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Few veterans chosen by Charlotte

6/23/2004 - Charlotte Bobcats

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Don't get too attached to the 19 players
the Charlotte Bobcats picked in the NBA expansion draft: The team
expects less than half of them to make it to the first training
camp.

The Bobcats stocked their roster with a mix of young players
Tuesday night short on name recognition, but rich in potential.

Jason Kapono of Cleveland, Gerald Wallace of Sacramento, Tamar
Slay of New Jersey and Jamal Sampson could all make the team. Too
bad the 500 or so fans who turned out for the selection show had
never heard of them.

"What we want is players who need an opportunity to show they
can play. Players talk all the time, they want PT -- playing time --
and they want to know their role. We can guarantee both," general
manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.

Nine of the selections are restricted free agents, meaning they
automatically become unrestricted free agents and can negotiate
with every NBA team except the ones that left them unprotected.

That's bad news for the handful of fans in the crowd of 500 who
cheered the selection of Marcus Fizer of Chicago.

But Jahidi White of Phoenix and Wallace -- the only other players
to draw any sort of fan response -- should show up in Bobcats orange
this fall. The Suns gave Charlotte $3 million and a future
first-round pick to take White. The six-year veteran will have the
highest salary of any Bobcats player, $5.88 million.

Although some players might be reluctant to join an expansion
team, Kapono was not.

Kapono, who Bickerstaff picked despite "incentive offers" from
Cleveland not to choose him, was thrilled to be coming to
Charlotte.

"I am really excited to be joining a new franchise where
everybody is going to start on the same level and everyone will
have the same chance," he told The Associated Press by telephone
from California. "The only thing I am anxious about is the
three-hour plane ride to Charlotte because I can't wait to get
there."

White, Fizer, Wallace of Sacramento and Predrag Drobnjak of the
Los Angeles Clippers were the most experienced players among the
Bobcats' selections from the other 29 NBA franchises.

The Bobcats also selected Utah guard Aleksandar Pavlovic, who
will be dealt to Cleveland for a future first-round draft pick.
Pavlovic will give the Cavs a shooter to replace Kapono, who was
one of just four guards chosen by the Bobcats.

A big name will be added in Thursday night's NBA draft when the
Bobcats select either Emeka Okafor or high school phenom Dwight
Howard.

Charlotte traded the No. 4 pick to the Clippers to move up and
make a run at Okafor.

Other selections were Indiana center Primoz Brezec, Boston forward Brandon Hunter, Memphis
forward Theron Smith and Orlando
forward Zaza Pachulia.

The Bobcats turned around Wednesday and sent Pachulia to the Milwaukee Bucks for a second-round pick in Thursday's draft. Pachulia, who is 6-foot-11 and was selected by Orlando as the 42nd pick in the 2003 draft, averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds last season for the Magic.

"We think this young man is the sleeper of this selection,"
Bickerstaff said of Smith, who appeared in 20 games for Memphis
last season and averaged 2.2 points.

Each NBA team could protect up to eight players, but had to make
at least one player available if they couldn't make eight
available.

The restricted free agents selected by the Bobcats included
Seattle guard Richie Frahm, Miami center Loren Woods, forward Slay,
Nuggets guard Jeff Trepagnier, Washington forward Lonnie Baxter,
Golden State guard J.R. Bremer, Fizer, New Orleans guard Maurice
Carter and Portland swingman Desmond Ferguson.

One glaring omission from the expansion draft was a point guard,
which Bickerstaff said he'd try to get through free agency.

"We must find a point guard," Bickerstaff said. "We would
look for a veteran point guard to mentor the younger guys, but it
is the young guys' game. A veteran will be here to give us respect
with the referees and professionalism in the locker room."