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Michael Jordan’s Bobcats lose No. 1 pick to Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even in the NBA lottery, the Charlotte Bobcats can’t win.

Hope turned to disappointment Wednesday night as the New Orleans Hornets won the NBA lottery, giving them the first overall pick and the rights to select Kentucky forward Anthony Davis, the marquee player in this year’s draft.

The Bobcats will select second overall.

Charlotte entered the draft with the best odds to win the lottery at 25 percent, but the Hornets, who finished with the fourth-worst record, beat them out.

Bobcats general manager Rich Cho was on stage for the televised draft. He told fellow executive Rod Higgins that he could “feel the air go out of me” when the pick was announced.

Higgins said “It was probably like that for anybody who’s a Bobcats fan.”

For the Bobcats, it was a little like watching the guy across the poker table pull a flush on the river to beat their three aces. A real punch in the gut, no doubt.

Most NBA analysts agree there’s a huge drop-off from Davis to the second pick in the draft.

Higgins tried his best to put a positive spin on an extremely disappointing night during a news conference Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“We would have liked to have had number one, but we have number two, so the work starts for us,” Higgins said. “We can get a very valuable player at number two who will help the nucleus of this team. At the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to do — we’re trying to improve this team. Number two is going to be a valuable pick.”

The Bobcats also have the 31st overall pick.

When asked if the Bobcats would have taken Davis first overall, Higgins smiled and said, “I mean it’s hard to say he wouldn’t have been the guy.”

Higgins said the Bobcats have already had preliminary discussions about what to do if they didn’t get the top pick, but that no decisions have been made on who they’ll take at No. 2.

He said the Bobcats will work out at least six players prior to the June 28 NBA draft.

Among some of the potential candidates include Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida guard Bradley Beal, Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson and Connecticut center Andre Drummond.

Higgins would not rule out trading the pick.

“We’re going to through the process and we’ll bring in a bunch of players,” Higgins said. “We have a long list of items we have to accomplish this offseason and one of them being (hiring) a new head coach. That is something we will address in the next couple of weeks.”

The Bobcats have interviewed eight potential candidates, although he said team owner Michael Jordan has informed Patrick Ewing that he’s no longer a candidate.

It will be interesting to see if the Bobcats failing to land the No. 1 pick influences what coach might be willing to take on the task of rebuilding the NBA’s worst team.

The Bobcats lost 22 games by 20 or more points last season and finished 7-59.

Higgins admitted getting the top pick would have made it a more attractive opportunity, but added “I don’t know that it would change the landscape in terms of the candidates. We want a coach that is going to come in here first of all and be very happy to have the job and a guy who is going to take the young talent we have and develop it. For us that list is a wide list.”

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