Bernie Bickerstaff discusses an expansion
Charlotte selected 10 players who are under contract: Primoz Brezec (Indiana), Predrag Drobnjak (L.A. Clippers), Brandon Hunter (Boston), Jason Kapono (Cleveland), Zaza Pachulia (Orlando), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Utah), Jamal Sampson (L.A. Lakers), Theron Smith (Memphis), Gerald Wallace (Sacramento) and Jahidi White (Phoenix).
The Bobcats also chose restricted free agents Lonny Baxter (Washington), J.R. Bremer (Golden State), Maurice Carter (New Orleans), Desmond Ferguson (Portland), Marcus Fizer (Chicago), Richie Frahm (Seattle), Tamar Slay (New Jersey), Jeff Trepagnier (Denver) and Loren Woods (Miami).
"This is a very exciting time for everyone involved in the birth of this franchise, from community leaders to fans, from our new season ticket holders and business partners to each member of the Bobcats organization," said Bobcats President and Chief Operating Officer Ed Tapscott. "We look forward to the next step in our building process when we make our team's first-ever rookie draft pick on Thursday."
Charlotte acquired the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft for selecting forward Predrag Drobnjak from the Los Angeles Clippers. The team also added a future first-round selection and an undisclosed amount of cash for selecting Jahidi White from Phoenix.
"We are excited about the make up of our first Bobcats roster," said Bobcats General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff. "We feel the fans will appreciate a young, exciting team that will compete hard every night, defend and embrace the team concept. It was also important that we keep an eye firmly focused on the future with a long-term vision that allows for maximum roster flexibility."
Brezec joins the Bobcats from the Indiana Pacers, where he played all three of his NBA seasons. The 7-1, 252-pound center has 62 career games and averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.5 minutes, with 1.6 points and 0.8 rebounds this past season. A native of Slovenia, he was a member of his country’s 22-and-under national team in 1999 and played four seasons for Olimpija Ljubljana. Brezec was originally the 27th overall pick by Indiana in the 2000 NBA Draft.
The Bobcats agreed to select Drobnjak yesterday as part of a trade with the L.A. Clippers that gave the Bobcats the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft in exchange for the fourth and 33rd selections. A 6-11, 272 pound forward, he averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19.9 minutes over 207 career games in two seasons with Seattle and one with the Clippers. The native of Serbia & Montenegro was a member of the Yugoslavian National Team that won the gold medal at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis.
Hunter completed his rookie season with Boston in 2003-04 and averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 minutes in 36 games. The 6-7, 260-pound forward started 12 times and shot .457 from the field in helping the Celtics to a playoff appearance. The 56th overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft scored more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Ohio University, joining NBA players Gary Trent and Ron Harper as the only Mid-American Conference players to achieve the feat.
Kapono finished his rookie season in Cleveland and shot .477 from three-point range and also hit .833 from the foul line. The 6-8, 213-pound forward averaged 3.5 points in his 41 appearances, including three starts, and was drafted with the 31st overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft. While a collegian at UCLA, he finished third on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Don MacLean and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and was the only player in school history to lead the Bruins in scoring in four-straight seasons.
Pachulia spent his rookie season with Orlando and appeared in 59 games. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.3 minutes. Pachulia reached double-figure scoring three times in 2003-04, including a career-high 14 points on Feb. 4, 2004 against Toronto.
Pavlovic played in 79 games for Utah as a rookie and averaged 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 14.5 minutes. The 6-7, 210-pound forward from Serbia & Montenegro was the 19th selection by the Jazz in the 2003 NBA Draft after performing for the Under-20 National Team in his home country.
Sampson is the cousin of former NBA star Ralph Sampson and joins the Bobcats from the L.A. Lakers. The 6-11, 235-pound forward/center began his NBA career with a stint in Milwaukee and played behind All-NBA center Shaquille O’Neal and All-NBA forward Karl Malone this past season and averaged 2.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and .478 from the field in 10 appearances.
Smith played more than any rookie on the Memphis roster this past season, even after missing 53 games with right knee tendinitis. The 6-8, 225-pound forward averaged 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds and earned regular time as the Grizzlies were fighting in the Western Conference playoff race.
Wallace played all three of his NBA seasons in Sacramento and finished second in the NBA Dunk Contest in 2002 to Jason Richardson. In his 138 career games, the 6-7, 215-pound guard averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds and in games he started the Kings had an 8-1 record. He was the 25th overall selection in the 2001 NBA Draft and was the 2000 High School Player of the Year.
In addition to selecting White, the Bobcats receive a future first-round pick that currently belongs to Cleveland. Charlotte will get that selection in the next season that the Cavaliers qualify for the playoffs. White was originally drafted with the 43rd overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by Washington, who was coached then by Bickerstaff. White has played 317 games in a six-year career with averages of 6.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and .524 shooting from the field. The 6-9, 290-pound forward/center is the oldest and most experienced player selected by the Bobcats.
The Bobcats also selected nine players that are restricted free agents entering the 2004-05 season. By the rules of the Expansion Agreement, the restricted free agents will become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Baxter is a two-year NBA player who played 117 career games with Chicago, Toronto and Washington and has career averages of 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. As a collegiate senior, he helped lead Maryland to the 2002 NCAA National Championship, averaging 15.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.97 blocks.
Bremer played in 31 games with Cleveland and five games with Golden State this past season. Not drafted after college, Bremer signed as a free agent with Boston on July 17, 2002 and saw action in 64 games, averaging a career-best 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Carter saw action in 10 NBA games this past season, four with the Los Angeles Lakers and six with New Orleans. A former standout at Louisiana State University, Carter played all four seasons (1995-99) at LSU, averaging 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 108 games. He finished his college career with 1,299 points.
Ferguson appeared in 41 games for Cleveland and seven for Portland this past season. He averaged 1.9 points, 0.6 rebounds in 4.6 minutes over his career. Ferguson played college basketball at Detroit Mercy and scored 1,113 points over his career.
Fizer has played his entire four-year NBA career with Chicago. The fourth overall selection in the 2000 NBA Draft has appeared in 232 NBA games, making 35 starts, and averaged 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists, while shooting .432 from the field.
Frahm became the first Seattle rookie since Xavier McDaniel to score 30 points in a game last season, when he had 31 points on 10-11 shooting on Dec. 20, 2003 against Denver. Not drafted out of college in 2001, Frahm was Gonazaga University’s career leader in three-point field goals made with 280.
Slay was part of New Jersey’s 2002-03 Eastern Conference Champions team that went on to face eventual 2003 league champion San Antonio Spurs. A two-year NBA player, Slay has appeared in 58 career games and 12 postseason contests, all with New Jersey with career averages of 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 7.6 minutes.
Trepagnier is a three-year NBA player who appeared in 174 NBA games with Cleveland (2001-02) and two with Denver. A second round selection (36th overall) in 2001, Trepagnier averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds over his four-year collegiate career at Southern California.
Woods has spent three seasons in the NBA, including two seasons in Minnesota and this past season in Miami. He has appeared in 136 career games and averaged 2.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10.1 minutes. No stranger to the Charlotte region, Woods played two years at Wake Forest University before transferring to Arizona following his sophomore season.