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John Wall goes No. 1 in NBA draft, and the jockeying begins

Miami and Chicago get rid of players, giving them more room to sign free agents.

June 24, 2010|Mark Heisler

Where did everyone go?

The NBA held its, quote, highly-awaited 2010 draft Thursday with the Wizards taking Kentucky's John Wall and the 76ers selecting Ohio State's Evan Turner, as expected.

Meanwhile, representatives of the other 28 teams could have gotten stuck in the door trying to get out of Madison Square Garden.

After weeks of shopping every pick from No. 3 (Derrick Favors to New Jersey) down, several garden-variety deals that took their teams out of the draft may have the biggest impact:

--Chicago traded Kirk Hinrich and No. 17 pick Kevin Seraphin to Washington.

The reported deal can't be announced until July, but when it is, the Bulls will be $31 million under the projected cap.

That would put them a few dollars from two maximum slots for big- ticket free agents like, oh, say, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

James Johnson, anyone?

--Miami sent its No. 18 pick and Daequan Cook to Oklahoma City, bought out James Jones' contract and talked Joel Anthony … er, was fortunate enough to see Joel Anthony terminate his contract and become a free agent.

Voila!

The Heat is now down to three players — Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, who may still be ticketed to ride.

What Miami lacks in personnel, it makes up in cap room, a few dollars from being able to extend Wade and with two max slots to offer big-ticket free agents like, say, James and Bosh.

In a worst-case scenario, if both James and Bosh were to sign elsewhere, the Heat could still get Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.

Borrowing a phrase from Branch Rickey, Miami President Pat Riley called it "addition by subtraction."

As for the rest of the draft, what it lacked in impact, it made up for in weirdness.

One hour before it started, Portland GM Kevin Pritchard was notified he had been fired ... effective after the draft.

Pritchard thus became the first NBA GM to conduct his team's draft on his last day at work.

Known for wheeling and dealing, as in 2006 when his draft-day trades for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge turned the franchise around, Pritchard took Memphis guard Elliot Williams at No. 22.

Williams was projected to go in the 20s, so it's a legitimate pick.

Owner Paul Allen is lucky Pritchard doesn't have a sense of humor and didn't select a corpse.

As expected, five players from the 31st NBA franchise, the University of Kentucky, went in the first round.

Three — Wall, Demarcus Cousins (No. 5 to Sacramento) and Patrick Patterson (No. 14 to Houston) — went in the lottery.

Oklahoma City took the fourth, Eric Bledsoe, at No. 18, then traded him to the Clippers.

The fifth, Daniel Orton, the Wildcats' backup center, was once projected in the lottery but fell to Orlando at No. 29 after gaining weight and playing poorly on the pre-draft circuit.

Putting the best possible grimace on it, Kentucky Coach John Calipari attended the draft, calling it a great day for the program.

If so, that made it a good day in Lexington, Ky., Chicago, Miami, Washington and Philadelphia.

We'll have to wait and see about the other participants and non-participants, except Pritchard, who can now sell his memoirs and retire.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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