By MIKE CRANSTON
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Michael Jordan was the ultimate clutch player, yet his Charlotte Bobcats were missing a go-to scorer in their first three seasons.
Jordan, Charlotte’s part-owner with the final say on personnel moves, pulled off a draft night trade Thursday that he hopes gives the Bobcats what they’ve been missing.
The Bobcats acquired swingman Jason Richardson of Golden State for the eighth pick in the draft, Brandan Wright of North Carolina.
The Bobcats also acquired the Warriors’ second-round pick, forward Jermareo Davidson of Alabama, more than two hours after Jordan selected Wright, giving the Bobcats a third former Tar Heel.
But Jordan, North Carolina’s biggest-ever basketball star, sent Wright across the country for Richardson, in hopes of giving the Bobcats a late-game scorer.
“Can he be a Michael Jordan? We’re not expecting him to be,” Jordan said. “Can he be a piece that helps us finish ball games a lot better? Can he give us a little more firepower on the offense end? Yes.”
With the 22nd pick, the Bobcats took forward Jared Dudley of Boston College.
Richardson, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound six-year veteran, averaged 16.3 points while missing 31 games with knee injuries for the Warriors last season. But Richardson averaged more than 19 points a game in the playoffs, when the Warriors upset top-seed Dallas in the first round. Richardson averaged 23.2 points in the 2005-06 season.
The Bobcats had inside information on Richardson from general manager Rod Higgins, who was hired last month after three seasons with the Warriors, where he watched Richardson develop after being Golden State’s fifth pick in the 2001 draft.
“He’ll blend in, but more importantly he’s that guy who wants to score the ball in the clutch,” Higgins said. “He’s a terrific player, a terrific human being.”
The move also means the Bobcats will take on a big salary, as Richardson is owed $51 million over the final four years of his contract. Charlotte’s $41 million payroll last season was the lowest in the league.
The Bobcats have often struggled late in the game in getting off shots, something they hope Richardson will change. He’ll also lessen the impact if leading scorer Gerald Wallace, an unrestricted free agent, is not re-signed.
But Jordan, who became part owner last year, said the Bobcats anticipate re-signing Wallace.
“I fully expect him to be here,” he said. “I hope we can come to some understanding.”
The Bobcats had spent the past several days trying to trade both draft picks. Vice president of basketball operations Bernie Bickerstaff discussed trades with numerous teams. The Bobcats settled on the Richardson trade just before the draft began.
“We wanted a veteran player that we felt could be a go-to player and create his own shot and shots for other people,” Jordan said. “We had some other scenarios that gave us that, but by far this is the best. We’re very happy with what we did.”
When the Bobcats picked Wright, they were actually picking for the Warriors since the trade had already been agreed upon.
“I’m pretty sure a lot of Carolina fans were very happy when we drafted him, but that wasn’t our pick,” Jordan said.
The 6-foot-9 Wright, who left school after his freshman season, had been considered a top five pick until late, when his stock slipped, partly because he weighs only 205 pounds.
Wright, an athletic shot blocker with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, is considered a rising talent, but the Bobcats were looking for an immediate impact after going 33-49 last season. New coach Sam Vincent said they anticipate making the playoffs next season.
Dudley, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, averaged 19 points and 8.3 rebounds a game as a senior. At 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Dudley is a rugged player, but some question his athleticism.
He’ll provide the Bobcats with depth at power forward, where Sean May has played in only 58 of 164 games the past two seasons because a right knee injury.
“We didn’t take Dudley with the idea we’re going to replace May,” Jordan said. “We went in there with the feeling that this guy can hopefully compete with May in getting on that floor.”
Davidson, a 6-10 forward, blocked 70 shots last season while averaging 14 points a game as a senior.
“Our team diligently tried to find something that would best suit our team,” Jordan said. “Out of all the deals on the table, we felt this was the best one.”