Teams are drafting plans to trade in lottery picks Weak class makes moves more likely


The list of collegians available for the NBA draft in June is not considered as distinguished a lot as the Class of 1992, even if celebrated underclassmen Chris Webber of Michigan, Anfernee Hardaway of Memphis State, Rodney Rogers of Wake Forest and Jamal Mashburn of Kentucky all declare themselves eligible.

So far, only Mashburn has announced his intention to go pro.

There is not a bona fide center in the lot, and scouts say the only true point guard, Duke's Bobby Hurley, might not be effective in the pros because he is a slender 6 feet.

Hardaway, an all-purpose guard projected as one of the top three picks, hardly distinguished himself in his NCAA tournament farewell against Western Kentucky in the opening round.

That's why general managers of NBA also-rans are weighing trading lottery picks for established pros.

There are some intriguing possibilities, with the Los Angeles Clippers' Danny Manning, the Charlotte Hornets' Kendall Gill, the New Jersey Nets' Sam Bowie and the Los Angeles Lakers' trio of James Worthy, A. C. Green and Byron Scott all reportedly up for grabs.

Manning and Gill should attract the most attention. Both have indicated that they would like to play elsewhere next season. In fact, during All-Star week, there was speculation they might be traded for each other.

Gill could become an unrestricted free agent by 1994. A high-scoring guard, he has made it clear he is dissatisfied with his role on the Hornets behind Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning and losing playing time to understudy Dell Curry.

His agent, Arn Tellum, has been pressuring Charlotte to trade Gill. The Bullets, seemingly convinced that Rex Chapman is not the answer at shooting guard, could be tempted to swap a lottery pick for Gill if they fail to get one of the top three selections.

Foreign exchange?

Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause is tired of responding to rumors that he might add former Yugoslav superstar Toni Kukoc to the team's roster before next month's playoffs.

"All these stories are crazy," Krause said. "Kukoc is still under contract to Benneton, and he's playing in the European Cup tourney. I can't even talk to him.

"The fact is, I'm not even sure he's the same player we drafted [second round] in 1990. I haven't scouted him recently. Sure, I'd like to sign him next season, but then again we'd have to clear substantial cap room for him."

A possible solution for the Bulls is choosing not to re-sign center Bill Cartwright, who earns more than $2 million a season and has missed 17 games this season with back problems.

The development of Scott Williams and Will Perdue as reserve centers could make Cartwright expendable.

The last word

Fired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Doug Moe insists he was not given sufficient time to establish his up-tempo style.

"When they hired me, they wanted my style," said Moe, who was let go and replaced by Fred Carter this month. "It's a hard system to get faith in, but they couldn't picture in their minds how it would work. So they wanted to go in a more conventional style."

Moe will shed no tears. He will be paid $1.4 million not to coach Philadelphia the next two years.

Magic traces

Despite losing inspirational leader Magic Johnson to retirement, the Lakers have the seventh-best record in the Western Conference.

"Last year, we weren't prepared to play without Magic," said center Vlade Divac, who has come on strong despite being the subject of repeated trade rumors. "This year we adjusted to being without him and everyone puts out more of an effort.

"We don't have 'Showtime' anymore, but we have something new: old and young guys banding together."

Added rookie head coach Randy Pfund: "We've got veterans like Worthy, Green and Scott who know what it's like to win titles. At times, things are unsettling, but I think if we keep the team concept, we could surprise some people in the playoffs."

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