CHICAGO – Downtown to O’Hare at 6:15 p.m. on a Friday? No problem.
So, quickly, a few thoughts as the two-day pre-draft camp ends at the University of Illinois Chicago…
- Dion Waiterswithdrew from the combine after the first day, a move that essentially confirms unusually candid statements from at least one opposing executive that the Syracuse shooting guard has received a draft promise and will be cancelling future workouts.It is not known which team (apparently) gave Waiters the completely unenforceable verbal agreement in exchange for the completely unenforceable verbal agreement to call off whatever showcases had been scheduled. But with Waiters bound for the lottery anyway and climbing the board as June 28 approaches, logic dictates it would be someone in the 5-to-10 range. He would be foolish to give up the chance to reach mid-lottery for a promise from a team in double digits.Raptors president Bryan Colangelo told the Toronto Star that “His agent has told me there’s a promise to another team,” which is more public candor than normal from an executive or agent on the topic. And as Colangelo noted as well, Toronto, or anyone could still take Waiters. Just as the team that gave Waiters the promise could conveniently forget the handshake arrangement on draft night if another player is unexpectedly available.
- There is a good chance the Trail Blazers will wait until after the draft to hire a new coach or remove the interim tag from Kaleb Canales.Indications are that general manager Neil Olshey, hired Monday, is more open to keep both lottery picks and build for the future in contrast to the previous plan that seemed to lean toward trading No. 6 and/or No. 11 for immediate help in win-now mode around LaMarcus Aldridge. The new Portland management team, wanting the roster to help dictate the coach, is more likely to see the direction of the team before deciding whether to go with an assistant in line for a first job or an experienced hand.
- No major surprises when the official measurements were released today. Underlining the pressing concern that he needs to get a lot stronger, North Carolina power forward John Henson weighed just 216 pounds at 6 feet 9 without shoes and 6-10 ½ with. Derek Fisher is 210. But Henson also had a massive standing reach of 9 feet 3 ½. That’s a shot blocker.
- Players are measured without shoes to get an actual height and with shoes in agreement with how the measurement will show up in rosters next season. It was Connecticut center Andre Drummond who went all Herman Munster on the footwear this year: 6-9 ¾ without shoes and 6-11 ¾ with.
- With the Raptors continuing to track the slow progress that will bring Jonas Valanciunas from his native Lithuania to the NBA next season, though probably not in time for summer league since chances are good Lithuania will be in the Olympics, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Rockets could sign another 2011 first-rounder, Donatas Motiejunas, as soon as July 1. He spent last season in Italy and Poland. Motiejunas told the paper he has not decided whether to play for Lithuania in London.
- Some executives and officials were scheduled to depart on Friday-night red-eyes for Treviso, Italy, and the start of the annual adidas Eurocamp. But the usual NBA big-name turnout is not expected 20 miles north of Venice in a year when international prospects will have a minor role at best in the draft and the entire first round could pass without a player from outside North America being selected.
- There were no shortage of positive reviews for Damian Lillard of Weber State, but some perspective: While he impressed people, he didn’t actually help his draft stock. Lillard was already the top-rated point guard on the board and a strong candidate to be taken as soon as the Trail Blazers at No. 6. That’s probably his ceiling, though. He won’t go first to the Hornets, second to the Bobcats would be a huge shock, the Wizards have John Wall, the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving and the Kings, picking fifth, are only a year removed from spending a lottery pick on Jimmer Fredette with the understanding that he would need time to transition to full-time point guard.
- Scouts, executives and coaches attending the two days at the University of Illinois-Chicago also gave good marks to Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Will Barton, Kim English and, in the especially noteworthy development, Khris Middleton. The Texas A&M small forward needed the upbeat showing after an injury-plagued 2011-12 that ruined any chance to impress the NBA. Being healthy here helped.