Charlotte Bobcats executives Rod Higgins and Rich Cho say theres a ton of interest in their No. 2 overall pick, but it would take something really enticing to trade back.
Were these guys looking to drive up trade value? Were they lowering fan expectation of a deal happening? Perhaps a little of both, as the Bobcats enter tonights NBA draft.
Since its a foregone conclusion the New Orleans Hornets will choose Kentuckys Anthony Davis No.1 overall, the Bobcats control this draft. If they dont deal, they could go a variety of ways at No. 2: Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson, Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal and small forwards Harrison Barnes of North Carolina and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky all deserve consideration.
Theres been widespread speculation about a trade down, since theres not a great difference between the player youd get selecting second, third or fourth. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the fourth and 24th picks tonight, so they conceivably have the pieces to make an offer to the Bobcats.
Higgins, the teams president of basketball operations, and general manager Cho wouldnt address specific rumors circulating the league, such as Clevelands interest or whether theyre asking teams to take on forward Tyrus Thomas contract as a pre-condition to drafting second.
But they certainly didnt sound unreceptive to offers.
Theres a ton of interest in No. 2 across the league, Higgins said at a media availability Wednesday. We wouldnt be doing our jobs if we didnt listen.
Higgins and Cho have been searching for ways to add future assets. They found one Tuesday evening when they traded small forward Corey Maggette to the Detroit Pistons for combo guard Ben Gordon and a first-round pick theyll receive sometime between 2013 and 2016.
That pick, which has declining protection for the Pistons year-by-year, figures to balance off the first-rounder the Bobcats still owe the Chicago Bulls from the trade that brought Thomas to Charlotte. The Bobcats now have a wealth of guards and a hole at small forward, but Higgins and Cho said that wouldnt decide who they select in the first round.
Translation: Gordons presence doesnt eliminate Beal as an option and Maggettes departure doesnt lock them into drafting Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist.
Higgins said it would be shortsighted to think anything except drafting the best player available at No. 2. He noted there are other avenues trades or free-agency to find a small forward if they dont draft one tonight.
The Bobcats added about $15 million to their payroll over the next two seasons by exchanging Maggettes contract for Gordons. This was about more than a future first-round pick. Gordon is a career 41 percent 3-point shooter, and new Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap has said improving the teams 3-point accuracy was his top priority.
The Bobcats were last in the league in 3-point percentage last season at 29.5 percent.
Cho and Higgins both praised Gordon, who can play some at shooting guard and some at point guard. Cho described Gordon as a big-time worker who will mesh well with Mike Dunlaps plan.
Higgins recalled a pre-draft workout Gordon performed in 2004 that Higgins and Cho both attended.
That was the best workout Id ever seen from a college player, Higgins recalled. He was very focused and on his shots. I mean, no-rim (swishes). Hes a pretty special shooter.