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Olynyk’s journey takes another turn

A GRIP ON SPORTS

A couple of years ago, when you saw Kelly Olynyk (if you saw him at all), he was the tall, skinny guy at the end of the Gonzaga bench, jumping up and celebrating whenever a Zag made a big play. Now he's a Boston Celtic. A soon-to-be-very-rich Boston Celtic. What a journey. Read on.


••••••••••

• Before last night's draft, I figured Olynyk would be taken pretty high. In fact, after reading a bunch of pre-draft projections, the ones having him headed to Dallas to serve as Dirk Nowitzki's backup made the most sense. After all, they had similar skills and Nowitzki is getting up in age (he just turned 35). Having Olynyk on the bench to spell the veteran seemed like a smart plan. So when the Mavericks drafted Olynyk with the 13th pick, I raised my arms in triumph, pretty pleased with my prognostication skills. And I turned off my phone to concentrate on the dinner party I was attending. Of course, a few minutes later, during a lull in my part of the conversation, the phone came on again (as if by magic) and I immediately checked what was going on with the draft. And there was a “T” by Dallas' pick. Olynyk had been traded to the Celtics. What the heck? And not to the Boston Celtics we've known the past few years. Not with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, soon to be the latest coach to lose his reputation with the snakebit Clippers. And not with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the heart and soul of the team (in any order you prefer) on the way to Brookyln in another draft-night trade. Nope, Kelly Olynyk is a member of the “rebuilding” Boston Celtics, the franchise of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Larry Bird. The franchise that's won more NBA titles than any other, but looks to now be fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Oh well. The Maverick situation seemed perfect for Olynyk. A chance to serve an apprenticeship, if you will, as he acclimated himself to the pro game. But now he's thrown into a franchise in some disarray, where he might be looked upon by some of the fan base as a savior, the guy future success will be built around. That's a heavy load for anyone. And maybe even more so for Olynyk. He isn't your typical college star. His skills, while formidable and varied, are unusual for a man his size. He doesn't fit the niche usually designed for a 7-footer. So how he's used, how he's nurtured, how he's developed, may have more to do with his NBA success than for the usual mid-first-round draft pick. With Boston beginning a new era, will the organization have the patience to develop his skills or will it have to force the issue? How that question is answered may just determine Olynyk's future.

•••

• WSU: Brock Motum wasn't one of the seven Pac-12 players taken in the draft, tied for most of any conference. That total was higher than expected by many experts.

• Gonzaga: It's not often a team's top draft pick is overshadowed, but that's what happened yesterday in Boston. The Olynyk news had to play second-fiddle to the trade of Pierce and Garnett. And there were a lot of stories about both in the Boston-area newspapers – and one about Olynyk in his hometown paper.

• Indians: At least the last game of the homestand didn't go extra innings. But it was a loss for Spokane. Chris Derrick passes along the news with this story and blog post. … A former Indian from long ago passed away Monday.

• Hoopfest: As Jim Allen's story shows, Hoopfest is bit more fest than hoop.

• Mariners: No game yesterday, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any news. The M's decided to bring shortstop Brad Miller (pictured) up and told him after the Tacoma game. The News Tribune's Ryan Divish was there, heard the news and talked with the shortstop of the future. It's been a quick ascension for Miller, who started the season at Double-A Jackson. … Another piece of the future puzzle might just be pitcher Danny Hultzen, who returned to the Tacoma rotation last night after a shoulder injury. And, of course, you can't talk about the M's future without mentioning Dustin Ackley. … The Cubs are always looking to the future and they come to town this weekend carrying their typical baggage.

• Sounders: A lot of Sounders news as well yesterday, with the club in talks to end all ties with longtime star Fredy Montero, sending him to Portugal. … The team made room on its roster in case it wants to add a player in the upcoming transfer window. … The Sounders' roster shouldn't be depleted in the upcoming Gold Cup for the national team. Though Brad Evans' national team success might mean a change for him next season. … Why the new metal detectors?

•••

• And that's it for today. Tomorrow is the first day of the best weekend in Spokane (in my humble opinion). Hoopfest is always fun, except when you are playing in 90-degree heat. Good luck to all of you. By the way, you should have already begun hydrating. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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