On the day before the NBA draft, most of the projected top picks had arrived in Washington. A notable exception was 6-foot-10 forward Lamar Odom, the one-time projected No. 1 pick whose recent behavior and whereabouts have been the subject of speculation.
Since entering the draft after one season at the University of Rhode Island, Odom has failed to show up for the pre-draft camp and a team physical, fired his agent and briefly flirted with going back to school. As a result, Odom's standing in the draft may have fallen.
Forward Wally Szczerbiak, a former AAU teammate of Odom and projected high pick himself, said yesterday he believes Odom needs to get his priorities in order.
"I'm sure there are a lot of people pulling him in different directions and he's probably like a rubber band about to snap, but at the same time, he's a grown man and he's supposed to make his decisions," said Szczerbiak, a second team all-American out of Miami (Ohio) University. "This isn't high school. This is no joke. This is the NBA. . . . I hope he gets things straightened out because he's a great talent."
Odom was in Miami yesterday for an individual workout, which explained his absence from an afternoon interview session at a Northwest Washington hotel. The day before, Odom worked out at Rhode Island for four NBA teams. He had previously attended only one other individual workout, in Vancouver.
Former University of Maryland guard Steve Francis showed up at yesterday's interview session wearing a black cap with the word "Madness" scribbled above the rim. It appropriately describes the frenetic state of mind that goes with being one of the likely top four picks.
"I'm real anxious and I have a lot of nervous energy," the Takoma Park native said. "This is what I've waited for all my life."
Francis, who averaged 17 points per game in his only season with the Terps last season, said he has talked to his former coach, Gary Williams, since leaving school.
"He told me, `Keep your money tight and don't give anybody any money,' " Francis said.
Trades and Talk
Mookie Blaylock, who ran the Atlanta offense for seven years, was traded to the Golden State Warriors in a three-player deal last night that allowed the Hawks to move up to the 10th position in the draft.
The Hawks sent one of their four first-round picks, No. 21 overall, to the Warriors for the higher pick as well as guard Bimbo Coles and forward Duane Ferrell.
Meantime, the Houston Rockets turned down an offer to trade center Hakeem Olajuwon to the Raptors, reportedly in exchange for forward Kevin Willis and Toronto's No. 5 and No. 12 picks.
"It would be very hard for me to be the guy who pulls the trigger on something like that," Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said, according to the Associated Press. "We've been through a lot together. I'd hope that a situation like that doesn't come along."
Strike a Posey
Xavier guard-forward James Posey, who could end up going to Cleveland with the 11th pick, has been preparing for his moment in the spotlight.
"I'm trying to see which suit looks right and I've been looking in the mirror pretending like I'm shaking hands with [NBA Commissioner] David Stern," said Posey, who earned honorable mention all-American honors as a senior. "I even had the NBA hat Lenny Brown gave me at the [pre-draft] camp in Chicago. I'm still going to practice tonight."
A dozen players who declared themselves early entry candidates for the draft have withdrawn their names from consideration. Among them: Harold Arceneaux (Weber State), Edwin "Greedy" Daniels (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), DeeAndre Hulett (College of the Sequoias), Lamont Long (New Mexico), Jamaal Magloire (Kentucky) and Tyron Triplett (Tallahassee Community College).
CAPTION: The stage is just about set for the NBA draft at MCI Center; the lack of true centers leaves the field unusually thin.