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    Default Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Mainly for Rudy Fernandez fans...

    On ESPN insider's Mock Draft preview:

    "The biggest risers will be Ike Diogu, Wayne Simien and, believe it or not, Charlie Villanueva. The biggest fall? Chris Taft.

    We'll also be pulling a number of international players off the mock draft because it looks likely they'll withdraw on June 21. Martynas Andriuskevicius (lack of a promise), Nemanja Aleksandrov (injury), Tiago Splitter (buyout issues), Marko Tomas (already withdrawn) and Rudy Fernandez (lack of promise) are all likely to pull out of the draft and try again next year. That opens up five first-round spots for guys who were left off our first-round mock.

    That means that Diogu, Simien, Roko-Leni Ukic, Louisville's Francisco Garcia and high school guard Monta Ellis are making the cut this time."
    Sometimes a player's greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team. -- Scottie Pippen

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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    If Fransisco Garcia is around at the 17 pick, I say we take him. This kid is going to be a stud in the NBA. He's like 6'8", really reminds me of Reggie and can shoot the lights out and drive to the hole.
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Quote Originally Posted by TruWarier
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    If Fransisco Garcia is around at the 17 pick, I say we take him. This kid is going to be a stud in the NBA. He's like 6'8", really reminds me of Reggie and can shoot the lights out and drive to the hole.
    Its hard to disagree with that but...

    I don't know I would like to see a big guy come in.

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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Quote Originally Posted by IndyPacers67
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    Its hard to disagree with that but...

    I don't know I would like to see a big guy come in.
    We got big guys. I don't know if we are ever going to get a big guy that is going to make the fans happy. Bird has said he wants a team that can push it, what better than a 6'8" small forward that can run and shoot?
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/m...059:33:36PMPDT

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    Mock draft II preview

    The predraft camp officially ended Friday and now I'm off to Treviso, Italy on Saturday for the Reebok Eurocamp to see some of the top international draft prospects.
    On Monday afternoon, we'll unveil our second mock draft of the year.

    Here's a sneak preview of what you're going to see:

    Channing Frye is moving up a notch to No. 8 after Insider received credible evidence that the Knicks are leaning strongly toward drafting him there. Not only did Isiah Thomas fly to Arizona to do a background check on him, they also did a secret workout with Frye on the West Coast last week. Frye passed the background check and the workout with flying colors and the Knicks flew back to Chicago thinking he was their man.

    We've still got three weeks before the draft, so opinions can still change, but it looks like the Warriors need a contingency plan.

    The biggest risers will be Ike Diogu, Wayne Simien and, believe it or not, Charlie Villanueva. The biggest fall? Chris Taft.

    We'll also be pulling a number of international players off the mock draft because it looks likely they'll withdraw on June 21. Martynas Andriuskevicius (lack of a promise), Nemanja Aleksandrov (injury), Tiago Splitter (buyout issues), Marko Tomas (already withdrawn) and Rudy Fernandez (lack of promise) are all likely to pull out of the draft and try again next year. That opens up five first-round spots for guys who were left off our first-round mock.

    That means that Diogu, Simien, Roko-Leni Ukic, Louisville's Francisco Garcia and high school guard Monta Ellis are making the cut this time.

    Check back on Monday afternoon for the full updated mock draft.
    posted: June 10, 2005 10:09:46 PM PDT | Feedback



    Media day musings

    Friday was media day at the Chicago predraft camp and several of the top prospects in the draft made some interesting revelations:
    • Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams both told Insider that the Atlanta Hawks have told them that, if available, they will take them with the No. 2 pick.

    That's not a big surprise for Bogut. The Hawks need a center and have him ranked No. 1 on their board.

    That's a more interesting revelation for Williams, given that some have thought the Hawks might opt for a point guard if Bogut was off the board.

    Bogut said the Hawks are cheering for the Bucks to pass on him.

    "Every time they read about me having eye problems or Rick Majerus pushing for Marvin Williams, they love it. They're rolling on the floor," Bogut said. "I think they're hoping I'm there when they pick."

    Bogut was the best interview of the day.

    "I've dominated at every level I've played at and the Bucks need a center," Bogut said. "I think people keep saying I can't be No. 1 because of the myth of the great white stiff."

    • Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul said that he put on a private workout for the Blazers and Jazz on Thursday. The workout was a one-on-none affair, which Paul didn't particularly like.

    "I'm a point guard and what I do is compete and find ways to help my team win," Paul said. "Working alone in a gym can't really capture that."

    Of course, Paul's agent is just following protocol. Most players in the top 5 refuse to workout against other players that play the same position.

    Speaking of same position, how does Paul feel about the possibility of being drafted by the Blazers, who happen to have Sebastian Telfair slated to start at the point next season?

    "It's a conflict of interest," Paul said. "If they take me, they'll do something else with him."

    Paul is scheduled to work out for the Bobcats next Friday.

    • North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton and Illinois point guard Deron Williams have kept their rivalry going past the NCAA tournament.

    Felton told Insider that at a recent workout in New Orleans, Williams refused to participate when he realized he'd have to go up against Felton. Williams ended up working out alone, later in the day.

    Williams doesn't deny that it happened, but he says there were mitigating circumstances.

    "That's my agent's decision," Williams said. "I'm ahead of Ray on the draft board, so he doesn't want me to workout against him. We're trying to work out against Chris Paul but he won't work out against me."
    posted: June 10, 2005 2:40:39 PM PDT | Feedback



    Frye is draft's high-riser

    A few months ago scouts were talking about Arizona's Channing Frye as a late first-round pick.
    A few weeks ago, they dramatically changed course, calling him a likely top-10 pick in the NBA draft.

    How could he rise so high in such a short time? I went back to Tim Grover's ATTACK Athletics facility on Friday morning to see for myself.

    Frye simply looked awesome. He's put on 10 pounds of muscle since he started training with Grover. Most of it is in his shoulders and chest. Now weighing a legit 260 and measuring 6-foot-11 in shoes, Frye looks like a center.

    On the court, he was even more impressive. He's improved his explosiveness the past few months and is now springing off the floor. Laterally, he's very quick and moves effortlessly around the court.

    He showed off an impressive array of basketball skills. He has an excellent jump shot and has extended his range out to the college 3-point line. He gets great lift on his jumper and should be murder on the pick and pop. He's especially impressive with his accuracy on step-backs and fadeaways.

    Frye has a soft touch around the basket. He also showed some great footwork. He used his quickness to spin away from defenders on the baseline and also showed a nice little baby hook.

    The bottom line is that he should be able to score in the League.

    Whatever knocks there are against Frye weren't evident in his workout. Scouts have questioned the toughness and aggressiveness Frye displayed at Arizona. I think he dispelled some of that in the NCAA Tournament.

    Any team that brings him in for a workout will be impressed. Frye's agent, Rob Pelinka, is being very selective about the teams Frye works out for.

    For NBA teams looking for a skilled, athletic big man with shot-blocking skills, they're not going to get a prospect better than Frye. That's why he's moved up to the top 10. It's tough to imagine the Knicks, Warriors and Lakers all passing on him.
    posted: June 10, 2005 11:53:04 AM PDT | Feedback



    A better Gigli

    Gigli the movie is one of the worst ever made. Gigli the player? Not too shabby.
    Italian big man Angelo Gigli held a workout for the Bulls, Wizards, Sixers and Hawks on Friday afternoon and was a big surprise.

    The 7-footer had a rep in Italy as being an athletic, hard-working player who loves to dunk the ball, grab rebounds and block shots. Usually those types of players don't show that well in workouts, but Gigli really stood out.

    While not as athletic as advertised, he was much more skilled on the perimeter than the game tape showed. His mid-range game was off the charts and he gets great lift on his jumper. His range extends all the way to the college 3-pointer, which he knocked down with regularity. His shot started to fade when he ventured out to the NBA arc, but that's not surprising. Most Euros have never even attempted an NBA three before they get here.

    The fact that he's 22 years old and had a nice season for Reggio Emilia this season (10.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 1.2 bpg) bode well for him. Teams like the Sonics, Jazz and Pistons have already worked him out and have him in consideration for the late first round. More likely, he's a nice second-round pick that continues to develop in Italy for another year or two.
    posted: June 10, 2005 2:29:54 PM PDT | Feedback



    Heavyweight matchup

    After watching Martynas Andriuskevicius workout, I hopped in a cab and made my way over to the best workout of the week, a head-to-head matchup between New Mexico's Danny Granger and Syracuse's Hakim Warrick run by the Charlotte Bobcats.
    Both Granger and Warrick looked fantastic in one of the hardest-fought workouts I've seen in a while.

    Granger shot the lights out in the skill drills showing great NBA 3-point range. He also showed that he had the athleticism and ball-handling skills to be a great NBA three.

    Warrick also showed off that impressive mid-range jumper with great accuracy out to 18 feet. He also showed again that he's one of the quickest and most athletic big guys in the draft. Warrick struggled in the ball-handling drills, but that's not a huge surprise. It's one area of the game he still is working on.

    The real fun began when the two played one on one. Granger had clearly read the scouting report on Warrick and laid off him defensively giving him the open jumper. Warrick rose up and hit his first four jumpers forcing Granger to reevaluate his strategy. Once Granger crowded Warrick, he struggled a little. Warrick can cover a lot of ground with his first step, but his ball-handling limitations kept him from getting to the rim. Granger was so quick and physical that Warrick rarely got by him. Instead he was forced to launch fade-away jumpers. Several of them went in, but it was a little disappointing that he couldn't get inside more where his length and jumping ability would've given him a better advantage over Granger.

    Granger was great offensively. He did a great job of getting separation and then elevating on his jumper. Warrick had a real quandary in guarding Granger. When he got too close, Granger put it on the floor and drove hard to the basket. When he took a step back, Granger rained down jumpers with great accuracy. Warrick did a good job defensively using his length to bother Granger around the basket, but it was clear he was uncomfortable guarding man to man (Syracuse used zones exclusively).

    Things got much more physical in the two-on-two games. Warrick dropped Granger to the floor twice. Granger knocked Warrick over several times going for the steal. At the end of the workout, Warrick tried to jump over Granger for a spectacular jam and ended up flattened on his back.

    Overall, both guys really helped themselves in the workout.

    Warrick showed his emerging perimeter game, heart and excellent conditioning (contrary to reports in the New York media).

    Granger showed the total package. Athleticism, a great shot and superior, physical defense. The only knock on Granger before the workout was that he isn't always aggressive enough. He totally dispelled those fears on Thursday.

    We've had Granger ranked in the top 10 for five months. Don't be surprised if he gets serious consideration by Charlotte at No. 5 if Chris Paul and Deron Williams are off the board.
    posted: June 9, 2005 9:58:55 PM PDT | Feedback



    International invasion

    The NBA held a couple of high-profile public workouts at the Chicago pre-draft camp on Thursday.
    First up was Lithuanian big man Martynas Andriuskevicius. He has been tutored by Arvydas Sabonis the past two years, but hasn't received much playing time. Still, given his size (7-3) and shooting ability, Andriuskevicius has been ranked by many scouts as a top-10 pick in the draft.

    On Thursday, he worked out against 7-footer Jan Jagla of Penn State.

    Andriuskevicius spent most of the time in drills. He has great shooting and ball-handling skills for a big man and even showed some range from NBA 3-point distance. Jagla, however, was nearly as good. He shot the ball just as well and showed nice mobility.

    They finished the workout going head to head. Andriuskivicus showed some nice moves around the basket and a nice fadeaway baseline jumper. He also played aggressively and fought off the more physical Jagla.

    Several NBA scouts that Insider talked to were impressed with his skills. However he really lacks the strength to hold his position in the paint and struggled defensively against Jagla, a guy who went undrafted last season.

    His agent, Herb Rudoy, told Insider that Andriuskevicius needed a promise in the top 12 to stay in the draft. He has the talent to warrant that selection, but he's at least two years away, physically, from playing in the NBA. Don't be surprised if he pulls out and tries to bulk out for next year.

    Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez was up next. He worked out against Ernest Shelton of Alabama.

    Fernandez is a great talent who has put up really good numbers in Spain the past two seasons. However, an injury this spring has hurt his draft stock a bit.

    He showed great athleticism, a good handle and a pretty good jump shot on Thursday. The problem was Fernandez looked painfully skinny. He couldn't have weighed 180 pounds.

    That's going to be a problem for Fernandez in the NBA. His game right now is about penetration and finishing above the rim. His jumper isn't consistent enough yet to spend more time on the perimeter.

    The first time Ben Wallace hits him he could be out a month. While Fernandez has a decent buyout, he really needs to go back to Europe for another year or two

    Shortly after the workout, SFX agent David Bauman told Insider that Marko Tomas was pulling out of the draft and it was likely that Nemanja Aleksandrov (who's here but not participating because of an injured knee) will also withdraw from the draft.

    They're dropping like flies.
    posted: June 9, 2005 10:00:22 PM PDT | Feedback



    Size matters

    The NBA released the measurements for Chicago predraft participants Thursday. As happens every year, everyone came up a little short.
    In fact, most of the prospects measure a half to three-quarters of an inch shorter than they did at the Portsmouth camp. Apparently, tape measure use is no longer a exact science.

    • Cincinnati's Jason Maxiell measued just 6-foot-5 without shoes. However his 7-3Ό wingspan makes up for a lot.

    • Florida's David Lee measured just 6-7Ύ without shoes, nearly an inch shorter than the Nuggets measured him.

    • George Washington's Pops Mensah-Bonsu measured just 6-7Ό without shoes.

    • Memphis' Sean Banks was 6-5Ύ.

    • Oakland's Rawle Marshall came in at just 6-4½ in socks.

    • Chicago State's Deji Akindele was only 6-9½, well below the 7-1 measurement he had in college.

    • Gonzaga's Ronny Turiaf measured 6-8 in socks.

    • UTEP's Omar Thomas had the most shocking measurement. He played power forward this year but measured just 6-3Ό.

    A few guys made up for short measurements with long wingspans.

    • Maryland's John Gilchrist measured just 6-1Ό in socks but had a 6-9Ό wingspan.

    • Brandon Rush had a 6-11Ό wingspan.

    • Charlotte's Eddie Basden's span was 6-10Ό.

    • Deng Gai had a 7-4½ span.

    • Banks had a 7-1 wingspan.

    • Marcus Campbell had a 7-6 wingspan. So did D'or Fisher.
    posted: June 9, 2005 1:45:20 PM PDT | Feedback



    Randolph Morris reappears

    After watching Ersan Ilyasova work out for the Suns, I took a ride across town to catch the SFX workout at the Lakeshore Athletic Club.
    None of SFX's top clients – such as Sean May or Channing Frye – was there. But they did have three underclassmen still flirting with the draft -- Randolph Morris, Amir Johnson and Olu Famutimi -- and one college senior snubbed by Chicago, Duke's Daniel Ewing.

    Almost everyone from the NBA was in attendance. Unlike the Suns' private workout, the SFX workout was more of a drill session. The Suns had players playing an intense game of two-on-two. SFX had its clients on the floor together but not working out with each other.

    Neither of the guards did anything really impressive, and Famutimi is basically a lock to go back to school. The two big guys were much more impressive.

    Morris was the main attraction after pulling out of the predraft camp at the last minute. He showed some nice range on his jump shot, some polish around the basket and some surprising athleticism. He has a nice NBA body and size (though it's pretty doubtful that he's actually 7 feet, as SFX claimed) for the position.

    Johnson also was impressive. He's a great athlete and is slowly putting some muscle on that thin frame. He showed a nice, soft touch around the basket, and he can jump out of the gym.

    While it's clear that Morris was a little more polished and has a more NBA-ready body, Johnson might actually be the better prospect of the two. Both players are leaning toward staying in the draft. Morris is a virtual lock for the first round. Johnson isn't, but he doesn't have the grades to attend Louisville.

    Unfortunately, there isn't much more to write. The drills the players go through can only show so much. I'm not sure why they won't let the players actually go against each other -- it gives you a much better representation of what they can and can't do in a game-type situation. But the truth is that workouts like these are really the norm here.

    Tomorrow, we're going to watch Martynas Andriuskevicius, Rudy Fernandez and Francisco Garcia in individual workouts. Then we'll watch Danny Granger and Hakim Warrick go head-to-head.
    posted: June 8, 2005 2:31:41 PM PDT | Feedback



    Ilyasova impresses

    After traveling 5,000 miles to Turkey to see Ersan Ilyasova and only catching a glimpse, turns out all I needed to do was come to Chicago.
    Suns GM Bryan Colangelo had mercy on me and invited me to a private team workout on Wednesday for Ilyasova, Von Wafer and T.J. Parker.

    Turns out that Ilyasova was worth the trip to Turkey. He had a great workout for the Suns. He was long and athletic and aggresive, as advertised. You could see why teams were comparing him to a young Andrei Kirilenko.

    What surprised was how skilled he was. He has a very nice fadeaway jumper and showed the ability to take his man off the dribble and finish at the rim with both his right and left hand.

    There are really only three concerns with Ilyasova. While he shot the ball terrifically at the workout, his shooting form is very ugly. He kicks his right leg out with almost every shot. He also twists his body to the right giving him the appearance of being off-balance. Of course, when you consider that the Suns have two of the ugliest shooters in the NBA -- Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa -- that's not going to scare them off.

    The other two concerns are his ankle and experience. Ilyasova's ankle, which kept him out most of the year, is better but still not 100 percent. He's still a great athlete, but not as explosive as he was before. Also, while he had several really good games for Ulker (a Euroleague team in Istanbul), he'll be making a big jump to the NBA.

    The other interesting player in the workout was Wafer. He's clearly more talented than some of the guys who got into Chicago. Wafer is athletic, explosive, shot the ball very well and has added some serious muscle to his frame. He was very aggressive defensively in the workout.
    posted: June 8, 2005 1:04:15 PM PDT | Feedback



    Hakim Warrick's workout

    The Chicago pre-draft camp doesn't start until tonight, so I took the chance to go back into Tim Grover's gym to catch Hakim Warrick's workout.
    Warrick worked out for the Knicks, Hornets, Blazers, Clippers, Lakers, Raptors and Bobcats.

    The reviews have been mixed. Teams love the athleticism and pedigree, but he plays so effortlessly that it often looks like he's coasting. He worked out vigerously for an hour alongside the 76ers' Andre Iguodala on Tuesday -- and barely broke a sweat. Despite the appearance, Grover says Warrick's one of the hardest workers in the gym.

    Warrick was in Charlotte on Monday working out for the Bobcats. After the workout GM Bernie Bickerstaff complimented Warrick on his improved mid-range jumper. He wasn't kidding.

    Warrick barely missed from inside 18 feet today. His shooting mechanics are silky smooth. He gets such great lift on his jumper that its going to be hard to stop at the pro level. The only real knock is that he hasn't developed real NBA 3-point range ... yet.

    Warrick's been working out with Grover for eight weeks in an attempt to work on his perimeter skills and add weight to his super-thin frame. The shot looks great, but his body is still a work in progress.

    Grover had him up to 228 before workouts began. But he's already dropped back down to 220. That's still an 18-pound improvement from when he came in. That's right -- he came into Grover's weighing 202 pounds.

    Grover believes Warrick eventually will weigh around 235, but Warrick has to keep drinking his protein shakes.

    "They're terrible," Warrick said. "Worst thing I've ever tasted. It takes me two-and-a-half hours to drink one. It's pink and tastes worse than Pepto Bismal."

    The reason his weight is such as issue is that teams are still trying to figure out his position in the pros. Warrick has the length and leaping ability to be a dominant 4, but he's going to have to keep packing on the weight if he's going to guard NBA power forwards.

    That's why the focus, for now, is on highlighting his skills as a 3. He still needs to work on his ballhandling and his long-range shooting, but he's improved dramatically in a short time. And in a few years, if the pounds ever come, he could be a big-time 4.

    "Hakim's just a player," Grover said. "When you roll out the ball in a game situation, he produces. I think he'll be a lottery pick based on what I've seen."

    If he keeps hitting that jumper and packing on the pounds, Grover might be right.
    posted: June 7, 2005 10:45:44 AM PDT | Feedback



    Live from Chicago: Felton, Brown work out

    I'm in Chicago a few days early to check out some top prospects working out for Tim Grover at ATTACK Athletics.
    On Monday, Raymond Felton and Dee Brown worked out along with Rawle Marshall, Deji Akindele, Jason Maxiell and Taylor Coppenrath.

    Check back throughout the day for live blog updates from the gym. Plus check out our exclusive list of this year's Chicago pre-draft participants.

    First up were the two fastest point guards in the draft – Raymond Felton and Dee Brown – joined by a surprise guest, former Bulls point guard Jay Williams.

    Felton looked the part of a lottery pick on Monday. He has a great body and blinding speed, and he was showing off his much-improved jumper.

    A couple of things really stood out:

    First, Felton is an amazing athlete. He was finishing lobs from Williams with tomahawk jams. That's special when you factor in that Felton measured 6-0Ύ in socks.

    Second, Felton is super-quick laterally. Combine that with his strong upper body, and Felton has a chance to be a great pro defender. If Felton can continue to improve his jumper (he looked great from mid-range, inconsistent from NBA 3-point range), he has the chance to be a great pro.

    Brown might be, baseline to baseline, the fastest guy in the draft. He appears to have bulked up quite a bit in the last month, and he's got a nice shot that extends beyond the NBA 3-point line.

    The only knocks on him are size (he's only 5-11) and a lack of explosive jumping ability (he can't dunk).

    What he can't show in a workout like this is whether he can play the point. His ballhandling skills are good, but you can't judge decision-making skills here. That's why Brown will be playing in Chicago at the predraft camp. If he runs the point well there, he's got a shot at the late first round.
    posted: June 6, 2005 2:32:49 PM PDT | Feedback



    Spurs in seven

    I know everyone keeps saying that a Pistons-Spurs Finals is the NBA's worst nightmare.
    NBA Finals Schedule
    Best-of-7, on ABC
    Date Site Time
    June 9 San Antonio 8:30 ET
    June 12 San Antonio 8:30 ET
    June 14 Detroit 8:30 ET
    June 16 Detroit 8:30 ET
    x-June 19 Detroit 8:30 ET
    x-June 21 San Antonio 8:30 ET
    x-June 23 San Antonio 8:30 ET
    x-if necessary
    As a hoops fan, I just don't see it that way. Any time you get the best two teams in the league in the NBA Finals, it has the potential to be great. The fact that both teams are so evenly matched makes it all the better.

    No, I don't think we'll see either team crack 100 points in a game, but if all the games are as riveting as Game 7 of the Pistons-Heat series, I can live with it.

    I've been leading the Pistons parade all year, but I think the Spurs will prevail in the Finals for three big reasons.

    1. Tony Parker

    When Parker plays well, the Spurs roll. In the 58 games the Spurs won this season, Parker shot 51 percent from the field. In their 22 losses, he shot 42 percent.

    Parker has been excellent against the Pistons once again this year, shooting 50 percent from the field in the last two games.

    Chauncey Billups is a good defender, but he can't keep up with Parker. With Parker consistently getting into the lane, good things usually happen for the Spurs.

    2. Rasheed Wallace

    When the Pistons can establish Wallace, either in the post or on the perimeter, their whole offense opens up. Wallace's ability to move inside and outside usually creates a matchup problem with just about every team in the league.

    Tim Duncan is the one guy who can handle Wallace either way. Maybe that's why Wallace shot just 40 percent from the field against the Spurs this season.

    3. Manu Ginobili

    He's taken his game to another level in the playoffs this year -- averaging 21.7 ppg and 4.3 apg, and shooting 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. Rip Hamilton may be one of the few defenders in the league who can match his endless movement, but that shouldn't slow Manu down. In fact, I think Manu's the best international player in the league right now. His playoff performance has shot him ahead of Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic.

    By now we've learned that you can't underestimate this Pistons team. When their backs are against the wall, they are the most dangerous team in the league.

    But the Spurs are a little better defensively and a lot better offensively. The Pistons have hard work and grit going for them, but the Spurs can match that, too.

    That's why I'm picking the Spurs in seven.
    posted: June 7, 2005 9:07:48 AM PDT | Feedback



    Big upside in Chicago

    After the guards were done working out, several interesting big men took the floor at the West Loop Athletic Club (formerly known as Hoops the Gym).
    Chicago State's Deji Akindele, Cincinnati's Jason Maxiell and Vermont's Taylor Coppenrath all have been working out here and put on a show of contrasting styles on Monday.

    Akindele, a native of Nigeria, has the most upside. He's measured 6-foot-11½ in shoes. He has long arms, is extremely athletic, and has a ready-made NBA body.

    Akindele's in great shape and excelled at a tap drill where the prospect must tap the ball on the backboard five times and then dunk it, then four times and dunk, etc. The best player I ever saw at this drill was Andre Iguodala last year. Akindele was just as good, finishing all five reps.

    He also has great feet (the blessing of being a former soccer player) and likes to finish strong around the rim.

    He isn't a perfect prospect however. He still is very raw, especially offensively. He doesn't have much of a perimeter game and was even missing on some of the close-range stuff. However, if he goes into Chicago and has a big camp, I don't think there's any question he'll get consideration in the first round based solely on potential.

    Maxiell was the star in Portsmouth and did nothing to disappoint on Monday. No one plays harder or with more ferocity. He was bending the rim on every dunk. If he were three inches taller, he'd be a top-five pick.

    Still, you wonder if teams are sleeping on him a bit. He measured just 6-foot-7 in shoes at Portsmouth, but with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and a big vertical jump, he plays much bigger. He could really end up being a steal in the second round.

    Coppenrath clearly was the most skilled player on the floor. He has a soft touch around the basket and has range that extends all the way out to the NBA 3-point line.

    But athletically, Maxiell and Akindele are in a completely different world. Coppenrath is a good basketball player. But it's going to be hard for him to make the leap to the NBA because of his average athleticism. If he doesn't hook up with an NBA team, he'll be a big time player in Europe, however.
    posted: June 6, 2005 2:34:07 PM PDT | Feedback



    Rawle Marshall a camp sleeper?

    While Raymond Felton and Dee Brown did their thing, my eyes kept wandering to the other side of the gym where Oakland University's Rawle Marshall worked out against Michigan State's Alan Anderson.
    Marshall, a razor-thin, athletic, 6-foot-7 swingman from Detroit, averaged 19.9 ppg and 7.7 rpg during his senior season at Oakland (Mich.) University and is considered a possible second-round pick.

    He looked great in ATTACK's workouts on Monday. What stood out the most was his outside shooting. He has a super-smooth shooting stroke and was swishing NBA 3s with Joe Johnson-like consistency. He also has a very good handle for a guy his size and was excelling at several ballhandling drills meant for guards.

    Marshall was too thin in college, but trainer Tim Grover has been working on it. Marshall has added 15 pounds of muscle since showing up in Chicago. He also has long arms that allowed him to really disrupt Anderson whenever Anderson tried to dribble the ball.

    If he plays well in the Chicago pre-draft camp, Marshall could make a big move up the draft board.
    posted: June 6, 2005 1:17:14 PM PDT | Feedback



    Jay Williams on the comeback trail

    NBA teams, take note.
    The surprise at ATTACK Athletics on Monday was former Bulls point guard Jay Williams. He held his own against two of the fastest guys in the draft, Raymond Felton and Dee Brown. His shot is better than ever. He's cutting and jumping. He went full steam for an entire hour with Felton and Brown and looked just fine.

    Williams said after the workout that everything is coming back to him and he's hoping to be in an NBA training camp this fall. Grover concurred, asserting that if things go according to schedule, Williams will be ready to play next season.

    That's amazing progress for a guy who's been playing basketball full-time for only six weeks.

    "Right now it's more mental that physical," Williams said. "I'm still not secure in myself. The doctors have cleared me to play. Now it's about getting back the confidence I need to be a great player. When I think about it, I sometimes doubt. However, when I'm going one-on-one with Dee Brown, my basketball instincts kick in and I play just fine."

    "I don't want to come back and be an average player. I know some people think that it would still be great if I did that. I know I could do that right now. But that's not what I'm trying to do. I want to be an All-Star and play at an All-Star level."

    Williams said he has a handshake deal with the Bulls to give them the right of first refusal after seeing him work out. He doesn't think it's likely that they'll sign him, however, with Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon thriving in Chicago. If Chicago is not an option, he's hoping to land with a veteran team with title aspirations, such as the Spurs, Pacers or Timberwolves.

    It remains to be seen whether he'll ever get back to his old self. But he's on the right path.
    posted: June 6, 2005 12:58:43 PM PDT | Feedback



    Bogut or Williams? Bucks still deciding

    About one week before the June 28 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks should be able to reach a decision about who they'll draft No. 1.
    Insider has learned that Marvin Williams is scheduled to work out in Milwaukee on June 19 and that Andrew Bogut is in the next day, June 20.

    The workouts will be light, one-on-none affairs. The skills of Bogut, 20, are well-known and shouldn't surprise the Bucks. Williams, 18, is a greater mystery and will have a better chance to blow the Bucks away with his athleticism and shooting prowess.

    Just as important will be the personal interviews. Teams have zero contact with players during the year, per league rules. The sit-down interviews with the owner and GM are important. I'm not sure if an interview can really help you, but a bad interview has hurt prospects in the past. A team wants to know what type of person they'll be working with, both on and off the court.

    Bucks GM Larry Harris maintains that Milwaukee hasn't decided whom to take and won't decide until both players work out for the Bucks.

    Much like last year, it's a contest between experience and potential. Last season, the Magic chose Dwight Howard's potential over Emeka Okafor's experience. Okafor went on to win Rookie of the Year. But it looks like Howard will be the better player five years from now, if he isn't already.

    This year the Bucks are getting pressure to take Bogut. He is a legitimate center, was the best player in college basketball this past season at Utah and is seen as a safe bet to be one of the top five centers in the NBA someday.

    Williams has more potential. He's long and athletic, and he can play multiple positions well. He could turn into a superstar down the road. Some scouts believe he's a better prospect than Carmelo Anthony. However, Williams might take longer to develop. He was the sixth man this year at North Carolina (albeit on the best college team in the country) and rarely had to shoulder the load the way a No. 1 pick might be expected to. Most scouts Insider has talked to believe that, in five years, Williams will be the best player from this draft.

    Insider talked to 10 different GMs this week and asked who they thought the Bucks would take No. 1. Eight of them said Bogut.

    Bogut's agent, David Bauman, isn't surprised. Bauman is confident the Bucks will eventually pick Bogut over Williams.

    "He's the best center prospect to come along in years," Bauman told Insider. "He's smart, intelligent, loves the game, is very skilled and he can help right away. I think once he sits down with [owner] Herb Kohl and [GM] Larry Harris and looks them in the eye, they'll know he's a guy they can build their franchise around."

    Both prospects are assuming that the Bucks will keep the pick. Why? While the Bucks, I believe, would be open to moving the pick for the right deal, word is that there has been zero interest from the other 29 teams in the league about a possible trade.

    Bogut doesn't plan to work out with any other teams. However, Bauman said he might also visit the Atlanta Hawks, who pick No. 2.

    The same holds true for Williams. He's scheduled to work out only for the Bucks but likely will visit the Hawks.

    If Williams goes No. 1, the Hawks likely will take Bogut. If Bogut goes No. 1, the Hawks might be willing to deal the pick to Charlotte for the No. 5 and No. 13. They love Williams but don't need him because they have similar young players like Al Harrington, Josh Childress and Josh Smith already on the roster. And the point guard they like, Illinois' Deron Williams, probably will still be on the board at No. 5.

    Who would the Bobcats take if they were to move up to No. 2? They've had a love affair all year with Chris Paul, but sources say Williams would be the guy they'd grab.
    posted: June 3, 2005 12:22:43 PM PDT | Feedback



    Marko Tomas out of draft?

    Croatian guard Marko Tomas, whom Insider had ranked as the 19th best prospect in the draft, looks likely to withdraw from the draft.
    Tomas agreed to a five-year contract with Read Madrid on Thursday, his agent David Bauman told Insider. The contract does not have an NBA buyout this year, meaning that Tomas must spend at least one more year in Europe.

    Real Madrid had to pay more than a million euros (approximately US$1.8 million) to buy Tomas out of his contract with KK Zagreb in Croatia, so they aren't going to give him up that easily.

    "His father really felt like Marko needed to spend a couple of more years in Europe developing," Bauman said. "This doesn't necessarily mean that he'll withdraw from the draft, but obviously the situation has changed."

    A team drafting in the mid-to-late first round could choose to draft Tomas and let him stay in Europe. By doing so, Tomas can continue to develop with the security that he has an NBA contract when he wants it.

    If Tomas does not get a promise from an NBA team, however, he'll likely withdraw his name and declare again next year.
    posted: June 2, 2005 2:37:44 PM PDT | Feedback



    Suns still rising?

    Now matter how you slice it, the Suns' season was a smashing success.
    They had the third-biggest turnaround in NBA history. They finished the season with the best record in the league. They led the league in scoring and brought the fast break back into vogue. Their big free agent signing, Steve Nash, won the MVP award. Their youngest building block, Amare Stoudemire, turned into a superstar. Their head coach, Mike D'Antoni, was named Coach of the Year.

    Are the Suns disappointed that they didn't fare better against the Spurs in the playoffs? Sure. But then again, the Suns' season had exceeded even their own hopes and expectations.

    Now, the question for Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo is what to do this summer. Should he pull a Mark Cuban and shake up the roster to avoid the criticism that a run-and-gun team like the Suns can't get it done in the playoffs? Or should he stick to his guns and fine tune the most lethal offensive machine the league has seen in some time?

    Colangelo will have three tough decisions to make.

    Should the Suns re-sign Joe Johnson?

    Johnson is a restricted free agent and could get a huge offer from a team like the Cavs, Clippers or Bobcats this summer. While the Suns clearly love Johnson, their love will be tested.

    If Johnson gets a contract that starts at $8 million or more ... is he worth it? His PER (John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating) suggests that he wasn't much more than an average player for the Suns this season. His plus/minus stats are just so-so. Everyone will focus on the fact that he shot 47 percent from 3-point territory, but on a team other than the Suns, would he ever get close to that?

    It comes down to a cap-management question for the Suns. With Steve Nash and Shawn Marion already making the max and Amare Stoudemire expected to get a max extension soon, how many more guys can they give huge contracts to? If the Suns do match any offer for Johnson, their payroll will be hovering near the luxury tax next season and beyond, severely limiting their ability to add more pieces to the roster.

    On the other hand, if the Suns don't re-sign Johnson, who do they replace him with? He was the team's best 3-point shooter. He was the Suns' primary ball handler when Nash was resting on the bench. On a team that's mediocre at best defensively, Johnson's defensive effort stood out.

    Regardless of what the stats say, he was the most underrated member of the team's starting five this season. Without him, it's difficult to say they'd be as successful next season.

    It's clear, in hindsight, that the Suns misplayed their hand last summer. Twice.

    First, they traded away this year's first-round pick to clear cap room to sign Quentin Richardson last year. In retrospect, they could have kept their pick, drafted Andre Iguodala, and saved the cash they spent on Richardson for Johnson this offseason. As it stands, Richardson is taking up $6.4 million on the roster next season, and it's likely that the player they get at No. 21 this year (they swapped their first-round pick last year for the Bulls' first-round pick this year) won't be nearly as good as Iguodala.

    Second, they had a chance to sign Johnson to an extension last summer for about the same numbers that Richardson signed for. The Suns balked, in part, because they had already paid out huge amounts to Nash and Richardson, and with a new owner signing the checks they wanted to see how things played out this season.

    Those two decisions are now coming back to haunt the Suns.

    What do you pay Steven Hunter?

    Hunter is the Suns' other significant free agent. He was a vagabond last summer. Now, he suddenly looks like a legit, athletic 7-footer with a lot of potential.

    Hunter's PER rating was actually on par with Johnson's this season. With Stoudemire pining to be moved back to the four (from the five), can they afford to lose Hunter?

    The problem is that there will be a team or two out there willing to overpay Hunter. He looked awful in Orlando's system, but Nash and D'Antoni brought out the best in him. Do the Suns really want to pay Hunter a contract starting at $4.9 million (the mid-level exception) next season?

    I don't think anyone believes he's worth that ... though you could see a crazy owner throwing that type of money around to get him.

    Do you trade Shawn Marion or Quentin Richardson?

    Both were disappointing in the Spurs' series. Marion, a third-team All-NBA player this season, was a perfect fit in the Suns' run-and-gun offense. But he struggles when the offense slows down and he's forced to operate in the half-court set.

    With Stoudemire potentially moving back to the four, are the Suns better off trying to trade Marion for a more traditional three and some depth?

    It's a tough call. Marion is a unique player who can defend, rebound and score from the small-forward position. I don't think the Suns could get a better player in return for him. However, given their depth and cap issues, it's going to be debated all summer.

    Richardson is a bigger target. He's tough and versatile, with a great work ethic. He was often the glue in the locker room this season. But it's pretty clear that the Clippers knew what they were doing when they didn't match the Suns' offer this season. Richardson is very streaky. His PER was below the league average and he can just disappear for huge stretches.

    If the Suns could dump him to a team that had cap room, it would free them up to re-sign Johnson, keep their first-round pick and use their trade exception to add some depth.

    The bottom line is that the Suns' future remains bright as long as Nash and Stoudemire remain healthy. However, if they're going to push past the Spurs next season, they'll have to tinker a little bit with the formula. Given the cap limitations the team is facing, I'm not sure how easy that will be.
    posted: June 2, 2005 9:41:04 AM PDT | Feedback



    Coaching merry-go-round

    The Pistons and Cavs aren't the only teams Larry Brown is distracting this spring.
    His non-denial denials about his negotiations with the Cavaliers are sad, actually. However, the one thing that seems pretty clear is that his coaching days are numbered.

    The medical condition Brown is suffering through is serious enough to halt his coaching career, at least in the short term, sources tell Insider. That's partly why the Pistons granted him permission to talk to the Cavaliers about the team president position in the first place.

    But that hasn't stopped high-profile teams, such as the Lakers and Knicks, from waiting on Brown in the hopes that he changes his mind.

    Lakers star Kobe Bryant has wanted to play for Brown for a while and, according to sources, asked Lakers owner Jerry Buss to at least make overtures to Brown before hiring Phil Jackson.

    New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas has been holding out hope that Brown could be the guy to resurrect the Knicks. This is based in part on Brown's own public statements, in which he has said that coaching the Knicks would be his "dream job."

    You can't blame them, given Brown's history of turning bad teams around quickly. As a head coach, he's in a league of his own.

    But now that it's clear what Brown's plans are this summer -- despite what he's said -- will the Lakers and Knicks finally move on?

    With Brown out of the picture, Jackson becomes the only head coach who makes much sense for the Lakers. They need a coach who can restore some luster to the franchise and take the reins out of Kobe's hands. Phil's probably the only guy out there capable of doing that.

    The Knicks have a tougher task. Trying to convince a big-time coach to come in and deal with the mess Isiah has assembled won't be easy. The team doesn't have any cap flexibility and has only a few assets to move around. A lottery pick will help the situation a little, but the Knicks are probably years away from being a true contender again.

    Why would Jackson, Brown, Flip Saunders, Nate McMillan, Jim O'Brien or Paul Silas – or even Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo – take that gig? I guess if Isiah throws enough money around, anyone would be tempted. It's still a prestigious job, and one of only 30 NBA head-coaching positions.

    Then again, the Blazers reportedly offered a five-year, $40 million dollar contract to Saunders, and he still hasn't accepted it. The Knicks' gig isn't much better than the Blazers' one at this point.

    In fact, the best job in the league happens to be the one Brown is leaving.

    The Pistons have a fantastic, veteran starting five. Add to that one of the best front offices in the league and a pretty big budget to hire their next head coach. Saunders would be crazy to turn down a Pistons' offer, even if it's for considerably less than what the Blazers are offering. If he cares at all about his legacy in the league, Detroit is where he should go.

    If Saunders won't agree to a pay cut, you can expect Dumars to pick up the phone and call McMillan. He also would be a great fit in Detroit. The Pistons play his style of basketball.

    Once the Lakers' and Pistons' situations are resolved, the rest of the pieces should fall into place.

    The Timberwolves are looking at Paul Silas and Eric Musselman. The Blazers might end up swapping Mo Cheeks for O'Brien.

    The Knicks? They'll probably have to settle for the guy who has no other options left on the table.
    posted: June 1, 2005 3:41:00 PM PDT | Feedback



    One crazy press conference

    Just when the Larry Brown to the Cavs saga seems like it couldn't get any more strange, now comes talk that one of the conditions of Brown's employment with the Cavs is that he won't actually have to live in Cleveland.
    Brown (or more specifically his wife) wants to live in Philadelphia. Brown would commute to Cleveland via owner Dan Gilbert's private jet. Apparently Gilbert is OK with this -- in fact one source claims he proposed the idea in an effort to entice Brown.

    With Brown holding down the fort from a golf course in Philly, his handpicked GM, believed to be Wizards director of player personnel Milt Newton, will run the day-to-day operations from Cleveland. The big problem there is that Newton has been in the league just two years and has zero experience running an NBA franchise. He's basically been a scout the past two seasons.

    I was on the phone Tuesday afternoon with a longtime Brown associate who became the third person to confirm the worst-kept secret in the NBA -- that Brown is planning on going to the Cavs after the Pistons' season ends.

    He began laughing hysterically when I brought up the reports of the Philly commute.

    "That's Larry," Brown's associate told Insider. "I'll tell you what, I'd pay money to watch that press conference. Let me get this straight. The new owner of the team, who isn't from Cleveland and has no intention of living in Cleveland, introduces the new team president and says he's going to be living in Philadelphia. Of course, this is the same guy who has been saying for weeks that he's had no contact with the Cavs and acted incredulous when asked about rumors that he was heading to Cleveland.

    "Then Gilbert introduces a young GM [he assumed it would be Newton] who has no experience running an NBA team. Then he introduces the 35-year-old coach, who also doesn't have any experience as a head coach.

    "That will be one helluva press conference. Listen, Michael Jordan, a guy that never got bad press, was killed by the local media when he announced he was going to run the Wizards from Chicago. If Michael couldn't get away with it, Larry won't either. I have no idea what Gilbert is thinking. This will be a disaster for Larry and Cleveland."

    And this is coming from one of Larry's friends. Will all of this turmoil cause Brown to change his mind and eventually back out of the Cavs job?

    "I think the reason he's denying everything is that he wants an out," the associate told Insider. "He's very sensitive. All of the heat he's been taking has bothered him. I know that this [taking the Cavs president job] is what he wants to do. But, if the heat gets too hot, he may just say 'screw it' and take the year off. That way he could put the blame on you guys and get out of this mess with a little dignity left intact."


    posted: June 1, 2005 3:42:07 PM PDT | Feedback

  6. #6
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    I think Bird will go for a front court player, for several reasons.

    It's easier to trade for a quality guard than a quality front court player.

    If he intends to trade for instant, Jackson for Redd, Allen, or Johnson, he will need to sweeten the deal with a big. It would be good to have a replacement in hand.

    If he loses a free agent it will be a front court player. Dale, JJ, and Edwards are all front court players.

    If he intends to sign Sarunas or Williams he really wouldn't need to sign a guard in the draft. Of course he could intend to but be outbid, so that wouldn't be something he could count on.

    Of course since the Pacer's are deep he could just draft the best player available. That never hurts.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Makes you wonder if this is why Bird spent a lot of time in Europe? Walsh supposedly has great respect for Blake and his scouting ability.


    Scout: MWC stars not NBA stars
    By Iliana Limσn
    Tribune Reporter
    February 22, 2005

    Marty Blake, NBA scouting director, said Danny Granger and Andrew Bogut will both make fine professional basketball players, but he isn't dubbing them draft stars.

    Blake was one of about two dozen pro scouts who watched Granger, New Mexico's all-everything senior forward, and Bogut, Utah's larger-than-life sophomore center, duke it out in The Pit on Monday night. He called it an exciting game with a dynamic Pit crowd, but added it paled in comparison to the talent players face on an average night in the NBA.

    Without the elite competition, Blake said, fans are getting an inflated view of the Mountain West Conference's biggest studs.

    "Granger's a great athlete, but don't let anybody tell you he's a first-round pick," Blake said. "I'm not saying he's not going to be a first-round pick, but there's going to be 26 Europeans with a lot of experience entering the draft this year, and you'll have five or six solid high school kids.
    "I think he's an NBA player, but most of these college players have a long way to go."

    Bogut, who posted a breakout performance in the summer Olympics for his native Australia, earned an equally harsh assessment.

    "Bogut has got a great future, but he needs to stay in school," Blake said. "He'll get stronger and develop a better hook shot if he stays in school. He is not playing against people his size. There are no centers. This is a kid with tremendous international experience. He's no secret, which means he's expected to be a good player."

    Blake has plenty of experience to back up his assessment. He is considered a pro scouting guru after 45 years working in the NBA

    http://www.abqtrib.com/albq/sp_lobos...566735,00.html

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Do we really want to fight the curse. Whoa, a crazy article hopefully tongue in cheek.

    http://www.eurobasket.com/events/eluleb/05-06/eurol.asp

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Quote Originally Posted by RWB
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Do we really want to fight the curse. Whoa, a crazy article hopefully tongue in cheek.

    http://www.eurobasket.com/events/eluleb/05-06/eurol.asp
    We have a cursed yeallow jersey too. May be that can negate their curse.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Euro Dropoffs and homeland risers...

    Well if Rudy pulls out i'd like to us go for Roko or maybe Ike Digou if Bird feels a frontcourt player is the need I think Ike is the best big man who may be avaliable at our selection. Fransico wouldn't be a bad choice either.

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