Beyond No. 1, there's plenty going on

May, 19, 2009
Tuesday night's unveiling of the NBA draft order is essentially Blake Griffin's show.

The team that wins the lottery for the top pick will land the rights to draft the Oklahoma sophomore forward on June 25. More intriguing is the drama of how the rest of the draft will shake out.

Where Stephen Curry lands is still up for debate. Reports have surfaced that the New York Knicks have promised Curry that they would draft him if he's available when they pick, which would be at the No. 8 slot if they don't win the lottery.

But Davidson coach Bob McKillop and Curry's father, Dell, said Monday that no promise was ever conveyed to either of them by Knicks' president Donnie Walsh or anyone in the organization.

"We've never been told of a promise,'' said Dell Curry, who played for five teams in his 16-year NBA career. "There's still so much to be known before June 25. In the NBA, your word means a lot and you can't make a promise on what you can't deliver."

McKillop did say, however, that he was assured Curry was a top-10 pick. So if the Knicks are picking eighth and Curry is available, don't be surprised if he stays right there in Madison Square Garden.

In or out: So Griffin and Curry are staying in the draft, but what about the players who are technically still on the fence about returning to school?

Texas coach Rick Barnes said swingman Damion James hasn't signed with agent Andy Miller, despite rumors to the contrary. Miller said the same thing Monday afternoon. Both of them said that Miller is advising James, which is allowed under NCAA rules.

"He's allowed to advise -- he hasn't signed anything,'' Barnes said. "Andy Miller has done everything right with us.''

Miller said he is helping James gather information for workouts. James is scheduled to go to the Chicago pre-draft combine next week.

"It will all come down to how he does in the workouts,'' Barnes said.

James is projected to be a late first- or early second-round pick.

"It's not 'Are you ready to play in the NBA?' but 'Are you ready to stick?' that's the key,'' Barnes said. "Can you stick?"

Miller is also advising Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal, although the reaction that Barnes has for Miller's handling of James' situation doesn't mirror how Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt feels about Lawal being advised by Miller, according to a source. Lawal is projected to be a secure first-round pick if he decides to stay in the draft. But Miller admits there are few safeties in this draft beyond the first few picks.

Here are some other updates on players who could return to school:

• Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio is setting up workouts for guard Jeff Teague but is being careful not to push him back to school. Teague is down the list of point guards behind Ricky Rubio, Curry, North Carolina's Ty Lawson and Brandon Jennings, who is playing in Italy. That could entice Teague to return next season. But Teague is still all over the first round at this juncture and his status will depend on workouts.

• Florida's Nick Calathes has a Greek passport, and, according to multiple sources, Calathes may stay in the draft even if he can't get assurance that he'd be picked because of his ability to play overseas. Calathes is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second, according to NBA sources.

• Gonzaga's Austin Daye has the talent to be picked as early as No. 10 in the first round. But according to NBA sources, many teams are waiting to see how Daye reacts during workouts. If he shows any sign of toughness, he may stick.

• NBA sources expect USC's Taj Gibson to stay in the draft because he can be a late first-round pick and because of the current swirl of negative attention around the Trojans.

• Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said former Big East player of the year Luke Harangody is looking for a first-round guarantee. If he can get one, he'll stay in the draft.

• UCLA coach Ben Howland isn't making a prediction on freshman Jrue Holiday just yet. Holiday, who was back in Florida at the IMG Academy this week, is expected to return to campus for exams and then head to Chicago next week for the draft combine. NBA sources said they fully expect Holiday to stay in the draft since he's projected to be selected somewhere from the teens on down in the first round. Agent Dan Fegan is advising Holiday, just as Miller is doing for Lawal and James.

• Kentucky's Jodie Meeks has even more reason to return to play for John Calipari now that John Wall has committed to play the point. Having Wall alongside him would take more pressure off Meeks. NBA sources expect Calipari to convince Meeks to return just like Patrick Patterson did last week.

• Saint Mary's sophomore guard Patty Mills is projected to go late in the first but there are conflicting reports on whether he'll stay in the draft. Mills has been non-committal as to whether he might return to the Gaels. Mills is projected to be selected somewhere in the first round, but is further down on the list of point guards, even though he was a star for the Australian Olympic team in Beijing last summer.

• Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said Tyler Smith could return to the Vols if he isn't guaranteed to be selected in the first round. According to NBA sources, Smith is projected to be a second-round pick. If that holds, Pearl may get Smith back to help challenge Kentucky and Florida in the SEC East.

• Maryland coach Gary Williams said Greivis Vasquez hasn't signed with an agent and is being advised that the point guard depth won't be an issue in the 2010 draft. If that's the case, there is a good chance Vasquez could return to the Terps. Williams said that, with Vasquez, the Terps would have nine of their top 10 players back and a chance to be "really good." Williams said he thinks there is a strong chance Vasquez could be among the top-20 players in the 2010 draft if he decides to return to Maryland next season.

• Barnes said, with or without James, the Longhorns will be a "really good" next season with Gary Johnson and Dexter Pittman up front, along with newcomer Shawn Williams. Barnes said Pittman has the potential to be a lottery pick. The perimeter would have a rotation of Justin Mason, Dogus Balbay and newcomers Avery Bradley and Florida transfer Jai Lucas, whom Barnes said is "better than I thought." Lucas will be eligible in mid-December.

Barnes isn't shying away from teams with his nonconference schedule. He's loading up with the CBE Classic (which includes Pitt, Wichita State and Iowa), a high-profile game against North Carolina in the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium, home games against Michigan State and USC, and road games at Connecticut and Arkansas.

• McKillop said he wants to play a few marquee games, but isn't having any luck. You would think high-profile teams would want to play Davidson now that Curry is gone, but the Wildcats are having issues getting big-time gigs.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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