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
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.
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."
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."