Celtics shake things up, trading the #7 pick to Portland for Sebastian Telfair. That is the way the ESPN guys report the deal, as if the Celtics simply decided that they liked him more than the point guards available. Not a single mention of the other guys involved, which happen to be Theo Ratliff going to Boston, with Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz going to Portland. A huge factor is the fact that LaFrentz has a ridiculous contract that guarantees him $11.8 million per year for three more years. Ratliff is massively overpaid as well but only for two more years. So they just gained almost $12 million in cap space in the third year, which might be just as big to them as the individual players involved. Whether it should be as important is another question.
Everything Greg Anthony says sounds perfectly reasonable and well thought out. But I can't help but remember how convincing he was on the radio as the NBA playoffs were under way. He didn't think the Pistons would even play a six-game series on their way to the title; they had one of the best starting fives in NBA history and were the best defensive team ever. Off by just a tad.
I wonder if Stephen A. Smith has ever spoken in a normal tone? I want him to announce golf on TV; it would add a whole new dynamic to the game. FIRST HOLE, TIGER WOODS IS PUTTING FOR PAR!!! IT'S A 45-WAY TIE ON THE LEADER BOARD AFTER ONE HOLE!!! He'd be hoarse by the back nine, and dead if there were a playoff.
A real shocker that Adam Morrison spends all his time playing video games. I thought for sure he was an art gallery and opera guy. I'm a big Frasier fan and it just hit me that he is the anti-Frasier. Sports, video games, questionable personal hygiene, grungy clothes. And quite possibly in need of a shrink. But he sure can put the ball in the hoop.
On to the picks…
7:33 - Stern says, "This is a very rowdy crowd," but looks like he actually wants to say, "Please shut the F__ Up." He ain't heard nothing yet, since the dump-Dolan guys are sure to be well lubricated and ready to erupt over anything to do with the Knicks.
Bargnani discussion, which is funny because you know that Bilas, Smith and Anthony have seen about 30 seconds of film on the kid and couldn't pick him out of the crowd. Fran likes him, and he actually spends lots of time watching Euro ball.
7:37 - Andrea Bargnani to the Raptors. NY fans welcome him to the NBA with the "O-ver-ra-ted!" chant. Welcome to America. Bet he's glad he's actually on the way to Canada.
7:40 - Scott: "What is the best thing about being the #1 pick in the draft?" the answer I want to hear - "lots of lira" - is not forthcoming; instead he just says, "It is unbelievable."
7:43 - #2 Bulls pick, which they got from the Knicks. Lamarcus Aldridge the choice, but headed to Portland. He gives Stern what I assume is a Texas cap. He puts it on and gives his standard, "I hate how tiny these guys make me look" uncomfortable hug for the photo op. I'm reminded of Gandalf hugging Frodo, but with the ages reversed.
7:49 - Adam Morrison to Charlotte at #3. Why are all the hats red? I bet it's so they can Photoshop different logos on them later after all the trades are done. It actually fits him well, as even with a suit on he looks like he just stepped out of a rusty pickup truck. He should add a cigarette to complete the look. Jay is 3-for-3 with "he can't rebound" commentary. And questions about defense of course. I chuckle and am reminded of Richard Pryor talking about Leon Spinks:
"No one ever said the heavyweight champ had to be no entomologist anyway. ‘Leon, what do you do?' ‘I knock motherf___s out.'"
7:55 - #4 Tyrus Thomas to Portland, soon to be in Chicago. "Freakish athlete," "wingspan," "length," "upside." You name it, he's got it. No mention of shooting or dribbling or passing or any that boring stuff. But I like the pick, mainly because he had to work for his success. He's not gonna be one of those coasting Stromile Swift types. Actually, being a fellow LSU Tiger, he has probably heard all about Swift's failures as an NBA player, and that could be one more motivating factor. I keep hearing he's gonna be a 'three', but those same people talk about the NBA becoming a faster, smaller league as the traditional center goes away and the Suns become the model. So why can't he be an incredibly athletic if slightly short 'four'? Why would you want him anywhere near the perimeter, when he can jump through the roof, has long arms and plenty of muscle ?
8:00 - #5 The Hawks strike again, taking Shelden Williams. Why take someone with ZERO chance of becoming an all-star, EVER? Why take a guy that is guaranteed to still be there at 9 or 10? Do you think they even tried to trade down? Of course Dickie likes him, as does Jay. My question is, who cares if he is ready to play now? The rest of the team isn't. Watching him shake Stern's hand it is striking how much shorter than the first two guys Williams is. They are easily four inches taller than him. So they still have no center; they still have no point guard; but they have yet ANOTHER forward. All this "great defensive player" talk? Anchoring the defense? He did that playing CENTER in a league with ZERO big guys. Guess they never saw Sean May destroy Duke the previous season, or Marco Killingsworth go for 34 against him. Six question marks in one paragraph - is that a record for me? Make that seven.
8:07 - #6 Brandon Roy to Minnesota. As solid a pick as you can ask for. Not a super athlete, but he's got a game every coach loves. Can't pick out any great strength, but not a weakness to be found. Rudy Gay dropping; think I'll send another email to that dopey Pittsburgh sportswriter who chose Gay his national player of year over Morrison for reasons that only the little green men in his closet understand.
8:16 - #7 Randy Foye to Boston, meaning Portland. Ok, an actual green hat, not the same red everyone else wore. Celtic fans will wonder why they didn't just take him and skip the whole Telfair trade. Time will tell. So Portland adds LaMarcus Aldridge and Foye to Zach Randolph, and they are still stuck with Darius Miles.
8:22 - #8 Rudy Gay to Houston. Is there a name less Texan than Rudy Gay? Jay says, "if you play for Jim Calhoun you know how to work," five seconds after saying that he isn't assertive and doesn't work hard. I watched an awful lot of Connecticut last year and the bigger the game, the smaller Gay played. First half, meaningless game? He was awesome. Last five minutes, tight battle? Invisible. Hold on, his stay in Houston is brief, as still another trade sends him to Memphis for Shane Battier. Ok, I may not like Rudy (that includes the movie and the mayor as well), but his upside should still be worth more than Battier. Not sure what Houston is doing here, unless they think that with McGrady and Ming they are on the verge of a title run right now and can't afford to wait. Could be; starting with those two is as good a start as anyone else has. Just checked, this will be McGrady's 10th season. That just can't be. If I was in a coma for a few years, someone would tell me, wouldn't they?
8:30 - #9 Patrick O'Bryant to Golden State. Why is this kid not a red haired Irishman? Never has someone made so much money off of one good game against a giant sloth. I'm talking to you, Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh! I watched every second of that game and commented at the time that O'Bryant could be a lottery pick… in a year or two. So instead of getting better at Bradley and being a legit #9 pick next year, he gets paid to sit behind Adonal Foyle. The magic variable is always work ethic and how a kid reacts to instant wealth. A major "to be determined" pick.
8:35 - #10 Seattle takes my man, Saer Sene!!! Shock city baby. Early for a project. Dig that copper suit, though the choice of shirt and tie is very Senegalese. Jay, as usual, thinks that every non-American needs lots of work and he merely "has a chance to be ok." He does need work, but he could be valuable as a four-point scorer. I see Mutombo with more speed. And you want wingspan? This guy's arms go all the way to his hands, or something like that. Sene and Swift and Petro - Seattle now has taken 21 feet of project centers in the last three years. Their entire future rests on Jack Sikma's coaching abilities.
8:41 - #11 J.J. Redick to Orlando; not sure where he is from. Damn, was hoping for a slide; now we don't get to see Vitale have a meltdown. Dickie says "great choice," and I am shocked! "Not gonna face double teams." Well duh, how do you get double teamed on the bench? LSU didn't double team him; they merely had good athletes shut him down. Every night he is going to be facing a physical mismatch. He is paired with a tiny point guard in Jameer Nelson, so that leaves J.J. matched up with, let's see… Wade, Kobe, Allen, Hamilton, Carter, James, Arenas, Redd, Ginobli, Francis, Pierce, etc. This is like using a high Roto pick on a DH. Every ESPN guy is in favor of the pick, which I believe is a contractual obligation they have with Duke. After getting four years out of the #5 and #11 picks, Duke must have been in the Final Four a lot lately...
8:47 - #12 Hilton Armstrong to New Orleans/Oklahoma City. Four years, never averaged 10 points a game, never featured. This is a lottery pick? I repeat, take all "great defense" talk with a grain of salt when it comes to college centers. There are so few big people with any skills that you get a big defensive rep simply for blocked shots when giving help. I bet a Google search on Hilton Armstrong last year would have returned a million pages on Paris and Lance, and about three on this guy.
8:54 - #13 Thabo Sefolosha to Philly but traded to Chicago. If a cop ever asks him his name, he will get an instant DUI; won't even have to be driving. Ok, time to retire the stupid hats, as half the guys are going elsewhere anyway. So the Bulls add him and Thomas, both considered big-time athletes. Still don't see where their points are coming from, but they certainly have plenty of good young parts. I see a big name in their future; how about making a play for KG? I digress.
8:59 - #14 Ronnie Brewer to Utah, which should remind him of his native Arkansas. He could actually make an interesting combo with AK-47, both very long (I waited until pick 14 to use the word "long", not bad), both well rounded games, both can guard multiple positions. The close-up of his protruding arm bone I could have lived without; those "could happen to me" injuries gross me out more than movie beheadings (but less than fat strippers).
9:03 - Still another trade. Roy from Minnesota to Portland for Foye and cash. Hmm, let me digest this. Roy gets to be closer to home, so he's probably happy. Foye gets more opportunity with less young guys demanding the ball. Both franchises are a mess; both of these guys deserve better fates. I find them both easy to root for, but it is conceivable that I will never see them play again.
9:04 - #15 Cedric Simmons of NC State to New Orleans. The most unknown of the top 15, clearly. I have no recollection of his game. The Princeton offense and playing in a league dominated by teams in blue will do that I guess. That makes 9, 10, 12, 15 all big guys described as projects. Figure one big score, one bust, two so-so. Overall risk/reward I think they probably went in the correct order, it pains me to not disagree.
9:10 - #16, Chicago picking for Philly, Rodney Carney. Dan points out that no point guards have been picked yet. Carney was listed as 6'7" or 6'8" early in the year, but he's really 6'5". The best run/jump guy in the draft, but he is in dire need of some Morrison or Roy in his game. The few times I've seen him, he didn't seem to have any finesse to his game and has trouble scoring despite the athleticism. Reminds me of Andre Iguodala, who happens to play for… Philadelphia. Do dunks count for three points this season or something?
9:17 - #17 Shawne Williams to Indiana. Jay wonders if he is a winner. Yeah, one year of college is plenty of time to call him a loser and write him off. Bird likes him, so I like him. In my mock I had him 16th and a chance to be a star. At 17, so much the better. Let's put it this way: five years from now if he makes the All-Star, I won't be surprised. If either of the Duke guys do, I'd be stunned.
9:23 - #18 Olexsiy Pecherov to Washington. Still no point guards selected - pretty amazing after last year's 3-4-5 run of Williams, Paul, Felton. All I know about him is his name would appear to score pretty big points in Scrabble. But since names aren't allowed, I wouldn't pick him.
9:29 - #19 Quincy Douby to Sacramento. One of my favorites. Instant offense with incredible range. The last guy you want to play in HORSE, because he keeps his form out to 30 feet. The stoners should love him; with that name he just had to go to a California team.
9:32 - The first crowd interview brings us a barely coherent 20-something in a Knicks shirt. Rocker wasn't completely wrong.
9:34 - #20 The Knicks pick, and the crowd is fired up. "We have a trade" gets a boo before they even know what it is. It's the Chicago/Philly deal we knew about 30 minutes ago on TV; I guess it is news to the crowd. Renaldo Balkman of South Carolina is the pick. Ok, I'm stumped and I actually agree with Jay who says he's "stunned." MVP of the NIT - if that isn't faint praise, I don't know what is. Maybe Isiah wants some of that juicy buyout money too. A 6'6" wing who has never averaged double digits and has CBA hair. Oops, there is no CBA; Isiah wrecked that too. "2nd round to undrafted" on the ESPN list. Spike Lee says he's a sleeper. Doesn't "sleeper" imply someone taken outside the top 20? My theory is Thomas got confused and thought he was picking Rolando Blackman.
9:41 - #21 Rajon Rondo to Phoenix. After an awful season for Kentucky, he still ends up the first point guard taken. Of course who would have thought that would mean going 21st. Can't shoot a lick, but an insane rebounder for a guard (partly due to the KY big stiffs, which sounds a bit like a porno flick), defends, passes okay, huge hands, long arms. The Black Gollum would be a cool nickname, but I doubt it will take off.
Late note: traded to Celtics. Telfair and Rondo? Ok, now I'm confused. Neither one can shoot, so they can never play together. Pierce and Wally and Jefferson aren't much for passing, though, so perhaps "never shoot" point guards are just what they need.
9:47 - #22 Marcus Williams to New Jersey. He has to be insanely happy to drop to this spot. Gets to play for a top team, learn under Jason Kidd, has great finishers on the wing with Carter and Jefferson. Blowing off the gym can actually HELP your career! I know it's a strategy I use, though to what effect I can't say.
9:51 - #23 Josh Boone, also to New Jersey. Not a fan. Another guy who underperforms his body. Let's review the 2006 UConn Huskies, shall we? They have now gone numbers 8, 12, 22, 23. That's four first rounders, with Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown both having a chance to catch on somewhere also. Ousted by George Mason in the dance, a team that will put zero players in the NBA. You can test and measure and fantasize about potential, but some guys are players, some guys aren't. Boone doesn't know how to play basketball. Gay has no passion. Armstrong is a raw specimen type. There is a reason their point guard decided he had to do all the scoring in the Tournament. Williams NEVER scored 20 during the regular season, but he hit the 20 mark in three of their four tournament games. When push came to shove in a pressure packed half court game, all these NBA-looking Huskies backed down. I wouldn't touch any of these guys except Williams; at #22 you can't really go wrong.
9:59 - #24 Kyle Lowry to Memphis. Point guards coming fast and furious; this kid is tough as nails and could be a steal here. He also can't shoot. Should have stayed at Villanova, as he would have gone much higher in the draft if he made normal improvement. In theory, Memphis is on the rise and the point guard spot will be up for grabs soon with Stoudamire on the decline. You could argue that his future happiness is now tied to Rudy Gay, which would make me a bit nervous.
10:03 - #25 Shannon Brown to Cleveland. Seems reasonable - get someone who can score so LeBron stops seeing triple teams. MSU was another underachiever though. With Brown, Ager, Davis, Neitzel and Izzo coaching, how were they not a title contender?
10:10 - #26 Jordan Farmar to the Lakers. Some guys get all the luck; he can still live in his dorm room while making big bucks across town. The thing is, I think the Lakers are done. Kupchak doesn't know what he is doing; that much is clear. Odom will always be a heartbreaker. Smush and Luke and guys like that are all nice subs. The Clippers actually have some buzz in town. Could their future hinge on Andrew Bynum making a quantum leap forward? Ahh, who cares; bring out the Laker girls.
10:14 - #27 Phoenix takes Sergio Rodriguez, who is supposed to be traded to Portland for cash. By my math Portland has acquired 23 new players tonight.
10:19 - #28 Maurice Ager to Dallas. If you are gonna be at the draft in person, you have to make the first round to get the Stern handshake; he sneaks in under the wire. Kind of a workout wonder. "Doesn't pick up concepts too well" – Bilas. Refreshing honesty, falling just short of saying "he's kinda stupid."
10:25 - #29 Mardy Collins to NY. Jay hits the double digit "wingspan" mark. I admit to not seeing him play this year, but I offer a sweeping generalization. Players with NBA talent don't go to Temple. Seriously, they just don't. If you had legitimate pro talent, would you choose a college where the coach has practice at 6 am? Where you were forced to play a matchup zone? Where defense always came before offense? I am so sick of hearing about Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones whenever a Temple prospect is mentioned. Those guys played for Temple 13 years ago!!! He is a solid player, no doubt, but is he an NBA level athlete? Says here he never starts a game. Ok, maybe after some exotic disease incapacitates half the roster. Which is a possibility, as the old Ebola-in-the-water bottle trick could really help their cap problems.
10:30 - Joel Freeland #30 to Portland, not far off from my Bowie pick. A 6'10" white kid from England. Yeah, he'll be great. Will stay in Europe for years; check back in 2010.
First round is over. Dick mentions a bunch of guys who stayed in the draft and didn't go in round one. We shall see what happens, but Darius Washington, Daniel Gibson, P.J. Tucker… hold your breath, boys.
#31 James White to Portland. How many friggin picks do the Trail Blazers have anyway? Nice pick. Athletic enough to get by just on that; who knows what his upside is.
#32 Steve Novak to Houston. One trick pony, but it's a nice trick. Statistically the best shooter in college basketball, and it's not even close. His numbers from both the line and the arc dwarf J.J.'s… but Marquette is not on ESPN every nine minutes. And I'm not sure who he can guard. Excellent "down 10 with 40 seconds to play" guy.
#33 Solomon Jones to Atlanta. Their 38th consecutive forward, at least this one breaks the 6'9" mark. Ironic that Solomon and Atlanta are now linked forever. What's next, Jessica Simpson in a Stanford t-shirt?
#34 Paul Davis to the Clippers. Solid selection as the third Spartan goes. Seems like a lock to stick, which is all you can ask for in the second round. Could see him having one of those long but forgettable 7 & 5 type careers, which should make him about $60 million the way the NBA is going.
#35 P.J. Tucker to Toronto. Wingspan from Jay! I am drinking every time he says wingspan, like "veneer" on that Frasier episode, so I'm getting kinda loaded. If he was 6'8", he'd be a lottery pick. You have to respect his game, as he's tough, relentless, knows the game, gets to the ball, great hands. But he can't shoot outside and he's 6'5". Wingspan or not, that limits your future.
#36 Craig Smith to Minnesota. Oh man, wingspan again from Jay. Hold on a second, got to refill... Ok, why is he not a good pick but Tucker is? Pretty damn similar in my book.
#37 Bobby Jones also to Minny. Designated defender in Minnesota sounds like a crappy job description to me, but it still pays more than I make.
#38 Kosta Perovic to Golden State. 7'2" Serbian, I love this guy. Saw him play in person six times last year when I was overseas; he is a real sleeper. Raise your hand if you believe me.
Billy Knight of the Hawks interview. My God, he even speaks like I imagined - kinda like the guy who sang the Humpty Hump.
#39 David Noel to Houston. Rule of thumb – when a tremendous athlete from a super high profile school goes in the second round, you can be sure he can't play. "Best athlete" from those combine tests, he should have been a tight end.
ESPN shows a graphic that "Brandon Roy is the highest Washington Husky drafted since Detlef Schrempf went #8 in 1985." OK, help me out. Roy went #6. Isn't that higher than #8? Who is on ticker duty? I guess they meant "first first-round pick since Schrempf." This only annoys me because I hated Detlef, and just seeing his name on my TV pisses me off.
#40 Denham Brown to Seattle; that makes the fifth guy from the eastern Huskies. 1/8 of the top 40 from one team, and they lose to George Mason. Who I bought in a Calcutta. For peanuts. The fact that I invested the profits in liquid refreshments and aiding the educational efforts of young Eastern European women should not be held against me.
#41 James Augustine to Orlando. All the players now coming from big name programs as teams look for subs and solid low maintenance practice fodder.
#42 Daniel Gibson to Cleveland. Agree with Jay again, could be a steal here. Was lottery or at least first round if he came out last year. Oops.
#43 Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza to New Orleans/Oklahoma City. Was hoping he would go here. If they stitch both his name and the team name on his jersey, he won't be able to walk, let alone jump.
#44 Lior Eliyahu to Orlando. Okey dokey.
Trade: Bobby Jones no longer on Minnesota; didn't catch where he went. I assume to an NBA team.
#45 Alexander Johnson to Indiana. So much for those first-round projections. 23 years old already; that hurts him. So does not being that good.
#46 Dee Brown drops like a stone and lands in Utah. Now I feel bad for him. Is playing behind ex-teammate Deron Williams good or bad for him? Is it possible that Jerry Sloan can change his stripes and make the Jazz an up- tempo team? Given their roster, that's the way I would go.
#47 Paul Millsap to Utah also. Leading the NCAA in rebounding three years in a row would be more impressive if he played in a decent conference. And of course no one very good would ever stick around long enough to lead the NCAA in anything three straight years.
#48 Vladimir Veremeenko to Washington. Russians are now welcome in all aspects of DC life, including basketball.
#49 Leon Powe makes the draft, about where I expected. I will say that there is no possible way he doesn't end up better than Millsap. Not much of a limb, granted, but never let it be said my anti-kal bias taints my predictions.
#50 Ryan Hollins to Charlotte. Doesn't seem right that Hollins gets drafted and Matt doesn't. Actually, it's pretty funny to see him go right behind Powe. A quick check shows 7 & 5 versus 21 & 10. Also never let it be said that NBA guys pay attention to statistics.
Lior traded for future stuff; same with Alexander Johnson. I think Johnson was already traded once because now Portland is involved again. Portland is like a guy in my old Roto league. He would draft a crappy team and then make 40 trades to end up right where he started. Since we charged a fee for every trade, it was a good deal for the rest of us; wonder if the NBA has that policy. I picture the Blazers front office sitting around a big table, each guy frantically punching in the phone numbers of every GM in the league. Whoever pulls off a trade makes the other guys do shots of tequila – bottom shelf variety. Around this time, the whole room is loaded; ties wrapped around their heads, shirts unbuttoned. 30 minutes from now, they'll be taking a limo for a tour of the local strip clubs.
#51 Another tall dude from Senegal; I assume he has wingspan.
#52 Guillermo Diaz finally goes to Clips; guess the jumping ability was overrated.
#53 An Israeli guard to Seattle. Hank Greenburg and Sandy Koufax were many years and a whole different sport away.
Powe traded to Celtics for a future pick. From Berkeley to Boston, I sense a bit of culture shock. They probably have never heard of him there; it's not a big college town.
#54 Hassan Adams to NJ. Team run/jump adds another. Vince, Jefferson, now Adams. Poor Jason Collins has to play with a two guys from kal, two guys from Arizona, two guys from UConn, and a Tar Heel and Kentucky Wildcat to boot. I bet he always has to calculate the tip...
#55-59 Can't pronounce any of their names; never seen them play. Damn soccer players are everywhere.
#60 Will Blaylock of Iowa St the final pick to Detroit. In case someone asks.
Darius Washington, Memphis, cockily predicted he was a lock and signed with an agent, oops.
Gerry McNamara, Syracuse. Obvious to anyone who watches ESPN with a mute button.
Juan Jose Barea, Northeastern. A surprise after his huge Portsmouth showing. It just shows how completely irrelevant that camp is. He played as well as humanly possible and didn't even get an Orlando invite out of it.
Vincent Grier, Minnesota really bad year for members of the World University
Games team. Let's review:
#5 Shelden Williams
#7 Randy Foye
#36 Craig Smith
#37 Bobby Jones
All the rest went undrafted -
Power Forwards - Quite a list of name players
Marco Killingsworth, Indiana. Must be shaking his head, since he knows he can score at will against Shelden Williams. But way undersized for a 'four' and already 24.
Taj Gray, Oklahoma. Will probably catch on as a free agent; live practice body.
Matt Haryasz, Stanford. I said he was a Euro 'three' - now he will be.
Christian Maraker, Pacific. Skilled but no upside at 23; athleticism issues.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, GW. Their whole team was a myth.
Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia. Back to the mines.
Marcus Slaughter, San Diego. Talk about bad decisions.
Well, there you have it. Unfortunately the trend has only gotten worse, as it was another dry draft; things are just way too serious these days. No jokes from the ESPN crew, no shots of hot girlfriends, no outrageous statements (we need Barkley back!), no Craig Sager asking "does she have a sister", no more goofy suits. Every kid already has a staff to dress him and prep him for every innocuous question. They even played with the mikes and the sound system so the crowd noise was kept down. There weren't even any goofy looking guys to make fun of (the Morrison ‘stache has been done to death). I blame the Republican; I'm just not sure why yet.
-- the Court Jester, signing off on the 2006 basketball season.
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