Orlando, Fla. ( Associated Press) — The college basketball season came to an end nearly three months ago, with the NBA draft lottery over a month and the draft just days away.
Looks like the process is about to end. Orlando Magic president Jeff Veltman doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m telling you, it’s still early in the process,” Veltman said on Monday.
Translation: The Magic still haven’t decided what to do with the No. 1 pick in the draft on Thursday night. Other teams have called to find out what the price is if they want to trade, and Magic has weighed in on all the top candidates.
But Veltman sees no reason to make a decision before it is absolutely necessary, especially given the opportunity with Orlando’s No. 1 pick.
“Negotiations are always going on,” Veltman said. “But most importantly, we can do whatever we want. That’s the real advantage of taking the first pick.”
The top contenders for selection are well known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. auditioned with Orlando earlier this month; Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met Magic for several days last week, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero is working with former Orlando player Mike Miller.
Veltman would not say if he was the only three candidates being considered with Orlando top pick.
“It has been confirmed that there are a lot of talented players at the top of this draft, that’s for sure,” Veltman said.
This is the fourth time Orlando will have the first overall pick. The Magic drafted Shaquille O’Neill in 1992. Chris Webber was first mentioned in 1993, and that same night he was traded for Penny Hardaway and a package of future picks that would eventually become Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic drafted Dwight Howard with the first pick.