CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats' search for a big man ended Friday when they acquired center Nazr Mohammed from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for center Primoz Brezec and forward Walter Herrmann.
Mohammed, averaging 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21 games for the Pistons, will provide the Bobcats depth they've been missing since Sean May underwent season-ending knee surgery during training camp.
"We see this deal as a major improvement for the team," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "Not that we were down on Primoz and Walter, but we're trying to improve the Bobcats. We feel we've got a big guy that can come in and score in the post and help us with rebounding."
The Bobcats have gotten very little from Brezec, who has been starting but averaging only 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds a game. Herrmann had failed to crack the Charlotte rotation under Vincent, in his first season.
The deal gives the Pistons Herrmann, someone they've coveted, and dumps salary. Mohammed is due about $25 million in a deal that runs through the 2010-11 season. Brezec and Herrmann are in the final year of their deals.
"We get great financial relief, and it is a deal we had to make from that perspective, but we are also getting two guys we like," said Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars. "These are two players that we've talked to Charlotte about in the past."
The 6-foot-10 Mohammed, in his ninth season from Kentucky, has averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in his career. It's likely he'll eventually move into the starting lineup with Charlotte.
"It's going to take him some time to pick up what we're doing," Vincent said. "I don't see him coming in tomorrow and starting until he has a feel offensively what we're trying to do."
The deal came two weeks after the Bobcats signed Cleveland forward Anderson Varejao to a three-year offer sheet. The Cavaliers matched the offer the next day, leaving the Bobcats thin up front.
"Nazr is a proven big man in the league, and he deserves the chance that he's going to get in Charlotte," Dumars said. "He's a good man and the ultimate pro. He said he's grateful for the chance to go to Charlotte, but that he's going to miss the environment here."
The trade came as a shock to Brezec and Herrmann, who were warming up about an hour before Friday night's game against Orlando when they were told of the news.
"I'm an emotional guy. I love Charlotte. I was here for more than three years," Brezec said as he took off his Bobcats uniform in the locker room. "I was ready for tonight, but I have a broken nose. I've already had two surgeries and may need a third. But I was ready for tonight."
The 7-foot-1 Brezec, taken by Charlotte in the expansion draft in 2004, has seen his numbers decline the past two seasons. Herrmann, an Argentine, was signed before last season after playing in Spain.
After a slow start, the 6-foot-9 Herrmann averaged 17.9 points over the final 18 games. But he had averaged only four points in 10 minutes per game this season as he struggled to get time at power forward with Vincent using Emeka Okafor there instead of center.
"I feel good because it's a good opportunity for me," Herrmann said of going to the Pistons. "There I can play. On this team, I don't have the minutes."
The move leaves the Bobcats with an open roster spot that could be used to being in another forward. The trade happened a few hours after the team had assigned rookie forward Jermareo Davidson to the NBA's Development League. The move was rescinded after the deal and Davidson was in uniform Friday night.
The Associated Press News Service