STEVE REED,AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — General manager Rich Cho said the Charlotte Bobcats are open to trading the No. 4 pick in this year’s NBA draft — as long as it doesn’t entail parting ways with small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Cho on Wednesday refuted internet reports that Charlotte is considering dealing last year’s No. 2 overall pick.
“We’re not shopping MKG,” Cho said during a predraft press conference. “We’re very happy with MKG.”
However, Cho said the Bobcats are exploring all options with the fourth pick Thursday night, including trading up or trading down to acquire a veteran player or additional draft picks.
Cho said the team is fielding a lot of calls and the Bobcats are “looking at every opportunity.” He also said the Bobcats have made calls to other teams inquiring about potential trade scenarios, but indicated nothing is imminent.
The Bobcats explored their options prior to last year’s draft as well, when they held the No. 2 pick, but wound up staying put and taking Kidd-Gilchrist.
If they keep the pick, Cho said they’ll take the best available player regardless of position.
Cho said the team’s biggest needs are perimeter shooting, rebounding, a big man and more depth.
The Bobcats will make their draft night decision based off watching plenty of tape and through extensive background checks, rather than off predraft workouts.
Three of the top players in the draft — Maryland’s Alex Len, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett — were unable to work out due to injuries. Georgetown’s Otto Porter, Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo didn’t work out in Charlotte either for various reasons.
The only potential No. 4 pick to work out for the Bobcats was Indiana’s Cody Zeller.
“There are a few guys who only wanted to work out and shoot and do a 1-on-0 workout,” Cho said. “We didn’t want to watch a 1-on-0 workout…. We want to watch these guys compete, but it’s every player’s and every agent’s prerogative to say I want to do a 1-on-0 workout.”
The lack of a workout doesn’t bother Cho.
“We’ve scouted the guys all year and we’ve been doing a lot of background checks, so we’re very comfortable with the players in the draft,” Cho said.
The Bobcats realize they have a long way to go in the rebuilding process.
They’re a dismal 28-120 over the past two seasons and they have plenty of needs. They don’t have a franchise player to build around outside of possibly point guard Kemba Walker.
So it could take a few years before owner Michael Jordan’s team is truly ready to compete for a playoff spot.
The Bobcats have struggled with bad luck in the NBA lottery.
Last year they lost out on the No. 1 overall pick — and the rights to highly touted center Anthony Davis —to New Orleans, despite going 7-59 and finishing with the worst winning percentage (.106) in league history in 2011-12.
Charlotte had the second-worst record in the league this season at 21-61, finishing one game ahead of the Orlando Magic.
However, the Bobcats wound up with only the fourth pick.
Team officials have tried to brush off that disappointment, but there’s a growing sense the Bobcats need to catch a break at some point and land a franchise player if they’re going to flourish. The organization, which will change its name to the Hornets prior to the 2013-14 season, has only been to the playoffs once and has never won a postseason game.
Whether or not the Bobcats will land that player through this year’s draft remains to be seen.
“There’s not a standout guy like there was last year with Anthony Davis,” Cho said. “But we feel like we can get a good player at number four.”
There is some potential good long-term news on the horizon.
It’s possible the Bobcats could have three lottery picks next year, depending on how the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers finish. Both teams owe the Bobcats conditional first-round draft picks and Charlotte would also have its own pick.
Charlotte could enter free agency this year as much as $21 million under the salary cap if they decided to use the amnesty clause on underperforming forward Tyrus Thomas.
The Bobcats don’t have a second-round draft pick this year. They traded that away last year to Oklahoma City for center Byron Mullens.
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