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Old 05-23-2007, 03:09 PM   #1
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Default Bobcats' offseason heats up

Bobcats' offseason heats up
Signs point to Vincent as next coach; draft lottery yields No. 8 selection

The Charlotte Bobcats are narrowing their focus on a coach and widening the net for their top draft pick.

Asked if the Bobcats are negotiating with Dallas Mavericks assistant Sam Vincent, general manager Bernie Bickerstaff came close to giving away the deal Tuesday night:

"We're getting close to negotiating with a coach," Bickerstaff said. "We won't confirm or deny" that it's Vincent.

Also Tuesday, the Bobcats had a mild disappointment when their name didn't come up among the top three in the annual draft lottery.

As expected, the Bobcats will pick eighth overall June 28, and also will have the Toronto Raptors' 22nd overall selection.

The winners in the weighted lottery were the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Supersonics and Atlanta Hawks, picking first, second and third, respectively.

At No. 8, the Bobcats figure to have their choice of several wing players, as Bickerstaff anticipates a run on big men before Charlotte's first pick.

"I don't think there's any doubt some bigs will fall off the board," Bickerstaff said in a teleconference with print reporters.

The top-two picks figure to be Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas small forward Kevin Durant.

After that, at least three power forwards -- Brandan Wright of North Carolina and Al Horford and Joakim Noah of Florida -- could all go in the first seven picks.

That seemingly could leave the Bobcats to pick among several wing players -- Florida's Corey Brewer, Kansas' Julian Wright or Georgetown's Jeff Green -- or possibly one of two point guards -- Texas A&M's Acie Law or Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr.

The Bobcats anticipate auditioning 20 or more players for their two first-round picks (they have no second-round selection this year). They'll cram all those workouts into a 22-day span, since the NBA is barring teams from auditions before June 5 this summer.

Bobcats director of scouting Kenny Williamson said some players' agents are suggesting they don't need to work out for the Bobcats.

Bickerstaff warned that's a mistake in a deep draft, with such a level mix of talent after the top two.

"The difference in ability is not that great," Bickerstaff said. "I'd be real careful if I were a player, not to alienate anybody by holding myself in too high a regard."

On the coaching front, Bickerstaff confirmed that he hopes the team is prepared to hire his successor on the bench in time for next week's pre-draft camp near Orlando, Fla.

The Bobcats have interviewed at least 10 candidates, and there are indications Vincent has emerged as the frontrunner.

Bickerstaff sounds unfazed by Vincent not having previously been a head coach at this level.

"Everybody in the NBA hasn't been a (head) coach when he started," Bickerstaff said. "Everybody has to have a starting point."
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