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 Tuesday, June 27
Bulls unsure of draft intentions
By Mitch Lawrence
Special to

 NEW YORK -- Like about, oh, 28 other NBA teams, Chicago isn't very Bullish on the 2000 NBA draft.

Ervin Johnson and Jermaine O'Neal
Portland's Jermaine O'Neal remains the guy the Bulls really want.
Which isn't very helpful when you're trying to rebuild, you're coming off 13- and 17-win seasons and you've got the Nos. 4 and 7 picks overall in Wednesday's draft.

What's Jerry Krause going to do? At this point, no one seems to know, including the Chicago VP himself. Reportedly, the lead Bull hasn't made up his mind about what to do when Wednesday rolls around.

"All you hear when you talk to Chicago is that they don't like anybody in this draft," one Eastern Conference GM said Monday. "They're like a lot of teams. They need players, but how many guys in this draft are going to make a difference on your club right away?"

Apparently, not many. If Kenyon Martin's ankle holds up, the Nets can plug him in right away to the power forward spot, replacing Jayson Williams, whose injury-plagued career is all but over. There are still questions about Martin's health, but bones usually heal. Jersey seems to think so and has rejected Orlando's overtures for the No. 1 pick.

At No. 2, the Grizzlies are set on Stromile Swift, who actually wants to play in Vancouver. The Clips want Marcus Fizer at No. 3, so they can ship out Maurice Taylor in a sign-and-trade.

Now comes Chicago. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf apparently is done waiting and wants to start winning. Or at least be more competitive. So, he doesn't want Darius Miles, the East St. Louis, Ill., prep star, who can't hit the side of the United Center. Of course, if the Bulls pass on Miles with either of their first two picks, it's a good sign that they've already got an agreement with Toronto's Tracy McGrady.

Our guess is the Bulls will still try to land Jermaine O'Neal from Portland with the No. 4 pick, even though they're apparently not as high on him as they once were. If they keep the pick, we can see them going with one of the two centers -- Joel Przybilla or Chris Mihm -- because they have no one in the middle and can't afford to play a guy like Dickey Simpkins (now a free agent) there anymore. We'll go with the more athletic Przybilla. Some teams think in another two or three years, the Minnesota sophomore be a legit NBA center. With Mihm, no one is sure what he can be in a few seasons.

Then again, nobody is sure what they could be getting out of this entire draft.

Rim Shots I
  • Detroit made a run at Portland's O'Neal, dangling the No. 14 pick. Of course the Blazers want more. They said they wouldn't even make the deal for Chicago's No. 4.

  • The Clips' Maurice Taylor wants to get to New York via a sign and trade, while L.A. wants a point guard in return. Charlie Ward?

  • With the Lakers needing a new, bigger power forward, trying to get a small forward to replace Glen Rice and Ron Harper not getting any younger at the point, it doesn't sound like Jerry West is going to be retiring anytime soon. West still has $6 million to go on his contract. "He's not walking away from that kind of money," said one compadre, amid reports that the Logo was leaving soon. Especially when West was underpaid for so long. Lakers also will be extending Shaquille O'Neal's contract another four seasons, putting him at a little less than $170 million for the next seven seasons. Shaq's deal would average $24 mil, reestablishing him as the No. 1 paid player. That's a very big deal for the Big Whatever.

  • Charlotte is impressed with Kentucky's Jamaal Magloire. He had a terrific workout, while UCLA's JaRon Rush was overweight and out of shape, according to team insiders.

    Rim Shots II
  • All of last week, Grant Hill continued to rehab with Pistons personnel while using the team's facilities. If he's leaving via free agency, you'd think he'd have his own physical therapist and would be doing it somewhere other than on the Pistons' property. Hill is ultra sensitive about his PR image. He's about the last guy who'd be doing this if he already knew he was leaving town. All in all, we still think he's staying for a year. Detroit officials think so, too, but are wary of Orlando.

  • Orlando officials are saying Lon Babby, Hill's agent, is trying to get the Magic to get Chucky Atkins out of town. Atkins, Darrell Armstrong's backup, doesn't get the ball enough to one of Babby's clients, Pat Garrity. Guess what, Atkins doesn't get the ball to anybody (attention: G. Hill). Babby also has Keyon Dooling, the Missouri point guard, if that's worth anything. Orlando is high on him, too.

  • Knicks GM Scott Layden says he's getting lots of calls for his No. 22 pick. Betcha they're all from teams looking to move down. That's how bad this draft is.

  • The Bucks did some secret inquiring about Atkins a few weeks ago. If George Karl and Co. can convince owner Herb Kohl that Sam Cassell needs to go because he won't distribute the ball, they think Atkins would be a good fit. That is, if he doesn't keep looking for his own shot.

  • Rod Thorn apparently wasn't the Nets' first choice to be president. Buddies of Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers GM, report that Mitch turned down a $400,000 per year raise from Jersey to stay with the champs. "Mitch has the best job in America," one rival Pacific Division GM said. No argument here.

  • Anthony Mason wants three more years from the Hornets. They're leaning toward shipping Mase out of town. The buzz around the Hive has new Charlotte owner Ray Woolridge going after Mike Fratello whenever Bob Bass retires. Could be by this October. But those who know the Czar think if he's coming back, it'll be to coach.

  • The Rockets hope Cincy's DerMarr Johnson or Darius Miles slip to No. 9, but that's looking doubtful. If they keep the pick, the Rockets like Mike Miller there. Hawks seems set on Johnson at No. 6.

  • New Jersey will talk to Isiah Thomas if Indiana decides it's going with Rick Carlisle. The Nets have talked to Bob Huggins and Tubby Smith.

    Rim Shots III
  • The Clips' Lamar Odom, a Finals spectator when the Lakers wrapped up the title, says he's going to be in the gym all summer. "I've got to work on my right hand," he said. "I've got to improve that." Unfortunately, that's not the kind of attitude we're seeing enough of today. For instance, the Knicks' Marcus Camby, still without one legit offensive move anywhere on the floor, has nixed the idea of going to Pete Newell's camp for big men. That's just the place Camby needs to go, too.

    "When it was me and Michael and Larry and James Worthy and Kevin McHale and Kareem and Isiah, it was like, 'next year, I'm going to add this move,' " Magic Johnson said. "At first, Michael was just drive, drive, drive. Then he said, 'OK, I'm going to add a 22-footer.' Then it was his 3-point shot. Then his low-post game. Me, I added a hook. Larry, he always added stuff. Now what I see is that guys come back with the same game, every year. They add no weapons. You know if they couldn't go to their left last year, they can't go to their left this year. That's universal."

    It's pretty sad, too.

    Mitch Lawrence, who covers the NBA for the New York Daily News, writes a regular NBA column for


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