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06-28-2003, 11:56 AM
Draft Wrap: Was T.J. M.J.'s guy?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Friday, June 27
Updated: June 27
3:44 PM ET



Chad Ford chat wrap
Picks one through four? Perfect. LeBron. Darko. Carmelo. Bosh.


Picks five through 14? Huh?

Typically, after draft night, we finally have the answers to all of our questions. But after Thursday night's crazy pill fest, there were still more questions than answers.

Also see: Draft Grades | Updated Depth Charts

Q: Did Michael Jordan or Ernie Grunfeld make the T.J. Ford selection?



Ford

Depends on who you believe. David Stern says he didn't. Grunfeld maintained all along to Insider that he was making the pick. But as Insider first reported on Thursday, sources around the league and close to Jordan insist otherwise.

Who's telling the truth? It's semantics folks.

Jordan has been negotiating with Bucks owner Herb Kohl for weeks about the sale of the club. The draft pick was an important issue in the negotiations. If you were spending hundreds of millions on a team, don't you think you'd like to make the call on a rare lottery pick?

The deal is not done. It still has to go through lawyers and ultimately be approved by the Board of Governors. Technically, Jordan couldn't make the pick. What did anyone expect the Bucks or the NBA to say on the record?

But did Jordan strongly suggest or flat out tell Kohl who he wanted at No. 8? And did Kohl relay to Grunfeld his desire to take one player over another?

Here's what Grunfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"I had no contact at all (with Jordan)," Grunfeld said. "I did have a lot of contact with the senator. When all these rumors started, you wouldn't have even known that it wasn't a normal draft for us. Then all of a sudden you have to answer a million questions.

"I was in contact with the senator, just like in the last three or four years. We talked about it and told him what our plans were, what our rankings were. Everything was fine. I talked with him about an hour before the draft, and said, 'Let's get the best available player for us, and go from there.' "

That's not going to clear anything up. Jordan was talking to Kohl, not Grunfeld. Perhaps the Bucks' wishes were in line with Jordan's wishes on draft night. Perhaps everyone agreed, independently, the Ford was their man.

Perhaps. But that didn't stop several sources close to Jordan from claiming Thursday night that when the smoke cleared, Jordan got his man -- Ford.

If that isn't enough to convince you after the breathless denials on Thursday night, here is the Journal Sentinels' take on what happened:

"Despite Stern's denial that Jordan had no part in the Bucks' selection, sources in Washington said Jordan either influenced or outright made the Ford pick. These sources said Ford was the player Jordan would have taken had he still been in control of the Washington Wizards."

And, for the record. As Insider also first reported on Thursday, Grunfeld is in line to take over as GM of the Wizards. Both the Journal Sentinel and the Washington Post are reporting today that Grunfeld will be released from his contract with the Bucks in the "coming days" and will interview for the GM job in Washington. That interview is essentially a formality.

Q: What the hell happened to Maciej Lampe?



Lampe

Lampe got caught in the annual draft day death spiral. Two things contributed to his slide.

One, miscommunication between FIBA, Lampe's agent, Keith Kreiter, and teams about Lampe's contract raised numerous red flags at the last minute. Many NBA teams were under the impression that Lampe would be unable to play in the NBA for several years.

Ooops. As it turns out, Lampe did have a $1.8 million Euro buyout provision in his contract -- not a big deal for a lottery pick. In other words, with a big check in his hands, Lampe could have easily been released to play in the NBA this year.

Two, when Lampe started to slip, there weren't enough teams familiar with him in the mid-to-late first round. Lampe, because of team commitments, didn't come to the U.S. until just before the Chicago pre-draft camp. He did work out for Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, Washington, Seattle and Memphis. But he didn't have time to get in workouts with anyone else.

Mix in numerous pre-arranged promises in the mid-to-late first round with a general unfamiliarity with Lampe and you have the recipe for a draft day disaster.

So what does all of this mean? The Knicks, who seriously debated between Michael Sweetney and Lampe with the No. 9 pick, get him in the second round. Not only is it the steal of the draft, but also an indictment on several NBA teams that picked lesser players over Lampe because they were unfamiliar with him.

Q: Great, Lampe's the steal of the draft. Given the Knicks' track record with international players, will he ever play in New York, let alone in the NBA?

If Scott Layden screws this one up, Knicks fans should stage a revolt. Lampe loses, and the Knicks save, essentially, $5.9 million in guaranteed money. The good news for Lampe is that he's now a second-rounder. That means the Knicks aren't constrained by the rookie salary scale.

If Lampe had gone No. 29, he would've made $803,400 this year and never have gotten out of his buyout. At pick No. 30, however, the Knicks could give him a two-year deal at around $2 million a season. Combine that with the $350,000 they can contribute to a buyout and they can get Lampe out of his contract now.

While it makes sense to leave some kids overseas to develop, it makes less sense for Lampe. The quicker he gets to the NBA and begins developing strength and more quickness, the quicker the Knicks will get some bang for the buck on the floor. Besides, his buyout actually goes up the next two years. Do it now and you save some money.

Q: Who got promises on draft night and who got screwed?

There seemed to be more promises than ever in the first round this year. They started with Marcus Banks of UNLV at No. 13. The Celtics essentially told Banks he was their guy and Banks quit working out for other teams. Despite that fact, his stock continued to soar and the Celtics had to move up three picks to assure that the Sonics and Magic didn't take him early. The Celtics also promised high school big man Kendrick Perkins and were able to trade down to get him at No. 27.

It looks like rumors that the Suns made a deal with Zarko Cabarkapa turned out to be true. It's hard to imagine that they would've passed on Lampe for Cabarkapa who, at the same size, isn't the shooter that Lampe is, nor does he have the body.

The Nets had locked in weeks ago on Croatian point guard Zoran Planinic. Did you see where coach Byron Scott said he was the top-rated point guard on their board? Now you know why Planinic quit working out after "injuring" his back in the second Nets workout.

The Blazers promise to Travis Outlaw was one of the worst kept secrets in the league, though some last-minute drama from new president Steve Patterson appeared to put it on shakier ground for a while.

The Pistons locked up Carlos Delfino weeks ago, but sweated whether he'd be on the board right up until the Lakers took Brian Cook at No. 24. Intel suggested that the Hornets, Jazz, Nets (if Planinic was off the board) and Lakers all had interest. The Pistons spent the previous 24 hours trying to move up in the draft to land Delfino, but were unsuccessful.

On the flip side. . . obviously several other international players, including Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Zaur Pachulia and Malick Badiane, didn't get promises or had them broken. Usually, top international prospects won't keep their name in the draft without some sort of guarantee. The Grizzlies' decision to take Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones in the first round killed them as it pushed other coveted American players down in the draft.

Q: A couple of picks in the first round didn't make a lot of sense. Are there any trades in the works that just haven't been announced?

Start with the Bulls at No. 7. Clearly they believe Jay Williams isn't coming back any time soon by drafting Kirk Hinrich. But is there more there? By drafting Hinrich, they immediately reignited a point guard controversy that almost tore the Bulls apart last year.

There was already talk Thursday night that the Bulls may now try to package either Hinrich or Crawford, along with several other prospects like Marcus Fizer and Donyell Marshall, in an effort to secure a top-flight small forward.

The Warriors' selection of Mickael Pietrus made no sense either. With Jason Richardson firmly planted as the starter, where will Pietrus play? GM Garry St. Jean said as much on Thursday night. Expect there to be a trade or two this summer. Richardson and Mike Dunleavy seem to be the two most likely candidates.

"You can say maybe there are needs at certain positions, but we felt like when you pick that high, you shouldn't lessen your scope on players with a big upside versus addressing a need," St. Jean told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm not going to disrespect any of those guys who play the point, but we think the guy we took clearly had the biggest upside on the board.

"We're trying to accumulate assets. If you have assets that are coveted by other teams versus just addressing a need with players who you don't think have the potential to be front-line players . . . that was our mind-set. We can work the roster the remainder of the summer."

Q: It was a pretty boring night for trades. Did anything almost go down?

There were a lot of rumors on Thursday but it appears nothing came close to going down on draft night.

The juiciest had the Sonics, Heat and Wizards discussing a possible trade that would've sent the Sonics two first-round choices to the Heat, the No. 5 pick to Washington and the Sonics would have acquired power forward Kwame Brown, according to the Tacoma Tribune. However, Washington is not ready to give up on Brown just yet, so the Wizards ended the talks.

Talks that would've sent Marcus Camby to the Blazers for Arvydas Sabonis and the No. 23 pick never got off the ground, according to GM Kiki Vandeweghe.

There were lots of rumors surrounding Sam Cassell. Several had him being shipped to Minnesota, Miami and even Portland last night. The most reliable had him being shipped to Minnesota along with Ervin Johnson for Joe Smith and Anthony Peeler two league sources told Insider.

The Bucks have called a 3:30 p.m. news conference to announce the trade.