SECAUCUS, N.J., May 23
-- Executives, players and public relations personnel from 14 NBA teams arrived in this Jersey burgh on Tuesday to attend the NBA 2006 Draft Lottery
. With visions of securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft dancing in their heads, the Portland Trail Blazers had a 25 percent chance of doing so.
Alas, it was not to be as the Toronto Raptors would get the No. 1 overall pick, their first in franchise history. The Chicago Bulls, by way of the New York Knicks, received the No. 2 pick, while the Charlotte Bobcats will draft third on June 28.
We caught up with some of the Lottery participants after the event to get their thoughts.
Bryan Colangelo, Toronto Raptors
President and General Manager
No. 1 Overall Pick
Q: What are your thoughts on Andrea Bargnani from Benetton Treviso?
COLANGELO: Andrea Bargnani is one of several players we’ll have to consider with the top pick. There are five or six names that you can probably throw into that mix right now. Some years, some people on stage have a jersey with a name on it. In this case, I think there’s still a lot of work to do to determine who the right pick is. There’s the potential for some jockeying. Maybe we trade down and get two players. We’ve got a lot of options out there and a lot of things to talk about. I’ve got my staff in place and we’re ready to go. I think this a great day and an exciting day for the organization.
Q: What type of flexibility does this give the Raptors heading into this draft?
COLANGELO: It gives us that much more flexibility. We’ve got an opportunity to pick the number one player in the draft, and if someone really wants that player, maybe there’s a deal to be made. Maybe we can facilitate that deal and end up netting more assets. We also have cap space and cap flexibility. So, we go into this draft not only holding the number one pick, but also the flexibility to take on a pretty large contract. That’s a pretty powerful combination, and hopefully we can manipulate it the right way, and make some good decisions. I think we’re in a no-lose, because we’re going to get a very good player if we just decide to use the pick.
Q: What are your thoughts on the top of the draft?
Colangelo gets congrats from NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
There are a lot of players in this draft that can be considered a possibility at number one. We have a lot of work to do to figure out who that player is. We have a great young core. We’ve got Chris Bosh and Charlie Villanueva, both very versatile players, and young, budding player in Joey Graham. We’ve got the young core, and now, whether or not we want to add another player to that? We’ve got a lot of areas in which we need to improve, and I don’t think you can draft around any of the players we have. You just have to take the best available player that addresses your overall needs. We have a depth issue, and we’ve got some very specific weaknesses. Whether or not the number one pick addresses those weaknesses or areas, is yet to be determined.
Q: How open do you think you’ll be to the calls looking to trade up?
COLANGELO: I’ve been pretty consistent with the message that you never marry yourself to a concept. Until you have to make a decision, I would never make a decision before that point. We’ve got a month to go. Let’s see what comes our way. Let’s see what we can dig up. Let’s continue to evaluate players. I’m all about consensus. Consensus of the basketball staff. We’re also an organization with a history of drafting very well. We’ve got the pieces in place to make the right decision. Are we absolutely married to using the pick? No, but that’s just an indication of the kind of flexibility we have.
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John Paxson, Chicago Bulls
Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations
No. 2 Overall Pick
Q: What are your feelings about the second pick … With no consensus top player, does it really matter?
PAXSON: It makes a difference in terms of if you have the first pick, you control everything. But no, I’m thrilled to be the second pick. It gives us a chance to … get a really good player or explore the possibility of moving it. I feel very fortunate to be picking this high in this draft.
Q. When you made the Eddy Curry trade, you didn’t think the pick would be this high?
PAXSON: You never know what’s going to happen. It was a deal that was done from our end for the right reasons. I didn’t know what to anticipate. It was a very emotional decision based on what had become a lengthy summer in regards to a player that we were very concerned about. So I didn’t know what it would be and I didn’t have any inkling.
Q. The Knicks’ excuse for trading the pick was that it would have been a deal breaker [in the Curry trade]. Was it a deal breaker?
PAXSON: It would have been a deal breaker. We just simply stated this is how the deal could be done. You have to understand that we were all very fond of Eddy Curry in our organization. And we had gone the route of trying to do everything we possibly could. And it’s not worth rehashing, but we were concerned. And it came down to [that] I got a little bit frustrated with the whole process and there was only one way that we felt the deal would be done. And it was done. Look, every team does what they feel is in their best interest to improve their team, and Eddy’s a very good basketball player – a very good center in this league. I’m sure that over time the Knicks will be very happy.
Q. Isiah Thomas said he wanted lottery-protection. Did he ever say he wanted lottery-protection one and two?
PAXSON: Isiah and I had those conversations and it’s not worth it for me to divulge how it went down. They got an excellent player in that trade and we got a chance to be in the lottery and get the second pick in the draft.
Q. Does getting the number two pick validate the whole Curry-DNA testing fight?
PAXSON: No, it was never about that. I never once had thought about validating that trade. We did it at the time for the right reasons in our mind. I’ve said we were fond of Eddy and we were trying to get something done that was helpful to both of us, but it didn’t work. And so, with Jerry Reinsdorf’s say-so, we did this deal. And it’s not anything about vindication. Eddy Curry’s a very good basketball player. We made the deal, we’re lucky we got in the lottery, and we’re lucky we got the second pick in the draft.
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Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
No. 3 Overall Pick
Q: Did you bring any lucky charms with you today?
WALLACE: Yeah, I got a couple of things I’m going to keep to myself. I’m not going to use them anymore because it didn’t work. It was a great lottery. Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors. We got the third pick and we are just going to have to make the best of it.
Q: Would you consider this a deep draft?
WALLACE: I think this is a deep draft with a lot of potential. A lot of these guys have the potential to have a long career in the NBA. There are no franchise changing players, but I think there is a great core group of guys that can help a lot of teams out.
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Steve Patterson, Portland Trail Blazers
No. 4 Overall Pick
Q: Do you think, at four, this is a deep enough draft at the top where you can still fill the needs that you have?
PATTERSON: Well, I think there is no clear number one pick this year that is a franchise-type player.
Q: Will you guys look to move up?
PATTERSON: I think there are a lot of very good players that are going to come in and make an impact and I think we may very well end up with as good a player at number four as we would have ended up with at number one.
Q: With the players in the draft is there a specific position that you guys are looking to address and does that change at all picking at four instead of at one?
PATTERSON: You don’t know where the picks are going to fall. Anytime you win 21 games, you need help at a lot of positions, so we’ll take the best player that’s out there.
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JoJo White, Boston Celtics
Director of Special Projects
No. 7 Overall Pick
Q. Do you think the good luck charms worked out for you?
WHITE: Well, they didn’t hurt us. There is a lot of talent in the draft this year. And for what we might need, there is going to be some availability out there. It would have been great to have moved up to one, two or three – but I don’t think we get hurt at all with picking seventh.
Q. Are there any specific needs you guys are going to focus on?
WHITE: We’ve been working out players for the past week. We need a backcourt player, a point guard. We’ve looked at a number of guys. If we can find another go-to guy at the power forward spot, there are some opportunities there as well. So we’re going to try and get the best athlete at those one or two positions that can bolster the young club that we already have.
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Carroll Dawson, Houston Rockets
No. 8 Overall Pick
Q. With this being your last lottery, talk about the experience and the future of the franchise?
DAWSON: I hope this is not only my last lottery, but the last the franchise has. Over the years, we’ve been pretty luck up here. From getting Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming, it’s been good to us. I was hoping that mainly with a two percent chance of moving up that we just wouldn’t slide backward because truthfully, after the year we had, I didn’t feel very lucky. We’ve had more injuries than I’ve ever seen in my 28 years here. So the fact that we stayed where we were, I’m pretty happy with it. We’ll get a good player that can help our franchise, so that’s the most you can ask.
Q. What are the needs you need to fill around McGrady and Yao?
DAWSON: More athletic, more shooting, more rebounding – you can take any one of those things. So, whoever comes up we can draft a need pretty much because we need some different things. That’ll work out pretty good. If not, usually 8-9-10-11 … if you’re in that position, you’ve just got to take the best player because it’s not always the guy you need is there. That may happen to us, too, but there’s a good chance that they’ll be somebody there that we need.
Q. Any particular college players catch your eye throughout the college season?
DAWSON: I’ve looked at more film this year because we also have the 32nd pick. I think [this] is a deep enough draft that we might get somebody to be a roster player at 32. We’ve brought in already about 18 guys for the second round. We haven’t brought in any first-rounders except maybe one or two, because most of them wait until after the lottery. But I think there’s a chance that we can get two players out of the draft that can make our team.
Q. With Houston gaining a lot of visibility with this past year’s All-Star game and the superstar duo of Yao and Tracy McGrady, do you feel this is a make-or-break year?
DAWSON: I think our base is there and a lot of good things can happen if we can just keep them healthy and add the complementary players that we want to. But even our complementary players got hurt last year, so it was just one of those years. If you talk to everybody in this league, we’ve got two very very good players in this league, and I think that’s a good place to start. We’ve got some other players under contract that we’re very happy with. I think if we’re very frugal in our efforts this year and get the right players or the right number of players, then we can be a factor next year. And I think that’s our goal – that was our goal last year. I thought if we could have stayed injury-free we were going to be a factor last year, but that’s always the thing.
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Williams has been a Lottery winner three times. Tonight, he had to settle for No. 11 tonight.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
Pat Williams, Orlando Magic
Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations
No. 11 Overall Pick
Q. Would you consider this a deep draft?
WILLIAMS: Yes. I don’t think this is a superstar-oriented draft. I don’t think there are franchise turners in the draft. I don’t think anybody is going to come out of this and say ‘we are the man, we have really done it’, but all the way down deep into the first round you are going to get a player that can play NBA basketball.
Q. What do you feel is the strongest position in this draft?
WILLIAMS: I think that it is a draft without great big men. I think there are some power forwards. I don’t think there are a huge abundance of point guards. So, I think power forwards and small forwards and if you need a center in this draft you are probably not going to get it.
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Billy King, Philadelphia 76ers
President & General Manager
No. 13 Overall Pick
Q. Would there be any chance of you moving up?
KING: I would love to move up. There are some guys we’d be interested in moving up to get. We’re not moving down.
Q. Where do you go from here?
KING: The best thing about this is now you know where everybody is picking, and there isn’t the discussion of will this guy be there or won’t this guy be there. Now you can get to work.
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