Trades highlight draft
After what he experienced on draft night, trade deadline day will be no sweat for Randy Foye.
Foye was one of four players among the top seven picks who quickly learned one of the NBA’s lessons on Wednesday night: Don’t get too comfortable in one place.
And he learned it twice.
The Toronto Raptors made Andrea Bargnani the first No. 1 pick from Europe to kick off a draft that began with a lack of buzz. But on a night when 15 trades were made — with Portland involved in six of them — it certainly didn’t turn out boring.
“Apparently not a lot of people liked what they got at the top,” Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said.
How unpredictable was it? Even the guys who didn’t get traded weren’t convinced they were staying.
After watching what went on around him, no wonder Rudy Gay wasn’t getting ahead of himself. Picked eighth by the Rockets but hearing his name rumored in a possible deal with Memphis, he wasn’t ready to start house hunting in Houston just yet.
“I’m not saying we, because I’m not sure I’m going to play there yet,” Gay said.
The wheeling and dealing started early, when LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas went second to the Chicago Bulls, starting a flurry of trades that would include the fourth, sixth and seventh picks.
Aldridge’s rights were later dealt to Portland for the rights to Tyrus Thomas, who was chosen fourth, and forward Viktor Khryapa.
“Right before they said my name, they said, ‘They are going to call your name in a minute, but don’t worry about it, they are going to trade you,”’ Aldridge said.
The Trail Blazers weren’t done. They acquired the rights to Foye, taken seventh out of Villanova by the Boston Celtics, along with Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau and cash for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick.
The Blazers then shipped Foye’s rights to Minnesota for Brandon Roy, the Washington guard taken sixth by the Timberwolves.
“When I see the guys go 1, 2, 3, it was just nerve-racking,” Foye said. “But then like two picks before, my agent and Brandon’s agent were making eye contact and I didn’t know what was going on at the time. And once I saw my agent’s face light up, he was like, ‘Yeah, Boston is going to take you.’
“And then, ‘Portland is going to take you.’ And then when they said Minnesota, I was like, ‘OK, good. Bring it on.”’
The instability was likely the product of a draft that lacked star power. High school players are no longer eligible, meaning Greg Oden, who surely would have been the No. 1 pick, is headed to Ohio State instead of the NBA.
The Raptors didn’t think they needed a deal, confident that Bargnani, a 20-year-old forward from Italy, can live up to comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki.
“Everyone has strengths, weaknesses, etc.,” Colangelo said. “But, at the end of the day, it came down that we felt that Andrea Bargnani was really the best pick for the future of this organization going forward. It’s not about today. It’s about today and tomorrow, and we think that Andrea is a player that’s not only going to help us in the short run, but we think he’s going to grow into a terrific star in this league.”
The 6-foot-10 Bargnani has drawn comparisons to the Dallas Mavericks’ All-Star because of his outside shooting skills. Playing last season for Benetton Treviso in Italy’s Lega A, Bargnani shot 37 percent from 3-point range.
He’s the second straight foreign-born No. 1 pick after Milwaukee chose Andrew Bogut of Australia from the University of Utah last year. Bargnani is the first No. 1 pick to not play college or high school basketball in the United States since Houston took Yao Ming in 2002.
“I hope to help the team as soon as possible,” Bargnani said. “I’m a young player, I know that I will find a lot of tough moments because it’s a new league and I’m used to playing in Europe.”
Gonzaga star Adam Morrison hoped to go first, but couldn’t complain after Charlotte took him third with the Bobcats’ first since pick Michael Jordan became a part owner of the team in charge of the basketball operations earlier this month. The mustachioed All-American led the nation in scoring as a junior with 28.1 points per game.
“It would be awesome if I could get some hands-on instruction from Mike,” Morrison said. “Any time the greatest player of all-time is telling you what to do … if he told me how to tie my shoes a certain way, I would probably listen.”
Connecticut had a big night, tying a record with four players — Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone — taken in the first round. Denham Brown, another former Huskies player, went in the second.
The draft ended with deputy commissioner and fan favorite Russ Granik announcing Iowa State’s Will Blalock to Detroit with the last pick. The remaining fans chanted “One more year!” for Granik, who’s leaving his position July 1.