Welcome to NBA.com's The Draft Blog, the first and last word on NBA Draft 2006. This is your space to see what we see at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. From Draft suits to Draft hats to Draft picks, we have it covered.
Also see blogs by: Rodney Carney | Marcus Williams
That's All Folks
Thomas was involved in one of the 15 Draft night trades.
(Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images)
Well, some so-called experts had been calling this one of the weakest drafts in years because of its lack of big names. So much for that, though, as it didn't lack any of the excitement of previous drafts. Gone was the certainty of where LeBron James was headed. Mock drafts were shredded by the fifth or sixth pick -- if not earlier. And when the picks were less than exciting, there was always the prospect of another trade.
Not a real surprise, but a bit suspenseful all the same, the Raptors went the predicted route and selected Italy's Andrea Bargnani with the top overall pick. After all, it could have been a foregone conclusion the team was high on the youngster when it hired his former team's general manager, Maurizio Gherardini, as an assistant to Bryan Colangelo. Keeping a poker face, however, Colangelo maintained his mind wasn't made up prior to Draft day.
One pick that may have caught some by surprise was Adam Morrison going to the Bobcats. Not because he went higher or lower, but because he didn't slip to Portland at No. 4 as some were thinking he might. Do you believe it could have been Morrison's competitive nature that caught the eye of one Mr. Jordan -- himself one of the most competitive people to ever play hoops.
Another surprise was the Knicks' selection of Renaldo Balkman at No. 20. Some, including ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who blasted the Knicks brass during the network's draft coverage, believed Balkman was no higher than a second rounder -- if that. Balkman wasn't believed to even be staying in the Draft until an outstanding performance at the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp elevated his stock. Twentieth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft might have been a bit high. Then again, Spike Lee could be right when he waved his index finger and proclaimed him "a sleeper."
The shocker of the night, though, was the sheer number of trades. A full 15 were completed on Draft night and, as we said earlier in the night, the Blazers were players in six of those. More than half the league (16) successfully worked the phones Wednesday night causing 26 players to file change-of-address cards. And the trading might not be over with; those 16 are just the ones we know about right now.
Phoenix, whom we thought would be in the market for a backup to Steve Nash, had not one but two. By night's end, they had dealt both -- Rajon Rondo at No. 21 and Sergio Rodriguez at No. 27 -- plus Brian Grant for what amounts to a Boston Celtics future first-rounder.
With the flurry of activity tonight, it's gotten me thinking about the offseason and free agency. Teams can begin courting free agents as of July 1, however a moratorium on signings runs through July 11. What does that mean? Well, we'll just have to wait and see which teams make any additional moves.
Wow, this second round really moves, huh? There's fewer than 10 picks remaining in Russ' career, but the die-hard fans are still crowded up front in the Theater, chanting, cheering and, well, yes, being a little bit rowdy.
Slowing the round a bit is all the trades. This has to be some sort of record once they're all completed. Heck, the Blazers have been in on six trades of their own. We'll get on that to see what the most was.
What A Break
And we're not talking a good break. Dee Brown
probably would have gone much higher in last year's Draft, but a broken foot suffered
on the first day of the Pre-Draft Camp sent him back to school for his senior season. Brown was named National Player of the Year by The Sporting News as a junior, when he led his Illini to the national title game. Now, he's fighting for a roster spot come October. But, it's not all doomsday. Remember that list of names
tossed out a little while ago. Some of those fellas panned out just fine.
"Good Enunciation, Boss!"
Such was the cry from one fan remaining here when Russ pronounced the name Marcus Vinicius Vieira De Sousa
. That's right, say it along with us now: Va-NEICE-see-us V-air-ah. We'll leave the rest up to you. Or, you could just make like his family and friends and call him Marquinhos.
David Noel isn't here, so you weren't able to see that cap I was talking about earlier
, but did you catch the new logo and colors? Better yet, did you visit the new site
? G'ahead, we'll be here when you get back.
Diamonds in the Rough
... Steve Novak
... Gilbert Arenas
... Rashard Lewis
... Manu Ginobili
... Michael Redd
... What do they all have in common? Second Round pick status and that's it, so far. Of course, Lewis, Ginobili, Redd and Arenas have all made trips to the All-Star Game in recent years. So, clearly there's talent to be found in the next 28 players to be selected.
But, brace yourself as you click through some of the names that may not be familiar to you because the pace of the Draft has quickened. Now there's only two minutes between picks as opposed to the full five alloted during the first round.
"We Want Russ"
Russ takes the reins on the second round one final time.
(Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
With the announcement that Joel Freeland is the last player tonight to get guaranteed money by being selected in the first round, Commissioner Stern is done for the night. His closer: Russ Granik, who's leaving the NBA after 30 years. Granik has been such a fixture here at the Draft -- hosting the second round for many years now -- fans have been given, and are gladly brandishing, Russ Granik heads-on-a-stick. As it says on the back, "Please show your appreciation for Russ and his many contributions to the NBA by using this mask as Russ takes the podium for his 'final' second round."
So, with a dimmed stage and video tribute, Mr. Granik takes the stage one final time -- to a warmer reception than any draft pick tonight.
You're Welcome, Donnie Nelson ...
... Clearly he was reading this post
earlier in the night. Right. So, all kidding aside, Dallas seems a good fit for Ager, much like other late first rounders Jordan Farmar with the Lakers, Marcus Williams in New Jersey and Rajon Rondo in Phoenix.
Can't Get Enough 'Stache
The fans here love them some Adam Morrison. After completing his media obligations, Morrison was led back through the Theater, where the rowdy fans -- many of the calmer brand have long since left the building -- brandished the familiar "Shave the mus-tache" chants and yells of, "That's the best." It's so 'best' that EA Sports has Morrison on camera talking about it
in the third person.
Remember this question
? When I said "Any takers on Marcus Williams and Josh Boone?" I didn't mean one team -- not to mention on back-to-back picks ... Nevertheless, the Nets grabbed themselves two Huskies. That's four by one team in the first round -- only the third time the feat's ever been accomplished.
Run, Marcus, Run
. The Suns certainly were thinking of giving Steve Nash's 32-year-old legs a rest, but they went with a different young point guard -- Kentucky's Rajon Rondo
The Nets are on the board and get a warmer hand than did the team playing a few floors upstairs. That's because they took Marcus Williams, from UConn. Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson certainly will like it when they read this line on NBA.com about their new teammate: "Outstanding court vision. Sees the play before it develops. Terrific in the open court." Get your track shoes handy, fellas.
Zeke Did What?
The Knicks faithful certainly didn't like that pick ... in fact, they liked it about as much as Commissioner Stern's trade announcement. As Stern approached the podium, not a fan was in his/her seat. They were cheering louder than they had in a long time -- perhaps since this time last year. Then came the boos, because the Sixers trade trumped the pick. The boo birds continued when New York's selection -- South Carolina's Renaldo Balkman
-- was announced at No. 20. Spike Lee, however, was touting Balkman as "a sleeper."
Green Room Watch
Don't look now, Marcus Williams, but there's nobody but friends and family around you. Fourteen others have heard their names called by new employers. Fear not, however, as there are still 11 picks to be made in the first round and the fans here at the Garden have begun the "Mar-cus Will-iams" chant. Wonder if they can hear it as far away as Phoenix, where Williams could give Steve Nash a breather or two?
A Bright Future
Here's a tip: The Bucks have the 39th pick, so pay attention. What? 39? Why? Here's why: If Milwaukee goes international and picks one of the players here in the crowd, watch the cap he puts on when he goes up to shake Russ Granik's hand. The Bucks, today, unveiled an updated logo and color scheme
. Gone is the purple, in favor of green and red. Back to the Draft.
Stay in school, kids. Sometimes it pays. To wit, all five 2005-06 AP All-America First Teamers were taken in the top 11 picks: Morrison (No. 3), Williams (No. 5), Roy (No. 6), Foye (No. 7) and Redick (No. 11). Williams, Roy, Foye and Redick were all college seniors; Morrison, a junior.
Yet Another Trade
Commissioner Stern has just announced a second completed trade - Brandon Roy to Portland for Randy Foye. Yes, Foye was just a part of that Boston deal announced a short while ago.
Roy will now suit up only two hours from home, which has to make his family happier than trekking all the way to Minnesota.
"Going through the process," Roy said after learning of the trade, "it definitely was a dream of mine to play in Seattle or play close to Portland. I went to the University of Washington where my family could only drive 20 minutes to games and now they can drive two hours to games. It makes me comfortable to be able to go out there and compete at my highest level."
We Have A Trade
The New Yorkers get a few extra chances to see Coney Island's own Sebastian Telfair, now that he's Beantown bound. The Celtics swapped Dan Dickau, Rael LaFrentz, the draft rights to Randy Foye (picked by Portland at No. 7) and cash to the Blazers for Telfair and Theo Ratliff, plus a 2008 second rounder.
No word on the other trade rumors just yet.
UConn for Four?
Rudy Gay to the Rockets. Hilton Armstrong to the Hornets. Any takers on Marcus Williams and Josh Boone? How about Denham Brown or Rashad Anderson? Last year, North Carolina had four players go in the first round, something that's only happened one other time -- Duke had four in 1999. Williams is still in the green room awaiting hearing his name called.
Seniors In Top Seven
With Shelden Williams' selection by the Atlanta Hawks, three college seniors went in the top seven. The last time as many were picked that high was in 1997, when Tim Duncan (No. 1), Keith Van Horn (No. 2) and Antonio Daniels (No. 4) were all taken.
Celtics Tab Foye
Much to the chagrin of one fan here decked out in an old Antoine Walker Celtics jersey, Boston picked Randy Foye at No. 8. When the pick was announced, the fan -- complete with headband -- didn't join in with his section cheering the selection. Instead, he stood there with his hands in the air for a few moments before clasping them over his head.
Fret not, young man -- not just yet, that is. It's rumored that the Celtics picked for Portland as part of a deal that would send Sebastian Telfair to Bean Town.
Can You Hear Me Now?
One of the things you don't see at home watching ESPN is how the draft picks are whisked through the Theater packed with fans once they're done chatting with Stuart Scott. As Tyrus Thomas was making his way through the aisles crowded with high-fiving fans, he was yakking it up on his cell phone, clearly excited to be the No. 4 pick.
Hawks fans, meet your new painter.
(Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images)
Rumor was out that the Hawks were high on Shelden Williams and had made him a "promise" to draft him if he was available. His big body will certainly help the Hawks, but now they really need to address the point guard position after taking Williams with the No. 5 selection.
Thomas Windy City Bound?
Wondering where Tyrus Thomas will end up? Well, for now, we know that he's Portland bound. If a trade has indeed been completed, Commissioner Stern will come out and announce the trade when he announces one of the upcoming selections.
Back to Bargnani for a second, he's only the second international player who didn't play college ball in the United States ever to be selected with the top overall pick. The other is Yao Ming, who went ot Houston in 2002.
Draft the 'Stache
If Portland did have designs on drafting local talent -- read: Gonzaga's Adam Morrison -- talk to Bernie Bickerstaff and Michael Jordan. The Bobcats just snatched up the nation's leading scorer in Division I ball last year. That should silence those chants we heard earlier
Hold The Hat
LaMarcus Aldridge was just selected by the Chicago Bulls at No. 2 overall, but the ESPN crew reported he's going to be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. If that's the case, Aldridge doesn't have long to wait to learn his fate. In some cases, the draftee is held -- for what must seem an eternity -- until the second team picks its player. Then, you guessed it, he has to give back the Bulls hat. We'll see if this rumor pans out, but for now the Blazers are denying any moves
Bargnani, It Is
The Raptors select Italy's Andrea Bargnani. A quick trip up the steps before a grip, shake and smile with the Commissioner. Now a brief media tour awaits the newest big man. Wondering what it's like once you're led backstage as the top Draft pick? NBA.com's John Schuhmann is off to follow Bargnani as he goes through an interview and q&a circuit. We'll have more on that later. What I can tell you now is that he starts with the sit-down with Stu Scott, as you may have watched on ESPN. What you may not have heard was the boos and chants of "over-rated" pouring down on the 20-year old.
Those boos were nothing compared with those that came when a graphic was displayed showing the pick the Bulls have -- No. 2, which belonged to the Knicks.
Yes, Commissioner Stern, this is a "very rowdy crowd," indeed. The assembled fans tossed boos and cheers his way in a span of 10 seconds, followed by a weak second attempt at firing up the "Sell the Knicks" chant.
The Raptors Are On The Clock
Well, technically, the Raptors have been on the clock since the ping pong balls bounced their way, but now they're faced with a decision. Bryan Colangelo has been tight lipped
about who he might select, but we're hearing more and more that it's probably going to be Bargnani. Now, he has only five minutes to make that a done deal. The Raptors are officially on the clock.
Well, that didn't take long. ESPN hadn't been on the air more than 10-12 minutes before the Garden crowd rained "Fire Isiah!" chants. They were followed by a chorus of "Sell The Knicks" and "Shave The Mustache."
No word on whether the latter two are possibilities, but Zeke is on the hot seat. MSG Chairman James Dolan told the media as much yesterday with the team's new head coach at his side. If you haven't read that transcript, Knicks fans, do so.
And Down The Aisles They Come
Doors are open. The fans are filing in. So are the draft hopefuls. One such hopeful is Michigan State's Maurice Ager
. A little bit ago I mentioned those "crashing" the Draft. Ager is one such player -- in fact, he's the only player from the States I've seen so far who wasn't an invited guest.
Placards were taped to a number of seats just behind the green room to reserve space for international players in attendance. Among the names I saw are: Thabo Sefolosha, Saer Sene, Oleksiy Pecherov, Vladimir Veremeenko, Damir Markota, Franko Kastropil and Joel Freeland.
Back to Ager -- in full disclosure, I'm a Spartan fan and grew up a short drive to East Lansing, Mich. -- the four-year swingman is nervous with anticipation of hearing his name called.
"No clue," he said when asked if he had any idea who might be interested in his services. "I wish I could tell you."
How does Dallas sound, Mr. Ager? I just spent better than a week there. It's hot, but the team knows how to operate the AC and certainly could have used your marksmanship to snap it out of a cold spell. That's just a thought, as 27 picks are on the board before the Mavs get to pick.
Either way, when his name is called, he's going on stage.
"It'll be great to go up on stage with Commissioner Stern," Ager said.
Ager could be joined by Spartans teammates Shannon Brown and Paul Davis, as NBA rookies if all three are picked tonight.
Mind Your P's and Q's
By now you've read all you can handle on potential No. 1 pick, Andrea Bargnani, but can you pronounce his name? Or, for that matter, of other prospects like Paulius Jankunas, Loukas Mavrokefalidis and Panagotis Vasilopoulos?
You're not alone. The pronunciaton can vary depending on who you hear utter the draftees name, but we'll try to get the most accurate pronunciation as the Draft goes on.
For the record, we're hearing:
Andrea Bargnani: AN-dre-a BARN-neon-ee
Paulius Jankunas: POW-lus yan-COUN-nus
Lukas Mavrokefalidis: LUKE-as mav-ROW-ke-FA-lee-dis
Panagotis Vasilopoulos: PAN-A-yo-tis VA-seal-lope-A-los
Let's Get It Started!
Greetings, from New York City and the Theater at Madison Square Garden. We've set up shop in the stands, which are still empty save a few idle hired hands. The crowd -- always with a chant at the ready -- doesn't arrive for another hour or so.
So, what's in store for tonight? Well, how about some fashion? A favorite of mine from drafts past is that red pinstripe getup Jalen Rose sported in 1994. We probably won't see a similar fashion faux pas tonight, but be sharp, men, and consider this practice for the coming season when you too may join this esteemed group.
One thing you don't want to do is be too flashy tonight should you be the last man standing -- or, more appropriate, sitting -- in the green room. That lucky player will likely want to be donning black to blend in with the table skirts.
Who could that lucky player be? Well, here's a list of the invitees: LaMarcus Aldridge, Hilton Armstrong, Andrea Bargnani, Ronnie Brewer, Rodney Carney, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison, Patrick O'Bryant, J.J. Redick, Brandon Roy, Cedric Simmons, Tyrus Thomas, Marcus Williams and Shelden Williams. Then, take a look at our consensus mock draft and you'll have a better idea who won't be around late in the first round.
Speaking of that green room ... it's not so green -- unless you count the bottles of Sprite placed in the center of each table. Come to think of it, it's not so much a room, but more of a sectioned off area of the theater at stage left. The view is unobstructed for those fans hoping to watch a certain player's reaction. But before a fan casts too much attention at the green room, maybe he/she should look to his/her left/right. You never know who could be sitting there. Each year a handful of international prospects "crash" the Draft. So, it'll be interesting to see who's in the audience tonight.
For now, we'll leave you with a few last-minute Draft rumors -- in addition to photos of the new ball, if you haven't already seen it -- until we return with more from inside the Theater.
-- Sebastian Telfair to Boston for the C's No. 7?
-- Is Andrea Bargnani going No. 1 to Toronto?
-- That would leave the door open for the Bulls to take Tyrus Thomas.
-- Not a rumor, but Clippers fans rejoice ... you probably never thought you'd read this headline.
-- Could back troubles scare off teams from selecting J.J. Redick on Draft night?