NEW YORK, June 27 (AP) --
The Chicago Bulls stole the spotlight from Michael Jordan.
In a stunning trade completed midway through the first round of the NBA Draft, the Bulls sent their best player, power forward Elton Brand
, to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the draft rights to 18-year-old center Tyson Chandler
The Atlanta Hawks hold Pau Gasol's rights, but he's expected to join the Grizzlies next month.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE Photos
Jordan, the Washington Wizards' team president, used the first pick on high school senior Kwame Brown
of Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga., marking the first time an NBA team has selected a high school player No. 1 overall.
FC Barcelona forward Pau Gasol
went third to Atlanta, which plans to send him to the Grizzlies as part of a yet-to-be-completed trade for Shareef Abdur-Rahim
. No player from a foreign team had ever been drafted so high.
The Bulls also selected a high school player with the fourth pick, grabbing Eddy Curry
of Thornwood H.S. in South Holland, Ill.
Curry and Chandler will make the Bulls even younger than they were last season when they had the greenest roster in league
"I don't remember starting two freshmen when I was a coach in college," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said. "I guess I'm going to get a chance in the NBA.
"We've gotten younger, and it's going to be very difficult to replace Elton's 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) immediately next year. We recognize this whole draft is based on potential and who these guys could become."
Indeed, this draft was all about the allure of potential.
Three of the first four players chosen were high school seniors. The college player of the year, Duke's Shane Battier
, wasn't taken until the Grizzlies picked him sixth, one spot after Golden State selected Michigan State sophomore Jason Richardson
In another trade, the New Jersey Nets sent the rights to Eddie Griffin
, selected seventh overall, to the Houston Rockets for the rights to their three first-round picks: Arizona forward Richard Jefferson
(No. 13 overall), Stanford center Jason Collins
(No. 18) and Pepperdine guard Brandon Armstrong
Kwame Brown gets the call to NBA glory:
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Cleveland traded the rights to North Carolina center Brendan Hayward
, the 20th overall pick, to Orlando for center Michael Doleac
At first glance, the biggest winners of the night appeared to be the Clippers.
After taking Chandler with the No. 2 pick, they immediately traded him and forward Brian Skinner
to Chicago for Brand, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999.
"It's very tough losing night after night. I just want to be on a team that has a shot at winning some games and improving," Brand said. "The first two years were very rough for me and I don't want to be in that situation ever again. The Clippers are a rising team. I'm excited; they have a lot of young, great talent."
Brown, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward, stood up and hugged his family before walking on stage, smiling broadly and shaking Commissioner David Stern's hand.
Brown originally planned to attend the University of Florida before changing his mind when he learned he might be chosen among the top five. As a high school senior, he averaged 20.1 points and 13.3 rebounds and was selected player of the year in the state of Georgia.
"I guess I just made history. It's great. I've never been so overwhelmed and nervous in my life," Brown said. "I'm now the
representative of all high school seniors, and I have to show it wasn't a mistake."
The Wizards considered trading the pick, but Jordan locked in on a player with enormous potential in a draft considered top heavy with big men.
"We were entertaining possibilities, but nothing could change our minds as to what he could do for the Washington Wizards," Jordan said of Brown.
Chandler has been a starter on one of the nation's top high school teams since his freshman season. Earlier this year, it was believed he and Curry might be drafted first and second overall.
Now, they will be teammates.
"When I heard, I was just shocked. I sat back and said, 'Are you sure?'" Chandler said. "It's really ironic, but it's a great opportunity for two high school players to learn and grow together. Hopefully, we can start a new dynasty."
Cleveland used the eighth selection on high school senior DeSagana Diop of Oak Hill Academy (Va.), a 7-footer originally from Senegal.
The Nets-Rockets trade was announced at the end of the first round.
"I talked with Steve
) and Cuttino
) and they're very excited," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We think it's a real good fit, and we couldn't be happier."
In trades involving second-round picks, the Magic fulfilled their obligation to send a future first-round pick to Denver by trading Omar Cook
, who they selected 32nd overall, to the Nuggets.
Also, the Hawks dealt Maryland forward Terence Morris
(No. 34) to Houston for a future No. 1 pick, and Seattle sent the draft rights to Bobby Simmons
(No. 42, DePaul) to Washington for the rights to Predrag Drobnjak.
High school senior Ousmane Cisse
of Montgomery, Ala., went 47th to Denver, and Cincinnati point guard Kenny Satterfield
dropped all the way to 54th, where he was taken by Dallas.