C's May Go Shopping

June 20, 1997

The Celtics continue to occupy a position in the middle of the predraft trade talk. But whether they can accomplish something major in the marketplace depends more on the willingness of other clubs to part with stars.

"We're K-Mart shoppers, huh?" said general manager Chris Wallace before heading off to check out potential pick Tony Battie of Texas Tech.

The bulk of the Celtic talk has involved their second first-round pick (No. 6 overall) and packaging a large contract to clear out cap space. But if Seattle (Shawn Kemp), Milwaukee (Vin Baker) and Denver (Antonio McDyess) get serious about making a deal, the C's may take their business to Brooks Brothers. The third overall choice could also be history if they can attract the star that Wallace talked about in his introductory press conference.

It's fair to say that teams are lining up at the Celtics' door in hopes of getting a shot at either Utah's Keith Van Horn or Colorado's Chauncey Billups. But in that Celtics coach and president Rick Pitino would very much like to get one of those two (or Battie) into a C's uniform, the offerings from afar had best be strong.

While a good amount of dealing appears to be inevitable, the trade wire may get the weekend off.

"I think right now what everyone is doing is posturing," said Wallace. "Everyone wants to canvass the field and see what's out there."

Seattle, meanwhile, wishes Kemp weren't so out there. The unhappy forward has stated he wants to be traded and will not report to training camp if he isn't accommodated. For now, the Sonics are hoping to placate him, though there have been no direct talks and the organization is fielding offers.

Coach George Karl extended an olive branch, saying, "There's been a lot of situations where players have said things and then months later regrouped and moved forward. And that's my desire right now."

Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf said his club will consider trading Scottie Pippen, but the Bulls' phone hasn't been ringing off the hook. Pippen has one year left, so any team after him would have to get some assurances it could re-sign him to a longer deal. But as of yesterday, Pippen's agent, Jimmy Sexton, hadn't heard from another club.

The Celtics went to Philadelphia yesterday to see Battie, a 6-foot-11 center-forward. Battie still needs to add bulk to his frame after a late growth spurt, but he won't let size issues keep him out of traffic.

"Being soft isn't going to make it in the NBA," Battie said. "I know how I have to play."

If Battie does make it to the Celtics, his first official week on the job will likely be spent in Rhode Island. The C's are working out details to hold their training camp in Newport.

Van Horn is the hottest commodity these days, with Denver talking about trading up to No. 2 to get him. But Philadelphia could stay there and take him. Whatever the case, it appears questions about Van Horn's defense aren't so nagging after all.

"I'm extremely confident about my defense," Van Horn said. "We played a strict man-to-man defense (at Utah), so I think that gives me an advantage on guys who were playing zone."

Utah coach Rick Majerus said he'd like to see Van Horn wind up with the Celtics and Pitino. Of the defense issue, he said, "Keith's a better defender than people are saying. He wasn't our best defender, but he knows what the system is going to be in the NBA."

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