[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
BUILDING THE BOBCATS: MONEY FOR NOTHIN', PICKS FOR FREE
BY SEAN DEVENEY
The Sporting News
Feb. 9, 2004 10:04 a.m.
The Charlotte Bobcats barely exist. There's a logo, there's a coach and
there sure are T-shirts for sale, but there also is a front office that
operates out of four different locations, not to mention an arena that's
just a few bricks beyond the pile-of-dirt stage (it'll be ready in
2005). If you think that's rough going for a team scheduled to debut in
eight months, consider the Bobcats roster: There isn't one.
That might make the Bobcats a non-entity to most, but around the NBA,
Charlotte's blank roster looms large. It is part threat, part
opportunity and, sometimes, a little of both.
The team's expansion draft is scheduled for June 22, and though the
rulebook governing that draft is thick and packed with lawyerly
obfuscation, the overall guidelines are simple: Teams can protect eight
players but not unrestricted free agents; Charlotte then has its pick of
the unprotected players but can take only one from each team.
The first problem for general managers is obvious. If you have nine
players you'd like to keep, you're going to lose one of them. Or, if
you're Memphis, for example, and have 12 players you'd like to protect,
you're up the river. "That is the price of being deep in an expansion
year," says Pistons president Joe Dumars.
The second problem with expansion is the opposite -- not having enough
players to protect. This is where Charlotte's roster presents an
opportunity, as a dumping ground for bad contracts. Expansion rules
allow the Bobcats to select a player, waive him and have the money taken
off their payroll (they would continue to pay the player, but his salary
would not count against the cap). The idea behind that rule is to give
the Bobcats flexibility. Because Charlotte is forced to pick over the
league's scraps, the team should be able to change its mind without
killing its cap situation. Teams that have only eight players with
contracts heading into next year must protect all eight and have no
opportunity to expose bad contracts.
Take Portland, for example. Entering last week, the Trail Blazers had
nine players with contracts heading into next season. But suppose they
want to expose both Damon Stoudamire and Ruben Patterson, two players
with bad contracts. Because the Blazers must protect eight players, they
would be able to leave only one player unprotected. Perhaps with that
scenario in mind, when the Blazers signed guard Eddie Gill last
Thursday, they included a second year on the deal. Now, with Gill, they
have contracts for 10 players -- and can leave Stoudamire and Patterson
unprotected. Adding a wrinkle to this is that the Bobcats can be bribed.
Expansion rules allow teams to offer the Bobcats draft picks and up to
$3 million to select certain players. In the Portland example, the
Bobcats, theoretically, could draft Patterson, waive him and receive a
pick and cash from Portland.
Bobcats coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff chuckles about the
last-minute haggling by other teams. He has heard rumors about who will
be exposed -- Grant Hill? Antonio Davis? Keith Van Horn? -- but he knows
to pay little attention to February's whispers. In May, Bickerstaff (as
well as team owner Bob Johnson and vice president Ed Tapscott) can begin
negotiating with teams. In the meantime, he says of the rumor mill, "The
skullduggery has begun."
Bickerstaff says the Bobcats' goal is simple: To quickly identify a core
group of players and build from there. He'd like a team that is "good on
chemistry and work ethic" and based on a team-wide system rather than
one player. Charlotte has a five-tiered scouting system, collecting data
on NBA players, minor-league players, college players, high school
players and international players, as well as on different coaches and
systems. So that the Bobcats don't have a huge payroll advantage over
other teams, Charlotte will start with a salary cap that is two-thirds
of the league's cap (about $31 million). The ideal player for the
Bobcats will be young, talented and cheap, but Charlotte certainly will
accept cash and draft picks to select and cut older players that other
teams want to wipe off their books.
"You hear a lot about teams that are going to put only high-priced
players out there," Bickerstaff says. "That's something we have to
consider. We have to consider all scenarios. We don't know what will be
Bickerstaff can speculate on which players will be available, but he
knows that's foolish -- with Charlotte firmly in the minds of personnel
executives, rosters will change, and be shaped, in part by the Bobcats.
That leaves Charlotte in an odd position, with a roster that does not
exist but is affecting every other team.
"I've been in the league for 30 years," says Bickerstaff. "I've gone
into rebuilding situations before, but even with that, you start with
assets. Here, we have no assets."
Which is the Bobcats' biggest asset of all.
Sean Deveney is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at
From: owner-celtics@xxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-celtics@xxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Dan Forant
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 7:22 AM
Can someone explain how the new expansion team comes about?