Othella Harrington's Revenge

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Othella Harrington is a Knick in name only. Harrington was left off of New York's playoff roster and will probably be unprotected in the expansion draft; if the Bobcats don't pick him up, he is likely to be either traded or released, according to published reports. This doesn't sit well with Harrington at all. "Revenge," he recently toldThe New York Daily News, "is best served cold." Could the Bobcats use a cold-blooded defensive and rebounding machine with a nice hook shot?

Harrington was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the 1996 draft, and spent his first three seasons there before being sent to the Vancouver Grizzlies as part of a huge deal that made Steve Francis a Rocket. His one and a half seasons with the Grizzlies were his best ever, as he averaged more than 10 points per game and nearly seven rebounds. But he was traded once more, and ended up a Knick where he has played the last four seasons.

As a Knick, his minutes stayed at about 20-25 per game throughout his career, except in Vancouver where he started and played about 30 minutes. Other than that brief time, Harrington has been a career backup at power forward and center.

He's an undersized center, standing 6-9, and he's not the most versatile of power forwards. He's a tweener and a hard worker in the mold of Kelvin Cato or Danny Fortson. He bangs for rebounds and plays good defense, but he's not going to be launching fadeaway jump shots. He's just not going to be an offensive force.

However, he is available, and he is not extremely expensive, and his contract expires next year. He will be earning $3.125 million next season before becoming a free agent in the summer of 2005.

Perhaps the Bobcats could work a deal with the Knicks. If New York is really willing to release him, assuming they can't find a trade partner, that means they are willing to pay the $3 million and get nothing in return except the expiring contract. Perhaps they'd be willing to pay the Bobcats a million or two right now to get his contract off the books immediately?

Not much attention is often paid to the fact that teams can pay up to $3 million and/or give up draft picks to Charlotte in exchange for their promise to select or not select a particular unprotected player. But a million here and a million there adds up: perhaps the Bobcats can pick up Harrington for essentially the veteran's minimum in net pay, or maybe even slightly less if they can negotiate nearly $3 million in payment from New York. Then they will have a serviceable backup to whatever young star of a power forward/center they draft or select, and an expiring contract.

The expiring contract could be traded midseason to whatever team is looking for some cap relief. Like we saw this season, the best laid plans can easily get turned about after some losses, and teams will often emerge that are looking to cut costs.

Perhaps the best and coldest revenge Harrington will be able to deliver is to get the Knicks to pay the Bobcats to take on his contract. It might not be the satisfying vengeance he is looking for, but it might just be his best professional move. And who knows? If the young-uns don't work out, Harrington could work his way into the starting lineup once again.

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

176 days until opening night.

The Charlotte Observer notes: Charlotte Bobcats senior vice president Steve Swetoha will speak at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce's PowerLuncheon on Thursday. Swetoha, vice president of business operations, will give an update on the new NBA team.The lunch begins at 11:45 a.m. at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville. Cost is $14 in advance. Reservations: (704) 892-1922.


Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: The Hornets have made many mistakes in recent years by moving to New Orleans from Charlotte, N.C., firing coach Paul Silas and hiring coach Tim Floyd.

Sam Smith ofThe Chicago Tribunewrites: With Tim Floyd and Terry Stotts ousted last week, Charlotte's Bernie Bickerstaff now has the sixth-longest tenure of Eastern Conference coaches.And the Bobcats haven't played a game yet.

Howie Paul Hartnett ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: The accomplishments of Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson began in county fair latrines.Cleaning those filthy stalls as a youth taught the future billionaire the value of hard work. And above all else, hard work is what leads to success, he told more than 240 Johnson C. Smith University graduates gathered before him inside Cricket Arena Sunday.

Ken Rosenthal ofThe Sporting News writes: Virgin territory is much more appealing, which is why places such as Norfolk, Va., and Monterrey, Mexico, are drawing interest from MLB. Norfolk, home of the nation's largest naval base, is mildly intriguing, especially if the NBA Charlotte Bobcats' Robert Johnson, the first African-American majority owner in big-time pro sports, accepts a financial stake in the franchise.Norfolk organizers are talking with high-ranking admirals about Navy tie-ins, and they envision a television package similar to the Yankees' YES network - one that could take in 10 million households in Virginia and North Carolina. A Vegas franchise makes more sense.

John Reid ofThe New Orleans Times-Picayune writes: Davis, Brown and Magloire are expected to return, but Mashburn is a likely choice to be traded. And Wesley could be the team's designated player left unprotected for next month's expansion draft and claimed by the Charlotte Bobcats, who start play next season. Wesley has two years remaining on his contract that pays him $4.4 million next season and $4.9 million in 2005-06.

The Salt Lake Tribunewrites: Apparently, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats are not interested in using the No. 4 pick in the draft on a high school player.Team officials think even one year of college experience will help a youngster withstand the pressure of being the franchise's first building block. As a result, players such as St. Joe's Jameer Nelson, Wisconsin's Devin Harris, UConn's Ben Gordon and even Duke freshman Luol Deng are more intriguing to the Bobcats than high schoolers such as Shaun Livingston or Josh Smith.

Mikie Bianchi ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: Sure, on the surface, it looks as if the Magic are trying to ditch Hill and his wasted $14.4 million annual salary. That's what the Magic want the Bobcats to think. What the Magic really are doing is leaving Hill unprotected so they can shelter their valuable young talent such as , um, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines. Magic General Manager John Weisbrod is playing a chess game here against Bobcats GM Bernie Bickerstaff. Weisbrod is Bobby Fischer; Bickerstaff is Bobby Labonte.That's why we have to keep this a secret and let Bickerstaff go on thinking Hill is damaged goods.