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06-13-2003, 11:37 AM
NBA Rumors: Are the Nuggets Melo?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
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Updated: June 13
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Cleveland and Detroit have shown their cards, meaning the Denver Nuggets are on the clock with the third pick in the draft. But the question remains: Will Carmelo Anthony be a Nugget on draft night?

Pistons president Joe Dumars finally let out the worst secret in the NBA on Wednesday -- that the Pistons would select Darko Milicic with the second pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.

Carmelo Anthony likely will be the No. 3 pick, but who will take him?
Dumars decided to give up the goods after Anthony's agent, Billy Duffy, began pressing him on the issue. Carmelo Anthony was scheduled to to visit Detroit today, and Duffy wanted assurances that it was worth Anthony's time.

Dumars, one of the NBA's true straight shooters, told Duffy the truth -- Darko is their guy.

That, of course, means Anthony is Kiki Vandeweghe's guy. Right?

"Obviously, we love him," Vandeweghe told the Rocky Mountain News. "But that's not my nature to do that. ... We want to do our due diligence."

Vandeweghe will get his due diligence Saturday, when Anthony rolls into Denver for a two-day interview and workout. It will be Anthony's first visit ever to the city.

You can't read too much into Vandeweghe's coyness. Dumars' public support for Darko took Vandeweghe and the rest of the Nuggets' organization by surprise.

"That was very interesting," Vandeweghe said of Dumars' action. "It's obviously very early to do it, but Joe seems like he's committed. So it was good to let (Anthony) know. It was a pretty atypical thing to do. But we're obviously very excited."

Are they? To be honest, everyone in Denver knew Darko was going to Detroit as soon as the lottery gave the Pistons the No. 2 pick. The Nuggets been wrestling with the Anthony question ever since. Sources in Denver insist Vandeweghe is telling the truth -- the Nuggets do like Anthony. They love his smile, his ability to score at will and the leadership he showed during Syracuse's title run.

But there are just enough issues to keep them from committing to him right now. The Nuggets still haven't figured out for sure what they'll do with their other two young small forwards -- Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White. Word has already leaked out of Denver that Skita has bulked up this summer and might be ready to move to power forward. That would ease the burden on the rotation greatly.

But the team also maintains it wants to re-sign Juwan Howard, this year's starting small forward. With Nene Hilario now firmly planted as the starting power forward, Howard would have to share minutes at the same position as Anthony. Whether Denver has a realistic chance of luring Howard back remains to be seen. Teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Pistons are expected to make offers.

The team also has some concern about what Anthony has been doing for the past few months. At the Chicago pre-draft camp, Anthony weighed in at 234 pounds -- 13 more than his playing weight last season. Calvin Andrews, one of Anthony's agents, told Insider last weekend there wasn't anything to worry about. Anthony spent a few weeks after the season in Baltimore taking care of a number of business affairs and getting his mother situated. He hired a personal trainer in Baltimore and was working out there.

A week before the Chicago camp, with his business affairs (including a nice shoe deal from Nike) taken care of, Anthony flew to L.A. to begin seriously training for the NBA season. In L.A., Anthony worked out with Gunnar Peterson, Jennifer Lopez's personal trainer. In Chicago, he did a couple of late night sessions with Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's trainer.

From Anthony's side, there's been a lot of speculation that he doesn't want to be in Denver. Most of that feeling was taken from Anthony's initial preference to play in Detroit.

Anthony told Insider last weekend it had a lot more to do with winning than with the city. "I just knew that in Detroit, I'd be in a situation where the team was already competiting for a championship," Anthony said. "Honestly, I liked that situation."

However Anthony claimed he was keeping an open mind about Denver.

"Once I started understanding the situation there, and how they've got a rebuilding plan," Anthony said. "I started getting excited. I'm keeping an open mind about it. I want to go to Denver and check things out. I'm excited about my visit."

Even if the visit goes well, Vandeweghe might be hesitant to commit too early. Several teams are desperately trying to move up and get their hands on Anthony. The Nuggets have claimed it would take an unbelievable offer for them to give up the third pick, but they just might get such a deal.

The most talked-about rumor has the Bulls and Nuggets exchanging picks, No. 3 for No. 7, with the Bulls also sending Jay Williams to Denver. However one league source told Insider the Nuggets don't want Williams. They want either Eddy Curry or Tyson Chandler for the rights to Anthony. Will the Bulls pay that big of a price for Carmelo?

You're on the clock, Kiki.

Wadeing through the muck
Jay Williams
Point Guard
Chicago Bulls

75 9.5 2.6 4.7 .399 .640

Are the Bulls' flirtations with Marquette combo guard Dwyane Wade yet another indication they are willing to deal either Williams or Jamal Crawford? Wade had his second workout with the Bulls on Thursday, leading to rampant speculation Chicago will pick Wade at No. 7 (assuming they don't send it to Denver).

Don't read too much into it. Wade didn't work out against top-tier players during his first workout. The second one was supposed to be against Oregon's Luke Ridnour and France's Paccelis Morlende. However Ridnour couldn't work out because of a strained abdominal muscle.

While Wade got great reviews from the workout, it's obvious that he isn't a good fit with the Bulls as they're currently configured. They already have two combo guards, Williams and Crawford, fighting for minutes. Adding another one doesn't make a lot of sense.

Does that mean they might trade away either Williams or Crawford? If Wade is their guy (never mind that we keep hearing it's France's Mickael Pietrus, not Wade), moving Williams will make the most sense. At just a quarter inch under 6-foot-5, Wade's a bit undersized to play full-time at the two. A backcourt of Wade and Williams would be awfully undersized for what the Bulls are trying to do. A Wade/Crawford (6-6) backcourt makes much more sense.

If the Bulls can't get Anthony, there's still talk they're interested in moving Williams to Golden State for Mike Dunleavy. Of course, that trade only works if Gilbert Arenas bolts Golden State this summer.

The Dunleavy-Williams trade has been rumored since early last season. The Bulls covet a small forward who's a great ball-handler and a good perimeter shooter. Whether Dunleavy, who struggled a lot last year, is that guy remains to be seen.

Jamal Crawford
Point Guard
Chicago Bulls

80 10.7 2.3 4.2 .413 .806

The Warriors likely aren't the only team that will come after Williams and Crawford. The Wizards like both players and have made inquires in the past about acquiring either in return for Kwame Brown. With Jordan now out of the front office, no one knows whether they're still interested in going that direction.

The Sonics have been after Crawford for some time and would be willing to offer Vladimir Radmanovic and the No. 14 pick in the draft for him.

Those are the only deals we're hearing out there right now, but here's a few other scenarios out there that could make some sense.

Why don't the Bulls offer Williams and Dalibor Bagaric to the Pacers for Al Harrington? Harrington is one of those players that appears on the verge of blowing up this year. He'd be a great fit alongside Chandler and Curry on the front line.

Or the Bulls could offer Williams and Fizer to the Clippers in a sign-and-trade for restricted free agent and Chicago native Corey Maggette. Maggette, like Harrington, seems primed to explode. I recently saw him working out in Chicago with trainer Tim Grover, and he looked phenomenal. He was really stroking the ball from the perimeter. Maggette would another solid fit in the Bulls front line.

Or the Bulls could offer Williams to the Raptors for Mo Peterson, Michael Bradley and the No. 4 pick in the draft. Peterson would give the Bulls a sweet perimeter shooter, and Chicago could afford to gamble with someone like Pavel Podkolzine with the No. 4 pick.

Just a thought ...

Hayes in the draft

Jarvis Hayes' father, James Hayes, told the Athens Banner Herald his son would keep his name in the 2003 NBA Draft.

"He's going to enter the draft. We just haven't decided on an agent yet," James Hayes said. "He's already made that decision."

Right now Hayes is projected by most NBA scouts as a mid first-round pick. Hayes worked out for the Sonics on Thursday.

Workout News
Nuggets: Anthony will visit Denver on Saturday and work out Sunday.

Grizzlies: The team worked out Brian Cook on Wednesday and Josh Howard, Ronald Dupree and Marquis Daniels on Thursday.

Raptors: The team worked out big men Podkolzine and Slavko Vranes on Thursday. On Wednesday, Wade, Sofaklis Schortsianides and Jason Kapono made a visit.

Bulls: The team worked out Dwyane Wade, Paccelis Morlende and Mario Austin on Thursday. Luke Ridnour was also scheduled to work out but an abdominal strain kept him on the sidelines. T.J. Ford, Chris Kaman, and Polish forward Szymon Szewczyk work out on Friday.

Heat: Schortsianides, Josh Powell, James Lang and Sani Ibrahim wored out in Miami. Podkolzine will be in Miami on Sunday.

Celtics: Cook and Szewczyk worked out on Thursday.

Knicks: Maciej Lampe worked out with the Knicks on Thursday. Podkolzine will be there Friday.

Bucks: Greek forward Schortsianides and Illinois forward Cook work out in Milwaukee on Friday. Polish forward Szewczyk will be in town on Saturday.

Timberwolves: Alexsandar Pavlovic and Slavko Vranes will be in Minnesota today for workouts.

Pistons: Zoran Planinic is scheduled to work out in Detroit today.

Nets, Knicks, Spurs, Celtics: Russian forward Viktor Khryapa and Georgian big man Zaur Pachulia will work out for all four teams in New York on Friday.