Players Wheel, Execs Deal
Predraft camp chance to enrich stock, trade value
By K.C. Johnson
Tribune staff reporter
June 5, 2002, 10:40 PM CDT
Only a couple of the 65 players at this year's NBA predraft camp are consistently listed as first-round picks in mock drafts.
Lottery-pick "locks" will skip the camp so as not to affect their draft standing and won't arrive until Friday or Saturday for their league-mandated physicals.
The Bulls own the second overall pick. So why will general manager Jerry Krause, his assistant, B.J. Armstrong, coach Bill Cartwright and the rest of the Bulls' coaching and scouting staffs not miss a session of the three-day event, which began Wednesday at Moody Bible Institute's Solheim Center?
Several reasons. For starters, this camp unofficially marks the beginning and acceleration of trade talks leading up to the June 26 NBA draft.
"Everybody but two teams [in the Finals] will be here, and they will still make a session or two," Krause said. "There will be talks during the week."
Assuming Houston drafts 7-foot-5-inch Chinese center Yao Ming, the Bulls at this point are leaning toward selecting Duke point guard Jay Williams. But talks can change things, as the Bulls proved last year when they traded Elton Brand.
Golden State is rumored to be interested in trading up for Williams. Cleveland's Andre Miller is on the trading block for the right price. So the Bulls will be involved in discussions.
"You have to listen," Krause said.
Williams is scheduled to work out for the Bulls next Thursday and Friday. In an interview two weeks ago, Williams said he "would love to be a part of [the Bulls]," and spoke glowingly of the city and fans of Chicago.
It looks as if Williams will be available. Calling the move "a pretty good indication" of what the Rockets want to do with the first pick, Houston general manager Carroll Dawson is planning a trip to China to meet with Yao's representatives.
Krause made such a trip in February, and the Bulls were one of two teams to be granted a private workout when Yao came to Chicago in May for a league-wide workout at Loyola University. Thus, Krause said another such trip is unnecessary if by chance Yao should fall to the Bulls.
"We feel very confident in our ability to sign him," Krause said. "That's why we went over and spent 10 days with him."
The predraft camp, meanwhile, affords the Bulls an opportunity to scout players for their two second-round picks. Krause said it's common practice for the Bulls to add players to their individual workout schedule off strong performances at this camp.
Last year the Bulls drafted Trenton Hassell with the first pick of the second round after watching him at Moody. The Bulls own the 30th and 43rd picks overall, the former being the second pick of the second round. There are 29 NBA teams, but only 28 first-round selections because Minnesota was penalized for an under-the-table deal with forward Joe Smith.
"At this camp, you see kids in game competition against peers, which is obviously an advantage," Krause said. "There are no games in our individual workouts. We like to see the kids who want to play rather than shying away from it."
Layups: Notre Dame forward Ryan Humphrey finished with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes despite suffering a nasty fall that required four stitches to close a cut in his head. … Krause said the Bulls are waiting to see if Mike Dunleavy remains in the draft before scheduling a workout.
Copyright © 2002, The Chicago Tribune
Did anyone pick up on the message Krause sent out to the rest of the league with his remarks today? Regarding trade proposals Krause said, "You have to listen."
But more important are Krause's comments about the signability of Yao Ming: "We feel very confident in our ability to sign him," Krause said. "That's why we went over and spent 10 days with him."
With these two statements one might conclude that Krause is informing the league that based on his earlier meetings with Chinese officials he fully expects the Rockets' group, led by GM Carroll Dawson to come back with a deal in place for Yao Ming. And with Jay Williams available to the Bulls with the 2nd overall pick, he's officially ready to listen to offers.
This doesn't mean that he wouldn't be thrilled to add Jay Williams to the Bulls stable of young prospects. I've spoken with a number of basketball people not affiliated with the Bulls, and the clear consensus is that Williams is the best player in the draft.
That being said, Krause is not going to pass on an opportunity to use Williams as bait to acquire an all-star callibur player that could vault the Bulls into the playoffs the same way Jason Kidd did with the Nets. I still can't get over the impact Kidd had on a team that won a mere 26 games last year. Not selecting him as the league's MVP was a huge miscarraige of justice.
Could the acquisition of Baron Davis have the same effect on the Bulls that Kidd had on the Nets? Or is there a combination package that will be offered to Krause that he simply won't be able to pass up?
Three weeks and counting until Draft Day. The Bulls will be wheeling and dealing like never before. Or they may stand pat, take Williams, and be all the better for it. We've got 21 days to find out.