Slim pickings in the expansion draft

Updated: June 23, 2004, 8:15 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
The Bobcats (finally) are in the house. After a year of planning, scouting and strategizing, the Charlotte Bobcats added the first key pieces of their franchise Tuesday in the NBA expansion draft.

Charlotte actually got a head start Monday night when it shipped its No. 4 and No. 33 picks in the regular draft to the Clippers for the No. 2 pick and Peja Drobnjak. By virtue of the trade, which was completed last night, Drobnjak officially becomes the first Bobcat.

On Thursday, the Bobcats will cap the week with the No. 2 pick. It's no secret Bobcats general manager Bernie Bickerstaff prefers the Magic take Dwight Howard and leave Emeka Okafor for Charlotte. But if Howard falls to them, the Bobcats can live with it.

Tuesday night's expansion draft added seven likely pieces to the Bobcats' puzzle. The team selected 19 players, nine of whom were restricted free agents. Under the rules of the expansion draft, those players now become unrestricted free agents and are free to sign with the team of their choice.

A few other of the expansion picks, including Aleksandar Pavlovic and Zaur Pachulia, will be traded to other teams. Insider reported Tuesday that Pavlovic will be sent to the Cavaliers for a future first-round pick. Bickerstaff mentioned in Tuesday's telecast that Pachulia likely would be moving on, as well.

Several other prominent players, including Drobjnak and Jahidi White, were taken as part of larger deals. The Bobcats received the No. 2 pick in the draft for taking Drobjnak. The team got $3 million in cash and a future first-round pick from the Suns (actually a lottery-protected pick the Cavs owe the Suns) for drafting White. Neither player is expected to be on the Bobcats' roster at the start of the season.

That leaves seven players likely to don those bright orange uniforms. The biggest name on the list was the Kings' Gerald Wallace, who was once pegged as the top high school player in the country. The Cavs Jason Kapono, the Grizzlies Theron Smith and the Celtics' Brandon Hunter are all considered up-and-coming players who could find a future in Charlotte.

Bickerstaff stayed true to his word by not selecting any "big-money players." The Bobcats passed on big names like Antoine Walker, Penny Hardaway, Eddie Jones and Jerry Stackhouse in an effort to conserve cap space.

Here's a look at what they did Tuesday and what it means to the franchise.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer