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Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2007

Up in the air

Ex-Jayhawk has no clue which team will call his name

Former Kansas University basketball player Julian Wright, center, speaks to Special Olympians with fellow NBA draft hopeful Greg Oden, right. Oden and Wright are likely first-round picks in the NBA Draft, which is today in New York. Oden, in fact, is expected to be tapped No. 1 by Portland.

Former Kansas University basketball player Julian Wright, center, speaks to Special Olympians with fellow NBA draft hopeful Greg Oden, right. Oden and Wright are likely first-round picks in the NBA Draft, which is today in New York. Oden, in fact, is expected to be tapped No. 1 by Portland.

June 28, 2007

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— On the eve of the 2007 NBA Draft, Julian Wright could honestly say he had no idea what the future holds. If the former Kansas University forward had any clue about his place in the draft, or which team might be inclined to select him, Wright wasn't tipping his hand Wednesday.

And he doesn't expect to find out before anyone else. The suspense won't end until NBA commissioner David Stern steps to the podium tonight and calls Wright's name at Madison Square Garden.

"I think it will be a surprise," Wright said Wednesday. "I want it to be a surprise. Hopefully it's a positive surprise, not a surprise that makes you (say), 'Whoa, slippery slope here.'"

Wright has heard the rumors. He knows ESPN's Andy Katz reported Monday that the "biggest slider in the first round could be" Wright. Tabbed as high as the No. 7 pick back in April, Katz reported that Wright could fall to Washington at No. 16.

Of course, since no one knows exactly what will happen, there is disagreement even within the ESPN.com ranks. Draft guru Chad Ford continues to position Wright at No. 14, going to the Los Angeles Clippers with the final pick in the lottery.

Wright tries not to pay attention.

"I'm reported to be sliding down, moving up, sliding down," Wright said. "I've heard it all. There's no sliding down, unless you just tank a workout. Other guys may have looked better at certain workouts, but that's why this draft is so inexact. It's not concrete. It's about team needs, not just talent.

"If I slip to No. 7, and that's where I need to be, that's fine. If I slip to 12, and that's where they need me and that's where I can really be of use to them, then that's fine. It's not about telling my kids that I was this pick or that pick. I just want to be successful where I'm going and hopefully be a good fit for that team."

Wright arrived in New York on Tuesday night after his final workout with the 76ers in Philadelphia. The 76ers hold the No. 12 pick, and one mock draft (The Sporting News) predicts that is where Wright will be taken. Wright's agent, Rob Pelinka, reportedly decided his client would make the last-minute trip to Philadelphia after declining a workout earlier.

Former Kansas University basketball player Julian Wright, center, speaks to Special Olympians with fellow NBA draft hopeful Greg Oden, right. Oden and Wright are likely first-round picks in the NBA Draft, which is today in New York. Oden, in fact, is expected to be tapped No. 1 by Portland.

Former Kansas University basketball player Julian Wright, center, speaks to Special Olympians with fellow NBA draft hopeful Greg Oden, right. Oden and Wright are likely first-round picks in the NBA Draft, which is today in New York. Oden, in fact, is expected to be tapped No. 1 by Portland.

Before heading to Philadelphia, Wright participated in workouts with Minnesota, Boston, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Sacramento in less than a two-week period. The Kings might opt for Wright at No. 10, putting an end to all the rumors.

Speculation concerning Wright's possible slip in the draft has focused on a variety of issues. In addition to the reported restrictions Pelinka placed on those workouts, Wright's history of erratic shooting could be hurting him. And Wright may not have performed as well as desired after he sprained his right ankle during drills in Boston on June 18.

Wright said the ankle was fine.

"I rolled it in Boston, and it has been lingering a little bit," Wright said. "It's not that bad. If I'm able to slide, jump and run, I'm cool enough to play."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Wright "grimaced in pain" and was pushed hard by his workout partner during a June 22 audition with the Bucks. Wright was going against Jovan Stefanov, a 6-9 forward from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

"He's a 3 man (small forward), and you could play him at some 4 (power forward)," Dave Babcock, the Bucks' director of player personnel, told the Journal-Sentinel of Wright. "Maybe you could play him at some 2 (shooting guard)."

According to the Milwaukee newspaper, Wright took a long break during the workout and was helped back on the court by trainer Andre Daniel.

"He got tired, but he's been out for three days [since Boston]," Babcock said. "It's not a big deal."

Wright said he didn't get a feel for which workout went the best or how the process translates to the draft, which begins at 6 tonight.

"Everyone's pretty cool," Wright said. "No one has really come out and said, 'We want you, or this and that.' They just say 'thanks for coming out' and that type of thing. They kind of keep their distance in terms of what they were really feeling.

"I just feel like I possess a lot of skills that hopefully will make me attractive to any organization. I feel like I don't have one thing to hang my hat on and that if I don't do well in the workouts (it means) I won't get picked. This is a business as well and you have to make sure you put yourself in the best position to be successful."

Wright said the biggest adjustment since deciding to leave Kansas after his sophomore season has been learning the business portion of the process.

"I've tried to ask a lot of questions so that I can learn," he said. "I'm picking it up pretty quickly. I have good support around me that is keeping me focused, so that's definitely a plus."

Wright was one of 12 players who participated in an interview session at a New York hotel Wednesday afternoon. Those same prospects then visited the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and participated in an NBA Cares basketball clinic for area Special Olympics athletes.

As the final minutes tick down to tonight's draft, Wright will be joined in the Green Room by Pelinka, his mother, Gina Wright, his father, Paul Vinson, and one of his four brothers, Andre. Wright was wearing brown pinstripes Wednesday but revealed little about his draft-night suit.

"Gray is the primary color. I'll let the rest be left as a secret," he said. "If I'm not in the 10 best (dressed), I just don't want to be in the 10 worst."

Wright said he started thinking about his NBA chances when he was a high school kid growing up in Chicago. But recent weeks have been an education for him, demonstrating there's more to making the league than just being a lottery pick.

"A lot of people may think that they've made it," Wright said of being drafted. "But I have so much work to do. I'd be foolish to say I've arrived. You always hear about guys like Tim Duncan who are hard on themselves, but in a positive way. They always feel like they can get better at something and improve. I hope to be, in due time, talked about as one of those guys who strives to get better."

Comments

Lee Eldridge 7 years, 5 months ago

Instead of being bitter, maybe you should try to be the best at something. Oden and Durant were the two best players in college basketball, and are among the best hundred or so players in the world. And the potential to be among the best 25 players in the world. Are you among the best 25 at anything?

The_Voice_of_Reason 7 years, 5 months ago

So here is a sad fact... While I'm at work tonight Greg Oden who is 19 and 4 1/2 years younger than I am will become an instant millionaire because he can put a rubber ball into a metal hoop better than most others can.... ahhhh God bless America....

Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

If TVOR made as much money for their employer as these two will, then TVOR would also be a millionaire.

ramsrevenge 7 years, 5 months ago

I bet he's pretty good at making a juicy soy dog!

The_Voice_of_Reason 7 years, 5 months ago

Ya know I love the sarcasm around here.... I was just wanting to point out that the distribution of wealth in this country is really screwed up. Sure Oden is a great ball player and he has my respect for that... but do you think the best teachers or the best firefighters or the best nurses or the best of anybody whose job is actually important to others peoples lives would make as much a guy who can play a game????

kanshawk 7 years, 5 months ago

that is because he generates a ton of money, atleast the players get paid well and the owners dont keep it all. that would be an unfair distrabution of wealth.

Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

TVOR I now understand why you are so confused. Income is not distributed, it is earned! It is not sprinkled from the sky equally from above, it is compensation for hard work, skills and abilities. As has already been mentioned, the the rarer the skill, especially if that skill can earn an employer millions, the more an employer is willing to pay for it.

booze_buds_03 7 years, 5 months ago

Here is something on the distribution of wealth. Warren Buffet pays only 18% of his ($54m) income in taxes. His secetary pays 30% of her ($60k) income in taxes. Tack on the larger percent of the secetary's income that goes to property and sales taxes and the disparity gets even larger.

Article - "Buffett blasts system that lets him pay less tax than secretary:"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/money/tax/article1996735.ece

Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

Here is some things I bet you didn't know. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates et. all are paying over HALF of all income taxes. Further, the top 50% of all taxpayers pay 90% of all income taxes. So the next time you hear a politician promise to tax the rich, if you are in the top 50%, that is you! http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/js1287.htm

In 2001, the latest year of available data, the top 5 percent of taxpayers paid more than one-half (53.3 percent)* of all individual income taxes.

The rich are carrying their load, its now up to the "poor" to step and pay their fair share!

Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

BTW, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have created more wealth for more people than any government in the history of the World. I would bet that is even more than their beloved secretaries.

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