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Insider - 6/26
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martin
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6/26/2002  1:08 PM
The FINAL Insider Mock Draft
by Chad Ford


Sleepless. Cranky. And doped up on caffeine.

The rest of the NBA waited restlessly Tuesday night as the Rockets, Cavs and Clippers threatened to dramatically rock the draft.

It's the day of reckoning for the Rockets, and Tuesday night many teams weren't convinced that when David Stern calls out the No. 1 pick, it will be Yao Ming.

Don't panic. The Rockets have given every indication that Yao is their guy. But panic is what general managers do this time of year. And the Rockets' getting cold feet as they step to the alter with Yao is a GM's worst nightmare.

They want the Rockets on that wall. They need the Rockets on that wall.

Are their fears unrealistic? Sure. Are they real? Absolutely. Six different league executives told Insider Tuesday evening that they felt the Rockets would not select Yao with their No. 1 pick.

They cited all of the usual suspects. Red tape with China, a blockbuster trade offer, concerns about Yao's ultimate ability to succeed in the league.

However, things have never looked more optimistic than they do this morning. Agreements with the China Basketball Association were finally reached overnight, assuring that the Rockets would begin tonight's draft by selecting Yao, the Houston Chronicle reported.

An exchange of letters also brought written promises from the CBA that Yao would be available for the duration of the Rockets' regular-season and postseason schedules.

Things were a bit hairier Tuesday night as Rockets brass huddled to discuss worst-case scenarios. The rest of the NBA waited with bated breath. If the Rockets did falter, Jay Williams would likely be the No. 1 pick, Mike Dunleavy would have gone No. 2 and the rest of the draft would have faced considerable chaos.

Take a deep breath. Yao will be a Rocket. From all indications Williams will be a Bull. After that . . . well read on.
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martin
Posts: 48331
Alba Posts: 106
Joined: 7/24/2001
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6/26/2002  1:09 PM
Draft Rumors: Will the Bulls trade Jay Williams?

The rumors were flying fast and furious late Tuesday night as teams rounded into the home stretch and the Nuggets, Cavs, Clippers and Wizards threatened to make just about every mock draft irrelevant. We're pretty sure that Mike Dunleavy will end up in Golden State. And Drew Gooden remains that popular pick at No. 4, though a source in Memphis seemed to think everyone would be surprised by who Jerry West ultimately anoints as the savior or the Grizz.

After that? More curves than Anna Kournikova in a thong.

First things first. There are a few GMs who are convinced that the Bulls had a deal on the table for Jay Williams. It's a long shot folks. But two league sources say Krause may throw us all for a loop.

The Clippers are trying to wrest away a star point guard. They struck out with Baron Davis. They're still talking to the Cavs about Andre Miller. . .and they still haven't closed off talks with the Bulls about the No. 2 pick and Jay Williams. The Bulls want Darius Miles in return for the No. 2. That was previously thought to be a deal killer. It may not be anymore.

Is it possible that the Bulls and Clipps could be in for another big draft day swap? Despite the cornrows incident that marred their first meeting, Miles is still a coveted player in Chicago. With Jamal Crawford already there at point guard, Miles would give the Bulls that young, athletic front line they always envisioned.

The question is whether the Clipps are ready to give up on Miles. The Cavs are asking the same question, and if L.A. believes that Lamar Odom is its small forward of the future, it may be worth the risk. While Miller has the veteran leadership, Williams is cheaper and has more upside.

Sources in Denver told Insider Tuesday night that they had not decided who they would draft. There is still a split in the organization among Caron Butler, Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Nene Hilario. Gooden would also be in the mix if he fell to them.

With several teams offering the Nuggets draft picks for the No. 5 and several others targeting James Posey, the Nuggets could go a number of directions. It appears that talks about Posey with the Wizards and Nuggets broke down Tuesday night.

Still, the possibility that Posey will be gone has given Butler, a tough small forward who is ready to play right away, the edge.

Nothing got more attention Tuesday than the Cavs' ongoing talks with the Clippers about Andre Miller.

Miller's agent, Lon Babby, flew to Cleveland Tuesday to talk things over with Miller and the Cavs. With Cleveland seemingly leaning toward blowing this team up and increasing its chances in next year's LeBron James power ball lotto, everything was murky from No. 6 down.

If the Cavs keep their pick, sources told Insider Tuesday night that they'll likely select Dajuan Wagner. Even if Miller isn't traded tonight, the drafting of Wagner would signal an impending deal this summer.

While the Cavs had calls from numerous teams Tuesday about Miller, including the Pacers, Magic, Bucks, Knicks, Wizards, Hawks and Timberwolves, the Clippers remained the odds on favorites to get the deal done.

A Clippers spokesperson told the L.A. times that there was a 50 percent chance that something could get done. However, GM Elgin Baylor didn't seem so sure. He told the L.A. Daily News that "nothing that has been written has any truth to it."

The holdup is the Cavs' insistence that either Lamar Odom or Darius Miles be included in the deal. The Clipps are offering Corey Maggette or Keyon Dooling. If the Clipps were to give up Odom or Miles, they would also grab the Cavs' No. 6 pick in the draft.

Other rumors involving the Cavs also abounded Tuesday. There was talk of a three-way trade that would send Miller to the Hornets, Baron Davis to the Clippers and the usual suspects to the Cavs. The Clipps prefer Davis to Miller and the Hornets are struggling to keep Davis on board with their move to New Orleans.

The Magic are also in the fray, offering Mike Miller, Darrell Armstrong the No. 18 and a future first-rounder for Miller. The Wizards would give the Cavs their No. 11 and No. 17 for Miller. And, the Pacers reportedly offered Jamaal Tinsley, either Jonathan Bender or Al Harrington and the No. 14 for Miller. According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Nuggets offered the No. 5 and Posey for Miller.

The situation in Washington also remained unsettled late Tuesday night. The Wizards thought they had a deal for Posey when they traded Courtney Alexander to the Hornets Tuesday. However, sources say the deal fell through.

The Wizards have a few more tricks up their sleeve. They've talked to the Magic about a deal that would give them Mike Miller for the No. 11 and Jahidi White, the Washington Post reported. With the 11th pick, the Magic would pray that either Amare Stoudemire or Nene Hilario fell to them.

The Magic however, told the Orlando Sentinel that they haven't seen anything to knock their socks off for Miller. "If there's a 'Baby Shaq' available, then we'll do it," Magic coach Doc Rivers said of dealing Miller. "I haven't seen one."

GM John Gabriel concurs: "We have no intention of losing Mike Miller."

If the Wizards stay put, they'll draft a point guard and a small forward.
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martin
Posts: 48331
Alba Posts: 106
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6/26/2002  1:10 PM
More Draft Rumors: Are the Pacers after Jacobsen?

It looks like the Bucks' talks with the Cavs are dead now that Cleveland is trying to move Andre Miller. With not much else on the table, the team may be stuck at No. 13.

"Up to this point, nothing has happened," GM Ernie Grunfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We keep listening, keep talking. It's still likely we're going to keep our own pick, but at the same time we'll continue to explore all of our options."

Donnie Walsh and Isiah Thomas waved an American flag Tuesday, pulled out some apple pie and seemed to indicate that all things being equal, they may just grab an All-American boy -- someone like Casey Jacobsen, Juan Dixon or Kareem Rush.

Maybe Thomas has had enough of Primoz Brezec.

"For whatever reason in this draft, the guys who have been tested in the American system are in the back," Thomas told the Indianapolis Star. "The guys who have good character, come from good families, go to school, do the right things and win . . . for some reason, all of that is overlooked because of potential, something that may or may not happen."

It could be a smoke screen. Sources have the Pacers linked to Jiri Welsch. They may be trying to camouflage their intentions from Washington, which was really impressed with Welsch Monday. The Wizards are hoping he falls to them at No. 17, but would consider taking him at No. 11 if they felt he wouldn't be on the board.

Or the Pacers could be content to slide. They could have their pick of Jacobsen, Dixon or another player they covet, John Salmons, later in the first round.

Pat Riley seems to have tipped his hand on what he's looking for tonight. "I believe we can get a very good player," Riley told the Miami Herald. "I think we will hang in there at No. 10. There are a number of big players we like."

If Connecticut small forward Caron Butler surprisingly drops to 10, Riley said picking him would be "a no-brainer." If Butler's gone, the Heat could turn to Jared Jeffries. "If he's down there at 10, it would be a difficult decision not to take him," Riley said. "Jared is rock-solid: great size, great length, very mature. We were very impressed with him in the workout. You develop him as a running perimeter power forward."

It looks like the Hawks may not move into the first round after all. They're no longer convinced that someone better than Jason Terry will be on the board.

"I think we can have access to any of several different picks in the 20s," GM Pete Babcock told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "But I'm not sure we will find a player who can help us."
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martin
Posts: 48331
Alba Posts: 106
Joined: 7/24/2001
Member: #2
USA
6/26/2002  1:10 PM
Writers Bloc: Mock Draft Mania

It's mock draft mania time. They're rarely right. Blindfolded monkeys have done a better job than I have in years past. But everybody loves them. They're like a bad car wreck that you just can't stop staring at. Insider scoured the net this morning for the most interesting mock drafts from local papers.

We start with the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith, who predicts that the Knicks will take Jared Jeffries and Juan Dixon will go No. 14.

The L.A. Times's Mark Heisler has the Clipps taking Dajuan Wagner and Melvin Ely, and has Juan Dixon landing with the Lakers.

The New York Daily News's Mitch Lawrence has the Knicks opting for Jeffries at pick No. 7 and Smush Parker landing to the Nets at No. 24.

The Orlando Sentinel's Tim Povtak and Jerry Brewer do a joint mock draft. Povtak has the Magic taking Frank Williams while Brewer thinks they'll grab Marcus Haislip. Both mocks have Casey Jacobsen slipping into Round 2.

The Boston Globe's Peter May has the Magic taking center Jason Jennings and Freddie Jones going to the Blazers at No. 21.

The Philadelphia Inqurier's Stephen Smith has Caron Butler slipping all the way to No. 11. As for the Sixers' pick? He thinks it's going to the Warriors.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Enlund has Amare Stoudemire falling to the Bucks at No. 13. Wishful thinking?

The Akron Beacon Journal's Chris Tommason is probably the best NBA beat writer you've never heard of. He has the Cavs grabbing Dajuan Wagner at No. 6.
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Insider - 6/26

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