View Full Version : Lampe vows to prove them wrong

06-29-2003, 12:12 PM
Lampe the latest to vow to prove 'em wrong
By Joe Lago

NEW YORK -- Paul Pierce made the declaration in 1998 when he slipped to the 10th overall pick. Caron Butler made a similar emotional vow when he fell to No. 10 last year.

But not even Pierce and Butler have as much motivation to prove people wrong than Maciej Lampe.

Maciej Lampe finally gets to enjoy his time in the spotlight -- as the first pick of the second round.

That's because not even Pierce and Butler endured a freefall as precipitous as Lampe's slide Thursday night, from the jackpot of the lottery to the non-guaranteed dollars of the second round.

Projected to go in the first round -- as high as No. 5 overall in ESPN.com's final mock draft -- the 7-foot center/forward from Poland suffered the indignity of being The Last Man At The Table at The Theatre in Madison Square Garden before finally being chosen by the New York Knicks with the first pick of the second round (30th overall).

"Everybody thought I was going to go a little higher," a teary-eyed Lampe said. "So it was kind of a surprise."

Apparently, the reason for Lampe's plummet was his contract with his Spanish club team, Real Madrid. Lampe and his agent thought they had a buyout for $1.8 million. FIBA, the world's basketball federation, felt otherwise.

"We got a letter from FIBA telling the teams that I had no buyout," Lampe said. "That wasn't true. But I thought everybody pretty much knew about the buyout. Maybe I was wrong."

Another culprit could've been Lampe's youth and inexperience. Just 18 years old, Lampe put up big numbers this past season but they were for Universidad Complutense, a team in Spain's top minor league that had Lampe on loan for 17 games.

Lampe, however, felt "great" about his auditions with 10 NBA teams. "I don't think I had any bad workouts," he said in a more upbeat mood the day before the draft.

On Thursday, however, the mood was more somber.

"I think I was in the mix for most of the teams in the lottery," he said. "The only team I didn't work out for was Golden State, so I wasn't thinking about that team. But I pictured myself going from five to 13. And everybody pretty much said I was right there."

The Miami Heat chose Dwyane Wade with the No. 5 pick. Then, one by one, the players invited to the draft got up and shook commissioner David Stern's hand. When the Phoenix Suns selected Serbian forward Zarko Cabarkapa at No. 17, a disillusioned Lampe sat all alone in the players area.

His hope of a guaranteed contract disappeared when Wake Forest's Josh Howard went to the Dallas Mavericks with the last pick of the first round.

"When everybody tells you one thing, that you're going in the lottery or going in the top 10, you think, 'What's the matter?' You feel like, 'What's wrong?' " said Lampe, who could have made approximately $8.5 million over three seasons as the fifth pick, but now faces the rookie minimum of $366,931.

The only thing that lifted Lampe's spirits were the cheers of the Knicks faithful, who chanted his name before the team made the first of its two second-round picks.

"The fans were great. I thank them very much for supporting me," Lampe said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to pay them back one day."

That other payback will take some time.

"I think some of the teams," he said, "made a mistake."
Joe Lago is the NBA editor at ESPN.com.

06-29-2003, 12:15 PM
Great unknown Lampe could be great one
By Joe Lago

NEW YORK -- You're just like Carmelo Anthony. Yes, you, American basketball fan.

Anthony hasn't seen Darko Milicic post anybody up, either.

"I've never seen him play," Anthony said of Milicic, the teenager from Serbia-Montenegro who'll be taken one spot ahead of Anthony by the Detroit Pistons with the No. 2 pick in tonight's NBA draft.

"I don't know him," Anthony added. "Obviously, he must be good if they put him in front of me as the No. 2 pick."

Maciej Lampe of Poland says he 'likes to shoot 3s.'
LeBron James is just like you, too. He's only seen highlights of Milicic. "But it wasn't enough to judge his game," James said.

At least the American public has seen Milicic on TV and been gradually educated about the 18-year-old's potential along with James the past six months. The same can't be said for the European prospect who could join James, Milicic and Anthony as a top-five selection, Maciej Lampe of Poland.

Outside of Milicic, no young Euro in the draft may possess more talent than Lampe, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward with Nowitzkiesque upside. Among the 12 foreign players expected to be drafted in the first round, no one is creating more intrigue.

And Lampe loves the fact that he's the draft's greatest unknown. He's not lost on the advantage foreign players have over older college players whose abilities have been scrutinized and critiqued, too.

"It's hard to see what we really can do in one workout," admitted Lampe, who'll be the first Poland-born player to be drafted by the NBA. "If you have a great workout, they might think you're unbelievable. If you have a bad one, you might go low. It's kind of hard to describe.

"But the fact that I'm European -- honestly? -- it helps because the NBA wants to develop its league in Europe. And they want to have a lot of guys from different countries playing in the league. So I think it helps."

Lampe not only embraces the shroud of mystery surrounding him but he hid behind it when asked about his specific skills during Wednesday's Q&A session with the media. While being given the third degree by reporters, Lampe basically pled the fifth -- in perfect English.

Question: What kind of big man are you? Answer: "I don't really like to talk about my game that much."

Question: Who's your role model? Answer: "I don't like comparing myself to anyone."

The guessing game eventually ended. Under the bright lights, Lampe broke down and began to talk.

On which position he'd most like to play in the NBA: "It depends which way you want to go. If you want to play the four, you have to gain a lot of weight and be a lot stronger. If you want to play the three, you have to get a lot quicker. It all depends what the coach wants. Who knows? Maybe the coach will want me to play center. Then I'll have to work on other things. So it all depends on the team."

Dirk didn't even play that much in Europe. But he came over here and worked really hard and look where he is now. It's kind of like what if that happens to (me)?"
Maciej Lampe

On his combo forward role this season: "I played four but I stepped out a lot, kind of like Pau Gasol, something like that."

On how Dirk Nowitzki became his role model: "Dirk didn't even play that much in Europe. But he came over here and worked really hard and look where he is now. It's kind of like what if that happens to (me)?"

Unlike most European players, Lampe apparently isn't afraid to mix it up down low. He sported a nasty-looking cut on the left side of his eye suffered in Tuesday's workout with the Miami Heat -- "I had to quit in the middle of it because they thought it might be fractured, but it wasn't," he said -- and unlike most Europeans, he's a fan of hockey, not soccer.

This past season, Lampe put up big numbers for Real Madrid, but mostly for the Spanish powerhouse's top minor-league squad. "It helped me a lot," Lampe said of his loan to Universidad Complutense of LEB1, the highest of the Spanish minor leagues, where he averaged 18.6 points and 7.5 rebounds in 17 games.

Lampe received only 38 minutes of action in four Euroleague games for the big club. But on draft night, you might hear Lampe's name called by commissioner David Stern before T.J. Ford, Dwyane Wade, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, maybe even as high as fifth overall pick by Miami.

And Joe Basketball Fan's response will most likely be: Maciej who?

"Once you get out there, you show what you can do," Lampe said. "Let them do the talking. You don't have to say anything."


Joe Lago is the NBA editor at ESPN.com.

06-29-2003, 04:49 PM
I feel that this kid is going to break out when he finally suits up for the Knicks. NY had a very impressive draft.

06-29-2003, 04:56 PM
Detroit may have NY beat for the best 2003 draft-picks, but then again, maybe not...

06-29-2003, 09:23 PM
lampe certainly seems like a huge steal for ny.

07-04-2003, 08:30 AM
1) I like the kid's sense of humor.

2) This article details his contract/buyout situation for anyone who, like me, wasn't fully up on the complications.

3) Very questionable to my mind why the NYKs would even consider letting the pursuit of a P.J.Brown or a Nesterovic get in the way of getting this kid onto the roster THIS year. It's not like Brown or Nesterovic are going to be the difference in mediocrity for the NYKs this year. Why such aversion to retooling in Madison Square Garden?

4) When I think for more than a minute about it, I get the feeling that the Mavericks really may have passed up an opportunity with this kid. I don't know enough about either Howard or Lampe to make a legitimate comparison or a founded criticism of what the Mavericks actually did, so I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.



July 4, 2003 -- At least Maciej Lampe has a sense of humor.
The 7-foot Polish forward wants to request "30" as his Knick jersey number to recognize his shocking fall out of the first round. (Frank Williams already has the number).

But the Lampe contract-buyout negotiations with Real Madrid are no laughing matter, and they could hamstring the Knicks' free-agency plans if they last much longer.

Sources believe the Knicks will likely have to take a $900,000 chunk out of their $4.9 million mid-level exception if they want Lampe for next season.

If the Knicks did that, they would have just $4 million left to sign a free agent. Their top big-man priorities 7-footer Rasho Nesterovic, and P.J Brown may get higher offers. At least players can't sign offers until July 16, giving the Knicks time.

The buyout number stands at $2 million. The Knicks and Lampe's reps have yet been able to whittle it down. Real Madrid has been rigid so far, the Spanish team even hesitating to give permission for Lampe to play summer league.

The Knicks are allowed to pay $350,000 of Lampe's buyout. Lampe must pick up the rest. Under the cap, the Knicks can only pay Lampe the league minimum $367,000 as a second-round pick unless they take a chunk out of their mid-level exception.

What's also hurting the Knicks is not having their $1.4M lower cap exception to offer Lampe. Over-the-cap teams can't use the $1.4M exception two years in a row. Last August, the Knicks used the minimum exception to sign center Michael Doleac. The Knicks could have instead signed Doleac to the same dollar amount and taken the money out of the then-$4.5M million exception.

Lampe, meanwhile, is in Chicago working with Michael Jordan's trainer, Tim Grover. Neither Lampe nor 7-6 Slavko Vranes, whose agent is negotiating a buyout from his Serbian team, have clearance to play summer league.

The Knicks filled their three assistant-coach openings, and John Starks doesn't sound optimistic about rejoining the franchise as a coaching associate the title formerly held by assistant Mike Malone.

Coaching associates aren't permitted to sit on the bench.

"I'm interested but I haven't spoken to Don Chaney in three weeks and he didn't know if they were going to have a position," Starks said

07-04-2003, 02:42 PM
that's funny that he has requested 30. but i agree, they should just sign the guy this year and not worry about whoever else they are looking at. rasho and pj aren't going to bring them to the playoffs. lampe might not bring them there this year either, but he could in the future.

hero = dirk
07-04-2003, 08:03 PM
yeah, i agree. i think lampe is worth trying to get on the roster this year. i say go for it, ny. they had great draft picks this year. i hope we're not sorry later for not picking lampe.