Preview - Uros Slokar, Delonte West, Viktor Khryapa

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Today is the deadline for all but the two Finals teams to submit their list of protected players. While the lists are not intended to be made public, things have a way of leaking. As usual, you can expect a few surprises. Also, while the Bobcats have the fourth pick in the first round of the NBA draft, they also have the fourth pick in the second round. Three players that could be available there are Uros Slokar, Delonte West, and Viktor Khryapa.

Delonte West, the backcourt partner of Jameer Nelson for St. Joseph's, is an able ballhandler and shooter, and can play either guard position. He is currently one of the 60 players in the pre-draft camp. Two days ago, he had 10 points, five assists, two steals, and three turnovers in just 20 minutes of action. Unfortunately, he also bruised his right foot and had to miss yesterday's and today's upcoming game. Though he has been listed between 6-3 and 6-4, he was measured at 6-2. He still has the option, at least until next Thursday, to withdraw from the draft. Word is that he may be better served by going back to St. Joe's for a year, play the point guard position, become the Player-of-the-Year, then come out and go in the first round. In other words, do exactly what Jameer Nelson did last year. If he does stay in the draft, he would be a big pickup for Charlotte in the second round.

Uros Slokar is a tall and skinny power forward who has solid fundamentals but is a finesse player, like many Europeans. He can be compared to Pau Gasol in that he's not massively strong but he also doesn't get bullied too easily. Mock drafts have him going as high as 27th or 28th, i.e., one of the last few picks in the first round, or slipping to the top of the second round. He could be available for the Bobcats with their second round pick if he slips enough. His fundamentals appear to be beyond question and he reportedly has perfect form on his jumper, though his range could use some work. An alternative explanation may be that while he has a good shot, he has been taught to play near the basket, so he hasn't started to drift out to the three-point line like many players tend to do. He also seems to be more comfortable facing his defender than backing him down.

Viktor Khryapa is a 6-9 small forward playing on the Russian powerhouse team CSKA. Sound familiar? Khryapa is often compared to Andrei Kirilenko, the current Jazz All-Star who formerly played on CSKA. Viktor is, of course, a fan of Andrei's but wants to be evaluated on his own merits. He enjoys the fast-break style of basketball and would love a chance to prove his worth. One of his best features may be his patience and his decision making. He does not appear to rush shots or take ill-advised shots. He has three-point range and good fundamentals. He is also a quick rotating defender and a good blocker because of his wingspan. In other words, despite all efforts to the contrary, he reminds you a lot of Kirilenko.

The Bobcats schedule will be announced in late July.

144 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.

The Dance Team Finals are Friday at 2pm at Founders Hall. Two hundred applicants have been narrowed down to thirty, and those women will compete to become the first-ever members of the Bobcats dance squad in an event open to the public. The announcement of the 14 winners will be made on-site.


Ray Parrillo ofThe Philadelphia Inquirerwrites: Generally, it seems NBA scouts believe [Delonte] West should follow Nelson's example, return to St. Joe's, and get more experience at point guard because he is considered too short to play the two-guard position... Whatever West decides, though, nothing comes with a guarantee. There are examples of players returning to school only to have their value decline. Othella Harrington's stock dropped when he decided to attend Georgetown rather than come out as a high school senior. On the other hand, Jamaal Magloire saw his stock rise after returning to Kentucky for his senior season.

Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observer writes: Based on his discussions with other general managers, Bickerstaff drew two conclusions: Teams are ready to pay the Bobcats not to take certain players and there will be more restricted free agents made available than Bobcats management once thought... Bickerstaff wouldn't be more specific, but here's a scenario that makes sense: The Indiana Pacers, looking to keep their young talent, leave Reggie Miller unprotected, with a pre-arranged deal paying the Bobcats not to take him. Bickerstaff now believes several teams will leave restricted free agents unprotected. That's valuable to the Bobcats, because taking them counts against the minimum 14 selections without adding a contract to the new team's salary cap. Bickerstaff said ideally the Bobcats would accept no more than 11 contracts through the expansion draft.

Gery WoelfelThe Journal Times Onlinewrites: [Devin] Harris also will work out for the Charlotte Bobcats within the next week. The Bobcats, an expansion team, have the fourth overall pick. When asked if the Bobcats were legitimately considering taking Harris with their pick, general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff said, "Oh, yeah. Definitely."



Dave Del Grande ofThe Oakland Tribune writes: Seven choices for protection are clear: Speedy Claxton, Jason Richardson, Mickael Pietrus, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Clifford Robinson and Erick Dampier. That leaves [Nick] Van Exel and Evan Eschmeyer... How much is it worth to the Warriors to have Van Exel carted away? Their first-round pick in 2005? A first-round pick and $3million? A first-rounder and $6 million? Understandably, the Warriors aren't saying (publicly, anyway). But if Van Exel's name winds up on the unprotected list today (the names won't formally be announced, but they have a way of leaking), you can bet some kind of deal is in place. After all, the last thing the Warriors would want is for Van Exel to find out he was exposed and not selected. He would then return to Oakland knowing he was unwanted.


Frank Hughes ofThe News Tribunewrites: The Sonics likely will protect Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison, Ronald Murray, Antonio Daniels and Reggie Evans, leaving Richie Frahm, Jerome James, Calvin Booth and Vitaly Potapenko exposed.Brent Barry cannot be protected because he is an unrestricted free agent. The Sonics are hoping the Bobcats will take one of their overpaid centers to free cap space and give them more flexibility this summer. It seems unlikely the Bobcats will oblige the Sonics, however; Charlotte management has said it is seeking young, inexpensive players initially so that it can have flexibility. One interesting dynamic though is that the Bobcats are having discussions with many teams about agreeing to take a player as long as they get something of value in return. In Seattle's case, it is possible to offer its first-round draft pick - No. 12 overall - or a future draft pick to entice the Bobcats to take one of the centers.

Danny O'Neil ofThe Seattle Post-Intelligencerwrites: It just takes a little common sense to figure out the Sonics' list. Six players are certain to be protected: guards Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour and Ronald Murray and forwards Rashard Lewis, Nick Collison and Vladimir Radmanovic. The seventh spot likely goes to Antonio Daniels, who has a low salary ($2.2 million) and the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league last season (4.89). The eighth and final Sonic protected probably will be Vitaly Potapenko or Jerome James.Both make about $5 million. Each is entering the final year of his contract. David Bauman, Potapenko's agent, hadn't been told whether Potapenko would be protected. Marc Fleisher, James' agent, didn't return a phone message. Calvin Booth and Reggie Evans likely will be left unprotected. Brent Barry and Ansu Sesay -- both unrestricted free agents -- aren't eligible to be protected or chosen in the expansion draft. Richie Frahm is a restricted free agent eligible to be protected, but it's doubtful he will. If the Bobcats pick him, Frahm will become an unrestricted free agent.


Mark J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: Denver opted out of the final year of the five-year Nugget's contract Thursday with hopes of signing him later. He will not be a candidate for the Nuggets' unprotected list for the June 22 expansion draft for the Charlotte Bobcats, which must be turned in Saturday. The only unprotected player on that list for the Nuggets is expected to be guard Jeff Trepagnier.

Chris Tomasson ofThe Rocky Mountain Newswrites: If [Jeff] Trepagnier, a restricted free agent, is selected by Charlotte, he becomes unrestricted. But he would be unable to sign next season with the Nuggets. Bowen's departure leaves forward Chris Andersen, a restricted free agent after playing three seasons with the team, as Denver's longest-tenured player. The move on Bowen all but assures Andersen will be protected.


Phil Jasner ofThe Philadelphia Daily News writes: King would not discuss specifics of any Sixers list, but here's an educated guess: Protected: Allen Iverson, Eric Snow, John Salmons, Kenny Thomas, Samuel Dalembert, Marc Jackson, Kyle Korver and Willie Green. Exposed: Derrick Coleman, Greg Buckner, Aaron McKie, Glenn Robinson and Todd MacCulloch.Unrestricted free agents Amal McCaskill and Zendon Hamilton cannot be included in either category. The Bobcats would seem unlikely to have interest in Robinson, who is signed for next season at a little more than $12 million. McKie is under contract through 2007-08, at a total of $24.5 million, Buckner is signed through 2007-08 at a total of $12.96 million. Coleman has $6.5 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. MacCulloch, whose career remains in jeopardy because of a foot neuropathy, has more than $19 million coming over the next three seasons; if he were to retire, the team could recoup 80 percent of that via insurance.


Dave D'Alessandro ofThe Newark Star-Ledger writes: As of last night, the Nets were expected to expose Kerry Kittles during the June 22 expansion draft so he could be chosen by the incoming Charlotte Bobcats, while the Knicks were almost certainly going to let Allan Houston be eligible for selection. Houston will not be among the Bobcats' selections, however, because he makes $18 million next season, and Charlotte's inaugural payroll cannot exceed $29 million. Moreover, Charlotte would find it impossible to reroute Houston to a team that really needs him, because no team with cap space will take a chance on a 33-year-old with a bad knee who missed 40 percent of the 2003-04 season.


John Denton ofFlorida Todaywrites: Magic officials would not disclose their list of protected players, but it is believed that guard DeShawn Stevenson and rookies Reece Gaines, Britton Johnson and Zaza Pachulia could be left unprotected. Grant Hill, out most of the last four seasons with a broken left ankle, will likely remain on the Magic's protected list -- the strongest indication yet that the Magic feel he will be healthy enough to play next season.