Draft Day Isn’t a Big Deal

Times Staff Writer

What if they held an NBA draft ... and it didn’t turn into anything else?

After a week of speculation about blockbuster trades for Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis, and several deals that were hailed as preliminary steps in the process, no blocks were busted.

O’Neal remained a Laker, McGrady was still in Orlando and Francis was still in Houston.

The draft, itself, ran to form, a surprise, because most teams with top picks explored the possibility of trading it and three of the first five actually did.

Orlando, which began the process focused on Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor, because he was developmentally ahead of Dwight Howard and would make a better teammate for McGrady, wound up switching to Howard, the 6-9 prep from Atlanta.


“Tracy, I hope that you stay and play with me a couple of years,” Howard said. “I think we’ll be a really good combo.”

Unfortunately, they’re not expected to be a combo much past this weekend.

The trade of McGrady to Houston for Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato is expected to go through, with Francis dropping his objections to playing in Orlando.

Okafor had back trouble late in the season while leading Connecticut to the NCAA title and doctors red-flagged the injury at the pre-draft camp in Chicago.

After the Grant Hill disaster, with his Orlando career scuttled by a bad ankle, the Magic didn’t want to gamble on a medical issue. General Manager John Weisbrod, insisting he was swept off his feet by Howard, acknowledged the injury “did factor in to some degree.”

Okafor then went No. 2 to expansion Charlotte, with the pick acquired from the Clippers for taking Predrag Drobjnak off their hands. Charlotte GM Bernie Bickerstaff had insisted all along he would happily take whichever big man dropped.

A record eight high school players went in the first round, including 6-6 point guard Shaun Livingston of Peoria (Ill.) Central to the Clippers.


Six foreign players were selected too, about half the total projected a month ago. When the first round closed with Indiana taking Colorado 7-footer David Harrison at No. 29, it meant U.S. college players still made up a narrow 15-14 majority.

It was also the youngest first round ever, with 14 picks who were 20 or younger.

The biggest surprise was Portland using its first-ever lottery pick, No. 13, to take Sebastian Telfair, a 5-10 point guard from Brooklyn’s Lincoln High. The most publicized member of the high school class of 2004, Telfair’s stock dropped on the pre-draft circuit and he had been expected to go into the 20s.

Upset at not being invited to the NBA’s green room, Telfair celebrated at rapper Jay-Z’s nightclub, not far from Madison Square Garden, the site of the draft.

The Dallas-Washington deal, hailed as a first step to the Mavericks’ acquiring O’Neal, became official. Dallas unloaded the $12.6-million salary of Antawn Jamison for the rights to Devin Harris, who was the Wizards’ No. 5 pick, Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner. Harris, a point guard from Wisconsin, could conceivably be seen as the Mavericks’ replacement if Steve Nash is sent to the Lakers.

On the other hand, the Mavericks’ Don Nelson also acquired Pavel Podkolzine, the hulking 7-5 Russian with little experience, who’s considered a very-long-range project.

Maybe the Mavericks want someone O’Neal’s size to make him feel more at home.




How the first-round picks break down:

American-born: 20

Foreign-born: 9

Underclassmen: 11

College seniors: 4

High school: 8

Forwards: 13

Guards: 12

Centers: 4



First round by college conference, country:

*--* Conference No. Pacific 10 3 Big East 2 Big Ten 2 Big 12 2 Atlantic 10 2 Atlantic Coast 1 Southern 1 Mountain West 1 Western Athletic 1



*--* Country No. Russia 3 Slovenia 2 Brazil 1 Sudan 1 England 1 Latvia 1




*--* No. Team Player Pos. From 30. Orlando ANDERSON F F.C. Barcelona (Brazil) VAREJAO 31. Chicago JACKSON F-C Iowa State VROMAN-W 32. Washington PETER JOHN C Criollos de Caguas (Puerto RAMOS Rico) 33. CLIPPERS-a LIONEL G Xavier CHALMERS 34. Atlanta DONTA SMITH G Southeastern Illinois 35. Seattle-b ANDRE EMMETT-X G Texas Tech 36. Orlando-c ANTONIO G Memphis BURKS-Y 37. Atlanta-d ROYAL IVEY G Texas 38. Chicago-e CHRIS DUHON G Duke 39. Toronto-f ALBERT F Roseto (Spain) MIRALLES-Z 40. Boston JUSTIN REED F Mississippi 41. Seattle DAVID YOUNG G North Carolina Central 42. Atlanta-g VIKTOR F SAOS JDA Dijon (Georgia) SANIKIDZE 43. New York TREVOR ARIZA F UCLA 44. New Orleans TIM PICKETT G Florida State 45. Charlotte-h BERNARD F Michigan ROBINSON 46. Portland HA SEUNG-JIN C Yonsei U. (South Korea) 47. Miami PAPE SOW-Z F Cal State Fullerton 48. Sacramento-i RICKY MINARD G Morehead State 49. Memphis-j SERGEI LISHOUK F Khimik Yuzhniy (Ukraine) 50. Dallas-k VASSILIS G Moroussi (Greece) SPANOULIS 51. New Jersey CHRISTIAN F F.C. Barcelona (Spain) DREJER 52. San Antonio-l ROMAIN SATO G Xavier 53. Miami-m MATT FREIJE F Vanderbilt 54. Detroit RICKEY G Missouri PAULDING 55. Houston-n LUIS FLORES G Manhattan 56. LAKERS MARCUS DOUTHIT F Providence 57. San Antonio SERGEI F-C Yakutsk (Russia) KARAULOV 58. Minnesota BLAKE STEPP G Gonzaga 59. Indiana RASHAD WRIGHT G Georgia


Pre-draft moves: a-from Charlotte; b-from Clippers; c-from Phoenix; d-from Philadelphia; e-from Toronto; f-from Cleveland; g-from Orlando through Philadelphia and Golden State; h-from Milwaukee; i-from Utah; j-from Denver through Orlando; k-from Houston through Denver; l-from Memphis; m-from Dallas; n-from Sacramento through Utah.

Draft-day trades: W-Traded to Chicago for F-C Jackson Vroman (No. 31) cash and a future first-round draft pick; X-Traded to Memphis for a future second-round pick and cash considerations; Y-Traded to Memphis for cash considerations; Z-Traded to Miami for F Pape Sow (No. 47) and a future second-round pick.



Pre-draft moves: Minnesota’s first-round pick has been forfeited; a-from CLIPPERS; b-expansion from Charlotte; c-from New York through Phoenix; d-from Milwaukee through Denver and Detroit; e-from Houston; f-from Memphis; g-from Dallas; h-from Detroit.

Draft-day trades: W-Traded to Dallas along with F Jerry Stackhouse and F Christian Laettner for F Antawn Jamison and cash considerations; X-Traded to Orlando for a future first-round draft pick; Y-Traded to Dallas for a future first-round draft pick; Z-Traded to Portland for G Eddie Gill and cash considerations.