Popp Unlikely to Deal Duncan for Pitino's Poo-Poo Platter


On their way to the office yesterday, San Antonio Spurs executives realized they had several to-do items in their daily planners. Apparently, the phrase "trade our No. 1 pick" wasn't scribbled in any books.

The Spurs know nothing stands between them and Wake Forest's Tim Duncan. Nothing except temptation. General managers, coaches, and player-personnel types began calling shortly after the Spurs won Sunday's NBA lottery. They were calling again yesterday. They will be calling for the next month.

Most popular target: Duncan.

Most popular San Antonio response: No.

Celtics president and coach Rick Pitino said he will be "creative as possible" in trying to pry No. 1 from the Spurs. Pitino may want to take one of those hip "Getting The Most Out of Your Hidden Creativity" classes. These Spurs are tough.

"In this business, you never want to say never," Spurs player personnel director Sam Schuler said. "But this is as close to a 'never trade' situation as I've ever seen."

Fair enough. But what would the Spurs say if the Celtics offered both their lottery picks (Nos. 3 and 6), Antoine Walker, and next year's No. 1?

"Well," Schuler replied, "there is a risk with several draft picks. In a draft like this, with so many similar players, the risk is high that some of them may not be what you want. I don't see that risk with Duncan.

"You know, I like Antoine Walker a lot. He's a real good player. But he's not in Tim Duncan's category. And you don't know what's going to be out there next year. I don't know how you trade a dominant player like this."

Actually, the Celtics are among the few teams that could present a decent package to the Spurs without scaring them off. Here's why: money.

Teams such as the Sonics, Heat, and even Bucks have more to offer than the Celtics, talentwise. But their best players would have the Spurs' salary cap bloated until the 21st century. On paper, Gary Payton and a big man for Duncan doesn't sound so lopsided. Capwise, though, the Spurs would be adding six years and big money to their payroll. And because of the financial beating they have taken in the Alamodome, the Spurs are living frugally.

Anyway, the idea of a David Robinson-Duncan tandem doesn't bother them. Nor does it hurt their proposal for a new arena to supplant the Alamodome, which is only four years old.

"We believe we have another five, six, seven good years with David Robinson," Schuler said. "Duncan allows us to smoothly make the transition from the Robinson Era to the Duncan Era."

All this talk does not mean that the Celtics cannot be active traders. They may not have the players who can bring a No. 1 pick here, but they certainly are capable of landing No. 2.

The player taken in that spot is expected to be Texas Tech center Tony Battie. Pitino said the Celtics' most obvious need is a center, followed by a point guard and a high-scoring big guard.

The 76ers can pick the 6-foot-11-inch Battie if they want. But coach Larry Brown has said he would happily explore any trade that would bring his team an extra pick. He also wants to clear salary space, which puts him in the same category as Pitino.

There are a couple of snags in a possible Sixers-Celtics deal. One is that the teams have rarely dealt with each other historically. Another is that Pitino may determine that any deals not involving Duncan aren't worth making.

Most non-Duncan trade talk is consolation fodder for Celtics fans. Many of them called the team's offices yesterday, angry that M.L. Carr did not bring back the top selection.

"It was a lottery," a team spokesman explained. "We could have sent the Pope and it wouldn't have made a difference."

The Spurs' ball not only came up for the No. 1 pick Sunday, it also popped out in the No. 2 slot. It was their day. In the next couple of weeks, it will be their call on where Duncan plays his games next season.

"Lots of things can happen," Schuler said, "but I expect him to be wearing a Spurs uniform."


FLCeltsFan said...

I had forgotten that Pitino had tried to trade for Duncan. They really didn't have the assets to do it. Love the "Poo Poo Platter" :)

FLCeltsFan said...

Gotta play catch up again after another stay in the hospital.

Lex said...

Sorry to hear that FCF.

What are the doctors saying?

FLCeltsFan said...

It's congestive heart failure and I'll be dealing with it the rest of my life. I had a sensitivity to one of the meds and it was creating kidney problems. Have to try another one to see if it will work for me.

Lex said...

hang in there. :)

FLCeltsFan said...

Thanks Lex. I plan to. Way too much Celtics yet to watch to do anything else :)

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