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Tuesday, June 25
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 12:04 PM ET
 
Deals will likely shake up draft
By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

This much is certain just over 24 hours from the draft: Trades will be made, shaking up the first round, possibly turning ESPN.com's final mock draft upside down.

That's not an excuse, but reality and the tough part of projecting the 2002 NBA draft.

(Just 90 minutes after posting this mock draft, the Wizards and Hornets pulled off the day's first trade, as Washington sent Courtney Alexander to New Orleans for the Hornets first round pick, No. 17 overall. The Wizards now have the 11th and 17th picks in Wednesday night's draft.)

Sure, there are a few certainties, which we have projected over the past few weeks. Yao Ming, Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Drew Gooden are going to be selected with the first four picks. But, as for the rest of the first round, order could be maintained quickly without trades -- or be tossed into chaos with a number of potential movements of picks and players leading up to the Rockets taking Yao with the overall No. 1 pick.

The key to Wednesday night's draft is Memphis. If Jerry West sits tight, then the first round could fall rather nicely. If West makes a move, and he's expected to, then there could be players changing hats throughout the night in New York.

The Clippers can also control who goes where and when during the first dozen picks. But, the Grizzlies need the Clippers to make the trades happen. Picks No. 8 and No. 12 -- both held by the Clippers -- are two of the most coveted selections because there is a feeling that those picks could produce players who could play next season rather than two or three seasons ahead. If the Clippers decide to keep both picks, then look for players going to L.A. with long-term plans. But, if the Clippers decide to move the picks, then assume the players selected at 8 and 12 will be players who will play and contribute next season.

With all this in mind, here is ESPN.com's final mock draft as of Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET:

1. Houston: Yao Ming, 7-5, C, Shanghai Sharks (China)
Why Yao? The Rockets are probably the best team to take a chance on Yao. General manager Carroll Dawson and coach Rudy Tomjanovich are masters at working with big men, are locked in at Houston for the long term, and are committed to making Yao work within their system. They aren't that far away from the playoffs and can afford to deal with some hiccups in his development (i.e. missing parts of training camp for Chinese National Team commitments). Dawson said Monday that he expected to get a commitment by Wednesday night that Yao would be available to the team for the regular-season and the playoffs. He said he expected to take Yao No. 1 and didn't foresee any major problems. He said the discussions going on are between Yao and the Chinese Basketball Association, not with the Rockets.
Backup plan? If a reason to question Yao's situation arises at the 11th hour, expect the Rockets to think seriously about Mike Dunleavy or Caron Butler.

2. Chicago: Jay Williams, 6-2, Jr., PG, Duke
Why Williams? First off, because the Bulls got the No. 2 pick and the Rockets are going to take Yao. If the Bulls got the No. 1 pick then they probably would have selected Yao. Williams fits the Bulls because he's a ready-made scoring guard. The Bulls need a point guard to come in and start next to Jalen Rose. The Jamaal Crawford experiment is essentially over and Williams gives them a legit point who can become an instant leader on a team searching for direction. Chicago went young with Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry last year, and now need to add an experienced veteran by the draft standards. Underclassman by title only, player of the year Williams fits the criteria. Oh, and Williams wants to be a Bull, which certainly helps make for a smooth transition.
Backup plan? Mike Dunleavy and Caron Butler remain distant outside possibilities. If a Rockets-Yao deal breaks down in the final minutes, and Chicago sees Yao on the board, the Bulls would likely consider going with the Chinese national treasure, even without doing the final legwork on the deal.

3. Golden State: Mike Dunleavy, 6-9, Jr., SF, Duke
Why Dunleavy? The Warriors have been enamored with Dunleavy since he entered the draft. Dunleavy has become the third best player in this draft, at least in terms of perception over the last two weeks. Dunleavy has expressed his desire to play on the West Coast and hasn't complained about playing for the Warriors. The Warriors already have face-the-basket scoring forwards in Troy Murphy and Antawn Jamison, but the Warriors plan on making this rotation work next season. While this team continues to get younger, Dunleavy is considered one of the top young talents in college basketball because he's pushing 6-10, he can shoot, handle the ball and drive. He's still not done growing and he was one of the toughest matchups in college basketball last season. That could translate into one of the NBA's toughest matchups if his maturation at the position continues over the next three to five years.
Backup plan? If Yao slips, then the Warriors will be all over him. Not likely, however, and Williams would become the next option. If the top two picks go as planned, the Warriors could consider Nikoloz Tkstishvili -- only if they really want to take a flyer on the future.

4. Memphis: Drew Gooden, 6-10, Jr., PF, Kansas
Why Gooden? Gooden's reps have essentially been told their guy won't slide past No. 4 in the draft. But that doesn't mean he'll end up in Memphis. The Grizzlies easily could slide back in this draft and take Gooden for another team, say the Clippers. Memphis president Jerry West is unlikely to stay still on draft day. The Grizzlies are involved in various trade talks that could include the Clippers' No. 8 and No. 12, not to mention possibly shipping off Stromile Swift. The Grizzlies are definitely interested in Jared Jeffries and Curtis Borchardt, as well as Gooden. Anyone of the three would work in Memphis. West wants basketball players who are ready to contribute, not works in progress. The Grizzlies say Pau Gasol and Shane Battier are the only two players who are untouchable.
Backup plan? Memphis could try to figure out a trade to get Jeffries and Borchardt with two first-round picks. If they need to get a guard with a second first-round pick, then don't be surprised to see Kareem Rush's or Jiri Welsch's name surface.

5. Denver: Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, 6-11, SF, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
Why Tskitishvili? The Nuggets have to decide if they're looking toward next season or three seasons from now. The consensus in the league is that they're choosing the latter. That means grabbing one of the top future talents in Tskitishvili. The Nuggets are familiar with his work after scouting him extensively in Europe. The Nuggets don't have a coach, which means no arguments from the coaching staff over winning now vs. winning later. The Nuggets aren't really in the trade market with little to offer. They've got two first-round picks and will likely keep both of them.
Backup plan? The Nuggets have a few options with some interest in Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, another player who could go short term if he comes next season or long term if he's got contract issues. Jeffries is also a possibility, as is Caron Butler or Dajuan Wagner. The Nuggets need a little bit of everything, so don't be surprised if any of these players are chosen here.

6. Cleveland: Caron Butler, 6-7, So., SF, Connecticut
He's probably the most ready-made talent in this draft. Butler wants and has no issues with playing in Cleveland, especially with Andre Miller. But will Miller be in town next season? The Cavs are open to trade talks, especially with Phoenix. There is some talk that they could still get Butler at No. 9 if a deal is done, considering the Knicks and Clippers probably wouldn't take him. But Butler could be gone if the Grizzlies or Nuggets move on him at 4 or 5. Miller's status probably won't be decided by Wednesday night. There are rumors of potential trades with the Clippers involving Miller, but that would mean the Clippers would have to make a commitment to make a move on Miller's contract (could he possibly get the max from Donald Sterling?). If the Cavs are committed to winning next season then drafting Butler and keeping Miller makes the most sense. This team needs to keep its best player to maintain some interest in the city. The Cavs need to win now to keep fans interested and can't afford to draft for the future. Butler is an impact scorer who can score from essentially all over the court, but mostly by slashing to the basket.
Backup plan? The Cavs are equally interested in Jeffries with Wagner a possibility if Miller is dealt. Gooden is also a distinct possibility if he slips down to No. 6. Chris Wilcox is also on their list.

7. New York: Chris Wilcox, 6-10, So., PF, Maryland
Why Wilcox? The Knicks need a power forward and one who will give them production sooner rather than later. Wilcox has been atop the Knicks' wish list for weeks and if he's on the board then he's likely staying in New York for the next three years -- at least. The Knicks could make a trade to move up, but that seems less likely with each passing day. There has always been a good chance that their top choices would be available at No. 7. Wilcox could be picked at No. 6 by either Cleveland or Phoenix, if the Suns pull off a trade to move up ahead of the Knicks.
Backup plan? The Knicks aren't through deciding and selecting Hilario is still a real possibility. He's a power player who could also play center. He's a monster around the basket and would be a fan favorite once he gets on the court. The Knicks' faithful might not know his name today, or feel comfortable with the pick, but if he's as good as his highlights then the fans in the Garden will be thrilled.

8. L.A. Clippers (from Atlanta): Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, 6-9, PF, Brazil
Why Hilario? The Clippers could be making this pick for someone else. The Clippers are the most pursued team in the lottery because of their two lottery picks. If they keep the player picked here, Hilario gives them a power player inside who could be as physical with the top teams in the West (see: Lakers). Hilario also could stay with his Brazilian team, which probably wouldn't be a bad idea for the Clippers. They have a full roster and don't need to add two players for next season.
Backup plan? Tskitishvili is also a distinct possibility if he's still on the board at No. 8. Wagner and Jeffries could also be strong picks at No. 8 -- Wagner for the Clippers or Grizzlies, and Jeffries for the Grizzlies or Cavs if the trades mentioned above go down. The Clippers could also be interested in Curtis Borchardt at No. 8, too.

9. Phoenix: Jared Jeffries, 6-10, So., SF, Indiana
Why Jeffries? The Suns, like the Grizzlies, are extremely high on Jeffries. He's 6-10 and is a legit scoring forward. He can dribble, drive, pass and shoot. He's as versatile as any player in the draft and teams love young, face-the-basket players as tall as Jeffries as shooting forwards. The Suns are looking to move up with the Cavs at No. 6. Cleveland still owes Phoenix a future first-round pick and the Suns are trying to get higher in this draft. If the Suns keep this pick, then it's likely Jeffries, if he's available. If they can trade up, they'll look at Wilcox, Hilario or Tskitishvili.
Backup plan? General manager Bryan Colangelo says he wants to win next season and his team is closer to doing exactly that than most people think. That would discount all the rumors that the Suns are looking at Amare Stoudemire. The high school senior has loads of talent, but he's still two to three seasons away from providing quality minutes in the League. So, too, is Tskitishvili. The consensus is that Wilcox, Jeffries and Hilario are closer to contributing in 2002-03.

10. Miami: Qyntel Woods, 6-8, PF, Northeast Mississippi CC
Why Woods? Woods had been dropping, but scouts say his stock took a turn for the better in the last few days. He's still one of the top offensive talents in the lottery. He's a scoring small forward, and while he's not projected to be as ready-made to come in and contribute because of a lack of defensive principles and comprehension of offensive systems, he's still a scorer who could make a difference in two to three seasons. The Heat could be in the market for a trade but nothing has materialized as of yet. The Heat could go in a number of directions and will almost certainly take Jeffries if he slips this far.
Backup plan? Woods is probably the least secure of the top 10 picks, and could slip into a middle of the first round that could go in several directions from this point forward. If the Heat can't get Jeffries, decide to pass on Woods, and there isn't a trade, then Curtis Borchardt enters the picture. Miami would love to get Butler if he slips this far, which isn't likely. Stoudemire or Wagner should also be on the board for the Heat's consideration.

11. Washington: Dajuan Wagner, 6-2, Fr., PG, Memphis
Why Wagner? The Wizards have a host of options, but are hoping that Jeffries or Butler some how slides down to them. The chances are slim either will, but both would be a slam-dunk pick. Bostjan Nachbar remains a distinct possibility, but the Wizards need a scoring wing, especially with Michael Jordan's situation in flux and talk about shipping off Courtney Alexander to a team deeper in the lottery like the Hornets to pick up perhaps another point guard. Woods could also be a possibility if he was to drop and there's a strong chance he will. But, Wagner makes sense because the Wizards need scorers, especially on the perimeter. He also would be the perfect player to be an understudy to Jordan.
Backup plan? Jeffries and Butler are backups, rather than first choices. Nachbar and Woods are strong choices, too.

12. L.A. Clippers: Amare Stoudemire, 6-10, PF, Cypress Creek (Fla.) H.S.
Why Stoudemire? First of all, the consensus among teams is that he can't slip too far. Stouddmire is too good and certain players are destined to be lottery picks for whatever reason. Stoudemire is a talent, real talent, who with the proper coaching could end up being one of the best players in this draft three to four seasons down the road. The Clippers also love to get young contracts and have a history of working well with younger players, especially teenagers. Stoudemire could go higher to Phoenix, and Washington is a possibility, but there aren't a lot of spots for him. His agent told the Clippers not to pick Stoudemire, but if they keep this pick, he'll probably be upset. The Clippers aren't going to listen to an agent's demands. This pick could also be shipped as part of a deal to Portland (which covets Stoudemire), the Cavs or the Grizzlies. The latter two teams probably wouldn't pick Stoudemire. Players like Wagner (for the Cavs), Borchardt or Kareem Rush (for the Grizzlies) make sense if this pick gets shipped.
Backup plan? Borchardt is a strong possibility. The Clippers need a backup for Michael Olowkandi. The Clips have been doing their homework on Borchardt and know he could help them quicker than Stoudemire.

13. Milwaukee: Melvin Ely, PF, 6-10, Sr., Fresno State
Why Ely? He's the most ready-made power forward who can come in and contribute next season. The Bucks want a player who will help them now, not necessarily later. The coaching staff is high on Ely for that very reason, maybe more so than the team's front office. Ely also interviewed well and would be the first senior taken in the draft. The Bucks are a veteran team and Ely would fit in as a more mature, fifth-year senior ready to become a professional.
Backup plan? Ely has seemily been locked up as the Bucks' choice for weeks, which just means it might not happen. This pick has become almost too predictable. So, the Bucks could also be interested in Marcus Haislip, and if Stoudemire were to fall, then the Bucks would likely have an interesting battle from management and the coaching staff. They didn't interview Stoudemire, so taking the teenager is a reach. If for some reason Hilario slips this far, he doesn't get past the Bucks.

14. Indiana: Curtis Borchardt, 7-0, Jr., C, Stanford
Why Borchardt? In part, because he can't slip too much further. Borchardt is still the second-best center in this draft behind Yao. The Pacers don't need much of anything for next season and have plenty of good young talent up front. But the Pacers aren't against going big.
Backup plan? The Pacers could go with Haislip, Ely if he drops, Stoudemire, Nachbar, or a guard like Rush. The assumption is that the Pacers will grab Rush because he would be a backup to Reggie Miller. But the bigs are too big to pass up, and the consensus is teams won't ignore someone like Borchardt, Ely or Haislip if they are available at No. 14.

15. Houston: Bostjan Nachbar, SF, 6-8, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
Why Nachbar? The Rockets have been focusing so much on the top pick that the No. 15 pick has gotten lost over the last few weeks. But Nachbar worked out in Houston on Sunday. The consensus is that if he were available the Rockets would take him at No. 15 (Nachbar at No. 11 to Washington is the other possibility). The Rockets wanted a center and small forward in this draft. Getting Yao and Nachbar would be a home run for this franchise.
Backup plan? If Nachbar is gone, look for Tayshaun Prince and Kareem Rush becoming strong possibilities. Houston wants a face-the-basket scorer (other than Yao) and both fit the criteria.

16. Philadelphia: Kareem Rush, 6-6, SG, Jr., Missouri
Why Rush? The Sixers still need to decide if they're going to keep this pick. As of Tuesday, they hadn't made that decision. So, we have to assume they will, and if that's the case, then the Sixers will go with a scoring guard or small forward. Rush has been one of the favorites of late not to get past 16. But there are a host of other possibilities: Woods if he drops ... Jiri Welsch ... or even a chance the 76ers will go big (Haislip?) if there is a trade.
Backup plan? If there is a trade, don't be surprised to hear Dan Dickau or Welsch at this spot. If it's Dickau, then this pick is almost certainly part of a deal.

17. Washington: Jiri Welsch, 6-6, SG, BC Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Why Welsch? Washington began the wheeling and dealing with New Orleans, landing its second first-round pick by sending Courtney Alexander to the Big Easy. The Wizards may not keep it too long. But if the Wiz doesn't move this pick (a second trade with Denver is a possibility), look for Washington to take a scoring guard at this spot. Welsch had a good workout with the MJ and Co. last week.
Backup plan? Picking and keeping Dan Dickau is a possibility. So too is scorer Kareem Rush. Marcus Haislip could be a reach, but if he's still on the board, and we think he will, then he's an intriguing option.

18. Orlando: Frank Williams, 6-3, PG, Jr., Illinois
Why Williams? The Magic has been thinking point guard from the beginning and weren't talking trade as late as Monday night. That means any deals for Mike Miller are essentially off the table. If that's the case, and Orlando does keep this pick, look point guard or scoring guard. Welsch would be a possibility if he's still available and Williams is one of a handful of choices. Williams gets knocked for his erratic interest in the game, something he disputes. But he's still more of a playmaker than Dickau, who is more of a scoring point guard.
Backup plan? The Magic could go with Dickau instead of Williams without hesitation if both are available.

19. Utah: Marcus Haislip, 6-10, PF, Jr., Tennessee
Why Haislip? For starters, he's still on the board. Yes, the Jazz was thinking guard throughout the spring and that meant names like Williams, Rush, Dickau, Welsch, Juan Dixon and Casey Jacobsen. But if there is a big man available like Haislip, then they'll likely take a flyer on the power forward. Someone always drops and the consensus among league execs is that Haislip is one of three or four candidates that could drop hard -- from 13 down to the late teens.
Backup plan? If Haislip doesn't drop, and the Jazz doesn't want to go guard, then Carlos Boozer is a strong possibility. He didn't work out, well but he was ill the day he stopped through Salt Lake City.

20. Toronto: Dan Dickau, 6-0, PG, Sr., Gonzaga
Why Dickau? If he's on the board then the Raptors won't use close to their five minutes to take him. The Raptors wanted a point guard and Dickau was at the top of Toronto's list. He interviewed well and would be a perfect fit for a team that needs point guard leadership. Dickau, however, could easily be gone at this point and the Raptors aren't really in the trade talks to move up to get him.
Backup plan? Frank Williams is a possibility, so too is Welsch if he were to drop. If the Raptors go with a bigger guard, Mladen Sekularac is a possibility. Going bigger, say if Haislip keeps dropping, or with Boozer, is also within reach. Fresno State's Chris Jefferies was once on the list but his stock plummeted over the last few weeks.

21. Portland: Dan Gadzuric, 6-11, C, Sr., UCLA
Why Gadzuric? The Blazers would like a big man if they keep this pick. They are looking at possibly trading Zach Randolph at some point, and would like to get their hands on a rising star in the frontcourt. That describes Amare Stoudemire. But he might not be available through a trade. If the Blazers can't cut a deal, they'll go with the next best available talent. That could mean Gadzuric, who is among a host of names that the Blazers are looking at this deep in the draft.
Backup plan? To trade the pick. The Blazers aren't enamored with this portion of the draft. They would rather dump it for a veteran or trade up for a player like Hilario or Stoudemire. They could also look at a player like Rod Grizzard, if they want to go with a big guard. If Boozer or Ely were to slip this far then they are also possibilities.

22. Phoenix: John Salmons, 6-7, PG, Sr., Miami
Why Salmons? His stock has soared through the spring workouts, at least post Chicago. He's a versatile 6-7 point forward who could play three positions. The Phoenix coaching staff likes Salmons, but he's on a long list with players like Jacobsen, Juan Dixon, Boozer, Smush Parker, Predrag Savovic and Freddie Jones.
Backup plan? This pick obviously could be part of a trade. The Suns are looking guard here if they keep the pick.

23. Detroit: Rod Grizzard, 6-8, SF, Jr., Alabama
Why Grizzard? Grizzard wouldn't be in the first round if the picks were made based on workouts. He didn't work out for anyone after breaking a bone in his leg. But, thankfully for Grizzard, picks are made based on a whole body of work. Grizzard intrigues a number of teams because of his athleticism. If the Pistons go with Grizzard, it's because the personnel people convince the coaching staff -- considering they haven't seen him play without an Alabama jersey.
Backup plan? They need a shooter, just as much as a perimeter scorer. That means a player like Jacobsen could be in the mix. The fact that Boozer is still on the board could make this pick interesting, even though he's not what they need. Prince or Jones also could be possibilities.

24. New Jersey: Casey Jacobsen, 6-6, G, Jr., Stanford
Why Jacobsen? He was invited to the draft and that should be an indication that he's going in the first round. Jacobsen is a shooter and the Nets need another perimeter scorer, especially a deep 3-ball threat. The choice is a tough one here with the Nets possibly going with Juan Dixon of Maryland, too.
Backup plan? Don't expect this pick to be traded. Look for the Nets to stay true to their plan of taking a guard and it's either Jacobsen or Dixon.

25. Denver: Carlos Boozer, 6-9, PF, Jr., Duke
Why Boozer? The Nuggets are looking long term and with this pick they could take a foreign player. If they stay local, the next logical player is Boozer, who under this scenario would still be on the board. Boozer is a power player and would help the Nuggets rebound and score in the post. They need everything they can get.
Backup plan? The Nuggets could still go all European and look overseas for a player who might not be on the squad next season. Or they could look to American guards like Jones, Dixon and Co. who would still be available.

26. San Antonio: Luis Scola, 6-9, F, Argentina
Why Scola? The Spurs need another inside player for the long term. Scola doesn't have to be on the roster this season and that's fine with the Spurs. They don't need someone to play next season with David Robinson playing another year. Scola is more of a small forward, but he's a frontcourt scorer, nonetheless.
Backup plan? Look for the Spurs to ponder David Andersen, Jamal Sampson, Dixon, Nenad Krstic or Prince with this pick.

27. L.A. Lakers: Tayshaun Prince, 6-9, SF, Sr., Kentucky
Why Prince? The Lakers need another perimeter scorer and Prince fits the criteria. Prince is local and they've had plenty of chances to scout him. The Lakers could go in a number of different directions and don't be shocked to see a trade to get higher up to draft Woods.
Backup plan? If Jacobsen drops, then he's a possibility here. So too is Jones or even a big man project like Sampson. The Lakers probably won't sit tight here with some aging role players and contract issues forthcoming with players like Devean George.

28. Sacramento: Nenad Krstic, 7-0, C, Yugoslavia
Why Krstic? The Kings could use another big man -- in the next two to three years. Krstic is one of the better young talents in Yugoslavia and doesn't have to be in a Kings uniform next season. He is a friend of Vlade Divac, which doesn't hurt his case.
Backup plan? Don't look for a trade, but don't be surprised to see names like Jamal Sampson, Gadzuric, Boozer or even Jason Jennings if any or all are available and Krstic isn't with the final pick of the first round.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He covers the NBA draft for ESPN.com and ESPN.




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