Bobcats jockeying for Okafor or Howard
The Charlotte Bobcats have made their first major trade as a franchise.
The trade puts the Bobcats in the position to take one of the two players they covet most in the draft -- Emeka Okafor or Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic hold the first selection and still have not decided whether to select Okafor or Howard.
"We would be pleased starting our basketball team with either one of those young men," Bobcats coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They represent what we would like to become in terms of character, competitiveness and talent."
The Clippers are already loaded at the power forward position and wanted to move down in the draft to select a point guard. The Clippers have been looking at several point guards, including Ben Gordon, Devin Harris and Shaun Livingston, with one source in Los Angeles claiming that Gordon likely would be their selection.
"We will get the player we want with the fourth pick, and it improves our salary cap flexibility with regard to potential free agents," Los Angeles general manager Elgin Baylor said. "We didn't say who we'd pick. We won't disclose that until draft day."
Orlando also is listening to trade offers for Tracy McGrady, and a reported deal with Houston involving Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and others could be contingent on whether the Bobcats select any of the unprotected players included in the proposed deal.
Moving Drobjnak to the Bobcats would clear an additional $2.6 million off the Clippers' payroll, and with the additional savings from trading down in the draft, the Clippers could have in excess of $13 million in cap room this summer. Drobjnak will become the first player on the Bobcats' roster.
The Atlanta Hawks also were trying to pry the No. 2 pick away from the Clippers. They offered both of their first-round picks to L.A., but the Clippers were concerned that the player they wanted might not be on the board at No. 6.
Charlotte will select 14 players from existing NBA rosters in the expansion draft, although the Bobcats expect to choose only a few players who will end up on their opening-night roster.
Bickerstaff also said he expects to make three or four trades before this week is over.
"There's not a lot, but we do have some things on the bubble and we'll work diligently to try to bring a couple more to fruition," he said.
Drobnjak, a three-year NBA veteran, averaged 6.3 points and 3.2 rebounds last season for the Clippers, who acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal with Seattle during training camp. He has one guaranteed season remaining on his contract for approximately $2.8 million.
"Peja is thrilled about being the first member of the Bobcats," Drobjnak's agent, David Bauman, told ESPN Insider Chad Ford.
Said Bickerstaff: "He'll get an opportunity. He's a big body, he can shoot the basketball. We'll be pulling for him to succeed."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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