By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Washington Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld has considered deals that would move his team up or down from the 16th spot in the first round of tomorrow night's NBA draft, and he's also discussed the possibility of trading the pick altogether.
Thus far, however, Grunfeld hasn't come across a move to his liking. Yesterday, he indicated that the Wizards would be comfortable watching the first round unfold before selecting the best player available with the 16th pick, regardless of position.
"We feel that there will be a group of six or seven good players that will be available for us," Grunfeld said. "If the right opportunity comes along where we think we can get a player and we think we can help ourselves by trading the pick, that's something we'll look at, but we're comfortable with keeping the pick because we think we'll get a good player. It's very seldom that you're going to pick someone at 16 who is going to come in and help you right away."
The Wizards also hold the 47th pick in the second round and have conducted individual workouts with 48 draft prospects. Those workouts concluded yesterday with visits by guards Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Gabe Pruitt (Southern California).
Several mock drafts have the Wizards taking power forward-center Jason Smith (Colorado State) with the 16th pick, and the 7-foot Smith visited Verizon Center for a workout on June 7. But the Wizards already have players similar to Smith in 6-11 Andray Blatche and 7-foot Oleksiy Pecherov, so they may look for help at other positions.
Other possibilities could include shooting guard Nick Young (USC), point guard Javaris Crittenton (Georgia Tech), shooting guard Derrick Byars (Vanderbilt), power forward Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech) and forward Julian Wright (Kansas).
Wright has been projected as a possible top 12 pick, but according to several recent reports, he's slipped on many draft boards and it's possible that he could drop to 16, where the Wizards would likely snatch him up without hesitation.
If Grunfeld believes that he needs to make a major move to drastically improve his roster, he didn't share those thoughts when speaking with reporters yesterday.
While pointing out that the Wizards held the best record in the Eastern Conference before the all-star break last season and still have the league's highest-scoring trio in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, Grunfeld also pointed to the arrival of last year's first-round pick, Pecherov, as a sign that the team is in good shape.
"We feel good about where we are and what we have," Grunfeld said. "We think that we're very close to being able to compete with anyone. We showed that last year."
Wizards Notes: Grunfeld all but ruled out the possibility of Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro coming to the team next season. Navarro, who was drafted by the Wizards in 2002, is under contract with Barcelona of the Spanish Pro League and holds a prohibitive buyout option.
Grunfeld said Coach Eddie Jordan's assistants -- Mike O'Koren, Phil Hubbard and Wes Unseld Jr. -- would likely receive contract extensions after the draft. Their contracts are set to expire at the end of the month and Jordan has indicated that he wants to keep his staff intact.
The Wizards have interviewed several assistant coaching candidates, including former Houston Rockets assistant Tom Thibodeau, but have yet to choose a successor to Tom Young, who recently retired.