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First Cup: Friday

10/20/2009
  • Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "David Kahn either has ESP or ADD. Someday we will view his selection of point guards on consecutive picks in his first draft as the Wolves' basketball boss as either innovation, genius or a really bad case of short-term memory loss. In his whirlwind remaking of the Wolves' lousy roster, Kahn has created a team whose two best holdovers are power forwards, and whose two top draft picks are point guards. That probably isn't going to work, but Kahn's hyperactivity has grabbed our attention and ensured that the Wolves' next losing season will be more interesting than their last."

  • Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe: "Remember how we hooted on Ainge two years ago on draft night? He traded the No. 5 pick and got an aging guard who was coming off double ankle surgery. It didn't seem to make a lot of sense. One championship later, it looks pretty good. It turned out to be Ray Allen and Glen Davis for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and Jeff Green. We know that Danny is a fine judge of talent. He's gotten a lot of mileage from late picks and second-rounders. We also know the Celtics are ever mindful of competition within the conference, free agents on the horizon, and monies that someday will be needed to keep young stars Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Big Baby Davis. But this regime is not building for the future. That's why they had to settle for Lester Hudson with the 58th pick. 'We want to win now,' said Ainge. 'We also want to win with Rajon Rondo.' Even if they sometimes have to put up with Rajon being Rajon."

  • John Denton of Florida Today: "When the Magic traded for Vince Carter on Thursday, giving them arguably the best starting five in all of the NBA, they made a bold statement that they are willing to do what it takes to try and win an NBA title next season. ... And most likely it means the Magic won't be re-signing small forward Hedo Turkoglu, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and likely command a $50 million contract. When the Magic failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension with Turkoglu, they pulled the trigger on the Carter deal. It also puts the Magic's retention of backup center Marcin Gortat, a restricted free agent who will likely get a contract offer in excess of $3 million, in jeopardy."

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "Fans don't want to hear about financial flexibility. They don't want to hear about organizational advocacy. They want to be entertained and excited. They want to watch a winning team. The Suns have a long way to go to restore their status as civic darlings. But the 2009 NBA draft may represent the dawn of a new era, the day they trimmed payroll, took out the garbage, recalibrated their system and may have targeted their next great franchise player. Here's hoping Stephen Curry's name one day hangs from the rafters."

  • Bruce Jenkins, of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Larry Riley reiterated that Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson will compose the starting backcourt, and that the club's attention will turn toward a power forward on the trade/free-agent market. ESPN reported Thursday that the Warriors were in serious discussions with the Phoenix Suns, offering Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and the No. 7 pick (now Curry) for Amare Stoudemire, and that the deal could not take place, if agreed upon, until the free-agent signing period opens July 8. 'I just spoke with Larry Riley, and I talked to coach (Don) Nelson earlier, and they didn't mention it,' Curry said Thursday night. 'So I don't know where I fit in with those talks. Right now, I see myself as a Warrior, and I'm definitely excited about it.' "

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal: "In Memphis, the team was drafting a 7-3 guy who has a hard time actually putting the ball in the hoop. They added one international center (Thabeet) and subtracted another (Darko Milicic, who was traded to New York). Then the Grizzlies passed on two opportunities to take Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair and give the draft a little zest. Thabeet and Blair had wonderful battles in the Big East. Putting them on the same team would have made the Grizzlies's practices interesting, at least. But, no. The team took Missouri's DeMarre Carroll instead. Then they took Blair's teammate, Sam Young. If the franchise had designed a draft to infuriate its fans, this might well have been it."

  • Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post: "Ricky Rubio lasted 'til fifth? You mean the Wizards could have kept their pick, No. 5 -- HELLO! -- and taken Rubio themselves? How do you say "Maravich" in Spanish? If the Wizards are going to start the season with 10 guards on their roster, then why couldn't one of 'em be this kid? In case Gilbert Arenas opens the season in physical therapy, why couldn't we have watched Rubio throw those delicious passes, the likes of which nobody even attempts anymore in the NBA? The Wizards could have moved Arenas, ultimately, to shooting guard, which of course is what he is. Who do I want finding teammates with the ball: Rubio or Arenas? No, that's not a trick question. Seeing a kid with that handle go to Minnesota is a bit of a downer, to tell the truth. Look, draft night is about dreaming big dreams, right? Even if this is a bad draft, relative to recent years, the bet here is Blake Griffin and Jordan Hill, all 6 feet 10 of him, can play. I mean really play. Rubio, in all seriousness, is a curiosity at this point. Are Mike Miller and Randy Foye better players than Rubio? Yes, of course. Are they going to make the Wizards substantively better than they were when Arenas was healthy? I don't see it."

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: "Hey, you. Yeah, you. The cynical Milwaukee Bucks fan over there. I mean, is there any other kind? You've been waiting on solid plans from those people for, what, more than 40 years now? And like the blind squirrel to the acorn, they occasionally stumble across one that works. Like in '69, when the general idea was to win the coin flip with Phoenix and draft The Big Fella. And like a year later, when they bamboozled the Cincinnati Royals out of The Big O and won it all. And in the '80s, when they drafted well, played a lot of D but had the hard luck of being in the same conference with Boston and Philly. And around the turn of the millennium, when the pieces came with 48 minutes of fitting. Which makes for about one workable plan a decade, which means they're just about due for something to go semi-right. Let's not kill one more tree recounting the 101 missteps in between, other than to say that a $71 million payroll in exchange for yet another trip to Lotto Land isn't what you'd call sound business. So you're skeptical, and why not? The latest proble
    m-solvers on the senator's dime won't be around by the time Brandon Jennings' contract expires unless they figure a way out of this mess, but give John Hammond and Scott Skiles this: They're hacking through the clutter as expediently as possible, and up ahead is a glimmer of something that looks suspiciously like ... a plan."

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "The Nuggets made the steal of the first round in the NBA draft by reaching up and grabbing North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson. While improving its roster, however, Denver fell behind in the heated, down-and-dirty race for the league championship. The reason for this discouraging turn of events? It's depressing. 'It's the economy,' Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman said Thursday. 'This economy is no joke.' Know what is the real joke? In these tough economic times, the rich stealing from the poor has become standard operating procedure in the NBA. Trades of zero basketball merit are now routinely made in your league, commissioner David Stern. And that's not funny."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "In a different world, with a different medical sheet, Pittsburgh forward DeJuan Blair might have been a lottery pick. Blessed with an instinctive rebounding ability but cursed with two surgically repaired knees, Blair instead slipped to the second round of Thursday night's NBA draft. The Spurs were waiting. And almost salivating. When Blair was still on the board at No. 37, the Spurs -- after a long wait just to get on the clock -- wasted little time in using their first pick of the night to try and fill their most pressing need. 'They were the one team that believed in me,' Blair said by phone late Thursday night. 'Since they believed in me, I'm going to give them 1000 percent.' The Spurs are hopeful that Blair, 6-foot-7 with an ever-running motor, can help provide depth for a frontcourt depleted by this week's trade for swingman Richard Jefferson."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The Rockets bought three second-round picks and used them to acquire high-scoring Central Florida guard Jermaine Taylor, Real Madrid point guard prospect Sergio Llull and athletic Arizona wing Chase Budinger. ... For now, however, the Rockets believed they added two players, Taylor and Budinger, with the sort of offensive games they coveted, and a project point guard with potential to grow. According to a person with knowledge of the deals, they spent roughly $6 million to acquire the picks. They will send a conditional second-round pick to Detroit to complete the deal for Budinger. 'We feel the two guys who are going to stay in the US are talented guys who might contribute,' Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. 'We feel like Sergio Llull is an extremely talented point guard, a big point guard which are hard to find. We feel like he is a real good bet as a trade asset or to bring over some day.' "

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The NBA draft Thursday night was not a time for the Mavericks to make a big splash. It was a time to take care of business as best they could. But the festivities were not the big dealings that fans are waiting for. And there better be some big dealings. The Mavericks are under the microscope because of what has happened around them. So many teams have gained strength that it's guilt by disassociation. While San Antonio, Denver and others fortify themselves, the Mavericks are waiting. Will the right deal come along? All fans can do is trust in the management. And word out of the Mavericks' draft room as they look forward to free agency is that there's going to be a few more perhaps more prudent options when it comes to making a big splash than the Spurs, Cleveland and Orlando have done in the last week. 'Wait,' said president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. 'One shouldn't confuse silence with inactivity. We're prepared for a very active summer.' That's tough to do when you see the rest of the league upgrading in the arms race at a rapid pace."

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "Joe Dumars bit his tongue when explaining his ire toward his team's debilitating lack of character last season. There were young, impressionable ears in the Pistons' draft party audience Thursday, so he spared them the saltier descriptions of the depth of his anger. But he made it clear that he tabbed 6-foot-11 forward Austin Daye 15th overall not only for what he could do on the court, but also for what he won't do away from the court. He won't show up late on game days or late to the airport for flights. He won't show up authority if he disagrees with a coaching decision. 'Never again will I allow us to be in a position where we're dealing with issues, where we're dealing with drama,' said Dumars. Daye's selection is more symbolic than anything else."

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "NBA executives are always optimistic and upbeat on draft nights, even the general managers of teams selecting late in the first round. Training camp is months away, and everybody feels they improved their team by getting a player who was a 'steal.' In reality, more times than not, it's the GM who's left searching for his wallet after spending big money on a player who just didn't work out. Because of that history, it would be wise to approach the Bulls' draft Thursday night with at least a bit of skepticism -- especially because this year's class was considered the weakest in years. But upon first review, it seems the Bulls' optimism after grabbing two power forwards -- James Johnson of Wake Forest at No. 16 and Taj Gibson of USC at No. 26 -- is justified. They improved their frontcourt depth tremendously and got what figures to be a busy and crucial summer off to a good start."

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "Trimming Rodriguez's salary inflates the organization's available cap space by $1.8 million. General manager Kevin Pritchard said the team's draft choice at No. 22 -- Victor Claver -- will end up being stashed overseas next season. The Blazers could have more than $10 million available to pursue free agents beginning July 1, possibly more if they renounce the rights to Joel Freeland and Petteri Koponen. They've also retained a trade exception that would allow the organization to make a lopsided deal if it chooses to do so. The Blazers took Claver even though college prospects such as DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) and Sam Young (Pittsburgh) and international prospect Omri Casspi (Israel) were available. And if you're baffled by this, you're missing the point. Portland was basically saying, 'Pass.' Thursday wasn't about ego. The organization wasn't attempting to outsmart everyone. It's not like Kevin Pritchard walked across the Willamette River or made the Broadway Bridge disappear on draft day. The Blazers were poised. They acted like a franchise that has confidence in the current group of players. The day was about keeping the good beat going and leaving options open. What we now have is a franchise that has l
    eft itself in position to do something advantageous the moment a sweet opportunity presents itself."

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "With the 2009 NBA Draft now in the books, the Jazz finally can look forward to draft day 2010. From their seat, it's quite a pretty sight. The Jazz own New York's first-round pick next year, and there no longer are any restrictions on the selection -- even if it ends up being No. 1 overall. And though the Knicks' recent track record suggests it could be quite high -- ideally high enough to nab the NBA's greatest player ever, should the '10 draft produce such a prospect -- the Jazz respectfully are trying not to get too excited too soon. 'We don't have any control over it,' general manager Kevin O'Connor said. 'I don't think the expectation should be that it's going to be a high lottery pick. 'We don't know what it's going to be,' he added, 'and until we do know -- obviously, that won't be until late in the season -- we'll treat it as we have: That it's an asset, and we'll wait and see where it's at.' It's possible that Utah even will have two lottery picks next season -- though that would mean bad news for the Jazz. That's because the Jazz's own 2010 selection will go to Minnesota via Philadelphia -- unless Utah fails to make the playoffs, and lottery-protection on the pick kicks in."