Thursday , Jun , 29 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Chicago scores big on draft night

(Sports Network) – The 2006 NBA Draft has come and gone. There were
plenty of trades, as some teams made their fans very happy while other clubs
left their faithful scratching their heads.

One thing was for sure, it would have helped to have some paper and a pen
available to keep up with all the activity. Who were the winners and losers on
a very busy draft night?

WINNERS:

1. CHICAGO BULLS – Chicago is inching closer and closer to the top of the
Eastern Conference. The Bulls, who owned the 2nd and 16th overall picks when
the draft started, acquired the rights to LSU forward Tyrus Thomas, who was
selected No. 4 overall, and the contract of forward Viktor Khryapa from
Portland for the rights to second overall selection LaMarcus Aldridge and a
future second round draft pick. They also obtained the rights to Swiss star
Thabo Sefolosha, who was picked at No. 13, from the Philadelphia 76ers for
the rights to Memphis swingman Rodney Carney, who Chicago selected at No. 16,
a 2007 second round draft pick and cash considerations.

Thomas is arguably the most athletic and exciting player in the draft, while
Sefolosha is also athletic and is expected to be a very solid defender in the
NBA. Chicago has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two
straight years and knew it needed to make a big splash with its two first
round picks, and that’s what it did. The Bulls are ready to to take big steps
in the East.

2. NEW JERSEY NETS – Drafting Connecticut products Marcus Williams and Josh
Boone with the 22nd and 23rd overall picks makes the Nets big winners.
Williams’ stock dropped for some reason, but New Jersey was not going to pass
on the pure point guard at No. 22. Even though Jason Kidd is the lead guard,
the Nets did the right thing and selected the best player available with their
first pick.

The 6-10 Boone is not a spectacular, but he has a good work ethic, can rebound
and adds some size to the Nets’ roster. New Jersey added a power forward who
will fill a role and do the little things that helps teams win.

3. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS – This is the team that was the most active. The
bottom line is, Portland had Aldridge of Texas and highly-tauted guard Brando
Roy of Washington when the night was over. The Trail Blazers traded the
rights to Villanova guard Randy Foye, who was selected No. 7 overall by the
Celtics, along with cash considerations to Minnesota for the rights to
Roy, who the Timberwolves selected with the sixth pick in round one. They had
acquired the rights to the seventh overall selection through an earlier trade
with Boston. The Trail Blazers sent point guard Sebastian Telfair, forward
Theo Ratliff and a future second round draft pick to the Celtics for forward
Raef LaFrentz, guard Dan Dickau and the first round-pick, which ended up being
Foye.

Portland, which made some lesser moves as the draft progressed, has become a
sorry franchise and needed to completely rebuild. This was the start. Aldridge
and Roy are not only excellent players, but they have good character, which is
something that the Trail Blazers could use on their roster. A step in the
right direction for this club.

4. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS – The Bobcats were hoping Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison would
be there at No. 3 for them to select, and they got their wish. Morrison is a
scorer and fills a huge void for Charlotte.

Morrison will help generate more fan interest in the Bobcats, who will be
entering their third season in the 2006-07 campaign. Last year Charlotte made
two smart choices, as it selected North Carolina products Raymond Felton and
Sean May in the first round. Once again, the Bobcats stayed the course and
made another intelligent business and basketball move.

LOSERS:

1. NEW YORK KNICKS – The Knicks did not have their own pick, as they had
traded it away to Chicago, which got the second overall selection in the
lottery with it. However, they did have the 20th and 29th picks in the first
round, which were acquired in separate deals with Toronto and San Antonio.

With No. 20, New York selected South Carolina forward Renaldo Balkman, who may
have gone undrafted if the Knicks hadn’t selected him. Even though Mardy
Collins of Temple was a solid pick at No. 29, the selection of Balkman had
almost everyone scratching their head. Williams of Connecticut and Michigan
State’s Shannon Brown were available and would have definitely been better
choices. This franchise is a mess!

2. BOSTON CELTICS – Unless Boston’s head of basketball operations Danny Ainge
is trying to do something bigger in the near future, All-Star Paul Pierce
can’t be happy with the direction the Celtics went on draft night. They had
the seventh overall pick and could have added a top collegiate prospect with
it.

The trade with Portland netted Boston the 21-year-old Telfair, Ratliff and a
future second-round pick. The jury is still out on Telfair, who was originally
selected out of Abraham Lincoln High School by the Trail Blazers in first
round (13th pick overall) of the 2004 NBA draft, while the 33-year-old Ratliff
is a solid defender but tends to be injury prone. Ainge should have simply
stayed at No. 7.

CHI CHL