Well, the provisions of the expansion draft certainly favor the Bobcats... just about anything could happen.
I'd be very surprised if the Orlando Magic didn't give the Bobcats a call. “Hey, Bernie, we're gonna leave Grant Hill off the protected list. If you pick him up in the expansion draft and then cut him, we'll give you $3 million in cash and a first-round draft pick in... let's say 2006.”
So the Bobcats draft Hill and then cut him immediately, removing him from their roster and salary-cap number. The Bobcats would still have to pay him, but there are no salary-cap penalties whatsoever on them. The Magic, in turn, get rid of a bad contract, freeing up cap room for them to sign a quality free-agent.
Or inversely, the Bobcats could shrewdly refuse to make this deal, because it'd give the division-rival Magic the opportunity to improve themselves.
In any event, I'd be surprised if bad contracts aren't picked up a few times by the Bobcats and then immediately released. I wouldn't expect that to happen more than two or three times, though, because the 'Cats still have a team to build, after all.Pacers Ramifications
Regarding how this will affect my Pacers... yikes, we're likely to lose a player who can actually play. Jamison Brewer, Kenny Anderson and Anthony Johnson are unrestricted free-agents after the year's up, so they're not eligible to be protected (or drafted). I'd imagine the Pacers will protect Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley, Reggie Miller, Jeff Foster, Fred Jones, and Johnathan Bender. So that'd leave Austin Croshere, Primoz Brezec, James Jones and Scot Pollard eligible to be picked up in the expansion draft.
Croshere's got a really bad contract, but at the same time he can opt out of his deal at the conclusion of the '04-'05 season. Even then, I can't imagine he necessarily would
do that, because he's certainly not likely to get a better deal. But if he got drafted by the Bobcats, it'd depend on if he was happy with the franchise, and also depend quite a bit on money. Or so one would assume.
Brezec's still got another $3 million due to him from his rookie contract. He's yet to break out in any substantial way, but might very well blossom if given good playing time, even with a bad team.
James Jones' rookie contract expires in '05 at the team's option. He's a minimum-contract player, since he was a second-round draft pick.
Scot Pollard's contract is $30.7 million, expiring in '06.
I think the Bobcats are most likely to take either Jones (a young player who could be due for a breakout sophomore season), Pollard (a hard-nosed player who'll give it his all every night), or Brezec (a really big guy in a conference lacking in really big guys), in that order. I'd be very surprised if they took Croshere, because of his contract. Unless they were to take him and then immediately cut him.
But once a player's taken by the Bobcats in the expansion draft, he cannot return to his original team for a year. As bad as Austin's contract is, I can't imagine the Pacers want to lose him completely-- especially with the way he's stepped up thus far in this year's playoffs.
But anyway... those are my thoughts regarding how the draft may play into the Pacers' future. Right now, though, I'm focusing more attention on the Pacers' immediate
future, beginning with Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat tonight.
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