Plenty of talent makes for plenty of boredom in NBA draft


Surprised? You must have been watching some other draft.

Last night's NBA draft in Portland, Ore., may go down in history as the best ever, as some have suggested. But that won't be decided until three or four years down the road, not until the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner and Jimmy Jackson have proven themselves in a league that often chews up and spits out collegiate heroes.

But if there are any conclusions to be drawn from last night's drab proceedings -- a selection process that varied only slightly from the general consensus -- one has to be that almost without exception teams felt there was enough talent available wherever they picked that they didn't feel the need to make any drastic moves.

The first six players in the draft went as everyone expected, and only three trades were consummated yesterday, only two of which involved players in this year's draft.

* The Los Angeles Clippers sent veteran center Olden Polynice and two second-round picks to Detroit for the rights to UCLA forward Don MacLean, the 19th pick last night, and backup center William Bedford.

* Milwaukee sent point guard Jay Humphries and forward Larry Krystkowiak to Utah for point guard Eric Murdock, forward Blue Edwards and the 23rd pick in the draft.

* New York obtained 33-year-old guard Rolando Blackman from Dallas for the Knicks' first-round pick in 1995.

The real surprise will come sometime in the next few months when and if the Orlando Magic, who took O'Neal with the No. 1 pick overall, come up with a salary figure that the 7-foot-1, 294-pound center from Louisiana State will accept. Figures ranging anywhere from $30 million over six years to $30 million over five have floated over Disney World lately, and the fallout could be disastrous for clubs following the Magic down the road.

Charlotte paid Larry Johnson, last year's No. 1 pick, about $20 million over six years. The Hornets are crossing their fingers they won't have to give Mourning, No. 2 this time around, the same or even more.

The first deviation from the norm in the pecking order, albeit a mild one, came at No. 7 when Sacramento took Maryland swing man Walt Williams instead of Stanford forward Adam Keefe. Williams (6-6 1/2 , 227) is thought to be versatile enough to play shooting guard, small forward and some point guard, but with Mitch Richmond and Lionel Simmons on the club, Sacramento's biggest need appeared to be in the frontcourt.

The pick set into motion a series of second options and second guesses. Milwaukee coach Mike Dunleavy was thought to have wanted Williams with the eighth pick, but settled for another versatile player, albeit one of suspect character, in 6-8 Todd Day of Arkansas.

"Both of those players are really kind of similar," Lakers general manager Jerry West said. "Williams, most people view him as a little more versatile. Day has been a terrific scorer all through his college career."

Needing a replacement for Charles Barkley, the Philadelphia 76ers took 6-5, 252-pound forward Clarence Weatherspoon of Southern Mississippi.

"Having the chance to fill Barkley's shoes is going to be tough to do, but I'm going in with all the confidence in the world that I can get the job done," said Weatherspoon, who averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds this season.

Keefe landed in Atlanta with the 10th pick, Alabama forward Robert Horry was taken next by the Houston Rockets and Miami selected Southern Cal's Harold Miner at No. 12. Denver, already having gone big with LaPhonso Ellis at No. 5, chose Virginia guard Bryant Stith with the 13th selection.

When Indiana took forward Malik Sealy of St. John's, it set the stage for the Lakers to make the first truly controversial choice in the draft -- Missouri guard Anthony Peeler.

Peeler was put on five years probation last week in Columbia, Mo., after pleading guilty to a felony weapons charge and two misdemeanors relating to an incident with a 20-year-old woman. His situation was further clouded when he was accused of simple battery by a 19-year-old former girlfriend in Kansas City.

But when charges were dropped on Tuesday, it paved the way for him to become a Laker.

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