A long-range trip
A long-range trip

By MIKE DOUGHERTY
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: August 26, 2004)

Luis Flores never expected he'd already be a journeyman of sorts.

The former Manhattan College standout knew that finding his place in the NBA would be a struggle. And the odds are always changing. He was drafted in the second round by the Houston Rockets in June and was traded almost immediately to the Dallas Mavericks.

It wound up being a short visit.

Flores was included in an eight-player deal approved by the league Tuesday evening and is now expected to attend training camp with the Golden State Warriors, good news for a developing point guard who was fourth on an overloaded Mavericks depth chart.

"Actually, it's a very good opportunity," he said yesterday. "It gives me a chance to work out for a team with positions available."

When the rumors of this deal first leaked out a week ago, Flores was considering an offer to play in Croatia for a season.

He played for Dallas in the Los Angeles Summer Pro League and in the Rocky Mountain Revue, but there were as many stumbles as highlights. Nobody in the organization was disappointed, but learning to become a playmaker at this level can lead to awkward moments. With that in mind, the Mavericks wanted him to play overseas before returning next summer for a second look.

It's a common strategy.

"Either way has ups and downs," Flores said. "Running a team in Europe for a year would be very beneficial. At the same time, being in the league and learning from guys like Speedy Claxton and Derek Fisher, and maybe getting a chance to be on the floor, it's an opportunity that I can't pass up."

Golden State currently has enough roster space where he could be tucked away on the injured list.

"I feel really good about it," Flores said. "I still have to go in there and prove I belong. They're not going to hand it to me because they don't have enough people at that position."

So far, he's only received a welcoming phone call from Warriors vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin.

Until the logistical details get worked out, Flores is working out in New Jersey with Evan Chait, the personal trainer who got him ready for the draft. He'd like to be able to run with his new teammates before camp opens in October.

Mullin knows what he's getting.

"We intend to give him a real good look," he said. "I scouted him a couple of times during the season, and he did a pre-draft workout here, so we're going to give him a real good look."

Flores just has to show the potential and strong will that come naturally. Since the whole premise of the trade was to provide Golden State adequate salary-cap space to re-sign its young players and court free agents in coming seasons, it would be an upset if the Warriors balked at paying league minimum for a third point guard.

Still, this isn't going to be a simple task.

"It's been a little crazy," Flores said of the last few months. "I've been traded twice already. I haven't even put on a uniform, so it gives me a taste of what it's really like. I remember watching Carmelo Anthony on some NBA-TV show and I remember him saying there's so much more to the NBA than playing the game. I see it now."

Reach Mike Dougherty at mdougher@thejournalnews.com.Reach Mike Dougherty at mdougher@thejournalnews.com.