- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Charlotte Bobcats selected Lonny Baxter, one of three Washington Wizards who played on Maryland’s 2002 NCAA championship team, in the NBA’s expansion draft last night.

Baxter was one of four players left unprotected by the Wizards, along with swingman Jerry Stackhouse, power forward Christian Laettner and point guard Juan Dixon, a teammate of Baxter’s at Maryland.

“While we certainly were not looking to move Lonny Baxter, the expansion draft rules only allow you to protect eight players, and we had 10 under contract, so we could not protect everyone,” Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “Charlotte made a good selection in Lonny. He has a solid future in this league, and we wish him the very best in his career.”

The Wizards claimed the 6-foot-8 Baxter off waivers in March after he was released by Toronto. In 12 games with Washington, Baxter averaged 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds. He began the season, his second in the NBA, with Chicago.

Baxter, a restricted free agent, became an unrestricted free agent because he was selected by the Bobcats.

Wizards point guard Steve Blake also played at Maryland with Dixon and Baxter. He was the only ex-Terrapin protected by the team.

The Bobcats stocked their roster by selecting 19 players. Jahidi White of Phoenix, Marcus Fizer of Chicago, Gerald Wallace of Sacramento and Predrag Drobnjak of the Los Angeles Clippers were the most experienced players among the Bobcats’ selections from the other 29 NBA franchises.

White, a former Wizard, will have the highest salary of any Bobcats player: $5.88million. The Bobcats received $3million and a future first-round pick from Phoenix for agreeing to take White, who has one year remaining on his contract.

The Bobcats also selected Utah guard Aleksandar Pavlovic, who will be dealt to Cleveland for a future first-round draft pick. Pavlovic will give the Cavaliers a shooter to replace Jason Kapono, who was one of just four guards chosen by the Bobcats.

“What we want is players who need an opportunity to show they can play. Players talk all the time, they want PT — playing time — and they want to know their role. We can guarantee both,” Bobcats coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said.

Other selections by the Bobcats were Indiana center Primoz Brezac, Los Angeles Lakers forward Jamal Sampson, Orlando forward Zaza Pachulia, Boston forward Brandon Hunter and Memphis forward Theron Smith.

“We think this young man is the sleeper of this election,” Bickerstaff said of Smith, who appeared in 20 games for Memphis last season and averaged 2.2 points.

The Bobcats drafted a number of restricted free agents, thereby making them unrestricted free agents like Baxter. They included Seattle guard Richie Frahm, Miami center Loren Woods, New Jersey forward Tamar Slay, Denver guard Jeff Trepagnier, Golden State guard J.R. Bremer, Fizer, New Orleans guard Maurice Carter and Portland swingman Desmond Ferguson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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