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Bobcats like No. 2, but will listen to all offers

June 27, 2012

CHARLOTTE — General manager Rich Cho says it will take "something enticing" for the Bobcats to trade away the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft.

Cho won't say exactly what that entails.

For now the Bobcats haven't received a tantalizing enough offer and still own the rights to the No. 2 pick, although that could certainly change before the start of Thursday night's NBA draft.

Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and Cho went out of their way at Wednesday's pre-draft press conference to say they're excited about who they might get at No. 2, but the reality is they're still very much open for business.

"We've had a ton interest from across the league in the second pick," said Higgins, who refused to name any potential trade partners. "We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't listen and find alternative ways to try to help our ball club."

They did that Tuesday night via trade.

The Bobcats dealt veteran small forward Corey Maggette to the Detroit Pistons for shooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft pick. The first-round pick gives the Bobcats a valuable asset down the road and Gordon gives the team a legitimate outside shooter following a season in which Charlotte finished last in the league in 3-point shooting (29.5 percent).

Gordon is 12th among active NBA players in career 3-point shooting percentage at 40.6 percent.

Higgins said he spoke to Gordon after the deal was completed and he was "very excited" about coming to Charlotte.

"He wants to come in and help us win games," Higgins said.

The Gordon trade is the first step in a major roster overhaul the next two years.

The Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history this past season and the pressure is on to make good decisions after a variety of poor trades and draft picks in recent years that have left fans disgruntled.

The decision to draft Gonzaga star Adam Morrison with the third overall pick in 2006 proved to be a disaster and trading for Tyrus Thomas hasn't panned out either.

The Bobcats look to change that tide this year.

"We have a lot of cap room this summer and more cap room in 2013," Cho said. "We acquired a really valuable asset with the (Pistons') first-round pick — especially with the protection involved — that we can use down the road or in a trade. And we added a scorer and a shooter and consummate professional in Ben that we're excited about."

On the flip side, the loss of Maggette leaves the Bobcats with a gaping hole at the No. 3 spot as Derrick Brown is the only player on the roster who really fits that role.

That doesn't mean the Bobcats will be more inclined to use the No. 2 pick on a small forward, Cho said.

Cho lives by the philosophy of "draft talent and trade for need," meaning the Bobcats could still fill the small forward position in free agency or via trade.

They're expected to have about $20 million in salary cap space this summer and could create even more if they decided to use the amnesty tag on Thomas or center Boris Diaw.

Thomas is due to make $26 million over the next three seasons. Diaw has one year left on his contract at $7.4 million.

Cho's philosophy means the Bobcats will draft "the best player available" regardless of who's on the roster.

Higgins said drafting a small forward simply because that is the team's most glaring need right now would be "shortsighted."

"You have to look at all things considered, and the draft is just the next order of business in terms of building your team," Higgins said. "You also have the ability to trade and free agency is right around the corner where you can upgrade, too."

In the meantime, the Bobcats are happy about the acquisition of Gordon despite having to take on the final two years of his salary, which includes $13 million in 2013-14.

Since averaging 20.7 points per game in his final year with the Chicago Bulls four years ago, Gordon's production has dropped off significantly. In the past three seasons in Detroit he's averaged 13.8, 11.2 and 12.5 points per game.

"Sometimes guys need a change of scenery," Cho said. "I don't think his work ethic has wavered. He shot the ball well last year on 3's. He's coming into a good situation and he's excited about the new opportunity."

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