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Old 06-06-2002, 12:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Anybody could see that Lonny Baxter's double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds was one of the bright spots Wednesday during the first day of the NBA pre-draft camp, but the games behind the scenes are always more intriguing.

In public, general managers might exchange no more than a handshake during the camp at Moody Bible Institute, but the offers exchanged over the phones when they return to their hotel rooms could determine how the June 26 draft plays out.

Houston Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson and coach Rudy Tomjanovich plan to travel to China to get a better handle on Yao Ming's availability, but not everyone believes the Rockets will keep the first pick, despite their investment of time and money.

A representative from the Golden State Warriors, the only team to work out Duke's Jay Williams, raved about the point guard's workout. The Warriors, who have the No. 3 pick, are one of the teams expected to make a push to trade up for Williams.

''He's special,'' the representative said on the condition of anonymity. ''You won't be disappointed if he comes here [to the Bulls].''

The uncertainty at the top is why Bulls operations chief Jerry Krause, who has the No. 2 pick, still maintains contact with Yao's cousin, Erik Zhang, a University of Chicago grad student and Yao's U.S. representative.

''We're continuing to talk to [Yao's] people,'' Krause said. ''We don't have to go over there because we've already been there. We know enough about him.''

Krause had planned to travel to Duke to interview Mike Dunleavy Jr., who hasn't decided whether to leave school for the draft. But while Dunleavy doesn't plan to work out for any NBA teams, he will travel to Chicago, along with other potential lottery picks not participating in the camp, for physicals and interview sessions with the media Saturday. Krause might seize the opportunity to discuss Dunleavy's plans.

''Nothing's been set,'' Krause said. ''I know he's coming for his physical. We'll have to see.''

Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson is likely to be a popular man this week with point guard Andre Miller apparently on the market. Miller is seeking a maximum contract this summer, but the Cavs are reluctant. They might trade him for a draft pick who will be locked up for five seasons, or they might wait until next summer to address Miller's contract situation.

''Andre knows how I feel about him. I don't have to reiterate that,'' Cavs coach John Lucas said. ''Didn't he lead the league in assists and play the most minutes? I can't give him much more love than that.''

Maybe Lucas can't, but upper management can.

The Bulls are looking to add a proven veteran to their young squad, but they might balk at taking on a player looking to max out immediately. Not all teams are convinced Miller is worthy of a maximum contract, which is what the Cavs might be hedging their bets on. A source within the Utah Jazz organization, however, told the Akron Beacon Journal that the Jazz will pursue the former University of Utah star.

The Cavs canceled a fan party for draft night, which prompted speculation that they don't want negative fan reaction if they choose to trade Miller.
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