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Monday, June 14, 2004

By Chad Ford

ESPN Insider

NBA teams submitted their lists of unprotected players to the league Friday in anticipation of the Charlotte Bobcats' expansion draft. In an unusual move, the league decided to keep the list confidential and has threatened to fine teams up to $1 million for divulging which players they declined to protect.

Nevertheless, Insider has compiled through team and league sources, as well as player agents, a team-by-team list of players available to the Bobcats. Given the league's veil of secrecy surrounding the unprotected lists, some names could not be confirmed from two independent sources. However, we're confident our list closely resembles the one Bernie Bickerstaff and company will have in front of them June 22.

Each NBA team is allowed to protect up to eight players and must leave at least one unprotected. With unrestricted free agents ineligible for the expansion draft, the number of unprotected players varies from one to seven for each team.

Here's a look at the players sources have indicated are available for the expansion draft. In cases where we have been unable to confirm whether a player is on the list, we note it in the comments:

Key: * = restricted free agent | bold = possible target for the Bobcats

Atlanta Hawks: Alan Henderson, PF

Insider analysis: No real surprise here and no real chance the Bobcats will select Henderson. While his contract does expire after next season, there are better options on the board.

Expansion Draft Rules

# Unrestricted free agents are ineligible for the expansion draft.

# Each team can protect up to eight players. If a team has less than eight players on their roster to protect, they still must leave a minimum of one player unprotected.

# The Bobcats must select a minimum of 14 players and can select a maximum of 29 players overall.

# The Bobcats can only select one player per team.

# The Bobcats are not bound to the salary cap during the draft. They can take on as many contracts as they like. However, once the draft is over, any players that they've drafted and keep count toward their cap (it should come in at around $29 million).

# As long as the Bobcats waive a player drafted in the expansion draft before the first day of the regular season, the player's remaining contract does not count against the Bobcats' salary cap.

# Restricted free agents drafted in the expansion draft automatically become unrestricted free agents.

# Teams are allowed to entice the Bobcats to select players by offering cash, draft picks or agreeing to additional trades in return.

# If a team has a player selected by the Bobcats, the team 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.

Boston Celtics: Chucky Atkins, PG; Ernest Brown*, C; Jumaine Jones, SF; Brandon Hunter, PF; Michael Stewart, C

Insider analysis: Atkins could be a target for the Bobcats. He makes a reasonable amount of money for a starting point guard, and he has only two years remaining on his contract. Hunter also could be an interesting pick here. He played well for Boston last year, and he's young, tough and could get real minutes in Charlotte.

Chicago Bulls: Antonio Davis, C; Ronald Dupree*, SF; Marcus Fizer*, PF; Scottie Pippen, SF; Eddie Robinson, SF; Jerome Williams, PF

Insider analysis: The Bulls loaded their list with untouchables. Fizer is the only one who makes some sense for Charlotte. But remember, because he's a restricted free agent, he becomes unrestricted if the Bobcats draft him. There's no guarantee he'd stick around. Dupree also is a possibility. He's cheap, has great athletic ability and showed some promise last season.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ruben Boumtje Boumtje*, C; Jason Kapono, SF; Ira Newble, SF, Kevin Ollie, PG

Insider analysis: The Cavaliers' two prize free-agent acquisitions last summer are both on the list. The Cavs would love to cut a deal with the Bobcats to take Ollie off their hands. Kapono is a guy the Bobcats will seriously consider drafting. He's one of the better shooters on the board and comes cheap.

Dallas Mavericks: Tariq Abdul Wahad, SF; Tony Delk, PG; Danny Fortson, PF; Antoine Walker, SF/PF

Insider analysis: Walker is an interesting addition to the list. However, because of his huge contract, there's no way Charlotte will draft him unless they have a trade worked out in advance. Everyone else on the list is too expensive and can't really play.

Denver Nuggets: Jeff Trepagnier*, SG

Insider analysis: Trepagnier's agent is already trying to get him a job in Charlotte. He's cheap and young, so you never know.

Detroit Pistons: Elden Campbell, C

Insider analysis: The Pistons don't have to submit their list until the Finals are over; however, Campbell will be the only player included. Look for Detroit to cut a deal to send a a future first-rounder and $3 million in cash to the Bobcats in exchange for drafting Campbell and removing him from the Pistons' cap. That would help Detroit in its efforts to re-sign Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur. With the $3 million, Charlotte's share of Campbell's salary next season would be a palatable $1.4 million. After next season, he comes off the books.

Golden State Warriors: J.R. Bremer*, SG; Evan Eschmeyer, C; Popeye Jones, PF

Insider analysis: Ugh. Pass.

Houston Rockets: Adrian Griffin, SG; Eric Piatkowski, SG; Maurice Taylor, SF/PF

Insider analysis: Taylor is the best player here, but given his contract, there's no way he'll be selected. Piatkowski could be an interesting veteran for the Bobcats to consider. His salary over the next two years is reasonable, he can still shoot it, and he'd be a nice mentor to the young guys they plan to bring aboard.

Indiana Pacers: Primoz Brezec, C; Austin Croshere, Anthony Johnson, PG; James Jones, SF; Scot Pollard, C

Insider analysis: Another interesting list. Brezec is one of the best young centers on the board, and the Pacers are very high on Jones. Both could come cheap.

Los Angeles Clippers: Matt Barnes*, SF; Keyon Dooling*, PG; Predrag Drobnjak, C; Eddie House, SG; Josh Moore*, C

Insider analysis: Dooling is a possibility, but the team will have to deal with him as an unrestricted free agent. No one else on the roster makes much sense.

Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher, PG; Rick Fox, SF; Jamal Sampson, C

Insider analysis: This is a projected list. The Lakers don't have to submit their list until after the Finals. Other possibilities are Devean George and Brian Cook. Fisher could be tempting to the Bobcats -- his salary isn't guaranteed in 2004-'05.

Memphis Grizzlies: Troy Bell, PG; Ryan Humphrey, Dahntay Jones, SG; Bo Outlaw, PF; Theron Smith, SF; Jake Tsakalidis*, C; Lorenzen Wright, PF/C

Insider analysis: The Grizzlies have the best list in the expansion draft. The Bobcats could take any of the players here, but they're allowed to draft only one. Bell could be the starting point guard next season on the expansion team. Outlaw is the type of veteran, an energy guy, who could help the Bobcats' rookies. Smith, who went undrafted last year, has a lot of upside and looked great in the summer league. Bottom line: The Grizzlies are going to lose a player.

Miami Heat: Brian Grant, PF; Eddie Jones, SG; Loren Woods*, C

Insider analysis: The Heat would love for the Bobcats to take Jones off their hands, but there's very little chance given his huge salary over the next three years.

Milwaukee Bucks: Brian Skinner, PF; Erick Strickland, PG/SG

Insider analysis: I'm a little stunned Skinner is on the list considering how well he played in Milwaukee last year. He can opt out of his contract, which means he may be an unrestricted free agent before the draft ever takes place. He has a terrible history of injuries, but given his reasonable salary for only one more year, he's another veteran who'd make a lot of sense in Charlotte.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Ervin Johnson, C

Insider analysis: Johnson is big, but I don't see the Bobcats having a lot of interest. He does have only one year left on his contract. Would the Bobcats draft him, then move him to another team?

New Jersey Nets: Kerry Kittles, SG; Alonzo Mourning, C; Rodney Rogers, SF; Tamar Slay*, SF

Insider analysis: Kittles was a big surprise. There will be a temptation for the Bobcats here. He has only one year at $9.9 million left on his deal. But remember, that's one third of Charlotte's salary cap. Slay is a more likely pick. He's shown some promise over the past two years and comes with a cheap price tag.

New Orleans Hornets: Courtney Alexander*, SG; David Wesley, SG

Insider analysis: Wesley is obviously on the outs in New Orleans. He played in Charlotte before moving to New Orleans, but it's unlikely the Bobcats want the $10 million remaining on his contract.

New York Knicks: Shandon Anderson, SF; Anfernee Hardaway, PG/SG; Allan Houston, SG; Moochie Norris, PG; Cezary Trybanski, C

Insider analysis: How bad is the Knicks' salary cap position? They exposed several of their cheapest players, and they're still so expensive the Bobcats won't be willing to touch them.

Orlando Magic: Reece Gaines, PG; Britton Johnsen*, SF; Zaza Pachulia*, C; DeShawn Stevenson, SG*

Insider analysis: The Magic list will turn some heads. They exposed several of their more interesting young players. Stevenson and Pachulia could get a lot of interest. Pachulia is the best young center available, and Stevenson showed flashes last season that he's finally getting it. Gaines is another possibility. He bombed in Orlando last season, but he still was a top 15 draft pick last year.

Philadelphia 76ers: Greg Buckner, SG; Derrick Coleman, Marc Jackson, C; Todd MacCulloch, C; Aaron McKie, SG/SF

Insider analysis: I think the Sixers can forget about getting any relief here. Their list is almost as bad as the Knicks'.

Phoenix Suns: Howard Eisley, SG; Jahidi White, C

Insider analysis: The Suns will try to entice the Bobcats to take the last year of White's deal. They could offer cash and one of their future first-rounders (perhaps the one owed them by the Cavs) with White. However, they're adamant they won't give up their No. 7 pick just to get White off the books. The Bobcats should be able to move White on to a playoff contender looking for another big.

Blazers: Omar Cook, PG; Dan Dickau, PG; Desmond Ferguson*, SG; Eddie Gill, PG; Ruben Patterson, SF; Vladimir Stepania, C; Qyntel Woods, SG/SF

Insider analysis: The team could have exposed one of their higher-priced players like Damon Stoudamire, Dale Davis or Derek Anderson, but instead it sounds like they're ready to give up on Woods. He's athletic, a big-time scorer, and -- if he can get his off-the-court problems under control -- could be the steal of the expansion draft for Charlotte.

Sacramento Kings: Gerald Wallace, SG/SF

Insider analysis: This came down to a choice between Doug Christie and Wallace. It was unlikely the Bobcats would've swallowed Christie's contract, but the Kings didn't want to risk it. Instead, they decided to expose Wallace, an athletic player who just never panned out in Sacramento. Wallace still has a lot of potential. This is a no-brainer for the Bobcats. Expect them to snatch him up.

San Antonio Spurs: Matt Carroll, SG; Malik Rose, PF; Charlie Ward, PG

Insider analysis: The Spurs would love to dump Rose and his big contract, but right now it's tough to believe the Bobcats would be willing to take on the remaining five years and $34 million. Ward has a $1.1 million player option on his contract. If he opts out, he's off the list.

Seattle SuperSonics: Calvin Booth, C; Richie Frahm*, SG; Jerome James, C; Vitaly Potapenko, C

Insider analysis: James will be a temptation for the Bobcats. He's big, only has one year left on his contract and still has some upside. Are the Bobcats willing to spend the $5.4 million? He may just be a little too expensive for their blood.

Toronto Raptors: Lamond Murray, SF; Jalen Rose, SF; Alvin Williams, PG

Insider analysis: New Raptors GM Rob Bab**** wishes he could get so lucky. Too much money, too little talent for the Bobcats to take anyone on this list.

Utah Jazz: Curtis Borchardt, C; Aleksandar Pavlovic, SG

Insider analysis: To me, Pavlovic is the most shocking name on the entire list. He was Utah's first-round draft pick last season and played very well in the 14 minutes per game Jerry Sloan gave him. The Jazz reportedly were very high on him and easily could have exposed a less valuable player. What gives? Most likely, the Jazz and Bobcats have worked out some sort of deal in which Charlotte will draft Pavlovic, then send Utah something in compensation for making him available.

Washington Wizards: Juan Dixon, PG/SG; Christian Laettner, C; Jerry Stackhouse, SG

Insider analysis: The Wizards are another team that will try to work out a deal with the Bobcats. They don't really need their No. 5 pick and could use the cap space to sign a top-flight free agent. Will they dangle the pick in return for Charlotte taking Stackhouse, who just isn't a good fit in Washington any more? Laettner, who has only one year left on his contract, would be an easier player for the Bobcats to swallow, but the Wizards would be less likely to give up their No. 5 just to clear that contract off the books.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Send him an e-mail here.

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