Ball Don't Lie - NBA

NEW YORK -- Texas A&M point guard Acie Law is the most likely candidate to become the NBA draft's version of Brady Quinn, a player who fell much further than anticipated.

League executives believe Law could be the last draft-night invitee to leave Madison Square Garden's green room, possibly falling to the Miami Heat at No. 20. The Los Angeles Clippers are believed to have settled on Georgia Tech freshman Javaris Crittenton at No. 14, satisfying their need for a young point guard with Shaun Livingston's future uncertain. And sources say the Atlanta Hawks are unlikely to take Law at No. 11, even if they keep the pick, which reportedly would go to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the three-way Kevin Garnett trade involving the Phoenix Suns.

This scenario would represent a steep drop for Law, who made big shots while leading an ordinary Aggies cast to extraordinary success. A four-year college player, Law is mature enough to understand the bigger-picture prospects of joining a championship-caliber team in Miami. The Heat were high on Crittenton, but would love to groom the more NBA-ready Law as their next point guard.

"That would be too much," Law said Wednesday. "That would be too perfect – to play with Dwyane Wade, to play with Shaquille O'Neal, to be coached by Pat Riley."

Law's mother was such a big fan of Shaq that she hung pictures of him on the family walls next to those of Acie and her other children.

Lakers turn focus to Pacers' O'Neal

As it becomes more obvious that talks with Minnesota for Garnett are dying, the Los Angeles Lakers have re-started conversations with the Indiana Pacers about a trade for Jermaine O'Neal.

The Lakers are reluctant to include young center Andrew Bynum in a package with Lamar Odom for the Pacers' All-Star center. The Pacers have no picks in Thursday's draft and would love to get a hold of the Lakers' pick (19th overall), but unless the Lakers are willing to part with Bynum, it's doubtful a deal will get done.

The draft that changed it all

If you love the NBA draft -- all the intrigue of the almosts and never weres, the champions and chumps made on this fateful annual night -- then you must go get author Filip Bondy's wildly entertaining and relentlessly reported new book, "Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever." Bondy returns to the epic '84 draft that brought the league Michael Jordan, Akeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and, of course, the forever bust taken before M.J., Sam Bowie.

As much as anything, this book reminds everyone what an inexact science the NBA draft is, and how little separates the so-called geniuses and dunces. Poor Stu Inman built the 1977 NBA champion Portland Trail Blazers with Bill Walton and reconstructed them for another long run of championship contention, but people still want to remember him for choosing Bowie over Jordan with the No. 2 pick in that draft.

"He got that pick for almost nothing in the first place, trading it for Tom Owens, a journeyman center, from Indiana," said Bondy, an author of several critically acclaimed books on the NBA and a columnist with the New York Daily News. "It was Inman's move that got him that pick, but it ended up sabotaging his reputation."

Until "Tip-Off," no one ever knew the influence that 1984 Olympic coach Bob Knight wielded with which how teams valued players in that draft, or that Rod Thorn, holding that No. 3 pick in Chicago, would've accepted the contemplated offer of Ralph Sampson for Jordan on draft day. If you love the NBA, you won't put this book down. "Tip-Off" is a fascinating story, told true and told well.

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