Billups Arrival may mean End for Wesley

June 29, 1997

The Celtics' selection of Chauncey Billups with the third pick in Wednesday's draft would appear to signal the end of free agent David Wesley's tenure in Boston. But Celtics president and coach Rick Pitino wouldn't rule out the possibility both point guards could be on his roster when training camp opens in October.

"It's my opinion to possibly go after David Wesley, and then let everybody compete on the court to see who the best players are," Pitino said yesterday between sessions of the team's free-agent camp at Brandeis. "After that, the ones who don't fit in, maybe you go ahead and trade one or two of those players depending on what you can get back."

For his part, Wesley has stated he'd like to remain with the Celtics. His agent, Frank Catapano, said he won't close any doors in Boston until the Celtics do.

"If the Celtics have determined David's not wanted, I haven't heard it from them yet," said Catapano, noting free agent negotiations can begin in three days. "I certainly wouldn't rule out David staying until they tell me themselves that he's not in their plans."

Catapano is aware Billups' arrival does not help his client's chances of returning for a fourth season with the Celtics. Neither does the nullified trade of Dino Radja to Philadelphia, which would have given Pitino $ 5.3 million more with which to operate. Although teams are allowed to match any offer to re-sign their free agents regardless of salary cap constraints, it's unlikely the Celtics would want to get tied up in a deal for Wesley that would limit their financial flexibility in the future. In addition to Wesley, Pitino and general manager Chris Wallace have expressed interest in re-signing team captain Rick Fox.

"I'm still looking at both players," said Pitino. "In terms of Wesley, if he gets an offer we can't compete with from a salary-cap standpoint, or would jeopardize our future in terms of big men, then I can understand (letting him sign elsewhere).

"But if it's a competitive market, and not overly exorbitant, than I am definitely going to compete for David Wesley."

Wesley, 26, began his career in New Jersey. In three seasons since being signed by the Celtics in July 1994, he went from a relative unknown to one of the NBA's steadiest point guards.

His penchant for working at both ends of the floor would appear a nice match for Pitino's system.

At the same time, however, the Celtics have drafted a point guard whom Pitino believes could develop into one of the five best at his position within three years. Billups would need quality minutes to make that happen.

"My answer to where David will be is I honestly don't know," said Catapano, watching a few of his other clients perform during the morning session.

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