Wizards: Washington came away with a pretty big one-night haul in terms of its rebuilding. John Wall was the known pick at No. 1, but the Wizards also landed a quality veteran mentor for Wall, Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls. Not only did they get Hinrich, but they also pilfered the Bulls’ No. 17 pick, too, and selected big French project Kevin Seraphin. They later traded for Minnesota’s pick (23), taking Trevor Booker. The Wizards have a goal of adding young talent, and they did so in a large way on Thursday, starting with Wall.
“I will go in and show those guys what I can do,” Wall said. “I want to be a leader. I think I am a leader who is not afraid to speak up to the older guys.”
Scott Skiles: Over the course of last season, Skiles pointed out that his Bucks were the first team in NBA history to make the playoffs despite attempting fewer free throws than their opponents made. Milwaukee was a team that simply could not get to the line. The trade-deadline acquisition of John Salmons helped changed that, but Salmons could leave in free agency. Corey Maggette, acquired before draft night, averaged 6.6 free-throws made last year, plus he has an excellent midrange game and is a solid post-up wing. That’s got to make Skiles smile—as does the drafting of defensive-minded power forward Larry Sanders.
“When that ball is on the floor, he’s trying to finish to the goal,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “I think that he’s earned the respect of how he plays, and because of that, he can get to the line. So a part of it is just the willingness to say I’m willing to take the hit.”
Avery Bradley and James Anderson: Bradley didn’t quite live up to his billing in his season at Texas—he played hurt, and his team struggled. Anderson was impressive at Oklahoma State last season, showing his scoring talent by averaging 22.3 points. But Anderson had an injury during the workout period and did not get to show his skills to as many teams he would have liked. Still, things worked out well for both. Bradley went 19th to the Celtics, where he will be in a good situation to improve as a point guard behind Rajon Rondo. Anderson went to the Spurs with the next pick, giving San Antonio a big-time scoring boost off the bench.
Heat and Bulls: Miami did itself a big favor by dealing away Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick for a second-round pick, which, essentially, lopped Cook’s $2.1 million off the salary cap. That leaves the Heat with a skeletal roster, but with Dwyane Wade all but certain to re-sign, they will have a very good advocate for the benefits of playing in Miami. The Bulls, though, kept pace with the Heat in the race for cap space, dealing away Hinrich and their first-round pick to the Wizards, and giving them enough room to sign two max-contract guys. This sets up what could be a pretty nasty, high-stakes Miami-Chicago recruiting battle over the next few weeks. The winner could wind up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The loser? Maybe Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson.
Cavaliers, Raptors and Knicks: The one thing the Knicks had going for them heading into next week’s free-agent period was that they figured to have $35 million in cap space available, allowing them the possibility of signing two max-contract free agents—James and Bosh, for example—without having to find a sign-and-trade. No other contender for the top free agents had the ability to do so. But with the Heat and Bulls having further shuffled their finances, the Knicks are no longer the only team that can sign a two-player package, and the Heat and Bulls are certainly more attractive destinations as far as winning goes. This is likely to hurt the teams of James and Bosh, too. For the Cavaliers, the level of competition for James’ services has just been amped up, and with two increasingly attractive destinations available, this doesn’t help the chances of James staying in Cleveland. As for the Raptors, because the Bulls and Heat could sign Bosh straight-up, the possibility of getting something in return for Bosh in a sign-and-trade has diminished.
Solomon Alabi and Hassan Whiteside: In most drafts, guys who are legitimate 7-footers with some modicum of talent will wind up in the first round. But in this draft, there were simply too many good big men available for a team to justify taking an athletic project such as Alabi or Whiteside who might or might not pan out. Even Daniel Orton, projected to go as high as No. 10 in some corners, wound up slipping all the way to No. 29.
Paul Allen: The bizarre saga of the Blazers’ front office took its final turn, with Portland owner Paul Allen reportedly telling general manager Kevin Pritchard that Thursday would be his final day of work with the team. Allen apparently gave the news to Pritchard—who is popular in Portland, having done a good job clearing the roster of bad seeds and adding a high talent level—less than an hour before the draft began. Allen’s reasons for firing Pritchard might have been valid, but he couldn’t have picked a more tactless way of making it happen.
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