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Call for traveling is coming today

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2007

By the time his name is called at tonight's NBA Draft, Jeff Green already will have had a sample of his new job's hectic travel schedule.

New York. The District. A canceled trip to Charlotte and a late flight to Phoenix. Finally, back to New York.

All in the past week.

Tonight, with an unusually deep pool of forwards and several teams looking to trade into or out of the lottery, predictions of where Green will end up are as scattered as the 6-foot-8 Green's recent travel pattern.

"Who knows what is going to happen?" Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I think the NFL Draft shows that you really can't predict these things at all. It's not like choosing a college. People think you can control it, and you can't."

The first two picks — Ohio State's Greg Oden to Portland and Texas' Kevin Durant to Seattle — rank somewhere below death and slightly above taxes in their certainty. The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly eyeing Florida's Al Horford, but after No. 3, there is no consensus.

Whether Green is taken by Memphis at No. 4 or falls as low as 13th to New Orleans depends on several factors. Ohio State guard Mike Conley Jr., Florida center Joakim Noah and Washington 7-footer Spencer Hawes are all likely lottery picks, but it is the depth at forward that makes this year's draft so hard to predict.

Green, Florida's Corey Brewer, North Carolina's Brandan Wright and Florida State's Al Thornton are all rangy, versatile forwards who can score. The 6-foot-9 Wright has the longest wingspan and might be the best athlete of the group. Brewer's length and tenacity help make him the strongest defender, and scouts say Thornton has the surest shot.

Green, while not exceptional at any one skill, is good at everything.

"If you took a poll of everyone in the NBA, I think you would get different answers from everyone as to which one of them is the best," said Dave Babcock, the Milwaukee Bucks' director of player personnel. "I think all those guys are going to be great NBA players. It just may come down to what a team thinks fits them the best."

Representatives of five teams, including Milwaukee, came to Georgetown in the past month to work out Green. Still, Thompson said individual workouts don't show Green's full ability.

"His basketball I.Q.," Thompson said when asked what separates Green from his peers. "His understanding of the game and his being able to see a few passes ahead."

Memphis did not work out Green. If Memphis doesn't trade away its pick, reports have the Grizzlies choosing Conley at No. 4.

Boston coach Doc Rivers, whose son Jeremiah played at Georgetown, was courtside for many Hoyas games this year, and the Celtics reportedly love the idea of Green in green.

"Jeff is a very versatile and complete player, and his workout went very well," Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said outside McDonough Gymnasium this month. "I like him a lot."

Reports have Boston potentially swapping the fifth pick with Phoenix for Shawn Marion, and Green canceled his workout with Charlotte at the last second Monday to attend a workout in Phoenix on Tuesday with Brewer, Noah and Wright.

Milwaukee might take Green if he is still available at No. 6, but Babcock says the team also needs to address its depth at guard with starter Mo Williams a free agent.

Minnesota at No. 7 is likely looking for frontcourt help even after trading for Juwan Howard, and Green was spotted recently at Georgetown wearing Timberwolves gear. After Green's no-show in Charlotte, there are rumors Boston, Milwaukee or Minnesota made a promise to Green.

"Hey, it's draft-time. Anything could be going on," Charlotte coach Sam Vincent said in a statement. "I think the thing that the players have to caution against is going on those kinds of promises."

Even if Green falls further, Thompson believes his Big East player of the year will make an impact.

"It's all about the situation a player gets drafted into — whether or not it's a good fit for them," said Thompson, adding that Green, who declined numerous interview requests, has voiced no preference for a team.

"I think that wherever Jeff ends up, because of his versatility and his ability to adapt to any and every situation, he will be fine."

Whom would Thompson take?

"Personally, I'd take Jeff Green," he said. "They're all good players. But to me, there's no doubt."