Jordan acknowledges mistakes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan's résumé as an executive has long been tarnished by the name Kwame Brown, his much-maligned choice with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft when he ran the Washington Wizards.
Seven years later, he now has to live with another failed decision: Adam Morrison, Jordan's first draft pick with the Charlotte Bobcats. After not living up to expectations, Jordan traded the No. 3 overall selection in 2006 to the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend.
In a rare conference call with reporters Tuesday, Jordan owned up to the mistakes, but insisted other moves he's made as managing partner of the Bobcats have positioned the struggling franchise to compete long-term.
"I think we've grown from it. I've grown from it and hopefully down the road when you make a choice, you try to make a better choice," Jordan said from Chicago, where he still lives after winning six NBA titles as a player with the Bulls. "People are going to point out the mistakes. Very rarely do they point out the successes. I understand that. It's part of the game."
Jordan's Bobcats have been the NBA's most active team this season. After luring Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown out of his two-year exile following a bungled season in New York, Jordan has teamed with his tinkering coach to pull off three trades and use a league-high 23 players.
The last deal, sending Morrison and reserve guard Shannon Brown to the Lakers on Saturday for reserve forward Vladimir Radmanovic, was an acknowledgment of error. Months after becoming a part-owner with the final say on basketball decisions, Jordan took Morrison ahead of Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy.
The former Gonzaga star, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, did little with Charlotte and didn't fit into Brown's system.
"Coming off an injury last year, he seemed to have lost his confidence a little bit," Jordan said. "He didn't have the understanding of how Larry expected him to play both offensively and defensively. And I felt like something needed to happen for Adam as well as the organization."
While Morrison joins Kwame Brown as the picks that critics point to and suggest Jordan's a failure as a talent evaluator, Jordan chuckles that little is said about taking point guard D.J. Augustin with the ninth pick in last year's draft. Augustin is having an impressive rookie season.
"It's a gamble," Jordan said. "Even with Kwame Brown. If we don't take Kwame Brown at No. 1, he's going at 2. No matter how you look at it, everybody had him on their radar as being the top pick. We just so happened to be the top pick and we chose him. It didn't pan out and we take the brunt of that. We understand that. It's the risk that you take."
Jordan has put the Bobcats, who have struggled to gain fan support in five losing seasons, through a major makeover.
In December, Charlotte sent top scorer Jason Richardson and reserve forward Jared Dudley to Phoenix for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary. Bell replaced Richardson at shooting guard and Diaw immediately shored up the hole at power forward.
The Morrison trade may not be the final move, as Jordan indicated he wants to obtain another swingman.
And so far, Jordan and Larry Brown have gotten along despite Brown's history of clashing with management and not staying long. Charlotte is Brown's record ninth NBA head coaching job.
"I think Larry has done a great job," Jordan said. "He's come in, he's evaluated, he's tried to fit players within his style. We've had conversations constantly about certain players. And if certain players didn't fit, then we've tried to better the scenario. There have been situations where we didn't agree, but then there are a lot of situations we did."
The Bobcats, 20-31 before facing Washington on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break, are barely on the fringe of playoff contention. Following the Richardson trade, injuries to starters Gerald Wallace and Bell led to a recent five-game losing streak.
But Jordan believes the team is much better, even though the moves brought in longer contracts that could hurt the Bobcats during what's supposed to be a stellar free-agent class in 2010.
"I don't believe stars are going to be moving as rapidly or as often as people may think. That's my opinion," Jordan said. "I'd like to maintain flexibility going into the '10 season. But if we're playing solid basketball and it looks like we're moving in the right direction, I may just want to ride this thing out and see where we go."
Jordan isn't ruling out more deals before the Feb. 19 deadline and will keep an open roster spot for trade flexibility. But he has no interest in going far over the salary cap and paying the luxury tax until "you're talking about us winning the championship."
He said he likes the improvement in point guard Raymond Felton, who's scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, but wouldn't rule out trading him. Though Jordan did say, that's "not what our intent is as of right now."
Injury-plagued Sean May is also in the final year of his deal, and Jordan said other teams have inquired about him.
Jordan, rarely seen or heard from in Charlotte, insisted he's committed to making the Bobcats a winner and would be interested in buying a larger stake in the team.
He also won't shy away from bold moves despite a checkered history.
"Mistakes are going to be made," said Jordan, who turns 46 next week. "A lot of times things don't pan out. D.J. Augustin is panning out. I thought Jared Dudley was a great draft pick. There are a lot of picks that other teams have made, that we have made, that just haven't panned out. It's a gamble sometimes."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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