- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

I hereby declare my eligibility for the NBA Draft tomorrow night, not unlike everyone else and his grandmother.

I come with no entourage or posse or crew, no handgun or samurai sword, no legal or paternity issues and no sense of entitlement.

I promise not to worry about minutes, shot attempts and contract extensions. I also promise to fill whatever role is available, whether it is to cheer at the appropriate moment on the bench or spend most of the season on the injured list with back pain, knee pain or an abscessed tooth.

I think this is a fairly strong offer, given what passes as the leading flavors of the moment going into the draft, Andrew Bogut or Marvin Williams, either the debatable No.1 pick overall.

This annual rite of the NBA has the feel of a flea market. There are potential bargains to be found but nothing that sends the personnel gurus into a gleeful tizzy. A team is liable to land a jewel in the second round instead of the first, as was the case in 2001.

We now know who was the real find in the Kwame Brown draft, and it was not Pau Gasol, solid though he is.

Gilbert Arenas was not selected until the 31st pick overall, an unimaginable slight in hindsight that he still employs as motivation.

A variation of the Abbott and Costello routine is befitting.

Who is on the board, What is in the Green Room and I Don’t Know what is left.

This is a deep draft if you happen to be obsessed with the future role players of tomorrow in the NBA, which is no way to be.

If you know the difference between Fran Vazquez and Martynas Andriuskevicius, potential lottery picks both, you probably need to expand your social interests.

Sympathy goes to the reporter who has to weave Andriuskevicius into a story on deadline.

If ever an athlete merited the nickname Player A, it is Andriuskevicius.

The Wizards are scheduled to take a powder on the first round, barring a trade, the latter a necessity at some point, assuming Brown is finished on Fun Street.

Ernie Grunfeld already has attempted to rehabilitate the incredible shrinking image of Brown, if only because he is not about to part with a 23-year-old 7-footer for next to nothing.

Brown may have pronounced head issues, even by the attitudinally challenged standards of the NBA, but 7-0 is 7-0. All kinds of marginal players are taking up roster spots in the NBA because of a pituitary gland gone wild.

This is a good draft to be relegated to the 49th pick, the challenge before Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan.

They found Peter John Ramos with the 32nd pick last June. You do not have to teach 7-3 to Ramos. Or a date of birth.

Ramos, who was in charge of shoulder-bumping the starters in pregame introductions last season, is the rare 20-year-old who stopped being carded 10 years ago.

John Gilchrist, the other local head case, is said to have played well enough in a predraft camp in Chicago to warrant a chance late in the second round. That is hardly reassuring for a player who talked himself out of the good graces of Gary Williams and the insulated environment of the University of Maryland in his junior season.

Warning: Much of the so-called draft news is to be taken with a modicum of skepticism. Rumors abound in the days before the draft, more than a few planted by general managers looking to drop a player to their vicinity.

Before Elton Brand became the first pick overall of the draft in 1999, he lost two inches from his list height of 6-8 and came to have the arms proportionate to a 5-1 person.

It is a risky business, this replenishing of the basketball cupboard.

Fortunately, I remain the safe bet, besides the two bum knees and incriminating birth certificate.


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