Expansion Draft Genie Grants Brian Grant

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

He's one of only eight starting centers still playing in the postseason, and he's a big reason his team is even in the playoffs. Yet Brian Grant's large salary means he will likely be left unprotected by the Miami Heat. Conventional wisdom says the Bobcats should pass on his $13mm+ annual salary for the next three years. But Grant is a solid, ironman player, and his expiring contract in the third year come be useful trade bait in a year that the Bobcats would be most looking for a blockbuster trade.

Selected by the Sacramento Kings as the eighth overall pick of the 1994 draft, Grant has gone on to play three years each with the Kings, the Blazers, and the Heat. This season was an uncharacteristic fourth season with the same team, after he was signed by Pat Riley to a huge extension. Of his 10 seasons in the league, he has scored in double figures seven times. He also averages eight rebounds per game over his career.

Interestingly, those numbers have not declined substantially. In fact, two years ago was by many measures his best year, as he averaged a double-double with 10.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, starting all 82 games. He is an iron man, as he always plays through any injuries. Even last night against the Pacers, he downplayed his sprained back and the fact that he was wearing a pad under his uniform the whole game.

He's only 32 years old -- just one day older than Shaq -- and he's got a lot of basketball in him. He's a constant hustler and a surprisingly strong force in the middle for a player of his size. He's only 6-9 but he plays bigger.

If the Bobcats take Grant, they will have him on the books for three years, at more than $13 million per year. Grant has a player option for the third year. The ideal situation for Charlotte is to take players with two years left on the books, because it is only in their third year that Charlotte moves up to the same salary cap as the rest of the league. By that conventional measure, Grant does not fit the mold.

Yet perhaps his big contract can be a benefit. Many trades this season were financially motivated, most notably the Terrell Brandon trade. Brandon's expiring contract made him attractive early in the offseason and he was peddled eventually to Atlanta, where he didn't play a single game.

In two years, just before the start of Grant's third year, Grant will most likely exercise his player option, and have a salary north of $15 million. By that time, many of today's contending teams might be in rebuilding mode; many of today's rebuilding teams may still be rebuilding. There will always be some demand for expiring contracts, especially for players that can still make an impact. Even a contending team like Detroit will go out of its way to acquire an expiring contract and a good player like Rasheed Wallace so it can get some help now as well as financial relief in the summer.

The teams trading away expiring contracts can end up getting solid veterans like Latrell Sprewell or up-and-coming stars like Shareef Abdur-Rahim. It's a great situation to be in.

If the expansion draft genie does grant Charlotte Brian Grant, holding his contract in their hands in two years could turn out to be a dream come true.

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

179 days until opening night.

You can come jam with the NBA and the Bobcats as the NBA Rhythm ‘n Rimstour comes to Uptown Charlotte from May 7-9 for CityFestLive. Meet NBA and WNBA players. Enjoy live musical performances. Compete at one of their two courts, on dunking rims, and in contests. It starts tonight at 5pm.


From a question-and-answer withThe Miami Heraldwriter Ira Winderman yesterday:
Q: When will the expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats take place, and who can we expect to see exposed by the Heat? Alfredo Sans, Miami, FL
A: The expansion draft is scheduled for June 22. The Heat likely will expose Brian Grant. The Bobcats will then look at the $45 million he is due over the next three seasons, gag, and then politely say, 'We'll pass,'as is their right, required to take a single player from only 14 of the 29 existing teams.

Mike DeCourcy ofThe Sporting Newswrites on MSNBC and NBC Sports:Let's say Livingston were to be chosen No. 4 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats. He could thank them, say he's going to Duke for 2004-05 and that he'll sign his rookie contract when that year is up — or maybe after a second college season if he feels it's necessary.NBA rules stipulate that teams hold draft rights to such a player for up until a year after he typically would have entered the draft. For Livingston, that would be through the year 2009. A current college player can't do that. If Duke's Luol Deng is not out by the June 17 deadline to withdraw, his eligibility is gone for good. But Livingston could work out for teams, explain his desire to be selected and still go to Duke for a year or two and see if they bite on that arrangement. It's actually a better deal for the team, which will get a more polished and physically developed Livingston instead of paying him a few million to sit on the injured list.