Atlanta | Chicago | Denver | Golden State | Houston | L.A. Clippers
Memphis | Miami | Milwaukee | New York | Phoenix
DOMINIQUE WILKINS, Atlanta Hawks
Special Assistant to Executive Vice President
Q: Can you size up this yearís draft?
Wilkins: I think itís a pretty decent draft. I think youíll have some sleepers out there that will be very good players. There are a lot of guys out there who I actually like. I definitely like Dajuan Wagner. I like Jay Williams. I think Yao Ming will be a huge surprise to some people. I think he has a good feel for the game.
Q: Had you been able to keep the pick, what direction would the team have gone?
Wilkins: What that would have done is give us a lot of options to go in different directions Ė trade the pick or pick certain needs. It would have been a great opportunity. Unfortunately, it didnít work out that way.
Q: Did you have a good luck charm with you?
Wilkins: My glasses, but they didnít work. But there are still some things we can do in the offseason to improve our team, so weíll see what happens.
JERRY KRAUSE, Chicago Bulls
Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations
Q: Does the fact that Houston doesnít need a point guard make things more interesting?
Krause: Well, weíll have to wait and see, but certainly we are going to get a very good player with that second pick and I am certainly pleased to have it.
Q: Does this give you the kind of flexibility that you want?
Krause: Itís certainly more flexible then if we had three or four or five. Itís going to help and I feel real good about it. Iíd like to have one, but that didnít happen and you have to be very happy with two.
Q: Were you nervous?
Krause: Anybodyís going to get a little nervous. Thatís natural. The trick is to hopefully get out of here and not be here next year. Thatís the thing, as you sit here, you hoped you wonít be back next year. We are going to get a very good player at two, no matter who it is and hopefully that young player will join our team and we have a fine group of young players now and weíll go from there.
Q: Any chance youíll trade the pick?
Krause: If somebody makes an offer that we canít refuse, weíll certainly listen to it. Weíve never said that we wouldnít listen to any offers and we always will. Because you never know.
Q: Any idea who you will pick?
Krause: No. Weíll wait and see what happens. Weíll piece it together and bring our guys in and talk to them. None of the interviews have been done yet. We havenít talked to anyone. We havenít had really any lengthy conversations with anybody yet.
KIKI VANDEWEGHE, Denver Nuggets
Q: You fell one spot. Does that alter your thinking at all?
Vandeweghe: Not really. I really believe that after the first pick or so a lot of things could happen.
Q: Are you looking for something specific at that spot or will you take the best talent available?
Vandeweghe: Regardless of position, my philosophy is just to try and pick the best player.
Q: What are your biggest needs?
Vandeweghe: In this draft, itís kind of interesting because we have the fifth pick and the 25th pick and the 33rd pick. There are a lot of things we can do creatively. We have a chance to mix and match levels of players; possibly take a gamble on some players. I think it could be very interesting.
Q: What is your assessment of some of the international prospects?
Vandeweghe: They have some very good players. Iíve seen some of them before. They continue to prove that basketball is a global game. The NBA is extremely popular all over the world.
ROBERT ROWELL, Golden State Warriors
Chief Operating Officer
Q: Are you disappointed?
Rowell: Obviously, everybody would like to be in the cat bird seat with the top pick, but from our perspective, there are three good players out there and weíre going to get one of them. Actually, there are 28 good players in the first round, but weíre going to get one of the top three best players available. Weíre excited about that and weíre going to add it to the young talent we already have.
Q: So youíve boiled it down to three players you really like?
Rowell: Yes. Our basketball staff has narrowed it down to three or four players that stand out. Iím glad weíre not sitting here talking about being in the fourth or the fifth hole. Weíre going to get a good player.
Q: Is there a chance youíll look to move up?
Rowell: Iíll never say never. There are a lot of opportunities for us. Weíve got players on our roster that we want to build around and there are also players out there who might fit in nicely and maybe we do something in terms of moving up.
Q: How will you balance need with just going for the best talent?
Rowell: That is something that our basketball people are going to have to look at. Last year we picked five and wound up with what I think was the best player in the draft in Jason Richardson. Weíre going to pick the best player thatís available and weíre going to pick a player that fits our team.
Q: You surprised some people by taking Jason Richardson after taking a liking to him, which shows youíre not afraid to pull the trigger on who you like. Will you take the same approach?
Rowell: Weíve taken a personal liking to three of four players that are out there right now that are scouts and basketball folks have been looking at over the past year and one of these players is going to help the Warriors next year.
STEVE FRANCIS, Houston Rockets
(WINNING LOTTERY COMBINATION: 4, 8, 11, 13)
Q: What was it like for you here today?
Francis: Iím just happy that we were able to get the first pick and a lot of those guys looked at me like they wanted to knock the mess out of Steve Francis, but everybody was great. I never really met Jerry West, and when I was up there he was able to tell me some things, and maybe this is a start of me working on my career after basketball.
Q: Steve, if Chris Wilcox is available at seven, what should the Knicks do?
Francis: They better snatch him. I mean, the Knicks are definitely looking for a guy who can be an impact player on the inside, so if heís around, I think that will be a good pick for the Knicks, and for anybody. Heís a Terp, and Terps always come out on top.
Q: Do you know Wilcox well?
Francis: Yeah, I know him real well. We have the same agent, so thereís a lot of things that I admire in him, and hopefully heíll be able to play good at some of the camps heís going to go to, and heís going to be a high pick.
Q: Would you prefer the Rockets draft a player who can help right away?
Francis: I think thatís what we need. Being in Houston, if we donít win this year, itís going to be on me. So hopefully, weíre able to get a player who can immediately come in and help us. Whether itís a big man, a guard or a forward, Iím not sure, but I still think that we have a good nucleus of players with Maurice Taylor and Kelvin Cato down low. I just think that once we get our injury thing over with, I think weíll be a good team.
Q: Can being in this position be a huge gamble?
Francis: Sometimes I think it is, but I think the last couple of No. 1 picks were great. Kenyon Martin, Elton Brand Ö Kwame Brownís young, but there are a lot of things you can do with a No. 1 pick, and all the logistics, Steve Francis doesnít know. Only the GM and our owner know.
Q: What could this potentially mean for the franchise?
Francis: Hopefully, we can get a player that can come in and help. Sometimes itís a gamble, but sometimes it works out great. But thatís the great thing about sports. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but I think we won today, and Iím going to live this moment out, and hopefully we can continue to go on.
ALVIN GENTRY, Los Angeles Clippers
Q: What do you have to do to make sure youíre not back here next year?
Gentry: Well, I think injuries are a big key for us. We need to get everybody healthy. Losing Lamar Odom for a major part of the season Ė and Keyon Dooling Ė were big losses, but weíre going to have the opportunity to add two good players with the eighth pick and 12th pick. We have some needs that we need to look into. I think we need to improve our outside shooting, so weíre going to look in that area. I donít think you can ever have too many big guys, so weíll look in that area as well, and weíll also take a look at some point guards.
Q: Would you be more inclined to take the most talented player, or a guy that you thought could help out right away?
Gentry: I think weíre pretty well stocked at some positions, so we wonít be addressing those. I think, more so than anything, weíre going to take a look at our needs and thereís also the possibility of putting those picks together and try to move up or putting those two picks together and trying to go get a veteran player or something like that. I just feel like we have a lot of flexibility.
Q: How much of a priority is getting Michael Olowokandi taken care of?
Gentry: Right now, I think itís our No. 1 priority. Obviously, heís a free agent and somebody we have to keep in the fold. He played great for us. Heís a big guy. Theyíre at a premium these days so hopefully weíll get that taken care of.
JERRY WEST, Memphis Grizzlies
President, Basketball Operations
Q: How important is it to draft a player whoís NBA-ready?
West: Thatís the most important thing. You need a player that can step in and make some contribution almost immediately, particularly when your team is not where you want to be.
Q: How difficult will it be for [Rockets General Manager] Carroll Dawson to evaluate all the factors regarding Yao Ming?
West: Well, Iíd gladly trade positions, I know that. Psychologically, having the No. 1 pick in the draft is, I think, very important, and I think particularly the city that has that pick Ö this is a time of hope for teams, and teams that have suffered through a long, grueling season with a lot of losses, and probably a lot of injuries with some of those teams, and a chance that fans will get excited about it, that maybe one player will change the course of a team, and it could be in this draft. You just donít know that until you see these kids play against better players.
Q: Do you think heíll feel as glad as you would that his phone will start ringing right away?
West: I donít know if his phone will start ringing, but I know darn well thereíll be a lot of agents whoíll want to send his player down there [for the Rockets] to take a look at him, or some of these people down the line will probably have a little more difficult time getting in to see him, and more important, to visit with.
Q: What are the questions with the time frame with Yao Ming?
West: I think thatís the awkward part of it, because no one knows the time frame. I think everyone has said, ĎWill he or will he not be able to get over in time for training camp?í And that would set him back even farther. Obviously, thereís a lot of red tape there. I donít think anyone knows for sure exactly what his status is. Iíve talked to people who purport to represent him on more than one occasion, and every time I talk, something seems to change a little bit differently. But heís going to be a player that people are going to be interested in. Somebody that big, whoís played fairly successfully for China and played very well in the Olympic Games, people will have an interest in him.
Q: How disappointed are you to fall out of the top three?
West: Itís disappointing. Anyone would be disappointed. But if Iím Golden State and Chicago, I would be very disappointed. The good thing is, we retained our pick, because we could have lost it.
RANDY PFUND, Miami Heat
Q: Whatís your impression of the draft class this year?
Pfund: Well, thereís a lot of optimism this time of year. Youíve been watching these guys, both the college players and international players Ė and the high school guys Ė so now you know where your spot is, and you go back and you work at it, and you try to figure out what pieces fit for your team and which player will be there, and Iím optimistic we can do something thatís going to help this team in the future.
Q: Is there any particular area where youíre looking to upgrade?
Pfund: Thereís a lot of things involved with management, with the salary cap and the luxury tax and free agency, so all that stuff comes into the mix in terms of what spots you may have and what positions youíre looking for, what trades could be made and also what you might do later on in the summer in free agency. But I think itís a great draft for big men, starting with the big guy from China, and there are several guys that I think will be significant impact players in this league that can help at the center or power forward position.
Q: Did you go with the good luck charm this year?
Pfund: No, I guess I didnít have the right one with me, even if I had one. No, no good luck charm, we just came here and hoped that maybe we could move up, but we held our position, so weíll go to work.
ERNIE GRUNFELD, Milwaukee Bucks
Q: Is this pretty much what you expected today?
Grunfeld: Yeah. Houston was the only real surprise. Everyone that was supposed to get the top picks did. Houstonís going to have a tough decision to make, but I bet there are 28 other teams in the league that wish they were in their shoes.
Q: Have you targeted areas of need for your team?
Grunfeld: Weíre going to look for the best available player, in all likelihood. There will probably be some size available at that spot and if one of the better perimeter guys slips, weíll look at that also. We just want to get the best available player. Usually when you draft in the 13th spot, thatís what you try to do.
Q: Is the draft deeper than itís been in years?
Grunfeld: I think itís a deep draft. I donít think there are too many impact players in this draft. Itís a draft of young players, players with a lot of promise and potential. But I think youíll probably get a good player all the way down to 25.
SCOTT LAYDEN, New York Knicks
Q: Do you think the Rockets would be very interested in Yao Ming, since they have a good point guard in Steve Francis?
Layden: I think thatís a question youíll have to ask them.
Q: Will trading up be an option youíll explore?
Layden: Weíre going to look at every possibility, every option, to improve the team. If thatís something that we think will help the team, weíll certainly look at it. Now, other teams have to participate in that sort of activity, but I think trades are always an option, and flip-flopping picks, trading picks, weíll look at anything that we feel will help. Itís hard to tell, obviously, sitting here right now, whether or not youíd be able to get one of the earlier picks.
Q: Regarding Yao Ming, do you want him enough to trade up, or are you still thinking about that?
Layden: I think what weíll do is analyze all the players up in front of us, and determine, do you want to move up and how far you want to move up.
Q: Are you relieved now that you know where you are in the draft?
Layden: Well, I donít know if weíre relieved, but itís another step and itís a good step to get out of the way, because now we know the teams, where they are, and where we sit, and we can look at things now in a logical manner. Before today, you didnít really know which teams were at which picks and we were studying a lot of players. Now we can even narrow the list.
FRANK JOHNSON, Phoenix Suns
Q: Will you go best available or will you look to try to fill a need?
Johnson: Hopefully, we can fulfill a need at that spot, which is size and athleticism, but a lot of times, you donít know what the other teams are doing in front of you, so therefore, youíre sometimes looking for the best available player.
Q: Did you come in with high hopes, or did you expect this?
Johnson: I had high hopes. I was hoping weíd be in the top three.
Q: As the draft gets deeper, is it more possible to find a jewel outside the top three, like your team did with Shawn Marion, who you chose ninth overall in 1999?
Johnson: It is getting deeper, because of the foreign influence. And then you have the high school kids. This year you probably only have one high school kid in Amare Stoudemire that is being looked at as a top 10 pick, and then the rest is filled with underclassmen. Thereís only one senior that I think is in the top 10, and thatís Chris Marcus from Western Kentucky.
Q: Is size a real priority for your team?
Johnson: Yes. If itís available, we would love to have some size. Size and athleticism. Those are the things weíll be looking for.