Michael Jordan’s Bobcats need a successful draft

Markieff Morris of Kansas insisted he knew Michael Jordan had
arrived Thursday morning to watch his pre-draft workout before even
seeing him.

”I just felt his greatness,” Morris said.

The presence of the Charlotte Bobcats owner made Kenneth Faried
of Morehead State jittery.

”I was actually nervous, extremely nervous,” Faried said.
”Michael Jordan – I have his sneakers on.”

The person feeling the most pressure in the gym, however, may
have been the Hall of Famer himself.

After a bold and risky February trade that sent former All-Star
Gerald Wallace to Portland, the Bobcats are sitting with the ninth
and 19th picks in the June 23 draft. What they do with those
selections and newfound salary-cap space will help determine if
Jordan can finally turn his under-.500 team club into a winner.

”That is the single most important question this franchise
faces today, and the short answer is we’re going to use all of our
assets to build a team that competes for championships
year-after-year,” Jordan wrote on the team website this week.
”Making the playoffs (in 2010) for the first time as the 7 seed
was great, but I want more than that, and our fans deserve more
than that.”

Thursday’s workout, which also included Southern California’s
Alex Stepheson, Southern Mississippi’s Gary Flowers, LaMarshall
Corbett of Angelo State and Clemson’s Demontez Stitt, was the first
of many over the next three weeks. And Jordan is taking an active
role.

”If we come up with somebody that he doesn’t necessarily care
for, he lets us know,” coach Paul Silas said.

Jordan also could be asked to approve a trade, a common
occurrence since he took over the basketball operations in 2006.
Jordan bought the team outright early last year.

General manager Rod Higgins has acknowledged he’s already
received numerous calls and that ”everybody’s throwing it against
the wall right now.” The Bobcats will consider trading one of the
first-round picks in a deal that would bring in a veteran, or
packaging both picks to move up in the draft.

”Perfect scenario means you’re getting veteran help or you’re
combining maybe two picks to get up to a spot that you like the
player that you’re going to get,” Higgins said. ”We’re going to
exhaust every avenue.”

Silas was less enthusiastic of packaging both picks for a higher
choice, saying ”if we do move up that guy has to be a star kind of
player.”

If they keep the two picks, especially No. 19, Morris and Faried
are potential options. Both play power forward, however, the
Bobcats’ deepest position with Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas already
on the roster.

”If all things were equal, you certainly wouldn’t draft a 4,”
Silas said. ”But if the guy is clearly better than the rest of the
people at your draft spot, you’re going to take him.”

Silas had high praise for the 6-foot-7 Morris, whose twin
brother Marcus is also expected to be a first-round choice.

”Markieff is a very good shooter, Silas said. ”He was tough,
understands how to play the game. I think he has a chance to really
be good in this league.”

Silas was less certain about the 6-6 Faried, who is even more
undersized than Morris for an NBA power forward.

”It’s not going to be an easy thing,” Silas said of Faried.
”Great rebounder. Not a great shooter, but a defender. We’ll just
have to see. A guy like him, you would probably rather see him at
the 3 than the 4.”

Silas said in a perfect scenario they could get a ballhandler
who is also a good 3-point shooter, an area of need for a team that
ranked 29th out of 30 clubs in long-range shooting this season.
Charlotte also needs a center, but there are few quality big men in
the draft.

It puts a little added pressure on Jordan, even as other still
swoon in the presence of the six-time NBA champion.

”I just felt it the whole time,” Morris said of being around
Jordan. ”The light brightens and you just feel like, on your back,
somebody is there.”

Notes: Connecticut’s Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson of Texas
are scheduled to work out for Charlotte on Friday. … Bobcats
assistant coach Charles Oakley, still plagued by severe back pain,
watched the workout but said he felt only so-so before walking
gingerly down the steps to the locker room. Silas has said it’s
uncertain if Oakley will return to the bench next season as he
seeks treatment that could include surgery. … After the draft
session was over, Thomas, D.J. Augustin, Kwame Brown, Matt Carroll,
Dante Cunningham and Garrett Temple hit the floor for a workout
supervised by Bobcats assistant Stephen Silas.

Mike Cranston can be reached at
http://twitter.com/MikeCranston1.