June 30, 1999
FORT MILL, S.C. - In a perfect world, Charlotte Hornets general manager Bob Bass would have a choice between Elton Brand, Baron Davis and Steve Francis in the NBA draft.
In reality, Bass expects Brand and Francis to be eliminated from the equation by the time the Hornets make the third overall selection in tonight's draft.
"It looks like Davis would be our guy," Bass said Tuesday, "and we would not hesitate to take him."
Bass said the Hornets narrowed their list of coveted players to Brand, the power forward from Duke, Davis, the versatile point guard from UCLA, and Francis, the high-flying scoring guard from Maryland.
But Bass figures Chicago and Vancouver, with the first two picks, will grab Brand and Francis.
If either Brand or Francis is still available when the Hornets pick, Charlotte would consider selecting one of them instead of Davis, Bass said. But based on conversations he has had with fellow executives around the league, Bass considers that scenario unlikely, prompting what he called an easy decision.
"It's so obvious," he said. "We want a point guard."
Bass said the Hornets, who beat the odds in the NBA's draft lottery and moved up considerably in the selection order, would not consider taking Davis and then trading him for proven veterans.
"We've got a veteran team already," he said.
That group includes starting point guard David Wesley, 28, who just completed the second season of a seven-year, $22 million contract. Wesley directed an offense that helped Charlotte to its third consecutive winning season, but the team's depth chart behind him is thin.
The Hornets are not overly concerned about Davis' surgically repaired left knee or his stated desire to play professionally in his native California, Bass said.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 1998 NCAA tournament was followed by an operation and rehabilitation that kept Davis out of the first four games of the 1998-99 season. But he started the final 26 games and led UCLA with averages of 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals.
Bass said the knee looked solid during examinations conducted at the NBA's predraft camp in Chicago.
By JOE MACENKA
AP Sports Writer