NEW YORK, JUNE 26 -- After years of being out of the spotlight, the New Jersey Nets appear determined to milk their moment in the sun, tantalizing the rest of the NBA on the eve of Wednesday's college draft.

For the last two days, the club, which has the first selection in the proceedings, has called news conferences to announce trades.

Both times speculation mounted that the Atlantic Division cellar dwellers were going to reveal a blockbuster deal, perhaps involving someone like Atlanta's Dominique Wilkins. Both times the reality proved to be a relative dud. On Monday the Nets acquired off-guard Reggie Theus from Orlando for a pair of second-round draft choices, and today they traded off-guard Dennis Hopson to Chicago for a 1991 No. 1 pick.

A bigger move came later tonight, when the Dallas Mavericks acquired forward Rodney McCray from the Sacramento Kings for two No. 1 picks -- the 14th and 18th selections -- and backup center Bill Wennington. Dallas also obtained two second-round choices in 1991.

These kind of deals may characterize the entire draft, which is regarded as long on names but short on superstars. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Jacob Javits Center.

"It's the weirdest draft I've seen in years," said Atlanta assistant Kevin Loughery. "After {Derrick} Coleman, anyone could go -- and there are people who don't like Coleman."

Coleman, the 6-foot-10 power forward from Syracuse, was at one point the consensus choice to go in the No. 1 position, but it is possible that some of the people Loughery mentioned work for New Jersey.

According to another assistant, Golden State's Garry St. Jean, the Nets "are trying hard to trade the pick, they're listening to any and every offer. Why would they give up the pick? I guess they've tried to go about rebuilding all sorts of different ways and have failed. Maybe they think it's time to try another."

There is another theory that by moving the younger Hopson and acquiring a veteran like Theus, the Nets are positioning themselves to keep the pick and draft an off-guard, with Theus serving as his mentor. In that scenario, the first pick could be Dennis Scott of Georgia Tech.

There are some NBA watchers who dismiss Coleman as being too moody and instead regard Scott, of Reston, Va., as the closest to a sure thing in the draft -- a pure shooter with great range who will average 20 points a game for years to come.

During a news conference here today, Scott spent much of the time saying how grateful he was to be in a position to be picked by anyone, but he admitted that the idea of going to New Jersey as the No. 1 overall choice had crossed his mind.

"When I first heard that they traded for Theus, I figured that they wouldn't pick me," Scott said. "But then again, he's 32 or 33 -- definitely not 25 anymore. Maybe they'd want me to sit behind him for a year."

Scott said he was intrigued by the draft process.

"It's interesting how the teams look at your background, asking you things like if you were a leader in high school," he said. "Then at the end you ask your questions and when you're leaving you're thinking that the interview went well but later you realize that they didn't really tell you anything about what's going to happen."

Dwayne Schintzius, a 7-2 center, was involved in several controversies early in his career and quit the team in the middle of his senior season at Florida. Nevertheless, he has been quoted as saying he should go in the top five Wednesday. On the basis of potential, that might be true, but it is felt that his earliest chance for selection is at No. 10 with Golden State.

Warriors Coach Don Nelson has been known to gamble on risky propositions. But after Schintzius spent a few days by the bay recently, even Nelson may decide the risk isn't worth taking.

Willie Burton, a forward from Minnesota, was originally projected as an early second-round pick until a strong showing at the Orlando Classic showed the scouts he also could play guard and catapulted him into the first round. Even so, Burton said he doesn't have any idea when his name will be called.

Louisiana State guard Chris Jackson was derided for leaving school after his sophomore year as a shooting guard in a point guard's 6-foot frame. He was regarded as a late first-round pick until a story began making the rounds that, exhausted after a day of working out, Jackson was asked by the Dallas Mavericks' player personnel director, Rick Sund, to shoot some three-point shots from behind the NBA line.

Jackson reportedly missed the first, causing Sund to scoff at his range. Moments later, after Jackson hit 24 straight three-pointers, the executive was ready to trade up to the top of the draft to acquire him.

The Philadelphia 76ers -- who traded their No. 1 pick to Minnesota for Rick Mahorn -- got closer to the top last night by swapping 5-11 guard Scott Brooks for the Timberwolves' No. 2 pick, the 32nd overall. Philadelphia's other pick is the 47th overall.

"We felt that by picking at No. 32, there's a chance to get a player equivalent to somebody that might be available at No. 20," said Coach Jim Lynam.

The trade deadline is 2 p.m. Wednesday.