|The Third pick belongs to the Boston Celtics. Their net GM is:
STATE OF THE TEAM: "Been down so long, it looks like up to me." Almost 20 years ago, the Celtics (of Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe) were in shambles.The next year, Larry Bird arrived on the scene. The 90s were another era of Celtic decline, reaching a low point (we hope) this past season, as ML Carr guided them to a paltry 15 wins and a 2 lottery picks. And, as happened 20 years ago, a new face is on the horizon, bringing hope to Boston. This time, though, it is not a player - it's coach Rick Pitino. A side note on Bird here... Boston was not heartsick to see him take the Indiana job. He could never surpass his glory as a player in this town. He has been pretty much out of sight for five years, and we're happy for him to be going home and doing what he wants to do. Plus, we'll get to see more of him now. As a coach, he's actually talking to the media! And occasionally wearing suits instead of bowling shirts! Best of luck, Larry. Back to Pitino. Antoine Walker was quoted as not being too pleased when Pitino was under consideration, saying something to the effect of "He makes the players work too hard." Enough for us all in Boston to say "Hire this guy, quick!!" Although Antoine stopped at UK when he was in the area specifically to refute those remarks to Pitino in person it does make me think that hey, maybe this guy really can do something here. For one thing, players (draftees and free agents) will now seriously consider Boston, whereas a month ago, nobody wanted to play here. For another, maybe the team will play some defense. In fairness to Carr, we'll never know how much of last year's debacle was his coaching, endless injuries, or the hunt for Tim Duncan. It's a moot point however, and although Duncan is headed for San Antonio (!!), we'll take the two draft picks. At least Pitino has a major clue about the players in the draft, and new GM/hoops nut Chris Wallace probably knows others who aren't even in the draft. There are a few scenarios here. One is that Pitino keeps the current under-contract squad and goes through a season of player evaluation. He gets to see who will play for him, and maybe improves some players to the point of making them tradeable. Of the 17 players on the roster/IR at the end of the season, 10 are free agents, including all the centers except Dino Radja (goodbye Lister, Szabo, Hamer, Brickowski, etc.). Their official roster consists of Dee Brown, Dana Barros, Greg Minor in the backcourt, and Antoine Walker, Eric Williams, Dino Radja, and Pervis Ellison up front. The Cs could keep their #3 and #6 picks. Or, they could trade down. They've been interviewing some 2nd tier draftees such as Kelvin Cato and Austin Croshere. Or, they could trade both picks for a player. One hot trade rumor is for Vin Baker - don't ask me why Chris Ford would part with him (he's probably in a similar situation as he was here - his player recommendations are overridden by management). How will the players respond to Pitino? Dee Brown could have some fun for a change. If Pitino is really going to press for 48 minutes, he'll need lots of quick bodies to do it. Look for Dana Barros to resurface big-time. Antoine should do well, and probably Eric Williams, too. Will Pitino and free agent David Wesley get on the same page? Or will they let him walk and pick up a replacement such as Howard Eisley or even a draftee such as Antonio Daniels or Chauncey Billups? In the front court, If Radja is rested, he could be a steady contributor again, though his slooowness could be a mismatch. He's also a year older. One guy they should sign (laugh if you like) is Marty Conlon. He does a decent job without complaining, is not expensive, and plays a very serviceable 4 and 5 - kind of a David Wood with a decent shot. Will they keep Rick Fox? There's always arguments for having veterans around, but what about veterans used to losing all the time? This spring and summer look to be a busy time in the roster-revising department. NEEDS: Everything except SF. Especially the two guard spots and center. At center they have: nobody! Except Radja, who is not nuts about being a full-time Eastern Conference center. They played Antoine Walker here for half the season! Hey, Thomas Hamilton is available. Ellison can back up in a pinch, but he hates it and is too often MIA with some kind of injury. At power forward they have Radja and Walker. Of course, I expect Pitino to put on the floor an assortment of positions all at once (see Danny Ainge's 4-guard squad in Phoenix). SF is their strongest position, with Antoine, Eric Williams, and Rick Fox (maybe). At SG they have: Nobody! Unless you count 6-foot Dana Barros, 6-foot Dee Brown or SF Rick Fox. Greg Minor is supposed to play here, but that has yet to work out over a full season. They could use a full-size guard. At the point, stalwart David Wesley is a free agent, which leaves Barros and Brown, both of whom are more natural 2 guards. PICKS: I'm very happy to have Pitino around come draft day. Who can better judge the current collegiate talent, and which players would be a good fit for his system? I dunno about Ron Mercer, but Pitino will. In fact, this is the first year I can remember when I actually trust the Celtics to do a better job selecting than I would ; ) Of course with the really young players such as Tim Thomas it's always a bit of a crapshoot. The C's have two lottery picks, courtesy of ML and the Mavs. They had a high 2nd round pick ( I was hoping for God Shamgod - what a sparkplug!), but traded it for a lower 2nd rounder to get GM Chris Wallace. Aside from Duncan (boohoo!) and Battie (who I expect Philly to take at #2), Boston has its pick of (take 2) Mercer, Van Horn, Thomas, Chauncey Billups, and Antonio Daniels. Adonal Foyle and Kelvin Cato are possibilities, but longer shots, I think. My pick for #3: Keith Van Horn. First, what he's not: Larry Bird. A big post player. OK, but here's what he *is*: Talented! Fundamentally sound! Lots of skills! Great offense! And, he could do very well in a Pitino system. As a senior, he adds a dose of maturity as well. I know, the Cs already have Walker and Williams at SF, but at #3, I'm taking the BPA. Of course, in a perfect world, Van Horn would go to the Jazz (and we would get Duncan) Others considered: Ron Mercer and Tim Thomas. Only Rick Pitino knows for sure.
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