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Game of Pick-Up Quickly Becomes Let's Make a Deal

Mark Heisler ON THE NBA

June 29, 2006|Mark Heisler

Right on schedule, the NBA draft started and teams started going in all directions.

Five deals went down within 14 picks. After Knicks General Manager-Coach Isiah Thomas dashed the hopes of cheering fans in Madison Square Garden, taking little-known Renaldo Balkman of South Carolina with the No. 20 pick, the league was lucky to finish before the audience stormed the stage.

The Portland Trail Blazers stole the show, pulling off three deals within seven picks, swapping their No. 4 choice for Chicago's No. 2 to take LaMarcus Aldridge, the highest-rated big man, trading reserve point guard Sebastian Telfair to Boston for No. 7 to take Randy Foye, then trading Foye to Minnesota for its No. 6 pick, Brandon Roy, the highest-rated guard.

Nevertheless, illustrating what all this sound and fury meant in the immediate future, the Trail Blazers are still expected to lose 60 games.

The Lakers got what they figured to get with the 26th pick in this draft, a young player who might help in the future but won't change the direction of their program any time soon.

Stirring restlessly as they sorted through their short list of options after the season, the Lakers cast around desperately for a big move, trying to trade up for a high pick -- reportedly to take Roy -- even inquiring about the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich.

However, the Lakers didn't make Lamar Odom available, still clinging to their hope that Odom and Kobe Bryant can be the nucleus of a rising power. As they found out, no one was remotely interested in anything else they had to offer.

With no cap space until 2008, few players anyone wants and only the No. 26 pick, the Lakers were enchanted to see UCLA's Jordan Farmar drop to them.

Nevertheless, everyone understands the 19-year-old, 6-0 3/4 , 171-pound Farmar has some growing up to do to play in this league. At this point, he wouldn't look imposing standing next to 6-6, 195-pound Sasha Vujacic.

The Clippers had no first-round pick and no pressing needs, other than bringing their current roster (and coach) back, so picking up Michigan State center Paul Davis in the second round was a pleasant surprise. Davis could make the team, giving them another low salary, which will come in handy as they try to sign Sam Cassell, Vladimir Radmanovic, Chris Kaman and Coach Mike Dunleavy.

In general, the best players went to the worst teams where they will have little impact.

Andrea Bargnani, the top pick, is just a piece in the puzzle as Toronto General Manager Bryan Colangelo tries to put in a Suns-style offense.

Aldridge and Roy may become the new faces of the Portland franchise, which has tried to live down its "Jail Blazers" image, sending away players such as Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, only to see the wave led by Zach Randolph and Darius Miles embarrass the team anew.

For Charlotte, which drafted No. 3, new co-owner Michael Jordan had an immediate effect but not the one people were expecting.

Bobcats Coach-General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff was thought to be leaning toward the athletic Rudy Gay, and Jordan was expected to endorse the pick. In a surprise, Jordan switched to the more accomplished but less athletic Adam Morrison, saying he liked his competitive spirit.

The move that may affect the local teams most may be Western Conference rival Houston's pending trade of itsNo. 8 pick to Memphis for forward Shane Battier.

A year ago, the Rockets went 34-48 with little to go with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Battier, a good defender, will fit seamlessly into Coach Jeff Van Gundy's program. Assuming Yao is healthy and McGrady is ready to resume his career, the Rockets should, at least, challenge last season's playoff teams for one of the last few slots.

If the Blazers made out, several teams seemed to melt down.

The 76ers shopped Allen Iverson so aggressively, they were close to sending him to Boston for Wally Szczerbiak, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green and the No. 7 pick, in a deal that foundered when they couldn't find a third team to make it work under the salary cap rules.

The 76ers had been expected to look for a point guard to replace Iverson but spurned Marcus Williams, generally considered the best point in the draft, even though he dropped and was available to them at No. 13. Instead they took Thabo Sefolosha and will trade him for shooting guard Rodney Carney, even though they have Andre Igoudala at that position.

Meanwhile, the Celtics, who were set to junk their youth movement to get Iverson, traded their No. 7 pick to Portland for 21-year-old Telfair, a two-year veteran who backed up Steve Blake most of last season.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Top picks

The first round turned into a series of small surprises and trades.

1. Toronto

Andrea Bargnani, F

Italy

2. Chicago-a

LaMarcus Aldridge F/C

Texas

3. Charlotte

Adam Morrison, F

Gonzaga

4. Portland-a

Tyrus Thomas, F

Louisiana State

5. Atlanta

Shelden Williams, F

Duke

6. Minnesota-b

Brandon Roy, G

Washington

7. Boston-c

Randy Foye, G

Villanova

8. Houston

Rudy Gay, F

Connecticut

9. Golden State

Patrick O'Bryant, C

Bradley

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