Will Walker Walk?

July 31, 2005
Antoine Walker visited Miami last week as the one-month anniversary of his free agency status approached. It hasn't been the hottest of markets for Walker, who has watched guys such as Dan Gadzuric and Samuel Dalembert get deals while he still is on the outside looking in. If anything percolates with Miami, the Heat might be able to start Walker at a deal around the $5.7 million mark by offering Michael Doleac and a trade exception (which can be combined) in a deal to Boston. The Celticsare disinclined to make any sign-and-trade unless it upgrades their team, and it's hard to see how Doleac does that. The Celtics' position on Walker is to let him see what's out there and how cold it is. Then, by Labor Day, if he hasn't gone anywhere, he can come back to Boston at a midlevel exception number (which is about what he's worth in today's open market). Then again, it only takes one team to blow the whole thing wide open. 

   Eyeing up-and-comers

        Travelin' Man Chris Wallace , the Celtics' peripatetic general manager, will be on the scene next week when the World U21 Championships tip off in Argentina. (It's for players under the age of 21.) The US team was just finalized and among the 11th-hour cuts was Boston College's Jared Dudley . Two University of Connecticut players, Rudy Gay and Marcus Williams , will compete for the Yanks. The US team, all collegians, will be coached by Phil Martelli of Saint Joseph's and assisted by former University of Massachusetts head man Bruiser Flint , now at Drexel.

   Sending out invitations

   Another national team will gather in Miami Friday to begin workouts leading up to the world championship qualifier later this month in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. There are 15 players invited for the 12 spots on the team that will try to qualify for the 2006 world championships in Japan. Ten teams are competing. The top four, along with Argentina, earn automatic bids. And host FIBA also has four wild cards, which means the United States could field a team with the likes of Tyus Edney and Ernest Brown and somehow still get an invitation. Actually, Brown and Edney are candidates for the US team, which is being coached by Mo McHone with assistance from ex-Celtic Dennis Johnson . Of the 15 players in camp, two are from the NBA's developmental league, four from the CBA, two from pro leagues in Korea, and seven from pro leagues in Europe. Edney and Brown, both of whom had a stint with the Celtics at some point (Brown less so), are among the better known of the invitees, which means it's not exactly a star-studded lineup.

   Wise choices

   Pacers president Donnie Walsh is very high on Celtics draft pick Ryan Gomes . In fact, Walsh said Gomes was considered by Indiana at No. 17. "At first glimpse, you think he's Corliss Williamson ," Walsh said. "But then you realize he's got a perimeter game, too. We had him in for a workout and were very impressed." Asked why the Pacers passed on Gerald Green at No. 17, Walsh said Indiana had both Danny Granger (whom it drafted) and Joey Graham (who went 16 to Toronto) rated ahead of Green "as for our team's needs." And as for the addition of Lithuanian sharpshooter Sarunas Jasikevicius , Walsh said, "He really fits our team well. There aren't a lot of guys you could say that about. But you can say that about him." One of Jasikevicius's hopes was to land with a team that has a chance to win an NBA title; he's won everything there is to win in Europe. With Indy, he has that opportunity, and the Pacers have bought themselves a long-range gunner to fill the hole left by Reggie Miller's retirement.

   Nobody's fools

   What's going on with the Clippers? They're actually starting to act like a real NBA team. First, they go out and sign someone else's free agent, inking Cuttino Mobley to a lucrative deal. Now word comes that they may actually be re-signing one of their own without having to match an offer sheet. The fortunate fellow is none other than Zeljko Rebraca , who averaged only 16 minutes a game last season. But according to the Los Angeles Times, Rebraca is set to sign a $12 million deal with the Clippers. Can the playoffs possibly be next?

   On the rebound

   Get well wishes go out to Leo Papile , the Celtics' director of basketball operations. He had to make an emergency trip to the hospital while coaching his AAU team in Florida, but is back in town and recovering nicely. When a team official was asked if Papile had suffered any long-lasting injury, the official cracked, "none more than he already has!"

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