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OutletPass
06-20-2003, 10:24 AM
Podkolzine's decision a head-scratcher
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
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Updated: June 20
10:16 AM ET



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Pavel Podkolzine turned the NBA Draft on its head two weeks ago in Chicago when he wowed over 100 NBA scouts and GMs at a private workout.

He did it again on Thursday when he decided to take his name out of the draft.

Several GMs were stunned by the move.

"I can't believe it," Pistons GM Joe Dumars told Insider. "He would've been a top-10 pick. He was too good to slip any further."

Others agreed.

"After the Chicago workout, he came from really who knows where he'd be drafted to right into the lottery," Knick GM Scott Layden told the N.Y. Times.

"He was definitely going to be a lottery pick," said Rod Thorn, the Nets' president and general manager. "With his size and his upside, he was going to be in the lottery for sure."

"We viewed him as a top-10 pick," Bulls GM John Paxson said. "It takes maybe one guy out of the mix for us."

Even though the guy only played 120 minutes last year?

"That was the hardest thing about the guy," Paxson told the Daily Herald. "He didn't play at all for his team (in Italy). At his size, though, I don't know how we would have gotten past the lottery teams."

The revelation is great news for Central Michigan center Chris Kaman and Polish forward Maciej Lampe. Both players were in the mix with Podkolzine starting at No. 5 to the Heat.

Kaman is now the only legitimate center likely to be selected in the first round.

What's next for Podkolzine? He's heading back to Italy as early as today. In the next month he'll have endoscopic surgery to correct his pituitary disorder and then he'll get back to work.

"I don't want to be a project," Podkolzine told Insider. "I want to prove to NBA teams I am ready now. I will go back to Italy, work very, very hard and come back next year stronger, and more ready to contribute to the team that drafts me."

Insider talked to nearly half the teams in the league Thursday evening. While most of them felt that Podkolzine should've stayed in the draft, they all acknowledged that he could go top 3 next year with no LeBrons or Darkos in the way.

"He's got the body of Shaq and the touch of Yao Ming," said Utah Jazz director of player personnel Walt Perrin. "He'll be a force in this league."

Podkolzine's defection wasn't the only deadline-day stunner. Russian forward Viktor Khryapa, widely considered a top-20 pick, also pulled out at the last minute.

Khryapa's agent, Marc Fleisher, told Insider that Khryapa's contract situation with his team in Russia, CSKA Moscow, was hurting his stock.

"Several teams were very interested, but the ones with the most interest wanted him on the roster next season," Fleisher said. "With Viktor's contract, that probably wasn't possible. Next year, this won't be an issue. I think his stock can only go up."

All of the rest of the big defections were expected. St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson and Slovenia's Alexsandar Vujacic were the other two players who had a legitimate shot at being selected in the first round. However, neither player could get the type of commitment he was looking for. Several teams late in the first round flirted with giving Vujacic a promise, but ultimately decided, with the draft in such flux right now, they couldn't do it.

There were several big surprises related to kids staying in the draft. None was bigger than 7-foot-6 Slavko Vranes. Literally. Vranes, who will be the tallest player in the NBA if selected, was considered a second-round project by most teams a month ago. However, he's been playing to strong reviews at workouts. While his agent, Marc Cornstein, refused to divulge whether he had received a first-round promise, several league sources claim that both San Antonio and Dallas (picks No. 28 and No. 29) have shown serious interest.

With Vranes, Croatia's Zoran Planinic, Georgia's Zaur Pachulia and Senegal's Malick Badiane all opting to stay in the draft, it looks like there will still be between 10 and 13 international players selected in the first round. That's amazing considering the two first-round locks -- Podkolzine and Khryapa -- pulled out of the draft.

Darko Milicic, Mickael Pietrus, Maciej Lampe, Alexsandar Pavlovic, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Zarko Cabarkapa, Boris Diaw and Leandrinho Barbosa all appear to be locks for the first round.

Planinic, Pachulia and Carlos Delfino wouldn't have kept their names in the draft if they didn't receive promises. Insider first reported last week that the Nets at No. 22 had zeroed in on Planinic. It appears that the Lakers are after Pachulia at No. 24. And Delfino is rumored to go as high as No. 18 to the Hornets. He shouldn't slip beyond the Grizzlies at No. 27.

That brings the number of international first-rounders up to 11. The two international players on the first-round bubble are Vranes and Badiane. Badiane's name has been linked for months to the Dallas Mavericks with the last pick in the first round.

Polish forward Szymon Szewczyk also decided to keep his name in the draft. However, it appears that he has a deal with a team early in the second round. It's unlikely that he'll slip into the first, though he has been getting rave reviews at his workouts.

Alabama's Mo Williams stunned a lot of folks by keeping his name in the draft. Williams played to so-so reviews at the Chicago pre-draft camp. While teams like his playmaking ability and leadership on the court, questions about his size, shooting consistency and handle plagued him at Chicago.

A source close to Williams told Insider Thursday night he had not received a first-round promise, but he had heard promising reviews from several teams. A workout in Boston apparently went pretty well. However, with the Celtics zeroing in on Marcus Banks, Williams could be in for a tough draft night fall.

As expected, three other high school players -- Ndudi Ebi, Travis Outlaw and Kendrick Perkins -- kept their names in the draft. Only one of those players, Outlaw, appears to have a first-round promise. Many NBA scouts had Ebi ranked as the second-best high school player in the country behind LeBron James, but a poor workout during the Chicago pre-draft camp hurt his stock. Ebi will be fighting for his life to get into the first round. Perkins looks like he'll be firmly planted in round two.

Draft Stock Report

Now that we know who is and isn't in the draft . . . several other things seem to be playing themselves out.

Chris Bosh's workout with the Raptors went well. Every indication I'm getting from Toronto is that he'll be the No. 4 pick.

At No. 5? It looks like Miami has narrowed the field down to Chris Kaman, Dwyane Wade and Maciej Lampe. I know it's a very un-Pat Riley thing to do, but don't be shocked if Lampe ends up there on draft night. His workouts have gone really well and teams that need a shooter and a 7-footer seem to believe they may have found both in Lampe.

If T. J. Ford is out of the mix at No. 4 and No. 5, where does he go? The Clippers were high on him early in the year and think the combination of Ford and Marko Jaric would be perfect. But they're also flirting with Wade and Mickael Pietrus here. If they pass, Ford probably doesn't slip past the Bucks at No. 8. The Knicks are also high on Ford and are trying to move up a spot or two to get him, a league source told Insider.

KU's Nick Collison also appears to be on the rise. Several sources told Insider over the last two days that Collison is now ahead of Michael Sweetney on the Sonics draft board. The question is, will he be around when the Sonics draft at No. 12? The Wizards will take a strong look at No. 10. And one Clippers source told Insider that Collison is actually in the mix at No. 6. You've got to love Donald Sterling.

Illinois' Brian Cook is also hot now. The invite to the NBA green room basically confirmed that he'll be a top-20 selection. Where will he go? Seattle could be interested if Collison is off the board. The Grizzlies have taken a long look. The Suns brought him in for a second workout (should Zarko Cabarkapa be off the board when they pick) and the Jazz also seem to really like him. A series of very physical workouts has Cook quickly shedding the "soft" image. "He's a lot tougher than we thought," one NBA GM told Insider.

UNLV's Marcus Banks is inching closer and closer to the lottery. If Kirk Hinrich and Ford are both off the board when the Sonics pick at No. 12, don't be shocked if they take Banks over the likes of Oregon's Luke Ridnour, Louisville's Reece Gaines and Brazil's Leandrinho Barbosa. Of course, we've also heard Ridnour and Barbosa linked to Seattle. There's probably no way that Banks slips past the Celtics at No. 16.

The Warriors have been talking up Ridnour. That's usually the kiss of death. Ridnour could still go as high as No. 10 to the Wizards. However, if Banks leapfrogs a few people, Ridnour could be running the point in Boston next year.

Zarko Cabarkapa is another hot name. Would the Knicks take him at No. 9 or the Grizzlies at No. 13? Both teams are showing interest now that Podkolzine is out. As for those rumors that Cabarkapa could go to the Celtics at No. 16 -- they still haven't been able to get him in for a workout. Apparently, he doesn't want to play in Boston.

Greece's Sofoklis Schortsanitis appears to be on the Celtics' radar screen with their 20th pick.

One other bubble kid to watch is North Dakota's Jerome Beasley. Beasley, the star of the Portsmouth camp, had an OK Chicago camp. However, he's had a series of strong workouts. Apparently, he's in the mix with the Grizzlies at No. 27.

Trade rumor of the day

King GM Geoff Petrie shot down a rumor, first reported in the N.Y. Post, that had the Nets doing a sign-and-trade of Jason Kidd for Mike Bibby and Hedo Turkoglu.

"It's another one of those things that sort of gurgles up from the basketball Babylon," Petrie told the Sacramento Bee.

"I talked to Mike about that, and Mike talked to Joe and Gavin (Maloof) about that," said Petrie. "He was out for a while but nowhere to the extent that has been suggested ... I think Mike's a committed basketball player. People forget that this was just his second year in the playoffs."

As much as we all like Bibby, you've got to believe that the Nets could do better than that.

Among the teams still trying to move up in the draft? Memphis, Utah, Seattle, Portland and Boston are actively trying to push up. The Raptors, Heat and Bulls are still entertaining offers to move down.

Half of the trade talk in the NBA shut down on Thursday after Bulls point guard Jay Williams suffered a serious motorcycle accident Thursday night. According to several reports, Williams broke his leg and "several other bones" in the accident. While his life is not in danger, the Chicago Tribune reported that Williams had sustained injuries to his pelvic area and that his status was "not good."

The Bulls had been talking to several teams about possibly packaging either Williams or Jamal Crawford and their No. 7 pick for a veteran.

Bulls coach Bill Cartwright, reached at his home, echoed the sentiments of just about everyone.

"I'm not worried about the team or what this does for our future," Cartwright told the Tribune. "I'm just worried about Jay. I'm worried about the severity of his injury for his career. We just have to wait and see. Our thoughts are with him."

It looks like Cavs guard Ricky Davis isn't on the trading block after all. Several NBA teams told Insider that they called, inquiring about Davis, and were told he's off limits.

Apparently, GM Jim Paxson and new head coach Paul Silas plan on playing LeBron James at the point, Davis at the two and Darius Miles at the three. Dajuan Wagner will come off the bench. With Zydrunas Ilgauskas set at center, the Cavs will try to find a bigger athletic power forward with the 30th pick in the draft. Right now they seem to be zeroing in on North Dakota's Jerome Beasley.

They'll likely add a veteran back-up point guard via free agency.

"I read in the media where people say, 'Don't put him there,' " Paxson told the News Herald. "He's a very versatile player. In our league today, there are very few true point guards. A lot of players are asked to play the ball-handling, distributing, run-the-team (position). They aren't true point guards, just basketball players. LeBron is a basketball player."

Silas will get to work with James for the first time today at the Gund Arena. He believes that James should be thrown in at the deep end of the pool and start playing point guard right away.

"Paul's thought is the right one: If (James is) going to do that, let's put him in the position to handle the ball as soon as possible," Paxson said. "We'll also have Dajuan (Wagner) in the summer league."

Workout News

Suns: Illinois' Brian Cook worked out in Phoenix on Thursday. This was his second workout for the Suns. He was a lot more physical than the team thought he would be. "I think that he showed that he's very, very competitive, and a much better defender than I thought," assistant coach Marc Iavaroni told Suns.com. "He's willing to use his body and all those things you have to be willing to do in the NBA if you want to be successful." So is that "soft" talk really just B.S.? "You hear all kinds of things," he said, "but I do know that the more skilled a guy is, the more likely that people are going to say he's soft. The less skilled a guy is, the more likely they'll say he's really tough and he hustles and I was one of those guys. Believe me, I'd rather have a guy who's skilled, who has to fight those types of perceptions then vice versa. I think this kid can compete, so that's all I need to know."

Raptors: KU's Kirk Hinrich, Oregon's Luke Ridnour and Hawaii's Carl English worked out on Thursday.

Knicks: Marquette's Dwyane Wade and Georgia's Jarvis Hayes worked out for the Knicks on Thursday.

Wizards: Polish forward Maciej Lampe worked out for the Wizards on Thursday. KU point guard Kirk Hinrich will workout today in Washington.

Jazz: Greek big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis, San Diego center Jason Keep and Polish forward Szymon Szewczyk are in Utah today.

Hornets: Serbian shooting guard Alexsandar Pavlovic worked out in New Orleans on Thursday.

Hawks: BYU two guard Travis Hansen and Maryland point guard Steve Blake worked out in Atlanta on Thursday.

Nuggets: Georgia Tech's Chris Bosh and Polish forward Szymon Szewczyk will workout in Denver on Saturday.

Mavericks: Serbian shooting guard Alexsandar Pavlovic will workout in Dallas today.

madape
06-20-2003, 10:43 AM
So Dallas is now being reported as having serious links to Vranes and Pavlovic. This is wonderful.

Mandyahl
06-20-2003, 03:01 PM
Among the teams still trying to move up in the draft? Memphis, Utah, Seattle, Portland and Boston are actively trying to push up.

i wish the mavericks were listed here. i guess it's still possible that we are trying though.

Blonde Bomber
06-20-2003, 03:08 PM
here ya go mandyahl..


Among the teams still trying to move up in the draft? Memphis, Utah, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and Dallas are actively trying to push up. But Dallas still stands the best chance to move up to get the Lincoln product Chris Boshi/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

Mandyahl
06-20-2003, 03:24 PM
thanks i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif