm do not have to be protected (only Barry would likely have been protected anyway), assuming they do not sign before the June 22 draft.

    Seattle is likely to protect guards Ray Allen, Antonio Daniels, Luke Ridnour and Ronald Murray, forwards Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic, and centers Vitaly Potapenko and Jerome James. The Sonics will probably protect James instead of forward Reggie Evans because James is a 7-foot-1 center and because he will be a free agent after next season, meaning his approximately $5.5 million salary would come off Seattle's cap.

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS - April 11, 2004
    Kerry Kittles turns 30 on June 12, the same day the Nets are expected to submit their expansion draft to the league with his name on it.

    With the Charlotte Bobcats entering the NBA next season, a Nets source said the franchise's second all-time leading almost certainly will be left unprotected for the June 22 expansion draft. All non-NBA Finals teams must hand in their list 10 days before that draft. However, whether the Bobcats take Kittles remains to be seen.

    "That is part of the business," said Kittles, who was drafted by the Nets in 1996 and has 7,073 points to trail only Buck Williams (10,440) as the franchise's all-time leading scorer. "Teams are going to make decisions. That is not something I can worry about."

    Like every other team, the Nets can protect a maximum of eight non-free-agent players. New Jersey likely will protect Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Aaron Williams, Zoran Planinic, Rodney Rogers and either Lucious Harris or Brian Scalabrine.

    Rogers cannot be left unprotected because he has an opt-out clause in his contract. The only way Rogers, who was born in Durham and played at Wake Forest, could be left unprotected is if he tells the Nets he will not exercise his option to terminate his contract, which will pay him $3.3million next season. It's unlikely Rogers will do so since he has until June30 to make up his mind.

    Besides Kittles, the Nets probably will leave Alonzo Mourning (who despite retiring in November is still on Jersey's injured list) and free agents Brandon Armstrong, Tamar Slay and Hubert Davis unprotected. Kittles ($9.8 million), Harris ($2.6 million) and Scalabrine ($891,000) all are entering the final year of their deals.

    Bobcats GM Bernie Bickerstaff has said that the only veterans he wants are those with one or two years remaining on their contracts. However, Charlotte, which must select at least 14 expansion players, will start with just two-thirds of the league's salary cap (perhaps $31 million). A Bobcats source said the team likely would pass on Kittles because of how much he'll make.

    However, according to expansion rules, teams can entice the Bobcats by offering them draft picks and up to $3 million to select certain players to get them off their cap.

    "I'm not sure what we are going to do," Nets CEO Rod Thorn said regarding protecting players. "You never know what transpires between now and the end of the season, who is going to be hurt, who is not. You look at what you have and who you think might be picked."

    CHICAGO TRIBUNE - April 11, 2004
    The Bulls are hoping the expansion Charlotte Bobcats will take one of their bad contract players— Eddie Robinson, Jerome Williams or Antonio Davis. Expect the Bulls to throw in the maximum $3 million to make it appealing. The Bobcats are said to be leaning toward Chris Jefferies if they select a Bulls player, because he is young and athletic, with a small contract, and that is the type of player they are targeting. Jefferies' Fresno State teammate, Harvey's Melvin Ely, would love to be in Charlotte. He rarely plays for the Clippers.

    LOS ANGELES TIMES - April 11, 2004
    Melvin Ely was so confident that he would be shipped out before the trading deadline in February, as he had requested, that the Clipper reserve packed up his apartment and was ready to move. Two months later, he's still a Clipper — and still packed.

    "I just want to play, so if that means going to another team, that's what I want to do," he said Saturday. "Obviously, I'm not a fit here. God willing, I could be somewhere else next season, start everything brand new … and just try to get onto the court by any means necessary."

    The 6-foot-10 forward-center from Fresno State would love to be taken by the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft in June. The Clippers, who can protect as many as eight players, are expected to leave Ely unprotected.

    "I'd be on the first thing smokin'," he said of the possibility of joining the expansion team that begins play next season.

    But he'd go anywhere. The 12th pick in the 2002 draft, he has played in 41 games this season, making two starts. He averages 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.3 minutes.

    "I'm all for the team thing," he said, "but I still want to get on the court. That's the goal of every basketball player. If somebody tells you they're OK with being a practice player … they don't even need to be in the league. The main reason you play ball is to be on the court when the lights come on. I know I can't play all the minutes, but I want to be somewhere where I can play 15 to 20. I'd just rather go to a place where I can get a chance."

    From their longest winning streak of the season (at precisely the right time) to front-runner status in the Western Conference playoff race to a lineup rotation that, finally, feels as broken-in as an old pair of slippers, the Timberwolves have things going well now.

    No reasons to let something known as the Charlotte Bobcats mess with it.

    The Charlotte expansion draft won't be held until June 22, but it will require the Wolves and the other 28 existing teams to make players available for the fledgling Bobcats. Each club will be permitted to protect eight, but even those with fewer than eight under contract will have to make at least one man available.

    The Wolves figure to be one of those teams, with exactly eight players signed for next season. They are Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Ervin Johnson, Mark Madsen and Ndudi Ebi.

    Troy Hudson holds an option for 2004-05 but is likely to test free agency, and the rest - Gary Trent, Trenton Hassell, Fred Hoiberg, Oliver Miller and Darrick Martin - are wrapping up one-year deals.

    So whom might the Wolves expose? No one is saying, and the decision will be a tricky one. Some teams will try to unload a bloated contract, hoping Charlotte grabs a name player even if he is overpaid. Others might dangle someone with a fat salary assuming that a start-up team won't take older players or won't spend a lot right away. In the Wolves' case, Johnson - due to make nearly $5 million next season - might be left unprotected because the Bobcats aren't likely to build around a 36-year-old center. Johnson is more helpful in a niche role for a winning team than as a heavy-minutes player for a loser.

    If the Wolves really wanted to scare off the Bobcats, they could dangle Sprewell, who is due to make about $14.6 million. But there's a catch: Charlotte could grab a player and trade him, so if one other team might want Sprewell, even at that price, the Wolves might lose him.

    Charlotte is only required to select 14 players, so not every team will lose someone. Also, by the rules, no team can lose more than one player.

    LOS ANGELES TIMES - April 7, 2004
    He opened the season as a starter and, owing mostly to a slew of injuries among his teammates, could end it as a starter too. In between, though, Keyon Dooling fell out of the Clippers' regular rotation and probably out of their plans. The 10th pick in the 2000 draft, the 6-foot-3 guard from Missouri is due to become a restricted free agent July 1. The Clippers aren't expected to bring him back. They considered moving him before the trading deadline, and they almost certainly will leave him unprotected and available to the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft in June. But Dooling remains hopeful.

    "Of course, I want to be here," he said. "But if they want to go in a different direction, that's understandable also…. I just want to get an opportunity to play ball. I would love for it to come in L.A., but if it doesn't, that's just part of the business. A lot of guys have moved on from here and been successful."

    Erratic at point guard, where he opened the season, Dooling has mostly been used as a shooting guard over the last month, during which time he has enjoyed perhaps the most successful stretch of his four-year NBA career. In his last three games before Wednesday, starting alongside veteran point guard Doug Overton, he scored 20, 17 and 18 points.

    Against the Rockets, he was back at the point and struggling again. He failed to score in 31 minutes, missing all six of his shots. The Clippers lost for the 20th time in 22 games, and the Rockets ended a five-game losing streak. Cuttino Mobley and Jim Jackson each scored 21 points for the Rockets, who made 52.6% of their shots, eight of 16 from beyond the three-point arc. Yao Ming had 12 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes, and Steve Francis had 11 assists.

    Of his recent run of strong games, when his playing time increased because of injuries that have sidelined Marko Jaric and Quentin Richardson, Dooling said, "I think it's definitely helped me, as far as my career's concerned. It's kind of been like an audition, letting the Clippers see what I can do and letting other teams see what I can do. Hopefully, somebody likes my game."

    If it's not the Clippers, Dooling will confidently move on.

    "I think the more I play, the more I get comfortable," he said. "I think [the Clippers] see that. If they want to give up on me, that's on them. I can't control that…I've never doubted myself. I know I can play basketball."

    After next week's season finale, he'll pack up his Marina del Rey apartment and move his family — wife Natosha and daughters Deneal, 3, and Gabrielle, 7 months — into the new house they had built in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Over the next few months, he'll try to put on weight, adding strength to help him match up better against bulkier shooting guards.He'll turn 24 on May 8.

    As far as his future is concerned, he said, "I'm just going to let the summer take its course, try not to stress about it."But of course he will."It's a lot of uncertainty," he said.

    DALLAS MORNING NEWS - March 31, 2004
    As bad as things have been for the Mavericks, their attention has not yet turned to next season.

    That's why one recent online report that Antawn Jamison would relocate this summer to his hometown Charlotte Bobcats caught the Mavericks by surprise. That it has virtually no chance of happening made it surprising, too. The most surprised person might have been Bobcats general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff. He cannot talk about players until May 5, but Bickerstaff outlined his strategy for building the Bobcats' roster, and it certainly didn't sound as if the Mavericks' sixth man is in Charlotte's future. The gossip was that the Bobcats would part with their first draft pick, No. 4 overall, and acquire Jamison, who has four more seasons on his contract at a total salary of more than $57 million.

    "Our first pick is very valuable to us," Bickerstaff said. "It would have to be something monumental for us to consider" moving it.

    Bickerstaff also said the team is not interested in a long-term, max- imum salary such as Jamison's.

    "The veterans that we want are guys with one or two years left [on their contracts] who are good in the locker room and can help our young kids," Bickerstaff said. "Our kids are going to be the show."

    Though Jamison, 27, was born and raised in Charlotte and remains heavily involved in the community, his immediate future figures to be in Dallas. "I knew that wasn't going to happen," he said. "That's too much salary [$12.584 million next year] for them."

    He was as good as gone.

    According to league sources, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks were a New York minute away from completing a deal that would have sent Malik Rose to the Big Apple and Kurt Thomas to the summers of South Texas. Before the league could give its approving nod on the swap, the Knicks pulled out.

    Becoming a fan favorite, owning two championship rings and spending countless hours in the community spreading the organization's goodwill did nothing to sway the Spurs. If you are looking for loyalty in the business that is the National Basketball Association, your best bet is to look between the letters K and M in the dictionary. But being counted out is nothing new for Rose. After San Antonio won their first title in 1999, the Spurs went out and signed Samaki Walker in the offseason to fill the role as the team's backup power forward. Although he played key minutes in the championship run, the front office thought that Rose was too small and too emotional to be the fulltime backup.

    Forward to this past offseason after the Spurs' second championship. With David Robinson dropping anchor on his career, the Spurs went out and signed Rasho Nesterovic and Robert Horry. Although he played key minutes in the championship run, the front office thought that Rose was too small and too emotional to be the fulltime backup. Spending much of the early season riding the pine, Rose and Gregg Popovich clashed publicly and behind closed doors. Popovich thought that Rose wasn't listening to coaching. Rose thought that Popovich didn't respect his play.

    Rose's minutes have finally begun to blossom over the last month, where he has averaged 11.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. When Tim Duncan was sidelined with a leg injury, Rose stepped into the starting five and helped keep the boat afloat. As the Spurs head into the playoffs, Rose has again re-emerged as a key component off the bench.

    With a corps of passive players such as Duncan, Nesterovic and Hedo Turkoglu, the team needs a player who is unafraid and willing to put his body on the line. Enter Malik Rose. Rose is a talented player but also a very emotional one. If kept unrestrained, he is prone to taking himself out of the game mentally. He often loses his concentration, caring more about the referees than focusing on the game. Rose needs someone that will keep him walking a straight line. Enter Gregg Popovich.

    The Spurs are poised to make another run deep into the playoffs. Rose will be a vital component, supplying a ferocious will to win off the bench. When this season's trek has ended, whether they've won it all or they've won nothing, the Spurs will see Rose as they've seen him twice before. And when the expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats comes around, the Spurs will undoubtedly leave Rose unprotected. Not only that, they will try to entice Charlotte into selecting him by offering draft picks, cash and whatever else the league allows. The Bobcats won't select him, theorizing that his contract would eat up too much of their limited caproom.

    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - March 22, 2004
    Insiders say the Cavaliers will take a gamble and not protect injury-prone center Zydrunas Ilgauskas in this summer's expansion draft, believing the Charlotte Bobcats will not want to take on his contract, which pays him $14.5 million next season in its last year before he becomes a free agent. But the chance of the Bobcats drafting him, then trading him should give the Cavs second thoughts.

    DALLAS MORNING NEWS - March 13, 2004
    Mavericks forward Antawn Jamison will not be surprised if he winds up with his hometown Charlotte Bobcats this summer. Jamison chuckled when asked if Wednesday's story suggesting he could be dealt to the Bobcats was the first time he has heard that scenario.

    Jamison is well aware that the Bobcats can't count on the same grace period most expansion teams get because of the city's unsavory NBA experience with Shinn. Although a trade could require a third team for completion - to provide Dallas with one or more veterans it likes, as opposed to the No. 4 pick - it's understandable why the Bobcats would consider Jamison an attractive alternative to keeping their first-ever draft selection. Besides his status as a Charlotte native who starred at North Carolina, Jamison sports an exemplary citizenship record and would likely contend for an All-Star spot playing forward in the East.

    The main drawback, from a Bobcats perspective, is Jamison's max contract, as Charlotte would prefer to avoid taking on huge salaries in its first year. The Mavericks, meanwhile, could decide to hang onto Jamison if they can move Antoine Walker in the off-season, when the unhappy Walker - with only one year left on his contract at that point - becomes eminently more tradeable.

    "My main thing right now is concentrating on where I'm at," said Jamison, who has been forced to play through trade rumors almost from the moment he joined the Mavs. "I'm having a good time here (in Dallas). I'm going to the playoffs for the first time, and this is where I want to be. But after the season, we'll just see what presents itself. If I went (home) to Charlotte, I couldn't be disappointed."

    AKRON BEACON JOURNAL - March 7, 2004
    It is not too early to think about the decisions the Cavaliers will have to make in June on which players to protect when the Charlotte Bobcats have their expansion draft. Each team is permitted to protect eight players. At this point, LeBron James, Jeff McInnis, Carlos Boozer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Dajuan Wagner, Tony Battie, DeSagana Diop and Jason Kapono are probably on that list.

    Eric Williams is an unrestricted free agent, so the Cavaliers will probably not protect him and Ira Newble and Kevin Ollie have just started long-term contracts, which might make them less attractive to Charlotte.

    Kedrick Brown, off Silas' depth chart and currently spinning his wheels on the injured list, is a candidate to get plucked. He's athletic and young and has just one year remaining on his contract. The Cavaliers would like to keep him, but he's caught in a logjam at shooting guard.

    DETROIT FREE PRESS - February 4
    The Pistons will lose at least one good player June 22 or 23. That's when the expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats will take place. Teams can protect eight players, and the Bobcats can take any player unprotected.

    If no trades are made or no player is cut, the Pistons likely will protect their starting five of Mehmet Okur, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. Of the reserves, Darvin Ham and Lindsey Hunter will be free agents at the end of the season, and both could be gone. Tremaine Fowlkes and Elden Campbell has had their ups and downs, and if Darko Milicic could play backup center next season, Campbell might be left unprotected.

    Carlos Delfino, playing for Skipper Bologna in Italy, is expected to be on the roster next season, which would put him in the top eight. So the big decision centers around Corliss Williamson and whom the Pistons' pick in the June 24 draft.