With Lottery Looming, Bird and Ainge Talking with Rick Carlisle


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.

The 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 order.)

With their own pick, plus Dallas', the Celts have a slightly better than 36 percent chance to gain the No.1 overall pick.

They 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.

And once 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."

If 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.

There 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.

CELTIC NOTES: Former Celts are making waves, with Rick Carlisle drawing assistant coaching interest from Larry Bird in Indiana and from Danny Ainge in Phoenix.


FLCeltsFan said...

No doubt that Carlisle is a good coach, he gets results, but I've never been a big fan of his micromanage style.

Lex said...

I loved him on the 86 team

He killed the L's at the forum

He's fond of saying the took a three from him Cuz his feet are too big to fit in the corner w/0 touching the line

FLCeltsFan said...

I liked him on the 86 team as well.

Lee did a piece on CG about that distance in the corner to the 3 point line.

Lex said...

he must have some big feet...

FLCeltsFan said...

Don't they all? :)

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