Tough Williams

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Two players that could be left unprotected by their respective teams are Jerome Williams of the Bulls and Frank Williams of the Knicks. Either Williams would bring immediate toughness to the Bobcats at their positions, and either would be a great sparkplug off the bench.

Jerome Williams will be earning about $6 million per year for the next three years. The self-styled "Junkyard Dog" brings hustle and toughness to every play. He averages about seven rebounds per game and about six points, but is also a terrific defender who gets his hands in the passing lanes. He is ranked fifth in the league with 1.22 steals per turnover. What's most impressive is that he averages about 2.6 offensive rebounds per game: I've long been a believer that offensive rebounds, no matter how seemingly few, add greatly to a team's success. DaDog is an eight-year veteran of three different teams, so he could bring a worldliness to the Bobcats that would help with perspective and scouting future opponents. He is also only 31, so he has a couple of strong years still in him. In fact, his career high in points (30) was set just two years ago, though his career high in rebounds (21) was nearly half a decade ago.

Frank Williams is still on his rookie contract, meaning he will be earning less than $1 million for the next two years before a team option to extend him at a higher price. He was one of the early season surprises for the Knicks but when GM Isiah Thomas started bringing in other point guards such as Moochie Norris from Houston and of course Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway from Phoenix, his minutes and impact dwindled. Though a rookie, he cowers from no one, as he displayed in the playoffs against the Nets: on one play, he tried to draw a charge from Jason Kidd, only to flop to the floor without a whistle. Kidd stepped right next to him and stood there, looming over him, as Williams got up. Williams pushed Kidd away from him and both were called for technicals: Williams for pushing and Kidd for taunting. But the second-year point guard did not back down. He could provide much-needed toughness and stability to the point guard role. He would be a good backup point guard for the Bobcats, ahead of a third-string point guard if he is a high-schooler and behind a starter.

Either way, if the Bulls and/or the Knicks leave these players available, the Bobcats could benefit from their toughness, tenacity, and tenure.

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

147 days until opening night.

Expansion Selection Special LIVE: The Charlotte Bobcats will announce the first players in franchise history in a live television broadcast on WJZY UPN46 on Tuesday, June 22, at 7 p.m. The event will be held at Founders Hall in Center City Charlotte, and the public is invited to attend. If the NBA Finals advance to seven games, the event will be held on Wednesday, June 23.

In related news, the Charlotte Bobcats named Matt Devlin as the team’s first-ever television voice, Bobcats President Ed Tapscott announced yesterday. Devlin will call the action for the Bobcats on the team’s 60 broadcasts on C-SET (Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television) and 15 broadcasts on WJZY UPN46. Devlin’s first official television duty for the team will be to host this Bobcats Expansion Selection Special. For the past three years, Devlin did the TV play-by-play for the Memphis Grizzlies.

This announcement could be more important to some teams than what happens in the draft.


Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: You got the sense Monday that Charlotte Bobcats coach/GM Bernie Bickerstaff didn't run home, kiss the wife, and scream, "Honey, I just found the next great one!"Bickerstaff worked out Duke point guard Chris Duhon for two hours. Afterward, Bickerstaff said with plenty of time and work, Duhon "could probably evolve into a good journeyman basketball player." That likely will be somewhere else. Bickerstaff added he'd prefer using the new team's second-round pick on a big man, rather than a guard.

Adam Thompson ofThe Denver Postwrites: The three Nuggets most likely to be available to Charlotte are Chris Andersen, Ryan Bowen and Jeff Trepagnier.A fourth player, possibly Voshon Lenard, may have to become available if center Marcus Camby does not opt out of his contract to become a free agent before Saturday.

Chris Tomasson ofThe Rocky Mountain News writes: Denver can protect eight, meaning two would have to be made available to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. All but certain to be exposed is Jeff Trepagnier, a restricted free- agent guard. The second player made available could be forward Ryan Bowen, whom the Nuggets hold a $1.4 million team option on for next season. Forward Chris Andersen, soon to be a restricted free agent, is a candidate to be left unprotected. If he is made available and is taken by Charlotte, he becomes unrestricted. But he wouldn't be able to sign with the Nuggets for next season, something that would concern Vandeweghe.

Joe Juliano ofThe Philadelphia Inquirer writes:He [Billy King] said the Sixers were close to finalizing the list of eight players they will protect for the June 22 expansion draft, in which the new Charlotte Bobcats will stock their team."The list changes every day," he said. "I think last week I had a different eight, and it was a different eight the week before. But now we have a pretty good idea." The Sixers must submit their list by Saturday.

Erik Spanberg ofThe Charlotte Business Journalwrites: The Charlotte Bobcats have found their voice -- at least when it comes to TV.The expansion NBA franchise hired former Memphis Grizzlies broadcaster Matt Devlin, naming him the team's play-by-play announcer for all Bobcats telecasts.