CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With a revamped front office and a roster in need of upgrades, Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats have a message for the rest of the NBA.
Anyone want to deal?
Holding the ninth and 19 picks in Thursday's NBA draft, the Bobcats are considering a variety of options to jump-start their rebuilding process. They've discussed packaging both picks to move up in the draft. They'll consider trading one of the picks for a veteran. And nearly every player on the roster is available in a larger deal for the right price.
Rod Higgins, recently promoted to president of basketball operations, said Wednesday he and new general manager Rich Cho have been "constantly on the phones" looking to swing deals.
"Rich and I are talking to every team around the league," Higgins said. "We're trying to gauge interest in our team as well as seeing what's there in terms of the draft, in terms of different players on different rosters.
"We'll be prepared to take our picks (Thursday) or who knows?"
Jordan, gearing up for his sixth draft with the Bobcats and his second since becoming majority owner, attended Wednesday's final player audition that included second visits by Florida State forward Chris Singleton, Kansas forward Marcus Morris and Texas guard Jordan Hamilton.
Also on hand was Bismack Biyombo, a shot-blocking forward from Congo who has played professionally in Spain.
"The day before the draft, I feel like they're probably going to choose between the guys that are here," Morris said. "Hopefully, they choose me."
It may not be that easy. While Higgins said they've narrowed their choice to between four and six players with the ninth choice, they may not keep that selection. Higgins acknowledged they've discussed deals in which they would give up the pick to acquire a veteran.
"Obviously, a starter," Higgins said. "Probably somewhere between the 22- to 25-year-old range, where he has an upside and he can be with your team for quite a long time."
After trading Gerald Wallace to Portland in February for two first-round picks that also created needed salary-cap space, the Bobcats have made it clear they're ready to remake the roster. They have plenty of holes, from no healthy center signed for next season, to lack of depth at shooting guard and small forward.
Starters such as Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw could be on the move. Higgins has also said teams have inquired about the ninth, 19th and 39th picks.
"Now it's up to us figure out what's real and what's not real," Higgins said.
At stake is the future of a team that's struggled to win and create an identity with Jordan in charge.
The expansion franchise has made the playoffs just once in its seven years and has never won a postseason game. Charlotte went 34-48 in a 2010-11 season that saw Jordan fire coach Larry Brown and bring in Paul Silas.
Jordan then last week hired Cho, recently fired as GM of the Trail Blazers, to work with Higgins. Jordan then makes the final call on all moves.
"Rich and I have had an opportunity to have great synergy on the short term," Higgins said.
If deals are scarce amid uncertainty with no long-term collective bargaining agreement, Wednesday's workout could signal Charlotte's moves. Silas said the 6-foot-9 Morris, a candidate at No. 9, performed better in his second workout in Charlotte than the first. Silas added he has fewer concerns now about him playing small forward.
Silas has raved about Singleton's defense. The 18-year-old Biyombo would provide needed shot-blocking, athleticism and rebounding, even though he acknowledged, "My offensive game is not the best."
"If he's there, that would be an interesting opportunity for us," Higgins said of Biyombo.
Colorado guard Alec Burks, Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker and power forward Tristan Thompson of Texas all worked out for Charlotte and also could be candidates at No. 9. Providence guard Marshon Brooks and Morehead State power forward Kenneth Faried are among a large group possible to go No. 19.Comment on this story
But about the only thing that is certain is the Bobcats will have at least one first-round pick. That's because NBA rules bar teams from sitting out the first round in consecutive years. Charlotte had no picks a year ago.
"It's going to be exciting," Silas said. "We're going to have to come up with some answers."
Notes: Bobcats G Gerald Henderson was still on crutches Wednesday following hip surgery in May. Henderson, who said he'll rehab at Duke if there's a lockout, said he still hopes to be ready for the start of training camp in the fall. ... Higgins said they'll wait until after the draft to decide whether to make a qualifying offer to F Dante Cunningham to make him a restricted free agent.
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