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NBA nixes Bobcats' pre-lockout camp plan

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

With the NBA looking at a potential lockout that would wipe out July's summer leagues, the Charlotte Bobcats thought they found a way to still get a look at young players and free agents.

The league had other ideas.

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Coach Paul Silas said Tuesday night the NBA turned down Charlotte's plans to host a multi-team, free-agent camp after this month's draft and before the collective bargaining agreement expires July 1.

The Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks were scheduled to bring free agents and possibly draft picks to Time Warner Cable Arena. The teams had even reserved hotel rooms for the series of workouts and scrimmages on two courts at the facility before plans changed.

''The league wouldn't let us do it,'' Silas said.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said it would have been too similar to July's summer leagues, which are normally held next month in Las Vegas and Orlando. The Bobcats fielded a team in Orlando last year.

''With what the teams wanted to do, it was really acting as a summer league,'' Frank said. ''No summer leagues are permitted to be run until after July 1.''

But the Bobcats still plan to get in as much work as possible before the league could shut down amid a labor dispute. And so far the Bobcats are happy with the results - especially with top scorer Stephen Jackson.

Now healthy following a lingering left hamstring injury that ended his season early, Jackson has lost 20 pounds. Down to 225 pounds, he impressed in a workout Tuesday supervised by Charlotte assistant coach Stephen Silas.

''When I saw Jack today, initially I didn't know it was him,'' general manager Rod Higgins said. ''He had on this nice white outfit so you could definitely see his waistline. I'm sure that was intentionally done.''

Jackson leads a parade of players scheduled to work out at the team facility before they're potentially barred July 1. Tyrus Thomas, D.J. Augustin, Matt Carroll and Garrett Temple were on hand Tuesday. Even guard Gerald Henderson, still on crutches following hip surgery, watched the workout

''It just shows you the leaders that we have on this team, to get guys to collectively say this is something we want to do,'' Higgins said.

Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston, D.J. White and Dante Cunningham, who faces a marijuana possession charge after a May traffic stop in suburban Philadelphia, are expected in before the end of the month.

Paul Silas expressed support for Cunningham on Tuesday in an interview during a basketball clinic.

''Things happen and I just hope he learned from it and that certainly that will never happen again. At least that's my hope,'' Silas said. ''Everybody makes mistakes and if he learns from his mistakes he'll be OK.''

Silas was looking forward to what he called an intense two-week session he has planned with Brown. Silas remains hopeful the impending free-agent center stays in Charlotte.

''Kwame is going to be unbelievable this year because we're going to have a chance to work on some of his deficiencies,'' Silas said. ''When he comes back people are going to marvel at him at the way he's going to be playing.''

Everything is in hurry-up phase now, however, with the potential for a lengthy lockout possible which would separate players and coaches. Carroll, Charlotte's union representative, acknowledged there's been little movement in talks which is why players have been scrambling to get to town this month.

''Most importantly, be around the coaches and be in Charlotte because you never know what's going to happen,'' Carroll said. ''I think it's a good thing. I don't think every team in the league has that many guys coming back right now.''

Tagged: Stephen Jackson, Kwame Brown, Matt Carroll, Hornets

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