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ESPN NBA Insider - 6/11/04

Friday, June 11, 2004

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider


CHICAGO -- While the NBA pre-draft camp continued to slog along at the Moody Bible College, Insider got exclusive access to what was shaping up to be the most interesting workout matchup of the week.

Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris, UConn point guard Ben Gordon, Oregon swingman Luke Jackson and junior college star Donta Smith were scheduled to work out against each other early Thursday morning at Hoops Gym. The workout, staged by the Suns, was significant for a few reasons.

It was the first time Harris and Gordon, who have been ranked neck and neck all season, would meet on the same court. The Suns are seriously considering taking a point guard with the No. 7 pick, and Harris and Gordon are the two most likely candidates. It also was a chance to see Jackson, who has been rocketing up most draft boards, work out against one of the best athletes in the draft in Smith.


The Phoenix Suns are eyeing a point guard at No. 7, and Harris is on their list.
Unfortunately, as these things often go, by the time we arrived at Hoops Gym the Suns had learned Gordon wasn't going to make it. He had problems with his flight out of New York, and Phoenix had to scramble to find someone to work out with Harris. At the last minute, they brought in Roko Leni Ukic.

While everyone was disappointed the marquee match-up didn't go down, the workout still was pretty spirited. Ukic, with his long arms and quick feet, gave Harris plenty of problems.

While there's no question Harris is quicker and much more offensively talented than Ukic, he struggled at times to take Ukic off the dribble and get to the basket. Though Ukic is just 6-foot-3, his length bothered Harris for much of the workout. Harris also struggled a bit shooting the ball in the drills. He still was shooting well, but he has shot it much better in the other workouts this week.

Defensively, Harris did a nice job on Ukic as well. His quickness and speed bothered Ukic to a certain degree, and several times Harris did a nice job of stripping Ukic of the ball.

The real stars of the workout, though, were Jackson and Smith. While Jackson didn't shoot the ball as well as I've seen him in the past, he showed a couple of things that validate why he's rising on most draft boards.

Jackson's athleticism is better than advertised. During a special shuttle drill the Suns run, Jackson's time was the quickest the Suns have measured this year. That's right -- faster than quick guards like Harris and Jameer Nelson. There's no question the scouting report that he has slow feet is false. In fact, Jackson's feet look very quick for a player his size (6-7).

His toughness and competitiveness were also on display against the stronger Smith. At one point he leveled Smith with a tough screen. Whenever he touched the ball on offense, he was in attack mode and was able to get past Smith to the basket.


Jackson's stock is rising with every workout. He could be the first senior drafted.
Smith also had his moments, though. He shot the ball really well, was spectacular flying through the air and finishing dunks in a drill where the point guards threw him alley oops, and he had several blocks on Jackson during the one-on-one portion of the drill.

Seeing him in this environment was much more enlightening than anything I saw in his individual workout on Tuesday.

I'm not sure where the workout leaves the Suns. They've liked Harris for some time, but he didn't do enough in the workout to make him a slam dunk for the No. 7 pick. This is the second straight workout where Harris was less than spectacular (he also struggled against Northwestern's Tim Young in a workout for Golden State on Wednesday). Don't be surprised if the Suns try to schedule a rematch with Gordon in Phoenix over the next few weeks.

If Phoenix keeps the pick -- and that still is a big if -- I still think Harris could be their man. There are intangibles that just can't be measured in a workout, and Harris has them. He'd be a great fit in Phoenix and one of the few players in this draft who could step in right away and help a team.

The workout also could end up helping Jackson. Several members of the Suns' contingent walked away raving about the Oregon star. Drafting Jackson at No. 7 seems awfully high, not to mention a bit repetitive with Joe Johnson and Casey Jacobsen already on the roster. Still, it's tough not to like what Jackson is going to bring to the table. His shooting, athleticism, competitiveness and his wealth of experience could make him the first senior drafted this year. He also may end up joining Emeka Okafor and Gordon as a favorite for Rookie of the Year if he lands on a team that will give him minutes.


Livingston still a question mark

Shortly after the Suns finished working out Harris and Jackson, they joined the Wizards, Hawks, Sixers and Cavaliers for a private workout for Shaun Livingston. All five GMs and four head coaches (the Hawks still don't have one) attended the workout, to which Insider obtained exclusive access. Trainer Tim Grover took Livingston through an hour of shooting and dribbling drills. Unfortunately, though, Livingston worked out alone.

Livingston has added muscle, but teams still haven't seen him against top competition.
He shot the ball fairly well -- he has a very nice release point and can do some nice stuff off the glass, a lost art these days -- and did a number of impressive things with the ball in some of the dribbling drills -- he has the longest fingers I've ever seen -- but the bottom line was that no one got to see what they really wanted to see: His decision making and feel for the 5-on-5 game.

It's tough to get much information out of workouts like these. The most important tidbit was a confirmation that Livingston has put on 20 pounds since the McDonald's all-star game two months ago.

The reaction from teams and scouts was mixed. Everyone was disappointed they couldn't see Livingston go head-to-head against another top guard in the draft. With that said, they also were impressed with the skills they did see and were most impressed with his body.

"That 20 extra pounds changes everything for me," one executive told Insider. "If his body is improving that quick, it means he'll have a real shot of playing right away. That will make a big difference for a lot of the teams here."

Livingston really staged the workout in an effort to get enough feedback to make his final decision on whether to stay in the draft. So far the feedback has been pretty positive. According to sources, it's very likely he'll stay in, and he could make that official as early as Saturday at the NBA media day.

Livingston is one of the toughest players to project in the draft right now. Based on sheer talent and potential, I think he's the best prospect in the draft. However, given team needs and his relative lack of exposure, his draft range is anywhere from No. 4 to the Bobcats to No. 10 to the Cavs, if no one makes a trade.


Another day, another list

On Wednesday, Insider obtained the "physical only" list -- players invited to Chicago to take the league's physical and be officially weighed and measured, despite not taking part in the actual pre-draft camp. It's typically a very good indicator of which players the NBA believes are first round locks.
Thursday, the league released an even more important list -- the players invited to Saturday's NBA Draft media session. Typically the players invited are considered by the NBA to be locks for the lottery. Here's a look at who got the invite:

Andris Biedrins, Latvia
Josh Childress, Stanford
Luol Deng, Duke
Ben Gordon, UConn
Devin Harris, Wisconsin
Dwight Howard, SW Christian Academy (Atlanta, Ga.)
Andre Iguodala, Arizona
Shaun Livingston, Peoria (Ill.)
Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph's
Emeka Okafor, UConn
Josh Smith, Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
J.R. Smith, St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.)

There were only two real surprises: J.R. Smith's appearance on a second big list by the NBA means he's probably going in the lottery. There are teams that really like him and believe he can be a superstar. After a couple of poor workout performances, we had dropped him to No. 18 on our mock draft. It looks like he won't be on the board that long.

Inviting Jameer Nelson is less of a surprise. I don't think this is indicative of his draft position as much as it's an acknowledgement that he's the college player of the year and the only senior in the room.


T-Mac holding up No. 1 pick


The fate of the No. 1 pick is still in flux, in part because the Magic still are waiting to hear what Tracy McGrady intends to do after next season. Contrary to printed reports, McGrady has not informed the Magic whether he plans to opt out of his contract next summer and play the free-agent market.
Tracy McGrady
Shooting Guard
Orlando Magic
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
67 28.0 6.0 5.5 .417 .796


McGrady's decision dramatically alters what the Magic will do on draft night. If McGrady is committed to staying, they'll either try to move the pick for a veteran or take Emeka Okafor, the one guy in the draft who could help them immediately. If McGrady wants out, the Magic will hang on to the pick, take a serious look at high school players like Dwight Howard and Shaun Livingston, and start exploring various trade opportunities involving McGrady.

Magic owner Rich DeVos will meet personally with McGrady next week, along with club president Bob Vander Weide, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"We want to look Tracy in the eyes and say, 'What do you want to do?' No matter what the agent is suggesting or not suggesting as to options for the kid," Vander Weide told the paper. "At the end of the day, I think it's really important that both Rich and myself say, 'Tracy, tell us where your heart is, and we can work through it, whatever it is.'

"Going into draft week, we really want to have a feeling about where he is. ... We're not going to make any decisions until we know where Tracy the person is. The pieces are very much tied together.

"We can't go through what we did with Shaq ... in the 11th hour, being in the last year of the contract. We have to know between now and the 24th whether Tracy's in or whether he's out ... knowing that we'd love to rebuild through and around him.

"He needs to know that. He needs to feel that. But he also needs to understand if his frustration is real and genuine. ... We are at a point where we can only change so much. We all know we can't be the same team. We got to be different, we got to be better."

Houston, Indiana, Detroit, San Antonio and both L.A. teams have been mentioned as possible trading partners for the Magic if T-Mac decides to leave. The Rockets are dangling Steve Francis. The Pacers likely would offer anything on their roster besides Jermaine O'Neal or Ron Artest. The Pistons have enough cap room to swallow a big deal and also could offer Richard Hamilton, Mehmet Okur (in a sign-and-trade) and even Darko Milicic in return. The Clippers could offer Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson (in a sign-and-trade) and the No. 2 pick in the draft.


Nets, Blazers talking trade?

Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Power Forward
Portland Trail Blazers
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
85 16.3 7.5 2.0 .475 .869


The most interesting rumor coming out of Chicago on Thursday, repeated by several sources, has the Nets and Blazers discussing a possible trade of Kerry Kittles and Aaron Williams for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
It's no secret the Blazers have been trying to move Abdur-Rahim. He didn't fit in with the team last season and is attractive trade bait because his contract comes off the books after next year. The Blazers have been trying to pry Ray Allen from the Sonics, but so far Seattle isn't biting.

While there's talk that the Sonics aren't averse to moving Allen -- which may explain why they've been working out several top shooting guard prospects -- apparently they want more than just Abdur-Rahim in the deal.

Kittles, like Abdur-Rahim, has just one year left on his contract. The trade would be very interesting for the Nets and could be a sign they still aren't sold on re-signing Kenyon Martin, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer.


Sonics not married to their pick

Add the Sonics to the list of teams that don't seem to be in love with their position in the lottery.
"We're not married to keeping our pick this year," Sonics GM Rick Sund told Insider. "I think we've got a young team and that, for the right deal, adding a veteran to the roster will help us more."

Sund believes the draft is deep but doesn't see many impact players at No. 12.

"In two or three years, many of the players in the draft are going to be helping teams," Sund said. "But I think a team can only develop so many young players at a time. We got Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour last year, and we like them both. We just need to surround them with guys who already know how to play."

The Sonics aren't the only team that feels that way. Bulls GM John Paxson told me something almost identical last week. The Wizards are in the same boat and looking to move out. The Suns and Clippers would prefer to add a veteran free-agent point guard like Steve Nash instead of a rookie. Sources claim the Cavaliers also are talking to several teams about swapping their pick for a veteran.

"There's a lot of talk going on right now," one veteran GM who wished not to be identified told Insider. "The veteran teams like the younger players and want to start to replenish the roster. The lottery teams want veterans. I wouldn't be shocked if the draft ends up getting turned upside down."


Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Send him an e-mail here.

-----------------------------------------

Friday, June 11, 2004

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider


CHICAGO -- By day three of the Chicago pre-draft camp, eyes were beginning to glaze over, crowds were thinning and the biggest topic of discussion was the best location for dinner.

Gibson's and Morton's steakhouses are more popular in Chicago than anyone who is playing at the Chicago pre-draft camp these days.

How bad is it? Thursday morning, six NBA teams took their entire staffs and skipped the morning games to go watch private workouts.

Why is it so bad this year? After two days of games, no one at the camp has emerged as a likely first-round pick. No one. Every year there's at least one or two players who get enough buzz to move up. This year there's nothing.

So when we use discuss who's hot and who's not? Lukewarm is more like it.


Who's hot


RobinsonNate Robinson, SG, Washington
He's the buzz guy in camp, in part, because he's different. He's the littlest guy on the floor, but plays with more passion, athleticism and skill than anyone else here. He scored just seven points Thursday and was still the guy everyone wanted to talk about at the end of the day. I still think there's no way he goes in the first round, but the second round is becoming a real possibility.
Andre Emmett, SG, Texas Tech
He didn't shoot the ball as well Thursday, but he got to the line 10 times and made all 10 free throws. He's one of he few pure scorers in the camp, which is makes him stand out. The rest of the players in camp look like they'd be more at home on with the Detroit Pistons.

Beno Udrih, PG, Slovenia
Udrih might be the one guy who could push his stock all the way into the late first round. He dished out seven assists Thursday and has impressed teams with his poise and size at the position. NBA teams love foreigners and big point guards.

Drago Pasalic, PF, Croatia
Pasalic had the best game Thursday, scoring 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. He's a big-time shooter at his size and really knows how to score, but the rebounding and inside play are an abberation, I think. He doesn't like contact or to mix it up in the paint in Europe. What do you think he'll do when he gets to the NBA?

Ricky Minard, SG, Morehead State
Scouts like him a little bit. He can handle the ball and he knows how to score. On Thursday, he had 20 points and four assists. That's enough to make him an all-star here.


Who's not


GomesRyan Gomes, PF, Providence
Go back to school. Gomes did a nice job transitioning to small forward this year at Providence, but he did it within a pretty structured system. In Chicago, in a more free-flowing environment, he looks lost. His 1-for-5 shooting isn't going to get him that first-round guarantee he's looking for.
Trevor Ariza, SF, UCLA
Several scouts predicted that he'd be a lottery pick if he stayed in school a few more years. But it's painfully obvious that he just isn't ready right now. After a solid first day, the wheels came off on Thursday. His 1-for-8 performance killed any momentum he might have gained.

Lawrence Roberts, PF, Mississippi State
Ten points and six rebounds on 2-for-6 shooting are the calling cards of a guy who needs to go back to school.

Martin Iti, C, Charlotte
Another guy who needs to go to school and stay there another two or three years.

Delonte West, SG, St. Joseph's
First he measures 6-foot-1. Then he sprains his ankle. Any promise West showed on the court is being diluted by everything else. He knows he needs to be a point guard to be relavant in the draft. He hasn't shown here that he can play the point at a high level. He should go back to St. Joseph's, play the point next year, and prove it to NBA teams.

Tim Pickett, SG, Florida State
Pickett's experiment playing the point has been a disaster. He needs to be coming off screens and hitting 3s, not trying to run a basketball team. His stock has probably dipped here.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Send him an e-mail here.

----------------------------------------

Rumor Central

Friday, June 11 Updated 2:11 PM EST

Magic want to know where McGrady stands

WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Tracy McGrady
Magic
Magic
? Jun. 11 - According to the Orlando Sentinel, Tracy McGrady has less than seven days to decide if he wants to be with the Magic or not. "We want to look Tracy in the eyes and say, 'What do you want to do?' No matter what the agent is suggesting or not suggesting as to options for the kid," team president Bob Vander Weide said. "At the end of the day, I think it's really important that both Rich and myself say, 'Tracy, tell us where your heart is, and we can work through it, whatever it is.' "
The two sides are expected to meet next week, and the Magic aren't taking "I don't know" for an answer. If McGrady tells the Magic he wants out of Orlando, or if he can't provide definitive answer, the will be forced to begin plans to trade him.

"We can't go through what we did with Shaq . . . in the 11th hour, being in the last year of the contract," Vander Weide said. "We have to know between now and the 24th whether Tracy's in or whether he's out . . . knowing that we'd love to rebuild through and around him."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Grant Hill
Magic
? Jun. 10 - Believe it or not, there are teams out there who want Hill. Or, rather, the cap space Hill can potentially create. "I've had four or five teams call about Grant," Magic general manager John Weisbrod said in the Orlando Sentinel. "It's a little surprising."
Of course, the acquiring team would still be on the hook for the remaining $47 million in salary, but it would come off the books if Hill reinjures himself and is forced to retire. The risk, though, is that Hill would refuse to quit and the team would be stuck with him and his contract. "It excites me that teams still want me and are willing to take a risk," Hill said, missing the point. "The bottom line is that I want to play and I want to play here."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jamal Crawford
Bulls
? Jun. 10 - Officially, Crawford will soon become a restricted free agent, meaning he doesn't work for the Bulls. And if that's the case, then Crawford is refusing the attend summer workouts at the Bulls' Berto Center even if he does want the Bulls to re-sign him. "I don't know if I'll be back," the point guard said in the Chicago Sun Times. "I think about it all the time, and it will be interesting. I'll talk to the Bulls first because I love playing for Scott Skiles, but I'll be prepared for anything. If some team is interested in me, I'll be interested in them."


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Vince Carter
Raptors
Raptors Jun. 10 - The Toronto Star is reporting that Carter isn't asking for a trade and the Raptors aren't involved in any trade talks. However, tension is mounting after the team refused to hire Julius Erving. The paper mentions nothing specific except to say that Carter has privately mentioned his dissatisfaction.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Kobe Bryant
Lakers
Lakers
Suns
Clippers
Spurs Jun. 9 - Depending on who you believe, Kobe Bryant plans to opt out of his current contract in order to A) secure a longer tenure with the Lakers, or B) because he can't wait to leave the organization. Bryant told the New York Post on Tuesday that he would make a recruiting visit to New York if the Knicks extend an invitation when free agency begins in three weeks. "I'm going to listen to all options. If he (Knicks GM Isiah Thomas) invites me, I'll be there," Bryant said.
The Arizona Republic reported last week that while the Suns would love to land Bryant, they know the risk involved in pursuing him while disregarding other more realistic options. That's why they also have been mentioned in rumors concerning the acquisition of Tracy McGrady or Manu Ginobili, possibly using Shawn Marion and their No. 7 lottery pick to facilitate a deal.

If you subscribe to the theory that Kobe simply wants a better deal in L.A., the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith proposes a plan that has the Lakers keeping Kobe, shipping out Shaquille O'Neal and preparing to make a run at Yao Ming when he becomes a free agent in 2006, when Bryant will be 28 -- the same age Michael Jordan began his string of NBA titles.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Phil Jackson
Lakers
Lakers Jun. 9 - Being the daughter of the owner and girlfriend of the coach gives Jeanie Buss some exclusive insight and she says Jackson will be in L.A. next season.
"That's my personal feeling," she said in the L.A. Daily News. "I have not had this conversation with Mitch (Kupchak, the general manager), or my dad, but I feel that, given the way things have been going, I can't see how we can't continue with them the way they are."

But no one thinks it's going to be quite that easy with Phil, Kobe, Malone or Payton when the season ends and contracts expire or are opted out of. "She freelanced that," said Jackson. Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Lakers had already offered Jackson one year at $10 million but he turned it down in hopes of getting a two-year deal worth $25 million.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Malik Rose
Spurs
Bobcats Jun. 9 - Rose can see the writing on the wall. His days in San Antonio appear to be numbered as the team likely won't protect him in the upcoming expansion draft.
"It's like a mathematics problem," Rose said in the Express News. "They have to leave a certain number of players off to protect a certain amount of players. ... They have to protect the guys they think are going to help them the most. And I'm not going to be on that list."

Since signing a long-term deal two years ago, Rose has clashed with head coach Gregg Popovich often. "That was one of the greatest moments in my life," Rose said of his $42 million deal, "and it's turned out to be a huge thorn in my side for certain reasons."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Marcus Camby
Nuggets
Nuggets Jun. 9 - It's official. Camby opted out of his contract with the Nuggets in hopes of securing a longer deal with the team, which he hopes happens soon. "If they come out correct, I don't have no reason to go with any other cities or any other teams," he said in the Denver Post. "I would definitely want to get (a contract) out of the way as soon as possible."
The move also helps the Nuggets, allowing them protect another player on their roster in the expansion draft. "I see it as a positive for both sides, really," Vandeweghe said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, I think Marcus wants to be in Denver, and we certainly want him back."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Troy Hudson
Timberwolves
Timberwolves Jun. 9 - Rehab on his injured ankle will begin in a month, but free agency began last week for Hudson when he opted out his contract with the Timberwolves. Although he hopes to stay with the team, he also hopes to be getting paid more than the $2.1 million he was due if he had kept his current deal.
"My only concern right now is, I would love to be in Minnesota," Hudson said in the Star Tribune. "I have a house here. I'm type of player who's tired of moving around. It's a Midwestern city, I'm from the Midwest. This is where I want to be. I'm a free agent right now, I'm not denying it, but for me, right now, the Timberwolves are my team. I wish I could sign a contract tomorrow. But it's a negotiating process, they have to do what's best for them and I have to do what's best for me . . . You just get to point where you feel that you deserve a little more."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Alonzo Mourning
Nets
Nets Jun. 8 - The Nets hope Mourning comes back. Jason Kidd said he expects Alonzo to come back. But someone, obviously, forgot to check with Morning. "Barring a miracle, no, that is not my intention," said Mourning in the Bergen Country Record.
"My intention right now is to continue to focus on making sure that this new organ that I have in me stays in me. I don't want to go through that procedure again."

Mourning is still recovering from kidney surgery, though he has made constant appearances behind the Nets' bench. "As far as the possibility of me playing again, that is something that yes, being around the game, obviously I think about," he said. "But it is not an issue. The important issue is making sure that my body keeps its kidney."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Earl Watson
Grizzlies
Timberwolves Jun. 8 - The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that the Timberwolves are trying to work out a deal through the Charlotte Bobcats and the expansion draft that would land them Watson. The paper also reports that franchise player Kevin Garnett would much rather have Troy Hudson back, but Hudson appears set on testing the free-agent market. Hudson, who is expected to opt out of his contract soon, could make $2.1 million with the Timberwolves next year.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Head coach
Hawks
Mike Brown
Del Harris
John McLeod
Dwayne Casey
Mike Woodson
Mike Fratello Jun. 7 - The list of potential head coaches for the Atlanta Hawks continues to grow, with the Indianapolis Star reporting Pacers associate head coach Mike Brown will interview for the job next week. As Indiana's defensive coordinator, Brown was largely responsible for the Pacers improved play on that end of the floor.
He is now on a list in Atlanta that already includes Dallas assistant Del Harris, Denver assistant John McLeod and Seattle assistant Dwayne Casey. Others expected to interview are Detroit assistant Mike Woodson and former Atlanta and Cleveland head coach Mike Fratello.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Antonio McDyess
Suns
Rockets Jun. 7 - The Rockets wanted Antonio McDyess when he was at his peak a few years ago. They might finally have a shot at him now.
"I have had no ... conversations with the Houston Rockets about Antonio McDyess," McDyess' agent, Andy Miller, told the Houston Chronicle. "But Antonio has indicated to me that, one, remaining in his adopted hometown of Houston, Texas, is very appealing to him. He loves the city and community. Two, he has a high regard and respect for the team, its personnel, management and coaching staff. And three, this would provide him the opportunity to win, to contribute to the success they are having, and to go over and above what they've already achieved."

McDyess averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds from 1998-99 through 2000-01 but has played in only 52 games since because of lingering effects of a major knee injury.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Pau Gasol
Grizzlies
Grizzlies Jun. 7 - No one knows better than Jerry West that Memphis needs to make a move to get to the next level, but potential trading partners might as well scratch Gasol off their wish list.
"Every once in a while I hear Pau Gasol's name mentioned in trades," West told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "The last six champions in the NBA have all had a player who is very good with his back to the basket. And unless somebody is offering us Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant or a player of that magnitude, I would never be willing to trade Gasol. Another player in my mind is James Posey."

West, however, did say he is trying to put together a deal and wouldn't be opposed to including the team's draft picks.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Vlade Divac
Kings
Kings
? Jun. 4 - Vlade Divac may be a free agent, but he's still a King at heart. "The Kings are my first option," said Divac in the Sacramento Bee. "I feel like a King. I came here six years ago because I believe in Geoff (Petrie) and the things we can do. It would have to be perfect situation for me to leave."
Recently, Divac has considered teams like the Clippers and Lakers (where he started his career) and even retirement. But with the Kings' future in flux, he seems to want to stick around and see it through. "I think we have the best team in the league," he said. "It just has to click together. What really ticks me off is that I saw great talent, I saw opportunity, and we didn't capitalize. I don't know why it happened."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Al Harrington
Pacers
Pacers
Bulls Jun. 4 - Al Harrington may be the odd man out of the Pacers' small forward rotation. "This is an unbalanced roster," coach Rick Carlisle said in the Indianapolis Star. "There are a glut of guys at the small forward spot, and there haven't been enough minutes. I don't think this team will be back in our exact form next year. I just think there will be some changes, through free agency, the draft or trades. There's going to be some things that are different, without question."
Harrington believes he should be starting. Carlisle believes he should be starting. The problem is that there can be only one starting small forward on the team and the Pacers already have Ron Artest. "This has been a tough situation for Al," Carlisle said. "I view him as a starter in this league. As the summer progresses we'll see what takes form. If there was the opportunity for him to be a starter here, that would be great. If there isn't, it may be time for him to move on to another team."

The Bulls are interested in Harrington, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, but likely won't be willing to trade the No. 3 pick in the draft for him.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Gary Payton
Lakers
? Jun. 4 - Rather than change his address and head coach for a second time in two seasons, Gary Payton may, instead, change his mind and his own style of play to stay with the Lakers.
"Let me work at standstill jumpshots if that's what it's going to be," Payton said in the Orange County Register. "In the summer, if that's what I want to do, I'd work on that."

It has been reported in the past that Payton was unhappy with the current Laker situation and would opt out of his contract at the conclusion of the season. He has since softened his stance and linked his stay to Karl Malone. But this is the first sign that he would go to such an extreme to remain in L.A.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Eddy Curry
Bulls
Mavs
Sonics
Blazers May. 28 - According to the Chicago Tribune, both the Grizzlies and SuperSonics have contacted the Bulls about Curry, as both look for a low-post presence to contend in the big-man dominated West. The paper suggests the Grizzlies could offer Pau Gasol and Shane Battier for Curry, Chicago's first-round pick (No. 3 overall) and one of the Bulls' bad contracts.
Or, the paper proposes, Seattle could offer Ray Allen and the No. 12 pick in the draft for Curry, the No. 3 pick and a bad contract of someone like Jerome Williams or Antonio Davis.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Latrell Sprewell
Timberwolves
Wolves
Spurs Jun. 3 - There's speculation that the Spurs will make another run at Sprewell after losing out to the Wolves last year. Sprewell can become a free agent next month because of an opt out clause in his contract, but Wolves owner Glen Taylor is confident Spree will be staying in Minnesota.
"He's our player right now, so he is assured of $14.6 million," Taylor said in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I wouldn't think that he would want to play on a team unless it was a winning team. I think that cuts it down pretty much."

Fred Hoiberg and Trenton Hassell can also leave the team for similar reasons, but seem to be staying out of team camaraderie. However, point guard Troy Hudson, who made only $2.7 million this year, is leaning toward testing the market.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Kurt Thomas
Knicks
? Jun. 3 - Knicks head coach Lenny Wilkins mentioned the need for a stronger, bigger power forward, which immediately started speculation that the Knicks might use veteran Kurt Thomas as trade bait despite the fact that he had just signed a four-year extension worth about $30 million. The New York Daily News reports that any deal would have to include a 20 percent trade kicker that might scare off any potential suitors for Thomas. Besides, he is already the team's leading rebounder, second in blocked shots and, "I think everybody saw I could play with the injury," he said. "I don't think that will be a factor or anything."


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Scottie Pippen
Bulls
? Jun. 2 - Though Pippen has said he probably will retire, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports Bulls GM John Paxson could use Pippen's contract to help balance a trade involving the No. 3 pick in this year's draft.
"To get deals done, you need salaries to match up," Paxson told the paper. "We'll have to use whatever means we have to make a deal. I can't rule out anything or rule in anything."

Pippen has one year left on his contract at $5.4 million.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Ray Allen
Sonics
Nets? Jun. 2 - According to the N.Y. Post, the Nets have contacted the Sonics about a deal for Allen, entering the final year of his contract at $14.625 million, that would send Kerry Kittles and a combination of other players to Seattle. Kittles is scheduled to make $10.2 million next season and is likely to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Antoine Walker
Mavericks
? Jun. 2 - The Dallas Morning News reports that if the Mavericks retain Walker for next season, he likely will be relegated to a reserve role. If that's the case, the paper suggests, he might be more open to a trade or to opt out of the final year of his contract, worth $14.5 million.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Steve Nash
Mavericks
Mavericks
Nuggets
Suns Jun. 1 - Nash is among the free agents Denver will be pursuing, reports ESPN.com's Marc Stein, but the team with the best (albeit slim) chance of wooing Nash away from virtual blood brothers Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley is Phoenix.
Nash never sold the house he bought as a Phoenix youngster -- his family still uses it -- and the early word is the Suns will make Nash their No. 1 free-agent target, not Kobe Bryant, since they see actually landing Bryant as a long-shot fantasy.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Rasheed Wallace
Pistons
Pistons
Knicks May. 28 - Who knows what free-agent-to-be Rasheed Wallace is thinking on a day-to-day basis, but at least, for now, he's got the Detroit Pistons on his mind. "That's definitely a strong possibility," Wallace told the Detroit News about re-signing with the Pistons. "I definitely like it. They're a good bunch of guys."
New York was originally thought to be his destination of choice, but his time spent alongside Ben Wallace in a championship race may have changed that. "They complement each other," teammate Richard Hamilton said. "They know where each other is at all times of the game."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Mehmet Okur
Pistons
Pistons
Mavericks
Suns
Nuggets
Jazz May. 28 - The Detroit Free Press is reporting Okur may command as much as $8.5 million in free agency. "I'm excited about my future," Okur told the paper. "I'm not nervous about what might happen this summer. I know that if we do well and keep playing that people will pay attention. Everything will be OK."
At that price, though, the Pistons might have to decide if they want to focus on the immediate future with Rasheed Wallace or look down the road with Okur. It has become apparent that they cannot sign both.

"I'm happy here," Okur said. "This is where I started. My friends are here. I'm happy with coaches and my teammates. I have a good time with them. It's a lot of fun. I don't want to talk about (free agency) because we're doing well, and that's what's important right now."

If the Pistons cannot re-sign Okur, the second-year PF/C from Turkey will have plenty of suitors. The Deseret News of Utah indicates the Mavericks and Knicks have joined a list that already included the Suns, Nuggets and Jazz.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Greg Ostertag
Jazz
Jazz
Mavericks May. 27 - Utah may have been his first and only NBA gig so far, but home has always been Texas for center Greg Ostertag. And when he becomes a free agent on July 1, he has no reservations of returning. "I'm hoping they'll bring me in to talk about it at the appropriate time," Ostertag said in the Dallas Morning News. "I'm not a scorer and they don't need a scorer. They need a rebounder and shot-blocker, which I can be. I'm going to look at all my options. But it would be my ultimate dream to play in Dallas."
The paper goes on to note that the Mavs could split their mid-level exception between Ostertag and Marquis Daniels, spend their $1.6 million minimum exception on him or negotiate a sign and trade with the Jazz. But even if Ostertag stays in Utah, he is expected to take a big cut from the $8.6 million he made last season with the Jazz.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Brent Barry
Sonics
Sonics
Nets
Nuggets
Cavs
Warriors May. 25 - Expect the Nets, Nuggets, Cavs and Warriors to make runs at Barry in free agency, according to the New York Daily News. The paper indicates Barry will be seeking the mid-level exception of $5 million per year over three to four years. However, the Seattle Times cites sources who say Barry has turned down a three-year, $18 million deal to re-sign with the Sonics and is seeking a four-year contract. The Times indicates the Sonics still hope to re-sign him.
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Old 06-11-04, 02:53 PM
Spur_Fanatic's Avatar
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Thanks, man.

Last edited by Spur_Fanatic; 06-11-04 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 06-11-04, 03:19 PM
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It's strange how things work out, one of the reasons I admire Pop so much is because of his candor with his players and with how he deals with the media. On the Spurs team Malick is one of those guys who tends to speak his mind, his interviews are always good and he never hedges with his answers. In my mind he is also a very candid person, and yet, it's this outspokeness that has alienated Malick from Pop, It seems like Pop doesn't mind telling people how it is but doesn't like to hear it from his players or at least this one particular player. It's sad because both of them are true competitors who will fight you tooth and nail to get a win.
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