After playing disgraceful basketball all season, the Celtics will
attempt to excel at Ping-Pong this afternoon in hopes of righting their
listing ship in the NBA's draft lottery.
Having hired Rick Pitino
to run the organization, they perhaps should have considered a 10-day
contract for Forrest Gump to make sure things go well with the little
white balls today. But the fact is that, in this process, good fortune
is the only way to combat bad bucketry.
Celtics are at least well fortified for the event, which will take
place in the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J., at halftime of
the New York-Miami Game 7. (You'll be able to watch M.L. Carr sweat on
Ch.7 at around 4:30 p.m. as the envelopes are opened to reveal the draft
With their own pick, plus Dallas', the Celts have a slightly better than 36 percent chance to gain the No.1 overall pick.
are aided by the fact that neither Vancouver nor Toronto, per their
expansion agreement, is eligible for the top choice. That means that if
one of the Celtics' four-ball combinations comes up for the second pick
and either Canadian club gets No.1, then the C's would take the giant
step to first place.
The extra emphasis on
the premier pick is quite understandable this year. If not an
all-or-nothing proposition, this is at least an all-or-distant-second
prize. Wake Forest center Tim Duncan is the object of everyone's
affection, with no other player eligible for the draft approaching his
degree of NBA success certainty.
you get away from the top few selections (Tony Battie, Keith Van Horn,
Tim Thomas, Ron Mercer, Chauncy Billups, etc.), the picking is slim.
Toronto is hoping to get lucky in the draw, but if it remains in the
No.9 vicinity, general manager (and soon to be owner) Isiah Thomas has
said he will do all he can to trade the pick.
"The way this draft looks, the eighth or ninth pick would be our 11th or 12th man," Thomas said. "The draft is that weak."
the Celtics land picks 1 and 6 (from Dallas), they will have some
interesting options. After scooping up Duncan at 1 in the June 25 draft,
they may find the other potential impact players gone by No.6. Much
will depend on how the top handful of talent performs in individual
workouts with teams and how their stock rises or falls, but most of the
aforementioned group could be gonzo by 6.
will still be intriguing players left (one of the above, as well as
Austin Croshere of Providence and Adonal Foyle of Colgate), but there is
also the chance the Celts could package the pick with one of their
salary problems and gain some flexibility in anticipation of the 1998
free agent market.
But those eventualities
are moot until the balls bounce today. The Celtics will have Carr on
stage and public relations man Jeff Twiss in the room when the drawing
is actually done beforehand.
Twiss has been
through the routine twice before, with the Celtics landing where they
belonged in each case (ninth in '94 and sixth last year).
He says he hasn't brought in good luck charms in the previous years and probably won't this time.
NOTES: Former Celts are making waves, with Rick Carlisle drawing
assistant coaching interest from Larry Bird in Indiana and from Danny
Ainge in Phoenix.