Delighting in Detritus

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

For the Hornets, building the future may mean profiting from the past. In our continuing look at potential expansion draft prospects, we look at two minor players involved in the blockbuster Antawn Jamison for Nick Van Exel trade: centers Even Eschmeyer and Danny Fortson. We also look at the Lakers' Derek Fisher, a tough, gritty, defensive and explosive point guard who can't be left open for a millisecond, especially when the game is on the line.

Evan Eschmeyeris a 6-11 center who doesn't shoot three pointers. In today's era of seven footers shooting half-court jumpers, Eschmeyer is a throw-back to the rebounding big man who prefers putback to popouts and setting picks to scoring points. Drafted in 1999's second round by New Jersey, he was traded after two years to Dallas. There, he spent another two years before being thrown in with Nick Van Exel for the deal that brought Antawn Jamison to Texas. Eschmeyer spent the entire season on the injured list, not playing a single minute, after trying to recover from offseason surgery to both knees. At best, Eschmeyer could bring the Bobcats some back-up in the post. He

Derek Fisheris a player loved by Laker fans and feared by Laker-haters. Just when you thought you've found the one guy you can leave open, the one guy not guaranteed a spot in the Hall of Fame someday, the one guy who's not very tall (he's only 6-1), the one guy who wasn't drafted very high (he was taken 24th in 1996), the one guy you think won't burn you -- just then is when Fisher shines. He has an unorthodox yet unblockable shot that involves cocking the ball behind his head. He's a lefty, which has its own advantages: unwary defenders get burned at least once per game, and inbounds passes from the left side can be more effective from a southpaw than a regular right-handed player. Fisher is also one of the best defenders on the Laker squad. He is third in the league overall in steals per turnover and sixth overall in steals per 48 minutes. He won't get you 10 assists a game like Jason Kidd but he will distribute the ball and score whenever he's open, as well as apply pressure to the opposing point guard. Best of all, he would be a great mentor to any young point guard the Bobcats may want to draft out of high school or college to build their team around. He has appeared in 101 playoff games, starting in 68 of them. It's not easy to find that kind of experience. The Bobcats would be wise to take a solid look at Fisher.

Danny Fortsonwas part of the return package accompanying Antawn Jamison in exchange for Eschmeyer, Van Exel, and others. At 6-8, he's a relatively short center but he's a wide-body, what Celtics GM Danny Ainge would call "a space eater." For the early part of Dallas's season, Fortson was their man in the middle, until towards the end, head coach Don Nelson abandoned any pretext of playing orthodox basketball and went fully into small ball, with the even smaller Antoine Walker at center. Yet Fortson should not be overlooked so quickly just because of his height, and just because he couldn't find a way to prove he belongs even on a small team. Playing an average of 20 minutes a game over his career, he has nearly averaged a double-double, with 8.9 points and 8 rebounds per game, on average over his seven-year career. Double his playing time to starter minutes of up to 40 minutes per game, and he could be not only the rebounding champion but a solid force in the middle. Everyone has a history of injuries, and Fortson is no exception, but if Dallas leaves him unprotected, Charlotte may enjoy his services. He could also teach the young Bobcats a thing or two about toughness.

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

182 days until opening night.

From an NBA press release:
Key upcoming milestones for the Charlotte Bobcats franchise include:
o June 22, 2004 - The Bobcats will select at least 14 players from the other 29 NBA teams in the NBA Expansion Draft...
o June 24, 2004 - The Bobcats have the fourth overall pick, and also the fourth pick in the second round (33rd overall pick)...
o August 2004 - The Bobcats will unveil the team's uniforms featuring orange as the primary color, making them the first team in the NBA to wear orange for their primary road uniforms...
o October 2004 - C-SET (Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television)... will launch round-the-clock sports and entertainment programming, including up to 60 Bobcats games per season...
o November 2004 -- The Bobcats will tip off its inaugural season at the Charlotte Coliseum...
o November 2005 - The Bobcats will begin play in a new, state-of-the-art arena currently under construction in the center of Charlotte's business district. The arena will seat 18,500 for basketball games.


Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: For Bernie Bickerstaff, the past seven months have been something like sitting at the little kids' table for Thanksgiving dinner.He was an NBA general manager again, and yet he wasn't. He could scout, but he couldn't trade. He could study free-agent lists deep into the night, but he couldn't phone an agent to check availability. Finally Monday, Bickerstaff moved to the grown-up table with the other 29 GMs after Bobcats owner Bob Johnson completed his purchase of the expansion team. "Free at last," Bickerstaff joked after the $300 million transaction closed late Monday. "Free... at... last!"

The NBA released the following statement: The Charlotte Bobcats today officially joined the National Basketball Association upon final payment of its franchise fee, it was announced today by NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Bobcats become the league's 30th team and will begin play next season.