The field for the NBA's annual predraft camp in Chicago was not overly impressive. In fact, Jazz scout Scott Layden figures the player he drafts with the No. 17 pick in the first round will come from outside the camp.
"In past years, if someone had told you that you could have the top guy from Chicago, that would be great," Layden noted Saturday. "This year, that's not the case. No one jumped out at you."Scottie Pippen, for example, appeared in Chicago last June and was a top 10 pick. This year, the U.S. Olympic camp and advice from agents kept players away. Players who helped themselves in the camp were three underclassmen - Miami center Tito Horford, Auburn forward Mike Jones and North Carolina State forward Charles Shackleford.
From talking with other scouts, though, Layden has an idea who might be available to the Jazz in the June 28 draft. The tentative list includes point guards Gary Grant of Michigan and Willie Anderson of Georgia, centers Will Perdue of Vanderbilt and Eric Leckner of Wyoming, small forward Harvey Grant of Oklahoma and power forwards Mark Bryant of Seton Hall and Jerome Lane of Pitt.
The Jazz hope to reduce the list to three or four by the end of the week and begin closer study on their possible first-rounder. They'll also have picks in the second and third rounds of the shortened draft.
As expected, Miami part-owner Bily Cunningham talked with Jazz assistant coach Jerry Sloan in Chicago this weekend. But interviewing Sloan for the Heat's head coaching job hardly seemed high on Cunningham's priority list.
Cunningham was in town for the NBA pre-draft camp between his NBA Finals broadcast assignments for CBS, but as of late Saturday afternoon had spoken only briefly with Sloan and arranged no meeting. "He's been busy, so all that's still on hold," Sloan said from Chicago.
Cunningham will be in the Detroit area this week for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the Finals and, while Sloan may eventually go to Miami for an interview, not much is expected to happen on the Heat coaching front until after the playoffs. Miami has permission to talk to Detroit assistant Ron Rothstein once the Pistons' season is over.
Cunningham has the assignment of hiring a coach, even though his association with the Heat will end July 1. CBS has asked him to sell back his share of the franchise to the other partners to avoid a conflict of interest as a broadcaster.
Miami has already held a free-agent tryout camp and will participate in the NBA expansion draft either June 20 or 23, depending on when the Finals end.
- Kurt Kragthorpe