- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — An NBA source, speaking under condition of anonymity, confirmed yesterday the Washington Wizards will make Jerry Stackhouse, Juan Dixon and Christian Laettner available to the Charlotte Bobcats when the NBA conducts its expansion draft Tuesday.

A list of NBA players that made its way onto ESPN.com on Tuesday included the three players, plus Lonny Baxter. However, the source was unable to confirm Baxter’s name was included.

The Bobcats, who will begin play next season, must select at least 14 players from the list and can take as many as 29. They are not permitted to take more than one player from any team.

Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld is not required to comment on the players.

NBA teams are permitted to pay the Bobcats as much as $3million or offer draft choices to the expansion team to persuade it to select or not select a particular player.

In the regular NBA Draft on June24, the Wizards hold the fifth and 33rd picks. As all teams do, the Wizards are looking for possible trades or to move up in the draft.

One team source said yesterday the Wizards were interested in moving up to take either Duke freshman forward Luol Deng or Stanford junior forward Josh Childress.

Of the two, Deng is believed to be the more coveted player come draft day. It is believed around the league Childress would be available if the Wizards stand pat with the No.5 pick.

Childress played at Stanford alongside Grunfeld’s son, Dan. However, Childress, who worked out for the Wizards two weeks ago, said he doesn’t expect that relationship to influence the Wizards.

“We do have a relationship,” the 6-foot-7 Childress said. “But when it all comes down to it, this is a business. You don’t let friendships and relationships like that get in the way of making smart business decisions. I wouldn’t expect him to play any favoritism, and I know he won’t. That’s not a good way to do business.”

It had been reported that Chicago, which holds the third pick, might be willing to trade down to fifth in a move that might include the Wizards sending the Bulls Jarvis Hayes, a player Washington selected with the 10th pick last season.

But word out of Chicago yesterday was that the Bulls — who also are said to like Deng — were less inclined to make a deal with the Wizards.

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