NBA Draft : Pacers’ Decision Said to Be Tisdale

Times Staff Writer

After the New York Knicks select Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing with the first pick just after 10 a.m. (PDT) today in the National Basketball Assn. draft, the Indiana Pacers will have five minutes to make the second pick.

It shouldn’t take them that long, unless they stretch out the procedure for dramatic effect.

Sources close to Wayman Tisdale said Monday that the Pacers already have made their decision and will select the three-time All-American forward from Oklahoma. That will leave Benoit Benjamin, the 7-foot Creighton center, for the Clippers, who have the third pick. Neither Pacer nor Clipper officials would confirm their choices.

The Lakers have the 23rd pick and are expected to select Villanova swingman Dwayne McClain if he is available. If not, the Lakers are leaning toward Georgetown’s Bill Martin or DePaul’s Tyrone Corbin, both forwards.


Benjamin, 20, a junior last season, is the best center available besides Ewing. In the eyes of Clipper General Manager Carl Scheer, he is potentially as good as Ewing. That apparently is why Indiana, after telling Tisdale’s representatives that they would draft him if they had a chance, took a long look at Benjamin.

Pacer President Robert Salyers told Indianapolis writers Monday that the club executives were in agreement about their selection, but that they wouldn’t reveal it until this morning, when NBA Commissioner David Stern asks for their choice.

The Clippers have said that they would be happy with either Tisdale or Benjamin. Coach Don Chaney and Scheer met with Benjamin twice in the last month, watched a lot of Creighton’s game films and also talked with Willis Reed, Benjaimin’s college coach who is now an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks. They said they are convinced that Benjamin will be what is known in the NBA as an impact player, one who can play immediately and turn a poor team around.

How much of an impact Benjamin will make on the losing Clippers won’t known until next season.


“It’s going to change the shape of the team,” Chaney said. “But he’ll be like any rookie center. It’ll take some time for him to adapt to the pro game. But he’s such a talented player that we know he’s going to contribute.”

The Clippers may even be so impressed with Benjamin that they will be willing to part with free-agent center Bill Walton. The Boston Celtics are interested in trading veteran forward Cedric Maxwell, who had recent knee surgery, for Walton. Scheer said he is considering the trade, although the Clippers would have to sign Walton before trading him.

“When (Boston) first contacted us, they didn’t want a player, just something in the future,” Scheer said. “Then, all of a sudden, they called back and asked about Walton. Yes, I’ve considered trading Walton. But I’m not in a position to do that with his free-agent status. We’re not going to let him go without proper compensation.”

Chaney said Maxwell would fit in well as a power forward with Benjamin at center.


“I’d be very happy with Maxwell,” Chaney said. “But I’d like to have Maxwell without giving up anything. It was just a minor injury, to the cartilage. I think he can come back from that and help us.”

This year’s draft is considered one of the deepest in talent in recent years. Many NBA general managers have said the top 10 players will provide immediate help to teams.

The Seattle SuperSonics have the fourth pick overall and are expected to select forward Xavier McDaniel of Wichita State. McDaniel led the NCAA in both scoring, with a 27.2-point average, and rebounding with a 14.8 average last season. Atlanta, drafting fifth, will likely pick John Koncak, 7-foot SMU center. The Sacramento Kings will take 6-11 Arkansas center Joe Kleine with the sixth pick, and Golden State will choose Louisiana Tech forward Karl Malone or St. John’s swingman Chris Mullin.

Other top forwards available are Detlef Schrempf of Washington, Keith Lee of Memphis State, Ed Pinckney of Villanova, Charles Oakley of Virginia Union, Terry Catledge of South Alabama, and A. C. Green of Oregon State. The top guards are Mullin, Sam Vincent of Michigan State, Terry Porter of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and Joe Dumars of McNeese State.


The draft, reduced from 10 to seven rounds for the first time this year, will be televised live by cable superstation WTBS.