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CHICAGO -- Newsflash: Yao Ming will be impressive when he goes through a workout under the watchful eye of nearly two dozen NBA general managers on Wednesday at Loyola University. How could anyone know this long before said workout actually takes place? It's easy if you've seen Yao play recently (as I have) and know how the workout will be structured (as I do).

The first reason he'll look good is because he is. His mannerisms and body language are a little unusual for anyone used to watching NBA big men and his wingspan is noticeably limited, but when he's shooting, passing, catching or dribbling the rock, it's easy to forget that he's nearly 7'6" tall.

And that's all he'll do at Loyola. He may receive some shadow defense from Oregon's 7'2" center Chris Christoffersen, but Christoffersen's presence mainly will be to alternate with Yao in the various drills. An interpreter with the Shanghai Sharks will be present to make sure Yao understands what P.J. Carlesimo -- not Jeff Van Gundy, the league choice, or Bill Walton, the original choice and a big Yao fan -- is asking him to do, but rest assured Yao has been through these drills many times over.

The drills will include:

  • Around-the-world 15-foot jumpers
  • Post-up jump hooks
  • Windsprints out to midcourt and back for catch-and-shoot Js around the key
  • Pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops
  • Fullcourt layups

    The workout is expected to end with a few jumping and agility drills, but those will be limited as well. There will be no media session afterward because the NBA, in part, doesn't want Yao confronted with any questions about his difficulties getting clearance from the Sharks or the Chinese Basketball Association to enter the NBA. A source close to the situation says that the Sharks now fully support Yao's desire to play here and have representatives in Beijing currently negotiating with CBA officials to get their clearance as well.

    The real question, of course, is how Yao will handle the cultural disorientation of living in the U.S. and the physical style of the NBA -- that won't be answered in the workout. The Warriors would ease the transition because of San Francisco's Chinatown, the team's proximity to the Pacific Rim and Golden State's need for a jump-shooting big man. One problem: The Warriors, who tied with the Bulls for the worst record in the league and thereby have one of the best shots at landing the No. 1 pick in this year's draft lottery, have shown almost no interest in him. They will have representatives on hand at Loyola, but they never saw him play in China and have not arranged for a private meeting with Yao before he heads home on Friday.

    Maybe the Warriors will have a change of heart after his workout. Watching Yao knock down jumpers will tantalize every team on hand with the prospect of acquiring a player who has the size to hit a shot over almost anyone. Never mind that for the time being, that anyone is Chris Christoffersen.

    AND ONES: As much as commissioner David Stern privately might not like it, the Hornets are bound for New Orleans. The NBA board of governors will recommend that NBA owners approve the franchise's move, a league source said. Charlotte civic leaders simply waited too long to offer counter-measures to keep the franchise. An announcement will come this week, possibly as early as Wednesday ... Imagine the Clippers with either Baron Davis or Andre Miller at point guard. There have been rumblings that both Davis and Miller would like to get back to California and the Clippers would be happy to deal Lamar Odom to get either one ... Several player agents have lobbied Warriors owner Chris Cohan to keep Garry St. Jean on as GM and groom Chris Mullin as an eventual successor. St. Jean is considered tremendously agent-friendly. Question is, is that good or bad? The team approached Mullin earlier this season to coach the team but he declined ... Grizzlies coach Sidney Lowe has been given a one-year extension but consultant Chuck Daly is out, a source says. The decisions were made by owner Michael Heisley before the hiring of Jerry West as president of basketball operations.

    Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

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