Kurt Thomas and Gerald Wallace

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Two players that will potentially be left unprotected by their respective teams in the next two weeks for the expansion draft are New York's Kurt Thomas and Sacramento's Gerald Wallace.

Kurt Thomaswas an amazing college star: he was one of only three players in NCAA history to lead Division I in scoring and rebounding. Unfortunately, injuries and the search for the right position kept him from his peak performance until the last couple of years, as he has stepped into more minutes at the center spot with the Knicks. In the past five years, he has become something of an iron man, playing 77 or more games each season. He is a daily double-double threat as he averages double-digit points and about 8 rebounds per game. He pops up on a variety of rebounding lists. He is 18th in the league overall with 6.5 defensive rebounds per game this season. He is 16th overall with 517 total defensive rebounds. And he is 13th overall with 9.7 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes.

He's a solid man to have in the paint. He was re-signed by New York earlier this year in order to make him more attractive trade bait. Teams have long been clamoring for his services but previous Knick management apparently asked too much for him. The two problems, from Charlotte's perspective, may be his long contract (expiring in 2009) and the pinkie surgery he will be undergoing shortly. He will not be able to shoot for about 2-3 months. That limits both his potential contribution to Charlotte, and his potential value as trade bait.

On the other hand, his fiery devotion is unquestioned. When Knicks GM Isiah Thomas brought in Dikembe Mutombo, it was widely considered Kurt Thomas would head to the bench. But Thomas would have none of that and he played himself back into a starting position. In fact, he only came off the bench for five games this season, starting 75 times.

Gerald Wallace, meanwhile, is on the much more attractive rookie contract, expiring next year. He can be valuable trade bait or he can be an immediate and cheap sparkplug for the Bobcats next season. The backup for Sacramento played only 37 games all season and averaged just 9 minutes in the games he did play, but he is an explosive forward who, had he stayed in college, would have just completed his senior year. Is there any doubt Wallace would have been drafted in the top 5 this year? With all the worries about high schoolers and international players with high potential diluting the draft, here is a basketball player that is not only still young and athletic but has played against the best, and on one of the best teams in the world.

Could the Bobcats afford to pass on this opportunity, if the Kings do indeed leave Wallace unprotected?

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

152 days until opening night.

The Bobcats worked outAndre Iguodala and Andris Biedrins, both projected to be top-10 picks at worst. Bobcats GM Bernie Bickerstaff says Biedrins is likely to be a later selection than top-four.

It turns out WFNZ will not be the flagship radio station of the Charlotte Bobcats, according toThe Charlotte Observer. The team is reportedly looking at other AM and FM possibilities.


Jon Wilner ofThe San Jose Mercury-News writes: Projected as a top pick, Stanford forward Josh Childress has decided to forgo his senior season and remain in the NBA draft, according to sources close to Childress."It'll be official any day now," one source said. Childress is projected to go as high as No. 4 overall, to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, for whom he worked out two weeks ago. He is also well regarded by the Washington Wizards, who hold the No. 5 pick. (Washington's general manager, Ernie Grunfeld, is the father of Stanford guard Dan Grunfeld.)

USA Todayran this story attributed to The Associated Press: Chris Monter, an analyst who publishes a draft newsletter five times a year, said he expects Deng to be among the first three players taken in this month's draft. That would put him out of reach of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who have the No. 4 pick.

Rick Bonnel ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: Andre Iguodala has been called the best athlete in this NBA draft. Charlotte Bobcats coach/general manager Bernie Bickerstaff has no dispute with that description after Wednesday's workout.A 6-foot-6 swingman from Arizona, Iguodala wowed the Bobcats with a two-hour display of quickness, speed and explosiveness. All those attributes were expected. The surprise, Bickerstaff said, was Iguodala's jump shot. "He's really started to help himself in this draft. He's athletic and he shot the ball better that we thought" he would, Bickerstaff said. "The thing was, his mechanics were very consistent. "I guarantee you he'll move up in the lottery." Iguodala credited Chicago-based Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's personal trainer, with much of his success. Grover annually trains various draft prospects in preparation for these auditions. Likely lottery picks Dwight Howard and Devin Harris have also worked out at Grover's gym this spring.

Rick Bonnel ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: Bickerstaff confirmed he spoke with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers during the weekend, investigating how the Bobcats might move up to one of the top two picks in the draft. His pitch: Convince the Magic at No. 1 or the Clippers at No. 2 that veterans available in the expansion draft are worth trading down to No. 4... Bickerstaff said Wednesday he was open to the possibility of taking [Dallas] center [Shawn] Bradley if some leverage was involved, either compensation from the Mavs or the chance to trade him on to another team. "I think Shawn Bradley could help some team for 20 minutes" a game, Bickerstaff said.