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Mark Heisler ON THE NBA

Power surge comes from the Pac-10

June 27, 2008|Mark Heisler

There are NBA drafts that change the balance of power, but this isn't one of them, unless you're talking about the balance of power in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Aside from that, this draft essentially reconfigured the Eastern Conference, starting from the bottom up.

With Chicago taking Derrick Rose at No. 1 and Miami taking Michael Beasley at No. 2 as expected, the fallen Bulls and Heat at least have something to build around.

And talking about rebuilding, there are UCLA and USC.

The Bruins saw sophomore Russell Westbrook go No. 4 to Seattle, freshman Kevin Love go No. 5 to Memphis and junior Luc Mbah a Moute go No. 37 to Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Trojans freshman O.J. Mayo went No. 3 to Minnesota and freshman Davon Jefferson went undrafted -- after hiring an agent and forgoing his college eligibility.

After the draft, Mayo's rights were reportedly traded to Memphis as part of an eight-player deal for Love.

The draft was the Year of the Pac-10 Freshmen. Five of the first 11 picks were from the Pac-10 and three of those (Mayo, Love, Jerryd Bayless) were freshmen.

A few more seasons like this one and the Pac-10 could be in Division II.

It was also the Year of the Eastern Doormat with four Eastern teams making or agreeing to major deals.

New Jersey served official notice that the Nets, as well as the New York Knicks, are intent on unloading salary for the summer of 2010, when Cleveland's LeBron James and Miami's Dwyane Wade could be on the market.

The Nets, who traded Jason Kidd during the season, sent Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for rookie Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Total savings for the Nets in 2010: $15 million.

Milwaukee, intent on getting back in the playoffs with new Coach Scott Skiles, dumped its unhappy 7-foot rookie Yi, who never wanted to be there, and Simmons, whose five-year, $47-million contract was a mistake from the moment the Bucks signed him to it.

Toronto, which stalled last season, went for it, agreeing to a deal for Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, taking on the last two years -- worth $44 million -- of his contract.

With O'Neal sitting out 40 games a season over the last four and going two seasons since averaging 20 points, this can be summed up in two words:

Good luck.

Indiana, which had been threatening to break up its team for years, finally did it.

With reported agreement on deals with Toronto and Portland, the Pacers unloaded O'Neal, Ike Diogu and No. 11 pick Bayless for Jarrett Jack, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Joey Graham and No. 13 pick Brandon Rush.

In other words, look for Indiana in next season's lottery too.

The draft, itself, was notable for the dark horses who rose and the celebrated prospects who fell:

Love was projected in the teens all season -- and that was before he measured in bare feet at 6-7 3/4 instead of his listed 6-10. However, as soon as he started working out for pro teams, he rocketed into the top 10.

Westbrook, unknown nationally before the season, jumped into the lottery when he took over at point guard for the injured Darren Collison -- for the first six games.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M freshman DeAndre Jordan, whose size (he was listed at 7-0 before being measured at 6-9 3/4 in Orlando) and athleticism had him in the top five, fell out of the Aggies' starting lineup, then looked so bad in workouts for pro teams, he fell all the way off the first round.

For good measure, he lasted five picks into the second round before going to the Clippers at No. 35.

Then there was Kansas' Darrell Arthur, a talented post player who was projected in the lottery, even after a spotty season (his scoring totals in the NCAA tournament were 17-9-7-7-6-20.)

Thursday night he and his family squirmed on camera as 26 picks went by before Portland (through New Orleans) took him at No. 27.

Things could be worse. Ask Davon Jefferson.

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mark.heisler@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Headed to L.A.

The Clippers draft guard Eric Gordon, the player they long coveted. The USC and UCLA players drafted are happy to be in the NBA. D4-5

*--* FIRST ROUND 1. Chicago Derrick Rose Memphis 2. Miami Michael Beasley Kansas St. 3. Minnesota-x O.J. Mayo USC 4. Seattle Russell Westbrook UCLA 5. Memphis-x Kevin Love UCLA 6. New York Danilo Gallinari Italy 7. Clippers Eric Gordon Indiana 8. Milwaukee Joe Alexander West Virginia 9. Charlotte D.J. Augustin Texas 10. New Jersey Brook Lopez Stanford *--*

*--* SECOND ROUND 35. Clippers DeAndre Jordan Texas A&M 58. Lakers Joe Crawford Kentucky *--*

Trade-x: Minnesota traded the rights to Mayo to Memphis for the rights to Love in a deal that included eight players.

Also: The Clippers acquired the rights to Mike Taylor, taken by Portland with the 55th pick.

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