Basketball

Bobcats pick up options on Morrison, Dudley

Adam Morrison got about $5 million richer Wednesday and – at least by the technicalities of NBA rules – a little easier to trade.

The Charlotte Bobcats exercised contract options for next season on Morrison ($5.257 million) and Jared Dudley ($1.307 million). Had the Bobcats not exercised those options by Oct. 31, both would have become unrestricted free agents in July.

Also, not exercising that option would have given Morrison veto power, should the Bobcats seek to trade him. He is playing under a one-year option, in the third season of his rookie-scale contract.

Under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, a player on a one-year contract loses his Larry Bird rights (allowing a team to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him) if he's traded. Thus, the NBA allows those players to veto trades.

Morrison, the third pick in the 2006 draft, said he wasn't surprised the Bobcats exercised the option, and he won't be surprised if he or another wing player is traded.

“We have a lot of (shooting guards and small forwards) on this team. That's obvious even if you didn't know our team. Just look at the roster,” Morrison said.

“Aside from your contract, there's really not anything you can do about (potential trades). It's a cliché about every sports league, but it is a business. They've got to win and they've got to address the issues.”

One of those issues is the overabundance of jump-shooters and the need for more defenders and big men. The Bobcats made a minor move to address that Wednesday, signing free agent Justin Williams to an nonguaranteed contract.

The Bobcats are taking somewhat of a gamble by picking up Morrison's option, after he missed all last season following knee surgery. General manager Rod Higgins said the NBA's trade rules were not a primary concern in exercising the option.

“That wasn't our mindset in picking it up,” Higgins said. “But if he becomes unrestricted (next summer), then you limit your options.”

It was no surprise the Bobcats exercised the option on Dudley, the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft. He's scrappy, defense-oriented and good at chasing down loose balls. Coach Larry Brown called Dudley the most pleasant surprise on the roster this preseason.

“In summer league, he struggled,” Higgins said of Dudley. “But then he really started working on those things he didn't show (in Las Vegas) and had a good camp.

“You love his instincts for getting his hands on the ball, and he's versatile.”

Dudley said he had a back injury in summer league that limited him. He enjoys playing for Brown, who values smart players as much as superior athletes.

Late Wednesday, the Bobcats auditioned Williams, a 6-foot-10 power forward/center who played parts of the past two seasons with the Sacramento Kings. He was cut last week by the Golden State Warriors.

Bobcats advance scout Brendan O'Connor, a former Kings assistant, recommended Williams to Brown. Williams is an energy player – a decent shot-blocker and offensive rebounder – so he has a chance on a team weak in those areas.

“He's a young, live, active kid. So we'll give him a chance,” said Brown. “It will take a little time because he probably doesn't know what we're doing right now.”

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