Expanding and contracting

Originally Published: June 15, 2004
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Draft day is now a week away for the Charlotte Bobcats. Having a coach, GM and a bright orange logo is nice. But nothing really happens until a few living, breathing players show up on the roster.

Knowing the parameters Charlotte general manager and head coach Bernie Bickerstaff has given himself, and taking into consideration who will be available, what might the expansion draft look like a week from today?

The Bobcats obviously are playing their cards close to the vest, but Insider, drawing on several interviews with Bickerstaff and other GMs around the league, will make its projection.

First, Bickerstaff made it clear the team is looking for young, athletic players. It will shy away from veterans in the expansion draft, especially those with huge contracts. While the team could nab big names such as Antoine Walker, Penny Hardaway, Eddie Jones and Jerry Stackhouse, Bickerstaff has been clear over the past few months that the Bobcats will only spend that kind of money on a player who "makes a real difference." None of the high-priced veterans on the unprotected list would qualify as "difference-makers" by any stretch of the definition.

That means the Bobcats are going to be looking for deals that land them draft picks, young players with a chance to develop, and/or players with low-priced contracts or team options whom Charlotte can clear off the books quickly to make room for free agency.

Before we begin, just a quick reminder on the rules of the expansion draft:

  • Unrestricted free agents are ineligible for the expansion draft.
  • Each team can protect up to eight players. A team with fewer than eight players on its roster to protect (because of free agents) still must leave at least one player unprotected.
  • The Bobcats must select a minimum of 14 players and can select a maximum of 29 overall.
  • The Bobcats can select only one player from any single NBA team.
  • The Bobcats are not bound to the salary cap during the draft. They can take on as many contracts as they choose. However, once the draft is over, any players they've drafted and keep on the roster will count toward their cap (which should be around $29.5 million next season, 66 percent of the full cap number).
  • If the Bobcats waive a player selected in the expansion draft before the first day of the regular season, the player's remaining contract will not count against the team's salary cap.
  • Restricted free agents selected in the expansion draft automatically become unrestricted free agents.
  • Teams are allowed to entice the Bobcats to select players by offering cash (up to $3 million), draft picks or agreeing to additional trades in return.
  • If a team has a player selected by the Bobcats, it receives a trade exception equal to the player's 2004-'05 salary. This allows teams to replace a player lost in the expansion draft with another player of comparable salary.

    Here's Insider's take on what might occur next Tuesday.

    Chad Ford

    ESPN Senior Writer