The Charlotte Bobcats traded managing partner Michael Jordan’s first draft pick on Saturday, sending struggling forward Adam Morrison and reserve guard Shannon Brown to the Los Angeles Lakers for forward Vladimir Radmanovic.
Jordan’s first major decision after becoming part owner with the final say on all basketball decisions was taking Morrison with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft over Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and others.
The former Gonzaga star known in college for his shaggy hair and thin mustache never lived up to expectations and had fallen out of favor with first-year coach Larry Brown. He was jettisoned for the 6-foot-10 Radmanovic, who was averaging 5.9 points and 2.5 rebounds a game with the Lakers.
The move is a sign of another failed decision by Jordan, who was widely criticized for selecting Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick in 2001 when he ran the Washington Wizards.
“We definitely wish him well,” Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said of Morrison. “He’s a good kid and hopefully he gets an opportunity to play. You never know, he might get a chance to win a (championship) ring.”
The move is the third trade the Bobcats have made this season in a roster shakeup under Brown, who is trying to get the fifth-year Bobcats to the playoffs for the first time. Radmanovic will become the 22nd player to suit up for Charlotte this season, an NBA high.
Morrison and Brown were never a good fit. Morrison’s defensive deficiencies didn’t mesh with Brown’s style, and Morrison had failed to hit shots consistently, struggling in a starting role the past four games after small forward Gerald Wallace suffered a partially collapsed lung and a broken rib against the Lakers on Jan. 27.
Morrison, who cut his trademark hair short before this season, will get a chance to crack the Lakers’ rotation and become an outside scoring threat. Morrison, who averaged a national-best 28.1 points for Gonzaga in 2005-06, missed all of last season after tearing a knee ligament in a preseason game.
Morrison, due about $5.3 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract, was averaging just 4.5 points while shooting 36 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.
The deal also gives the Lakers some salary-cap relief. Radmanovic is owed $6.5 million next season and $6.9 million a year later in a player option.
He gives the Bobcats more depth up front. Higgins said Radmanovic will likely play both small and power forward.
“Being a 6-10 guy, obviously he brings some height as well as some athleticism,” Higgins said. “He’s guy that can make some shots. I think he will fit in with our current roster well.”
Shannon Brown was signed in the offseason and had played sparingly until Friday night, when he committed a turnover and had a shot blocked in the closing seconds of a 102-97 loss to Atlanta. A groin injury to starting shooting guard Raja Bell put Brown into the lineup.
Higgins said they were arranging for Radmanovic to fly from Cleveland, where the Lakers play the Cavaliers on Sunday, to Miami. The Bobcats play the Heat Sunday night.
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