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Walker Never Thought He'd Be A Wizard

NEWPORT, R.I. - Bill Walker was a tad confused when the Washington Wizards drafted him No. 47 overall in last summer's draft but he had a good idea where he'd wind up - anywhere but Washington.

"I didn't work out with them. I knew it wasn't possible that I would go there," Walker said on Wednesday from Salve Regina University, where the Boston Celtics are training to defend their NBA championship, "All I know is they wanted me here."


You can't miss what you never had. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Wizards immediately swapped the pick to Boston for a nice, six-figure check without giving it much thought. Some - including Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace - consider Walker a possible steal in the draft since it wasn't too long ago that Walker was ranked one of the best players in the country.

Walker grew up with O.J. Mayo, the No. 3 pick of the NBA draft, in Huntington, W.Va., and played with him at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati. At Kansas State, he teamed with Michael Beasley, the second overall pick. And, before injuries derailed him - he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee (in 2003) and left knee (in 2007) - Walker was once on the same path as his two former teammates.

"This is all our dreams, no matter how we got here. Right now, we're on a mission to make our mark," Walker said.


After averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds as a redshirt freshman last season at Kansas State, the 6-foot-6 forward was considered a possible lottery pick before suffering a knee injury during a workout with Golden State less than two weeks before the draft. The injury pushed the redshirt freshman out of the first round, but he elected to stay in the draft.

"Circumstances happened for me to be in the second round. I don't feel that I'm a second round talent at all," said Walker, who had his third surgery in five years last July. "Circumstances changed everything. I don't second guess my decision. I feel that I have an NBA game and I made the best decision. I'm with the right team. I'll learn how to play the game right. I hope I can make a career out of it."

Walker is learning quickly about the NBA during training camp, where he is sometimes matched up against NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce. "A lot of guys don't get to come to an organization like this, with these kind of players, to have a chance to win [a championship]," Walker said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity. It's a grind. It's totally different than anything that I've done. Just the speed of the game. They throw a lot of stuff at you. You've just got to adjust."

Walker likely won't see much playing time with the Celtics, but he wasn't ready to say that the rookie of the year will go to either Beasley or Mayo. "I heard Greg Oden is going to be rookie of the year," Walker said, mentioning that he faced Oden often in AAU. "He's a monster. He's the man. I'm going with Greg Oden."

By Michael Lee  |  October 1, 2008; 2:49 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks for reminding us, Michael. Jeez....

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Eh, if the Celtics weren't going to pay money for Bill Walker, Les BouleS wouldn't even have drafted him.

EG would have drafted someone in the second round on par with the likes of Peter John Ramos or Vladimir Vermeenko.

Cash is king.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

If Bill Walker turns out to be good, it would be totally befitting with the infamous Curse of Les BouleS.

Another player drafted by Les BouleS for another team turned out pretty good too, and we should could use him right now.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=2382

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Hurdle Hill Lane: I hesistate to raise this issue, but I'm wondering if Gil Areans and Brandon Roy have the exact same injury (partial tear in the meniscus)? With Roy, the recovery time seems to be about 2.5 months...

Ivan Carter: That was where Gilbert's insistence on rushing back so fast hurt him. If he had listened to the doctors and trainers and taken his time, the usual 2.5-3 month timetable would've been in effect.

-------------------------------------------

And how did EG react to this?

He gave him a 127 mil max money offer.

Go figure.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

If he hadn't drafted Walker to sell to Boston, Grunfeld would have just drafted another European player and stashed him overseas...

The roster was already full, and they were right up against the Luxury Tax.

That's why Vereemenko is not here... Roster is already full - that and his buy out..

Posted by: Rook | October 1, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone actually think this guy is going to turn out better than than Dominic McGuire? If not, what's the point in drafting him and keeping him on the roster? I'm not saying they shouldn't have used the pick on a player, just not this player.

Posted by: creativefunk | October 1, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't feel that we lost out on these guys that were traded on draft day. Am pretty sure those guys were drafted because they fitted into the other team's plans. If that had not been the case, the Wizards won't have drafted those players. I mean we didn't even work out Walker.

Posted by: Bart | October 1, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

If Bill Walker turns out to be good, it would be totally befitting with the infamous Curse of Les BouleS.

Another player drafted by Les BouleS for another team turned out pretty good too, and we should could use him right now.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=2382

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 4:01 PM

Except Harris was traded for AJ, and AJ is a main reason why this team has been in the playoffs the last four years. I'll take AJ over the erratic play of Harris.

Posted by: Colin | October 1, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

"Except Harris was traded for AJ, and AJ is a main reason why this team has been in the playoffs the last four years. I'll take AJ over the erratic play of Harris.

Posted by: Colin | October 1, 2008 6:08 PM "

AJ's a great guy, but we've been one and done these past 3 seasons on his watch.

In fact, the reason why Les BouleS were in the playoffs two seasons ago was because of Caron. Two seasons ago, Les BouleS couldn't win when Caron went out with his injured hand although Gilby and AJ were still playing.

Last season, Caron carried the team.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain. Was this trade for nothing but money in Abe's pocket or was there some b'ball-related advantage to the Wiz, however small, e.g., some beneficial effect on cap space, some future favor from the Celts, or the like? If the latter, so be it. If the former, why not trade the pick for a future #2? Not worth much, but surely someone would have given us a future #2 for this year's #2.

Posted by: Josh | October 1, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"

Can someone please explain. Was this trade for nothing but money in Abe's pocket or was there some b'ball-related advantage to the Wiz, however small, e.g., some beneficial effect on cap space, some future favor from the Celts, or the like? If the latter, so be it. If the former, why not trade the pick for a future #2? Not worth much, but surely someone would have given us a future #2 for this year's #2.

Posted by: Josh | October 1, 2008 7:39 PM "

EG figured he'd better cash out on this 2nd round pick rather than swing for his third strike.

Peter John Ramos - Strike 1
Vladamir Vermeenko - Strike 2

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Can't remember much about Vermeenko but I think Eddie(and Love and H20) helped destroy PJ's career. And Blatche was on the same path until Ernie stepped in (as well as pressure from the fans who got tired of seeing that bum ass Michael Ruffin).

Posted by: C.Bell | October 1, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

When I saw that Ernie selected him I was excited for a bit. Then I remembered he's had 3 major knee injuries in 5 years. So when Ernie swapped him for cash, I was cool with it. Plus, "The Curse" would've ate that poor boy alive.

Posted by: C.Bell | October 1, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ivan,
Weren't Dermarr Johnson and Caron teammates for a year in high school up at main central institute. Those guys know each other? Is Caron helping him out? Dermarr was a local stand out who could really shoot the ball. It would be great to have him home again.

Posted by: Forthepeople | October 1, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

"Can't remember much about Vermeenko but I think Eddie(and Love and H20) helped destroy PJ's career. And Blatche was on the same path until Ernie stepped in (as well as pressure from the fans who got tired of seeing that bum ass Michael Ruffin).

Posted by: C.Bell | October 1, 2008 10:09 PM "

Nevermind VV or AB...what about BTH?????

EJ almost drove BTH out of DC!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mike, just love to hear about how we gave away a draft pick for cash.

Abe "Under the Threshold" Pollin is all about winning!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

88'er if you don't like Pollin, Grunfeld or Jordan, what's left? you might as well move to another city.

Posted by: the 88'er show | October 2, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

EG figured he'd better cash out on this 2nd round pick rather than swing for his third strike.

Peter John Ramos - Strike 1
Vladamir Vermeenko - Strike 2

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 1, 2008 9:09 PM


It's always half empty with you, isn't it ?
Didn't you conveniently leave out some of Grunfeld's significant Wizards 2nd Round picks ?

The 2nd round is not exactly a hotbed of talent. 30% of second round picks never play in an NBA game, while 68% are out of the league within five years.

In the 24 drafts between 1980 and 2003, 632 players were taken in the 2nd Round. Of those 632 players, exactly 7 became All-Stars. That's 1.1% of all the players taken in the Second Round.

So, Ernie looked at the talent left on the board (or lack thereof), knew that he had a loaded roster, and decided to sell the pick.

You say it's "strike two"... Well if you want to use Baseball terms....
Here's Ernie's 2nd Round draft history:
2004 Peter John Ramos (strike out)
2005 Andray Blatche (DOUBLE, awaiting review, could be a Home Run)
NEW AT BAT:
2006 Vladimir Veremeenko (NO PITCH)
2007 Dominic McGuire (SINGLE, but Dominic is attempting to steal second)
NET AT BAT:
2008 Sold for cash (NO PITCH)

EG's 2 for 3.... (and we're still waiting to see if Veremeenko improves, or not). I'd say that's better than the League Average... A lot better !

Posted by: Rook | October 2, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

88'er if you don't like Pollin, Grunfeld or Jordan, what's left? you might as well move to another city.

Posted by: the 88'er show | October 2, 2008 8:59 AM

He doesn't like Pollin, Grunfeld, Jordan, Arenas, or Stevenson. He was all for trading Jamison. He thinks Juan Dixon sucks, and that Dee Brown is a joke.

As a matter of fact, I can't remember any positive posts by him about any Wizards player except Caron Butler.

Posted by: Rook | October 2, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"88'er if you don't like Pollin, Grunfeld or Jordan, what's left? you might as well move to another city.

Posted by: the 88'er show | October 2, 2008 8:59 AM "

LOL!

In case you haven't noticed, you can be a fan of another team and reside in another state.

In any regard, hopefully there's light at the end of the tunnel with Leonsis.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 2, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"You say it's "strike two"... Well if you want to use Baseball terms....
Here's Ernie's 2nd Round draft history:
2004 Peter John Ramos (strike out)
2005 Andray Blatche (DOUBLE, awaiting review, could be a Home Run)
NEW AT BAT:
2006 Vladimir Veremeenko (NO PITCH)
2007 Dominic McGuire (SINGLE, but Dominic is attempting to steal second)
NET AT BAT:
2008 Sold for cash (NO PITCH)

EG's 2 for 3.... (and we're still waiting to see if Veremeenko improves, or not). I'd say that's better than the League Average... A lot better !

Posted by: Rook | October 2, 2008 9:30 AM "

AB a double?

Yeah, two arrests to date. That's a double I guess that constitutes a double. One for being the next party John, and another for reckless driving.

If AB's a double, then I guess a homerun would be hall of famer, greatest player of all time.

In fact, AB is maybe a bunt to first base barely beating out the throw.

I'm not even going to comment about DMac, if he ever gets on the court to do anything of significance.

BTW, if EG has no use for a pick, then keep selling them. Just don't draft more bodies. Sell them, or trade them, but I think the Walker sell might come back to haunt him. Walker might have been a great backup to Caron.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 2, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"As a matter of fact, I can't remember any positive posts by him about any Wizards player except Caron Butler.

Posted by: Rook | October 2, 2008 9:34 AM "

Wrong as usual and without stats to back up your usual weak arguments.

Caron is great. yes.

AB needs to start. yes.

BTH as I predicted needed the chance to prove himself and he got it last season in spite of EJ's attempts to get rid of him. EJ's eating crow now.

I like Juan. Don't confuse me with what a certain somebody naysayer who's always badmouthing him about his lack of size, D, and lack of ability to create his own shots.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 2, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I think Bill Walker is a good bench rider for the Celtics right now. Good for him.

There's no use second-guessing the decision that was made at a particular time, particular circumstance specially when the decision had to be made in a matter of minutes on draft night. EG made the right decision to take the best guy available at the time and create an advantage out of it. He did that, and got cash for it. If the Wiz had kept Walker, he would be no different than the Dermarr Johnsons and Linton Johnsons of the day, fighting for a slot. And he would still be a project. Other 2nd rounders drafted this year won't even make it to their rosters.

I feel Grunfeld is the best manager so far in the Bullets-Wizards recent past. Not all of his decisions will be right all the time, but as a manager he does a pretty good job.

He is surely no knee-jerk operator, does not practice blowing up the team every year.

It appears to me that he does not want more than a couple of projects this year (McGee the whole year and Pecherov for a few months?), and that any veterans he hires for the last two positions are also expected to deliver within their roles.

I feel both Dee Brown and Juan Dixon will make the team. While Dermarr is an intriguing role player, he will not be an immediate impact player. When/if Arenas comes back and makes Dee Brown's role less important, and when/if Nick Young improves and Juan's role becomes less important, then another role player like Dermarr would be interesting to have. At that point perhaps midway in the season, other teams in need of a PG or SG might want to trade for Juan or Dee. Or Pech, but he is less attractive to other teams, as they can get equivalent role players for less. Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila and Etan Thomas probably won't be traded until summer next year. If we don't make the playoffs, watch EG blow up the bench.

Posted by: rgz | October 2, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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