Trades highlight NBA draft
Published 6:29 am Friday, June 26, 2009
NEW YORK (AP) — Blake Griffin was the consensus No. 1 pick. Shaq to the Cavs was the consensus blockbuster.
On a day of head-turning trades around the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers started Thursday night’s draft with the obvious choice: Griffin, the only player considered a sure thing in a class full of question marks.
Griffin was the consensus college player of the year after leading the nation with 14.4 rebounds per game while averaging 22.7 points last season for Oklahoma. The Clippers said they would take the forward with the top pick just hours after they won the draft lottery last month, and never considered changing their minds.
“The fact is we’re getting an incredible player, incredible person, an impeccable work ethic and a guy that we plan on having in L.A. for many years to come,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “He’s going to be a great, exciting fit for our ballclub.”
The draft followed a day of big trades in the NBA.
The deal that sent Shaquille O’Neal to play alongside LeBron James in Cleveland was completed earlier Thursday, and Eastern Conference champion Orlando acquired Vince Carter from the Nets in a swap completed shortly before the first pick was made.
San Antonio landed Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee on Tuesday, and more big names could be available this summer as teams are forced to slash payroll.
The draft lacked the star power of 2007, when Greg Oden and Kevin Durant battled it out for top pick honors, or when Derrick Rose beat out Michael Beasley last year.
The New Orleans Hornets selected UCLA guard Darren Collison with the 21st overall pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night, a move aimed at adding a mature four-year college player who can immediately step in as the primary backup to All-Star Chris Paul.