- The Washington Times - Friday, June 18, 2004

With the NBA Draft coming up Thursday, the Washington Wizards yesterday took a look at a pair of players they will consider drafting — if either is still available.

Duke freshman forward Luol Deng and Peoria, Ill., high school point guard Shaun Livingston worked out for the Wizards at MCI Center and appeared to make good impressions on president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld.

“It was a good, high-energy workout,” said Grunfeld, who also looked at Oklahoma State guard Tony Allen and Missouri guard Ricky Paulding. “The players competed, and the energy level was good. I liked what I saw.”

The Wizards have the fifth pick in the draft, their highest selection since they took Kwame Brown with the top pick in 2001. Deng is the player Washington is believed to covet most. The 6-foot-8 Deng plays the same position as last year’s 10th pick, Jarvis Hayes.

League sources said the Chicago Bulls, who have the third pick, made a move to contact the Wizards about Hayes’ availability, but Washington doesn’t appear to be shopping him.

“Right now Jarvis is important to us,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “He’s a definite threat from the outside. A lot of teams would like to have him, so that means he’s good.”

Jordan is believed to be high on Livingston, who at 6-7 is considered to be the best point guard available in the draft.

“We’ll consider all the options available to us. If there’s a trade out there that will help us, then we’ll do it,” Grunfeld said. “But also, at the end of the day, if we stay with the fifth pick overall, I’m sure we’ll be able to add a young player who will be able to help the team.”

Grunfeld believes the top two selections in the draft will be Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor and Georgia high school forward Dwight Howard.

“After those two, I think you’re looking at a lot of guys that are all pretty close,” Grunfeld said.

The Wizards will continue workouts next week, and by the middle of the week they probably will bring in some players for a second look. On Monday, Luke Jackson (Oregon), Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph’s) and James Moore (New Mexico State) will visit, but none is considered worthy of the fifth pick.

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