Ely and House Join Drobnjak on the Charlotte... Clippers?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Though the trade of Shaquille O'Neal has been described as seismic, Kobe Bryant's situation in LA is also causing monsoons of his own. In the latest move by the Clippers to try to clear cap space so they can sign the elusive free agent, they have reportedly traded Melvin Ely and Eddie House to Charlotte in exchange for future second round draft picks. Ely and House will reunite with Predrag Drobnjak, bringing to three the total of bench Clippers now playing on Charlotte's roster.

The Clippers had only $11.65 million of cap room but the trade of Ely ($1.7 million) and House ($825,000) bring their cap room to $14.2 million, just over the $13.5 million maximum that Kobe could receive from a team not named the Lakers.

In other news, the Bobcats also signed former Spur and Tony Parker-backup point guard Jason Hart, who will likely be the starting point guard for Charlotte this season. That means the starting lineup may well be Emeka Okafor, Brandon Hunter, Gerald Wallace, Tamar Slay, and Jason Hart. The second unit is pretty solid and could be the three Clippers (Drobnjak, Ely, and House) surrounded by Jason Kapono and Theron Smith. It's a solid base but clearly not a contender from the Southeast division. It would take some miraculous coaching to get this team to compete with what seems to be the Western conference.

With this latest trade, the Southeast division is beginning to look a lot like former Western Conference teams. Between the Charlotte Clippers, the Washington Warriors, the Orlando Rockets, and the Miami Lakers, only young Atlanta is searching for its own identity.

Of course, Charlotte is not just in a rebuilding mode -- a painful few seasons familiar to all basketball fans -- they are in abuildingmode. Starting from the ground up, they have a bunch of young talents that could develop into a solid foundation either for the team or in trade a few years down the line.

At this point, the Bobcats need to collect as many cheap options as they can, and hope that at least some of them pay off big.

The Bobcats will participate in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City, Utah from July 16-24. Their first game will be versus the Atlanta Hawks, Friday July 16th at 4:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. MDT. Other teams participating in the RMR include the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Sonics, and host Utah Jazz. The remainder of their RMR schedule is as follows:

*Friday, July 16th - Atlanta - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 17th - San Antonio - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Sunday, July 18th - Seattle - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Monday, July 19th - Bye
*Tuesday, July 20th - Indiana - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 21st - Dallas - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Thursday, July 22nd - Chicago - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 23rd - Utah - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 24th - Bye

The Bobcats salary cap for the 2004-2005 season is $29.25 million. Their minimum salary is $21.94 million. The salary cap for every other team in the league is $43.87 million.


Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: The Charlotte Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a trade that will bring Melvin Ely and Eddie House to Charlotte, the Observer has learned.The deal, which couldn't be consummated before today's end of the NBA signing moratorium, sends a big man (Ely) and a point guard (House) to the new franchise. In return, the Clippers get future second-round picks and additional salary-cap room to pursue free agents such as Kobe Bryant. Ely will make about $1.7 million this season and House $825,000, and neither has a contract guarantee for the following season. That's important because the Bobcats want to maximize their own cap flexibility for the summers of 2005 and 2006. The Bobcats' only long-term obligations will be three-season contracts for first-round pick Emeka Okafor and for Jason Hart, whose signing is anticpated today.

Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: Free-agent Jason Hart has come to terms with the Charlotte Bobcats on a deal that could make him the team's first starting point guard.Hart's agent, Bill Neff, said the deal came together quickly Tuesday, after Hart visited the team. Neff said the chance for extensive playing time was key to Hart's decision. Neff declined to provide contract details, but a source close to the situation said Hart would get a three-year contract starting at about $1.5 million next season. Hart will have the option to terminate the contract after the 2005-06 season.

Chris Sheridan ofThe Associated Presswrites Kobe Bryant wasn't tipping his hand Tuesday night as the NBA's two-week moratorium on trades and free agent signings expired, though the Los Angeles Clippers were busy trying to clear enough salary cap space to offer him a maximum contract... [T]he Charlotte Observer reported for Wednesday's editions that the Clippers would trade forward Melvin Ely and guard Eddie House to the expansion Bobcats for future second-round draft picks.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: "I have a new nickname for him: the Big Perspective," Charlotte Bobcats Vice President Ed Tapscott said, with O'Neal known for dubbing himself the Big many things."From a basketball operations standpoint, obviously his presence in Miami makes it tougher for us and everybody else in the conference. "From a business perspective, Shaq coming to market a couple of times a year is a big net positive. But you just have to play who's in front of you, and he blocks out the sun."

Eric Young ofThe East Bay Business Timeswrites: The owner of the Golden State Warriors said Tuesday he plans to sell a 20 percent stake in the team to a group of South Bay investors, expanding ownership in the franchise for the first time in almost a decade... Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the transaction could raise around $70 million for Cohan, based on valuations of recent NBA team purchases involving the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics that averaged $360 million.

David Newton ofThe Statewrites: Charlotte Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff looked confused when asked about one of the 16 players participating in this week’s minicamp. “Who?” he asked.Eidson. Chuck Eidson. “The young kid, Edison?” replied Bickerstaff, butchering the pronunciation of the former South Carolina guard-forward’s last name. Close enough. At least for Eidson — pronounced Id-son and not Ed-i-son. “I’m just happy if they know my first name,” he said after a two-hour workout at the expansion team’s Fort Mill practice facility. “That’s what you’re trying to get to.”