Posted Jun 24 2011 11:40AM
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It felt like a push to finish shopping before the store closes for the night. Only it's an entire sports league and it probably won't be opening the next morning.
What some teams predicted would be a draft with the increased trade activity of front offices getting rosters in order before the lockout hits July 1, and therefore avoiding a rush job if the work stoppage eliminates the usual long summer of activity, was more like a frenzy of a Thursday night.
Important members of playoff clubs were dealt, the Bobcats made a bold strike to get back to the postseason, the Jazz continued to form their future at an accelerated pace, the Wizards went small forward-small forward within 13 picks in the first round and feel understandably good about the duplication, and 60 prospects were picked from among a weak talent pool -- motion-sickness bags all around. The Timberwolves shipped a pair of second-rounders to Miami to acquire a choice that previously belonged to the ... Timberwolves.
There was even a border rush: Four players who didn't come via a United States college were taken in the lottery for the first time ever, from Enes Kanter going third to the Jazz to Jonas Valanciunas fifth to the Raptors to Jan Vesely sixth to the Wizards to Bismack Biyombo seventh to the Bobcats as Michael Jordan took on the risk of a raw talent with great defensive potential but practically zero feel for offense. Later, Donatas Motiejunas went 20th in a pick that eventually ended up in Houston and Nikola Mirotic, expected to spend at least two more seasons in Europe because of buyout problems, 23rd to Houston.
It was the kind of night when even the expected could seem like an uncertain outcome. Here at the Cavaliers' practice facility in suburban Cleveland, for example, the team with two of the first four selections took Kyrie Irving first overall, to the surprise of no one around the league no matter how many bad rumors were floated about a potential lean to Derrick Williams or Kanter.
Except that Irving would later admit, "They gave me no indication they were going to choose me. I was as surprised as anybody else was." That made him one of the few caught off guard, then.
No. 4 was an actual well-kept secret, Tristan Thompson. The nonstop worker at power forward from Texas had earned impressive reviews on his workout tour -- great attitude, terrific energy, such a bright future as a shot blocker and rebounder, especially on offense, that it outweighed the absence of an offensive game -- but it would have been hard to find another front office that had him going so high.
Then, the foreign invasion and the trades kicked in. The Bucks, Kings and Bobcats deal sent Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee as a step for the Deer wanting to jump-start their offense and Corey Maggette to Charlotte as part of the price tag for Jordan's club to get a second lottery pick. That went for Biyombo at No. 7, its own No. 9 for Kemba Walker. Before the storm had passed, George Hill had gone from the Spurs to the Pacers, Brad Miller from the Rockets to the Timberwolves, Rudy Fernandez from the Trail Blazers to the Mavericks, Andre Miller from the Trail Blazers to the Nuggets, and Raymond Felton from the Nuggets to the Trail Blazers.
Some dizzying night. Duke guard Nolan Smith got his emotional moment of joining the NBA, where his late father Derek had once played and coached. Jeremy Tyler completed his circuitous route from high school in San Diego to Israel to Japan back to the United States by going to the Warriors at No. 39. And, twins were twinned, with Markieff Morris going 13th to the Suns and Marcus Morris 14th to the Rockets. They didn't reach the goal of landing on the same team, after they had been joined from youth and through careers at Kansas, but they did essentially becomes pros at the same time.
The aisles had been picked clean of storylines, the shopping rush completed with an exhaustive few hours. The craziness wasn't so bad, though. It may be the last bit of major business for a while.
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