July 09, 2007

Boys Of Summer

With fellow CSTV.com staffer Pat Stevens and his newly launched slog For The Love hogging the recruiting action, the activity over at Hang Time has slowed to a standstill as college basketball news items are few and far between. But even if the three most exciting things in my life are the new White Stripes album, a foundering third-place baseball team and the tricked-out vending machine just installed at CSTV headquarters in Chelsea Manhattan -- and not necessarily in that order -- there's always the NBA Summer League to satiate my basketball fix.

Thanks to my investment in the NBA League Pass, I've had the opportunity to catch a number of the games over the weekend. But even if you don't have access to NBA TV, the entire slate of games are being webcast (and archived) on the league's official site. While it's no CSTV XXL, it'll have to do until fall semester.

With three days down, a number of rookies and other notable recent collegians have enjoyed standout performances in Las Vegas. Others haven't fared so well. Here's a quick look at the weekend's risers and fallers:

Continue reading "Boys Of Summer" »

June 29, 2007

NBA Draft: Potent Quotables

My column on NBA Draft superlatives Friday included a bunch of nuggets that didn't crack Hang Time on Thursday night. Here's a selection of quotes from the parade of press conferences at the WaMu Theater:


  • "When I first started thinking about it was really after last season. I know a lot of people talked to me about it [in previous years]. They said that whenever you leave, you'll be No. 1. But I really knew myself that I wanted to go to college and I wanted to be ready when I left. So actually after the season -- well, about two weeks after, that's the break I took after the season -- but two weeks after is when I really started giving it thought." --Portland's Greg Oden, on when he first thought about being a No. 1 overall pick

  • "I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know who he was going to pick. I held my mother's hand and we both looked each other in the eye and when he said Greg, I figured I was going to be going next. I'm happy for Greg. I went and gave his mom a hug and a kiss and congratulated their family. It's going to be fun playing against him." --Seattle's Kevin Durant, on his thoughts as David Stern came to the podium to announce the No. 1 pick

  • "It's a surprise to me because when I was with China, Milwaukee didn't come to watch me play or to work out. Myself, I'm not really familiar with the city but I'm happy to play with the team and happy to play in the NBA." --Milwaukee's Yi Jianlian, on his feelings after being selected by the Bucks with the No. 6 pick

  • "I always said that different guys, different players are presented with different situations. I mean, some guys are fortunate enough to be ready to come out after the first season. I didn't feel like I was ready after my sophomore or junior season and I wanted to develop my game while I was in college and that's why I decided to stay. That's the decision I made and I'm glad. It was a good decision." --Atlanta's Acie Law IV, on whether his four-year career sends a message to future college players about the value of staying in school

  • "It's a surprise to me because when I was with China, Milwaukee didn't come to watch me play or to work out. Myself, I'm not really familiar with the city but I'm happy to play with the team and happy to play in the NBA." --Milwaukee's Yi Jianlian, on his feelings after being selected by the Bucks with the No. 6 pick

  • "We're going to be tough to guard: three 6-9 guys who can do everything -- pass, shoot, defend. It's going to be tough for teams to defend. It's going to make things easier for each other so I'm really looking forward to it." --Seattle's Jeff Green, on the idea of playing with Kevin Durant and, potentially, Rashard Lewis

  • "It's been a whirlwind. I had no idea. A year ago I wouldn't have thought I would be in this position at all. I had planned on staying in college as long as I could. And the way that last year went and the things that happened, you know, I was just so grateful and blessed to be in this situation. I'm happy right now that I've worked so hard to get here and I'm happy with where I'm going." --Memphis' Mike Conley, Jr., on this past year

Joakim Noah deserves -- and will receive -- his own entry.

NBA Draft: Back for the Ending

What did I tell you about the blogging prowess of my man, Bryan Graham? You didn't even know I was gone, did you?

And yes, BG, I was smiling when the Jared Jordan/Stephane Lasme picks were made back to back.

So, there you have it folks. Sixty picks, four and a half hours and the very real possibility that the Boston Celtics not only will never win another Banner (No. 17), but that they will be required to start returning some of the previous 16.

. . . Good to see our guy Herbert Hill (Providence) get taken at No. 55 by the Jazz. We latched onto Hill for the Pre-Draft camp and he was nothing but a gentleman throughout. It's probably a long shot to think that Hill will stick with Utah, but at the very least he is going to have a nice career overseas.

. . . Some other second round observations now that we've had a chance to digest a bit: The Celtics actually had a decent second round by nabbing Gabe Pruitt from USC and the slimmed-down Big Baby, Glen Davis from LSU. The Davis sprained ankle which he suffered at the Sixers workout on Wednesday shouldn't be a concern and he'll have a good chance at sticking with the C's who are going to need some rebounders to retrieve all thoss missed shots from Pouter Paul Pierce and Jesus Allen.

Continue reading "NBA Draft: Back for the Ending" »

NBA Draft: Mr. Irrelevant Lives Up To Name

Who?

That was the overwhelming reaction around the room as Dallas selected 6-foot-10 forward Milovan Rakovic with the No. 60 pick, making the Serbian native this year's Mr. Irrelevant. The selection came just minutes after Phoenix made Maryland combo guard D.J. Strawberry the No. 59 selection -- inciting the requisite "Dar-ryl!" chants from the squad.

The draft is finished but the ESPN talking heads continue to break things down on the stage. I'll be taking a couple hours to process things and recharge my batteries but will have some quotes from the night posted on Hang Time shortly and a draft notebook column up on the site in the morning.

A live blog ain't a live blog without David Scott in the house and I'd like to thank my partner for being the roll to my pick throughout the night. Check back with Hang Time as we poke, prod, dissect and second-guess over the next couple days.

June 28, 2007

NBA Draft: Hill to Utah; More on Byars

Providence's Herbert Hill just went to Utah with the No. 55 pick.

While chatting with CSTV.com contributor Lindsay Schnell a few minutes ago, I missed a chance to talk about Vanderbilt's Derrick Byars, who went to Portland before heading to Philly in a trade. Of all the second-round selections, Byars probably has the best chance to make an immediate contribution. The 6-foot-7 swingman, who turned 23 in April and played two seasons at Virginia before transferring, is a versatile player on both ends of the floor who can attack the basket or hang around the perimeter and make the three-pointer with consistency.

The Memphis native was an instrumental part of this year's surprise Sweet 16 group, starting all 34 games and averaging a career-high 17.0 points.

NBA Draft: Green Makes Five (And Eight)

Portland just selected Florida point guard Taurean Green with the No. 52 pick. The son of former UNLV standout Sidney Green is the fifth member of the two-time national champions to be selected tonight -- and the eighth player who played in the national championship game to be chosen.

NBA Draft: Hecklers Crossing Line

The heckling of the ESPN studio team -- especially Stephen A. Smith -- has reached an all-time high. And by all-time high I mean egregiously inappropriate.

Even media representatives in the press area -- and who has a better sense of humor than us? -- have been firing disapproving looks at the fans who have taken aim at Smith and Company with their verbal jabs. The cameramen are getting pissed, including one guy about five feet from my seat who looks like he wants to kill somebody. Security has thrown about a half-dozen fans out so far and they're probably not done yet.

Who gets thrown out of a draft? I think this cameraman wants to know. With names and addresses.

NBA Draft: Somewhere, David Scott is Smiling

A pair of David Scott favorites just got scooped up with consecutive selections.

Marist point guard Jared Jordan went to the Clippers with the No. 45 pick. The Clippers need a point guard with Shaun Livingston having shredded his knee and the 6-foot-2 native of Hartford, who shined at the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, has a chance to make the team and earn a spot backing up Jason Hart.

Massachusetts post man Stephane Lasme is headed to the Golden State with the No. 46 selection. The Gabon native tied an NCAA record with four triple-doubles this past season, pulling even with Cal's Jason Kidd and Drexel's Michael Anderson. Lasme is slightly undersized to play power forward but has a chance to stick to State's roster thanks to his exception timing, length and leaping ability.

NBA Draft: And Richard Makes Four

Still no Taurean Green but a fourth Florida player has just been selected. The Timberwolves, who acquired the No. 41 pick from Philly, selected reserve post man Chris Richard. If Green gets selected, the Gators will become the 10th team in history to have five players selected in one draft -- but just the second since the NBA adopted the current two-round format.

Last year, Connecticut had five players selected: Rudy Gay (No. 8), Hilton Armstrong (No. 12), Marcus Williams (No. 22), Josh Boone (No. 23) and Denham Brown (No. 40).

The other eight teams who turned the trick when the draft lasted a couple hundred picks included: UCLA (1969), Stephen F. Austin (1970), Minnesota (1973), UNLV (1978), North Carolina (1980), Indiana (1983), Oklahoma (1983) and Kentucky (1984).

NBA Draft: McRoberts Gets The Call

A lot of anti-Duke vitriol in the house as the Josh McRoberts pick (to Portland with the No. 37 selection) induced a chorus of boos, cat-calls and just plain Duke sucks! exclamations.

On a personal note, I actually don't think McRoberts is an automatic bust, as seems to be the popular sentiment. Guy is just the classic NIMBY player: Not in my back yard.

One pick prior, Golden State took Alabama big man Jermareo Davidson with the No. 36 selection.

By the way, what was the Oakland club thinking trading Jason Richardson to Charlotte for the rights to Brandan Wright?

NBA Draft: Moving Along

The picks come fast and furious in the second round. (Well, slightly faster, with two minutes in between selections.) Five collegians have been selected already:

Purdue's Carl Landry to Seattle with the No. 31 pick, USC's Gabe Pruitt to Boston with the No. 32 pick, Arizona's Marcus Williams to San Antonio with the No. 33 pick, Nevada's Nick Fazekas to Dallas with the No. 34 pick and LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis to Seattle with the No. 35 pick.

Landry is a tough-as-nails forward who should contribute for the Sonics off the bench. Pruitt gives the Celtics a serviceable back-up point guard just hours after trading Delonte West to Seattle. Williams is a versatile combo forward who will get a chance to develop slowly on the stacked Spurs roster. Not sure what kind of pro Fazekas will make, but I'm thinking Keith Van Horn at best. Big Baby unveiled a streamlined physique this season after dropping close to 40 pounds since playing in the Final Four -- but his team struggled and his draft stock sank. Will Davis be a Robert Traylor clone as many suspect?

NBA Draft: Off to Play TV Guy

It's not that I don't want to stick around for the completion of the Draft and all the excitement of the seocnd round, but I have some television duties that will keep me away from the liveblog for a while. (If you are lucky enough to be in the CN8 Region of the country - mainly Boston down to Virginia on the Atlantic seabord - please tune in at 11 p.m. for some my pseudo-insight and to check out what the rigors of five hours of live-blogging has done to the bags under my eyes.)

The good news for you is that Bryan Graham will still be with you and let's face it, he's the guy who actually knows what the heck he's talking about. I was just here to provide (limited) comic relief and crash the various parties that were being conducted in the WaMu (mission accomplished).

I'll be back later with one final entry and some second round thoughts. Until then, enjoy the work of BG and, as always, thank you for your indulgence.

NBA Draft: Surprise at No. 29; McRoberts Doesn't Go No. 30

A minor surprise at No. 29 as Phoenix takes Big Ten player of the year Alando Tucker. I didn't think we'd hear the Wisconsin product's name until deep in the second round. At 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, I'm just not sure if Tucker has an NBA position. He's undersized to play the three and doesn't have the skills to play the two -- but the kid is a proven winner so you never know.

The Sixers chose Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen with the No. 30 pick to close the first round. The Philly fan a couple dozen rows to my rear just screamed his approval as the Helsinki native took the stage:

We love you Petteri. Your last name isn't McRoberts!

Rumors that Philly GM Billy King was high on Duke's Josh McRoberts had been swirling for weeks. To say Sixers fans are relieved about the non-pick -- just based on my overwhelming influx of text messages -- is an understatement.

NBA Draft: Afflalo to the Motor City

Detroit has taken All-American shooting guard Arron Afflalo with the No. 27 pick. The UCLA product didn't get an invite to the green room but paid his own way to New York and took the stage to shake David Stern's hand.

I wrote a feature for our draft preview on Afflalo and the Compton native seemed confident about hearing his name in the first round. Personally, I was less optimistic. Even though Afflalo is a world-class guy, there are doubts about how his limited athletic ability will translate to a league where just about everybody is really, really strong and really, really quick.

At any rate, Afflalo's decision to leave school one year early was vindicated with the pick.

NBA Draft: Almond Flavor for Jazz

The crowd at the WaMu is starting to thin out now that the Knicks have made their first round selection and, at this time, are without a second round pick. Lucky fans probably get to go and stand, stretch and eat food. Even more reason to dislike New Yorkers.

. . . Utah got a very nice pick with at 25 by taking Rice's Morris Almond. Almond had put his name into the Draft last year and wisely withdrew for another year of seasoning. It resulted in a career season with 26.4 ppg (third in the nation) and honors as the Conference USA Player of the Year.

. . . In case you were wondering, Golden State's Marco Belinelli said his favorite NBA player is Kobe Bryant. "I'm very excited to play against him. For the future maybe we'll play together - he's a star for me, so, who knows."

We have no idea what that sentence means but it does bring up an interesting point about the Internationally proud NBA - they need some more qualified translators. I'm not sure if Belinelli was speaking English or being translated, but either way his transcript makes very little sense. The Yi Jianlian media access on Wednesday was a complete joke as well - as BG pointed out.

The NBA touts its Intenrnational appeal whenever it can (at least three pieces of handout literature were devoted to it tonight), but they are still a bit behind in actually translating that appeal here in the states.

NBA Draft: Drinking In the Sprite Clock

We're back from the bathroom break and lo and behold, what happens? Our guy Graham takes cheap shot after cheap shot at my once-beloved Celts. Is it too cruel to wish Josh McRoberts on the Sixers (BG actually wants him, but we all know McRoberts will be a Dukie bust). Before this gets too out of hand and BG starts killing me with Michael Smith draft memories of days gone by, I'm calling a truce. The simple fact is that both our hometown teams are shadows of their former selves and the once great Boston-Philly rivalry is now nothing more than an annual battle for Draft lottery position.

. . . Joakim Noah hinted that he would be rocking out in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York this evening, an area he spent several years growing up in. We're contemplating live-blogging the festivities. Okay, that's a lie. We're contemplating drinking Noah beer.

. . . We finally procured a can of Sprite after hours of staring at the thirst-inducing Sprite pick clock. Sure do wish the clear stuff had some caffeine in it.

. . . Say what you will about the track record of Michael Jordan drafts, he got a gem in Jared Dudley out of Boston College. Dudley entered the pre-Draft camp as an early to mid second rounder but helped himself in huge ways with his performance there and then with some great workouts. Charlotte scout (and ex-Celtic) Rick Weitzman, who lives in the Boston-area, was enamored with Dudley form early on and started geting a bit nervous that Dudley was opening too many eyes when we visited with him at the Orlando camp.

. . . The Knick fans were in a frothy frenzy for the 23rd pick and it was a mixed reaction with the pick of DePaul's Wilson Chandler. Chandler is here in the WaMu and was able to do the shake and grin with Stern at center stage.

. . . We're officially into the sketchy pick portion of the Draft and form here on out, the picks will be either total head-scratchers, semi-head scratchers or just plain solid.

NBA Draft: Getting Sleepy and Chandler to Gotham

The younger Asian reporter two seats to my right appears to be jet-lagged to the extreme. She was just dead asleep. And I don't mean eyes-getting-heavy sleepy, I'm talking head-down-on-the-table REM sleep. She just got up to take a lap -- smart move.

The Knicks are on the clock and the fans in the house are getting pumped. The pick is...

...Wilson Chandler from DePaul. No surprise there -- the Knicks went public with a promise to the 6-foot-8 forward earlier this week. (At least Chandler was in the media guide.)

NBA Draft: Oh No He Didn't

I wanted to keep things clean but Scott had go bring my city into it. Say, what do you think about your team dealing every one of its marketable assets under age 30 to Seattle for a shooter who will be pondering retirement by the time O.J. Mayo reaches legal drinking age? The next time the Celtics are relevant, Ray Allen won't be worth fifty bucks and a warm case of beer -- and speaking of Ovington J'Anthony, maybe you can try and tank to get next year's No. 1 pick. Like Chuck says, cheaters never prosper. Unless they're the Spurs.

But back to the topic at hand: The Nets have made the classic risk-reward selection with the No. 17 pick: Boston College's Sean Williams. The 6-foot-10 post man emerged as one of the nation's premier shot-blockers during his two-and-a-half years in Chestnut Hill but also earned a reputation as a spectacular head case. (Hence the -and-a-half; Al Skinner kicked Williams off the team in the middle of January for repeat violations of team rules.) I'll be interested to see where David stands on this one, but there's no question the kid can play.

The next three picks: Italian swingman Marco Belinelli to the Warriors at No. 18, Georgia Tech point guard Javaris Crittenton to the Lakers at No. 19 and Colorado State post man Jason Smith to the Heat at No. 20.

NBA Draft: Holding Pen is Empty

There will be no Brady Quinn of the 2007 NBA Draft as USC's Nick Young (in a stylish ivory coat, black slacks and a matching striped tie) has been freed from the table area. We're thinking of hopping the fence and sitting at the tables as long as the caterers are still circulating food and drinks.

. . . The WaMu crowd (and Knick partisans) seem pleased with the pending deal that will send Channing Frye and Steve Francis to Portland for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau and Jerome James. Even Spike Lee was seen cheering the move.

. . . Word of the Nets being enamored with deposed Boston College shot-blocker Sean Williams turned out to be absolutely true as they grab him at No. 17. The amazing talent that Williams possesses seems to supercede the problems he had at BC under Al Skinner, which eventually led to his dismissal from the the Eagles mid-season. If Williams stays out of trouble (word in Boston was that he liked to smoke the herb a bit), the Nets get a Top 10 talent with a 10-20 pick. If he lets the NBA lifestyle overtake him, the Nets just got duped.

. . . Technical difficulties for Stuart Scott during the Nick Young interview and one of the stagehands yelled out, "Back up mic, back up mic." We were tempted to yell "Let it be." Stu Scott sounds better on mute.

. . . We're getting our bathroom break now. We leave you solely in the capable hands of Bryan Graham for a few minutes. Behave yourselves.

NBA Draft: Clip Joint New Home for Thornton

It's still tough to get used to the fact the Clippers are actually a competitive NBA team and that getting chosen by them isn't the death knell it used to be. That's the good news for Al Thornton. The bad news is that the Clips are probably only a couple of seasons away form being laughing stocks again. Fortunately for them the Celtics appear to be determined to wrestle that title from them for the foreseeable future. (Our hometown bitterness to the Celts is particularly mean-spirited right now. We apologize. But Ray Allen? At 32 years old (in three weeks)? Ray Allen? Why, Danny?

. . . Rodney Stuckey seemed to know he would be a Piston when we sat with him for an interview yesterday. Great spot for the likable Stuckey who will be able to blend in with some veterans, play for a winning team and learn what it takes to be a champion in the NBA. He is a very solid insurance policy should Chauncey Billups bolt Motown.

NBA Draft: Last Man Standing

With Detroit on the clock with the No. 15 pick, just Rodney Stuckey and Nick Young remain in the green room.

It's long been speculated that the Pistons have made a promise to select the Eastern Washington standout with this pick. We'll see if there was any truth to that rumor or if the Stuckey "deal" was a smokescreen...

...and Stuckey to Detroit goes through, leaving Southern California's Nick Young as the last man sitting in the green room.

NBA Draft: Sixers Spring First Semi-Surprise

The Sixers went well over the allotted five minutes and the delay seemed to make my CSTV.com blogging partner (and Philly fanatic) Bryan Graham a bit antsy, I suggested that maybe they have just passed on selecting at all to alleviate the likelihood of failure. BG didn't seem to see the humor in that. Celtics fans like myself need something to laugh about - we just picked up a 32-year-old guard with injury issues and a Jesus (Shuttlesworth) complex.

. . . The Thaddeus Young pick is peculiar to us, although as BG points out, Young had been wowing folks in his workouts. Young's dad was also a Draft pick (1978 by the Buffalo Braves).

. . . Someone is eating what smells like an Italian sub in our near vicinity and it reminds us that we have not eaten since lunch. This live-blogging thing is really starting to cramp my lifestyle. No pee. No food. And I'm already brain dead.

. . . The family and friends holding pen is starting to thin out a bit and all the tables of selected players have the occupants wearing the official draft night caps - in, of course, white to match the proud mamas.

NBA Draft: Newsy Notes

Some notes, courtesy of the NBA communications staff. I take back all the bad things I said about you!

  • Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are the first American-born collegians to be selected with the top two picks in the draft since Kenyon Martin and Stromile Swift in 2000.

  • Greg Oden is just the third collegiate underclassman to be to be chosen with the top overall pick since 1997, joining Duke sophomore Elton Brand (1999) and Utah sophomore Andrew Bogut (2005).

  • This marks the first time in draft history that two freshmen were taken with the top two picks.

  • Oden and Durant were the first freshmen selected to the AP All-American team since 1990. Since freshmen became eligible in 1972, only two other first-year players earned that honor: Oklahoma's Wayman Tisdale (1983) and LSU's Chris Jackson (1990).

NBA Draft: One-Sixth of the Way Done

It appears Spencer Hawes' mom had some insider info as she was decked out not in the official mom color of the night (white), but in majestic purple, the color of the Kings (and the Washington Huskies, of course). Also in Hawes possy are two very tall young ladies who are either sisters or future WNBA Draft Picks.

. . . The Celtics-Seattle deal is official and also appears to include the Sonics second round pick (No. 35) going to the Celts with Allen and his weak ankles.

. . . All right, it's nearly official: I'm about to storm the stage to my left and take out Stephen A. I know my cohort Bryan Graham calls heckling Smith "soooo 2005." But he didn't mention anything about tackling and spearing the dude with my helmet.

NBA Draft: Parade of Players Marches On

A super-enigmatic press conference with Yi Jianlian (details to come) just gave way to a one-question session with Corey Brewer (who fielded a softball about the weather in Minnesota). Joakim Noah, picked ninth by Chicago, is on his way to the conference room but I've lost batteries and the communication staff's fascist approach to outlet control has driven your faithful narrator back to the floor -- next to David Scott.

NBA Draft: Jordan Rules with Wright

Brandan Wright stays in-state and we're going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the best pick of numbers 3 through 8. Wright just wowed us during the East Rutherford regional this year and he is such a burner that his game is going to translate nicely in the NBA.

Sideshow Bob Noah goes to Chicago and the Bulls fans are now happy to know that his Swedish model mother will be in attendenace at the United Center.

Noah gave a goofy grin and the peace sign during his shake and pose with David Stern. "That waqs the longest hour of my life," Noah told Stuart Scott.

. . . We know we can't spell Szczerbiak, but we're guessing you can't either. Haters.

. . . Rachel Nichols has piled on the make-up from Charlotte headquarters. We like less made-up Rachel a lot better than the clown version.

. . . Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez just snuck by the Hang Time floor perch with his lovely wife. Gonzo gave a quick handshake and one of his patented, "Howyadoin'Dave" fast talking greetings. Gonzo is sooooooo New York.

. . . Since you asked, my perch is just off to the side of the ESPN main stage where Tirico, jackson, Smith and Bilas are sitting. I'm directly behind camera No. 3 and if I had my old elementary school spitball gun fashioned form a classic bic pen, I would easily be nailing Tirico in his dome. Stephen A. would be a long shot, but I'd certainly hit one out of ten.

. . . Spike Lee's appearance on the WaMu big screen was received warmly. Wonder if he's talked to Jesus Shuttleworth about the potetntial move to Boston?

. . . College coaches in attendance include Thad Matta and John Thomspon III. Billy Donovan was not able to make it.

NBA Draft: Durant At Last

Kevin Durant took the microphone with a jovial "How ya'll doing!" and started fielding questions from the biggest flock of reporters since Oden.

The consensus National Player of the Year had just been informed of a trade that sent would-be teammate Ray Allen to Boston in exchange for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and Jeff Green (this year's No. 5 pick). Green and Durant are both Beltway area natives and played AAU ball with one another for the D.C. Blue Devils.

But the Texas stud rejected the notion that he'd have to be the team's savior in Allen's absence.

"When you played since you were eight or nine years old," Durant said, "you know this game is not a one-man sport."

Here comes Yi -- and, by far, the biggest mob of reporters yet. Madness.

NBA Draft: Conley, Durant (Someday) and Tradewinds

Mike Conley just had some good soundbites on his past with Greg Oden and his future with Pau Gasol in his brief time behind the microphone. We've received word that Kevin Durant is on his way. There has also been a trade involving Corey Brewer which I trust David Scott is reporting from the floor.

"Durant truly is on his way to the press conference," says a rep from the NBA communications team.

NBA Draft: China Weeps

Our commandeered seat has put us on the same table as a host of Chinese media and with teh announcement of his selection by Milwaukee, a few of the photogs and writers slammed the table and gasped at the prospect of having to go to Wisconsin. Guess they're not big bratwurst fans.

Yi got what he deserved for having his camp suggest that there were only certain big cities he was comfortable going to. His first lesson in the NBA is that the League makes the rules, not the players.

. . . Reaction in Boston to the supposed Ray Allen deal does not appear to be too kind. Danny Ainge is a hot seat unlike almost any other in the NBA.

. . . Corey Brewer and Kevin Garnett (if he remains in Minny) would be a formidible combination for the Wolves.

. . . Does the NBA have regulations in place to give live-bloggers a bathroom break? Can someone please investigate the situation and get back to me? Sooner rather than later, please.

NBA Draft: You Can Call Me Al

For an undisclosed reason (so far), we're skipping Kevin Durant and going straight to No. 3 pick Al Horford, who is wearing the Atlanta cap with the team's new logo. (Kind of an awkward hybrid between the Louisville Cardinal and the Southern Illinois Saluki.)

Horford said all of the right things about his desire to help the Hawks in the right direction. The soft-spoken power forward had to think for a little when asked what his first purchase would be after signing his NBA contract ("a car") but didn't hesitate when the reporter asked what kind ("a Range Rover").

We're receiving word that No. 4 pick Mike Conley, Jr., is on his way to the dais as the CSTV.com Draft Tracker indicates that Yi Jianlian just went sixth overall to Milwaukee. Very interesting plotlines on the Chinese prospect's selection by a small-market team -- much, much more on that later.

NBA Draft: Celtics Provide First Shake-up

NEW YORK - As was rumored earlier, the Celtics have apparently dumped their No. 5 pick (Jeff Green) and two players (Delonte West and Wally Sczerbiak) to Seattle for Ray Allen. About five years ago, it would have been a great deal to bring Allen to Boston. Now, we're not so sure with Allen on the downside of his stellar career. It does give Pouter Paul Pierce the veteran compadre he was clamoring for.

Once the deal is announced, it will mean Green and Durant will be teamed together in attempt to save basketball in Seattle.

. . . Another mother in white, Jeff Green's mom, Felicia Akingube got quite emotional after the pick. Someone should tell her that it's okay - her son isn't really going to the sagging Celts. He's going to the rising Sonics.

NBA Draft: Oden Works The Room

There are about 60 chairs for reporters in the makeshift conference room but with most correspondents still on the floor watching the event, there are less than 15 working media waiting for Oden to arrive for his presser.

Oden approaches the chair behind the microphone and continues to conduct a phone interview with a local Portland radio station on his agent's cell even after sitting down. ("Classic," notes one writer.) The volume of media members has exploded since the center's arrival as snap-happy photographers go to work.

The Indianapolis native looks relieved but not tired, still cracking jokes on topics ranging from Brandon Roy to Phil Knight to Kevin Durant. ("He's a really, really good player. I'm a decent player. But I'd love to get way more championships than him.")

Oden just revealed David Stern's words on the stage moments after his selection: "Everything's going to slow down for you. Now, go follow her."

The last question Oden fielded before leaving for the TV interview barrage: "Does this take any of the sting out of that Monday night in April?"

Said Oden: "No. Not at all. I still lost. They still won two national championships in a row. It feels good but it's two different categories. I'm still going to have the memory of that loss forever."

NBA Draft: Alone on the Floor

NEW YORK - Looks like I'm riding solo on the floor of the WaMu as my sidekick Bryan Graham has headed to the interview room to capture quotes and notes from the draftees. I miss him already.

. . . We're guessing the official color of dress for lottery picks moms is white. Both Oden and Durant's mothers are in a variation of white. A nice moment when the moms hugged each other for a good 30 seconds about three minutes after the Durant pick.

. . . Our first, "It's Great to Be a Florida Gator" chant went up at 7:45 in anticipation of Atlanta taking Al Horford. Whenr the pick was announced a round of Gator Chomps also began. Horford did his own Chomp on-stage after shaking hands with David Stern.

. . . We'd been meaning to mention this since yesterday - it's now necessary to abbreviate the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant naming to GOKD. They will be linked forever and this abbreviation will make the reference to the duo a bit easier. We're here to help.

. . . The Hawks actually went over their allotted five minutes accoridng to the Sprite clock. In the NFL Draft, that's a penalty and the next selecting team has a chance to sneak in. In the NBA, it's just a part of the process.

NBA Draft: Oden It Is

Somehow, the Trailblazers passed on UMass's Stephane Lasme and went with the safe pick of Greg Oden.

I am oh for one in my predictions thus far. Thankfully, Bryan Graham is still batting 1.000 for our team.

. . .The grand daddy of the sneaker wars and really, an enire industry, Sonny Vaccaro is in the front row of Section 202 of the WaMu. Sonny is semi-retired but still wields huge influence in the world of basketball.

. . . Gotta love the Zoe Oden clap for her son.

. . . And just like that, Trailblazers gear is now hot.

. . . The audio on the screens within the WaMu is way low, so we're having trouble hearing what Oden is saying (a bad thing) but also struggling to decipher Stephen Angry Smith (a good thing).

NBA Draft: Oden Goes No. 1

Guess who takes an early lead in the office mock draft pool? This guy.

As Oden takes the stage to speak with the ESPN's Stuart Scott, I'm going to retreat to the press conference room behind the scenes while David Scott continues to report from the main floor. I'll be back directly.

NBA Draft: Portland On The Clock

God, this would be so much more interesting if John Nash was still in charge over there.

NBA Draft: And We're Off

NEW YORK - At 7:28 the lights of the WaMu dimmed and the Sprite clock above the stage finished its countdown to the start of the Draft. We're still predicting that UMass's Stephane Lasme (form this Hang Timer's alma mater) will shock the world and be chosen first overall. If Lasme happens to drop to No. 2, we're pretty sure the first pick will instead be Marist's Jared Jordan. We love Jared Jordan in these parts.

WIth those scenarios unlikely, we're confident in syaing that ESPN will soon be reporting that the ESPN is reporting that ESPN is televising the Draft. Oh, and Greg Oden is still going No. 1.

David Stern takes the podium to a round of boos and he still has trouble with the WaMu pronunciation. Stern is going with the Bob Kraft-esque blue shirt with white collar. Kraft pulls it off a lot better.

NBA Draft: T Minus Five Minutes

Some last thoughts before we get underway in a few minutes:

  • How many other years would Kevin Durant have been the No. 1 pick? I'll take a quick look. Seven out of the last 10, by my count -- only Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Yao Ming would have definitely been selected ahead of the consensus National Player of the Year and I'm not even sure Howard would've been a slam dunk. And who knows? Maybe Houston would have been pressured to take the Texas product.

  • As I wrote that last bullet, I just realized how face-melting a surprise Portland could pull with a Durant pick. (Never happen.)

  • Stephen A. Smith heckling is so 2005. Shut up, already.

  • At this time last year, pockets of surly Knicks fans were actively chanting for the removal of president of basketball operations Isiah Thomas. Much more docile assembly this time around.

  • Looks like another capacity crowd -- 5,454 -- for the fifth straight year. I'll confirm attendance later but this place is packed to the gills.

NBA Draft: Rumor Mongering

NEW YORK - The rumors are flying fast and furious as we are inside an hour of the commencement of the 2007 NBA Draft. Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski - as he has been all month - continues to put forth behind-the-scenes scenarios that you won't find anywhere.

ESPN's Andy Katz is now reporting on a potential trade involving Ray Allen going to Boston in exchange for the No. 5 pick and at least Wally Sczerbiak.

. . . Many of the assembled players' families and friends have been congregating near the press conference area of the WaMu and a popular activity for those folks is taking pictures in front of the Draft 2007 backdrop where player interviews will be conducted.

. . .With about 15 minutes until the start of the Draft, the WaMu is filling up. Florida beat writer Dave Curtis told us an amusing story of how he tried to get tickets for some of his friends who he is staying with this morning when ducats went on sale at 11 a.m. Curtis arrived at 9 a.m. and the line was snaking around the Garden. He struck out in his attempt to secure admission for his friends, but he should be commended for trying.

Continue reading "NBA Draft: Rumor Mongering" »

NBA Draft: Fashion Watch

I'll defer to Hang Time resident fashionista David Scott for the nitty-gritty details on each player's wardrobe choice -- but as fans start to file into the Theater at MSG and players take their seats in the green room, here are some early thoughts from a guy whose idea of business casual is a Lacoste shirt and a pair of Zubaz.

Joakim Noah -- with his hair hanging down onto his shoulders -- scores some major points for a sleek, silvery suit while Julian Wright's ranks close behind with his metallic-looking number. Sitting just outside the perimeter of the green room is Mars Blackmon himself: acclaimed director and confirmed Knicks zealot Spike Lee is holding court wearing a throwback New York warm-up shirt and a fresh-looking pair of 40 Acres & A Mule sneakers (as produced by Marc Ecko).

NBA Draft: In The Meantime (Leftovers)

While we wait for the players to take their seats in the green room (following an on-stage photo opportunity) and trade rumors buzz around the theater (Zach Randolph to New York?), here are some leftover thoughts from the last few days:

  • Spencer For Hire: With the NBA rule prohibiting high school players from entering the draft until their high school class completes one year of college, this year's player pool includes a good number of players who would have otherwise entered last year's draft. Washington's Spencer Hawes said Wednesday that would-be high school jumpers like Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Thaddeus Young -- as well as the Florida players who made a surprise return to school after their first championship -- make this "essentially two drafts rolled into one." But even though Hawes could have played his way up to a much higher pick if the seven-footer had waited another season, the depth of this year's draft didn't play into his decision. "I think it was a personal decision," Hawes said. "I don't think going as high as you can should be the ultimate goal or motivation, it's the right fit, the right scenario and the right opportunity to develop."

  • Karma Police: When reporters pressed Joakim Noah on Wednesday about his preferred destinations, the opinionated Florida product started to spill before stopping short. "I'm a big believer in karma," Noah said. "There are definitely teams that I like better than others but I feel like, right now, I don't want to say what teams. God willing, I go to one of those teams. I put it in God's hands."

  • Mo' Jo': Put a microphone in front of Noah at your own risk because the kid is a talker who could go on to rival Charles Barkley at the next level. The pony-tailed post man elaborated on the submission of collegiate prospects to draft process: "It's not like you control where you go. It's not like college where you decide I like this team, I'm going to go there. You get drafted, you get picked and you might not be happy where you end up. What I've really learned is that you have to give it 150 percent and hopefully you end up in a situation that's right for you."

  • What's The Difference?: A lot of players have been asked their thoughts on the biggest differences they expect between the college and pro games. Al Horford talked about the travel: "Probably just how the players handle all the traveling and all the playing that you do. It's pretty amazing how you can go and play eight games in 10 days, bringing your 'A Game' every night." Acie Law didn't hesistate: "The shot clock. Eighty-two games is a big deal but as far as a game-to-game basis, it will be the adjustment from the 35-second to the 24-second clock."

  • No Promises: When the subject of teams issuing guarantees to players came up, Noah took aim: "As a player you can't control anything. Even teams that guarantee that if you're there, we'll pick you. Okay, if Kobe Bryant says I want out and I'm coming to your team, are you going to keep your guarantee? You know what I mean?"

NBA Draft: Dress Rehearsal

NEW YORK - Welcome to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden for the 2007 NBA Draft. Commissioner David Stern took the podium just before 6 p.m. to rehearse his introduction and stumbled a bit over the pronunciation of WaMu (Washington Mutual abbreviation). Should be interesting to hear him try his hand at Yi Jianlian (EE- GEE-an-LEE-an).

This half of the Hang Time Dynamic Duo has currently commandeered a seat not assigned to us (Thank you Hoop Japan, we hope you don't show) and the Theater is beginning to fill up with media types, NBA Suits and assorted folks who find themselves a bit too important.

. . . At about 6:08 p.m. the projected top picks took the stage for a photo opportunity. The question of the night has been answered as far as fashion goes - Joakim Noah has indeed gone "Funky, with a capital F" as promised. His hair is in a Sideshow Bob look and he is wearing a bow tie to accompany his off-white/gray suit. There is nothing truly outrageous on the 15 gentleman assembled and all of them are looking pretty sharp.

For the record, this Hang Time correspondent has gone with a Ralph Lauren sport coat, white shirt, chinos and a rust Perry Ellis tie. I'm am the de facto front runner for best dressed live-blogger and I'm taking more than a little pride in that. Let's ignore for the moment that there are probably only a handful of us in attendance.

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NBA Draft: All The Way Live From New York City

It's 5:47 p.m. and we're just under two hours from the start of this year's NBA Draft. Fellow Hang Time veteran David Scott and I will be bringing you the action from the WaMu Theater of Madison Square Garden.

David will be stationed on the floor just feet from the podium for the entire first round while I hold things down from the interview room, as the parade of newly minted millionaires meet the press to field questions from beneath their new headwear.

The players will be arriving around 6 p.m. More to come.

NBA Draft: Mock 'N' Roll

I'm not a huge mock draft guy but I'll always put together a list of my predictions on the day of the event. While going through the process before lunch, a friend called to report the rumblings that the three living members of Led Zeppelin may be reuniting for a memorial concert honoring their recently deceased record boss, Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. That's no small news for fans of the English group which broke up in 1980 in the wake of drummer John Bonham's death.

In light of this surprise report, I thought I'd give my projection of tonight's lottery picks a little rock 'n' roll twist, tying a Zeppelin tune to each of the first 14 selections. Of course, predicting the order of players has proven harder than Jimmy Page's lick on "Kashmir" -- but that doesn't make the psuedoscience of draft prognostication any less addictive.

1. Portland: Greg Oden, "Your Time Is Gonna Come"

Oden is the bedrock. Expect the Ohio State superstud to follow the Tim Duncan career track: to play at an elevated level right away, making steady improvement as his career moves forward while winning one or more championships along the way.

2. Seattle: Kevin Durant, "The Rain Song"

The Emerald City's reputation for frequent rainfall is way overhyped, with cities like New York, Atlanta and Houston averaging more precipitation annually. But the consensus National Player of the Year will be raining jumpers on the Western Conference competition with alarming frequency starting in November. Kid's jump shot is soaking wet. (Just wait until the 19-year-old adds another 20 pounds of muscle mass.)

3. Atlanta: Al Horford, "Night Flight"

Florida's rough-and-tumble interior workhorse is looking more and more like a lock at the No. 3 slot and should fly high as an addition to one of the league's more promising young cores.

4. Memphis: Joakim Noah, "Travelling Riverside Blues"

Look for the Tennessee franchise on the banks of the Mississippi to provide the first surprise pick of the lottery. The pony-tailed post man -- who will look sharp in the team's blue-heavy uniforms -- helps fill the team's need for a power forward.

5. Boston: Jeff Green, "Good Times Bad Times"

Is there another NBA franchise besides the Celtics that has experienced such dramatic overdoses of the sweet and the sour? Boston has collected a league-best 16 championships but haven't been realistic contenders in a generation, two decades marked by a series of horrendous personnel decisions. Georgetown's throwback combo forward, who collected Big East Player of the Year honors, should be a starter by New Year's Day as the Celts continue rebuilding.

Continue reading "NBA Draft: Mock 'N' Roll" »

NBA Draft: Five Hours and Counting

NEW YORK - We're in the final hours run-up to the 2007 NBA Draft and things appear to be relatively quite on the trade and rumor-of-trade front. The Worldwide Leader is, of course, attempting to break news where no news needs to be broken and continues to incessantly push the fact that they are confirming Greg Oden will go to Portland.

In other "breaking news," the sun rose today, Paris Hilton is a paparazzi favorite and the month of June will include 30 days.

Hang Time would also like confirm that with the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Kevin Durant will be chosen by Seattle.

If the dripping sarcasm isn't enough of an indication, we'd like to point out that the entire NBA Draft - and its eternal prelude - is really nothing more than the sports world's second largest dog and pony show (the NFL Draft takes the cake). Which of course, is perfectly fine with us. But the upshot of all the draft mocking, rumor mongering and smoke blowing is that we're more than ready for the proceedings to begin. To use the age old birthing analogy, SHOW US THE BABY!

. . . Just a programming note for you: We're planning on arriving at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in the 5 o'clock hour and we'll start blogging soon thereafter in the lead up to the first pick, which is scheduled to be made shortly after 7:30 p.m. We (myself and CSTV.com college hoops editor, the incomparable Bryan Graham) will then be with you throughout the entire two rounds of picks, so be sure to stay with the Hang Time blog as the night unfolds and the picks go from high major to mid major to low major and ultimately into the netherland of the late picks.

June 27, 2007

NBA Draft: Midtown Morsels, Part 1

NEW YORK - We're winding down our Day Before Draft '07 blogging duties for the evening and wanted to leave you all with some nuggets to stuff under your pillow for some sweet Draft dreams.

. . . Top 3 Phrases we're already sick of hearing:

3. "How was your workout with Team X?" (Equally annoying is, "I had a great workout for Team X.")

How the heck do you think his workout was? If it was awful, he's not going to tell you. And no player has ever had a bad workout in his own eyes. This all follows closely to my longheld belief that workouts are almost entirely useless - esepcailly the ones against no competition. "Boy, he really looked good against our 5 -foot trainer who was checking him at the top of the key."

2. "He has a tremendous upside."

Yeah, but his downside is that he can't dribble, has trouble rebounding and smoked enough pot in college to make Spicoli AND Ricky Williams jealous.

1. "The Draft doesn't start until Pick No. 3."

Really? So I can actually start my live-blogging a little later than I planned? Great. Tell the ladies at Scores I have a few extra minutes on Thursday afternoon.

The Draft starts when the Blazers are on the clock and it ends when I pass out from exhaustion and/or trying to correctly spell Stanko Barac and Mirza Begic. As Dennis Green might say, the Draft is, exactly what we thought it was. . . beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Continue reading "NBA Draft: Midtown Morsels, Part 1" »

NBA Draft: Stuckey in the Middle

NEW YORK - The one-name guys were hogging all the attention a the tables set up for Wednesday's pre-draft interviews with the media. Yi had what appeared to be half of China trying to get him on video and shoving microphones in front of him. Joakim was doing what a rock star's son should do - mug for the cameras and fill notebooks. Greg, Kevin and even Spencer were all getting their own levels of love and fawning.

But Rodney Norvell Stuckey sat at a mostly empty table in the middle of the Westin's Majestic Ballroom and soaked in the whole scene. He too could probably have gone by one name. But that name would have been "Who?"

"This whole process is ridiculous," said the 6-foot-5, 205 pound combo guard, who left Eastern Washington after two seasons where he averaged 24 points each year. "I'm never going to experience nothing like this ever again. I'm just taking it in."

In due time, Stuckey will be taken in by an NBA team - the No. 15-picking Detroit Pistons and their small school GM Joe Dumars (McNeese State) are supposedly quite enamored with the Kent, Washington native - and at that point he will have the chance to go from "Who?" to "Hot Rod!," the nickname the 21-year-old has had since his early teens. He may have seemed out of place or overmatched in a room filled with household college basketball names, but the guess from seasoned NBA observers is that Stuckey will do more than just stick in the NBA.

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NBA Draft: Steamy on the Streets and with the Rumors

NEW YORK - The only thing hotter than the Manhattan streets and subways on this final Wednesday of June are the NBA Draft-related rumors that are seeping into the air of the Big Apple. It's more than enough hot air to turn the Apple a dirty shade of brown.

However there are certain rumors that we give more credence to than others and most of them come from the ridiculously superior reporting of Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski who is making the NBA Draft run-up his own personal scoop party. Yesterday, Wojarnowski was the only one to have the Paul Pierce trade demand story (if the Celts don't buy Pouter Paul a pretty veteran toy to play with) and today Yahoo!'s national NBA columnist has advanced the story of the three-way deal that will likely land Kevin Garnett in Phoenix.

Should that deal be completed it would be a staggering way for the 2007 NBA Draft to commence and could drastically alter the face of mock drafts form here to Beijing.

. . . We're working on a mini-feature on the least-discussed member of the Wednesday media access invitees, Rodney Stuckey from Eastern Washington. We'll also have some leftovers from the 60 minutes of interviews, including some fashion news and a bit of a political discussion with Spencer Hawes. You can check back later tonight or first thing in the morning and then be sure to stick with us on Thursday as we begin live-blogging from the WAMU Theater at Madison Square Garden in the dinner hour.

NBA Draft: Underway from the Westin

Mike Conley, Spencer Hawes, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Greg Oden and Julian Wright have taken the tables to meet the press while Corey Brewer, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Acie Law, Rodney Stuckey and Yi Jianlian will arrive at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Oden has drawn the largest mob of reporters -- about sixty -- with quote machine Joakim Noah close behind. More to come.

NBA Draft: Tall Men and World Champions

NEW YORK - In addition to serving as the headquarters for the top picks in the NBA Draft and the interview session which begins in 15 minutes, the Westin also appears to be housing the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who are in town to face the New York Mets. Pitcher Adam Wainwright just took some time to sign and be photographed with the aforementioned young man, Avram, in the Pujols jersey who, it turns out, is more of a Cardinals fan than a Buckeye fan. Another nice moment in the lobby of the Westin.

. . . We're about ready to get underway with the interview session and our wingman, Bryan Graham, has arrived on the scene to get you through the first half hour of blogging. I'll be back for the 1:30 to 2 p.m. stint.

Stay with us to find out if Joakim Noah is tipping his hat about his outfit for tomorrow night or if any of the players decide to announce where they absolutely will not play (hello, Yi?).

NBA Draft: Lull in the Lobby

NEW YORK - It's the calm before the storm of the media availability and Al Horford and his dad, Tito, are now enjoying some lobby time. Horford is in grey slacks with a yellow sweater vest over a button down pinstripe shirt with thick-knotted tie under the vest. He appears to have a couple or three friends with him and is currently conducting an interview with a writer under the guidance of his NBA escort. (The league assigns a representative to usher around each of the projected top picks.)

Joakim Noah briefly interrupted the Horford interview to say hello. Noah is in a white t-shirt, long cargo shorts and is sporting sunglasses with lenses the approximate size of Volkswagen Beetles.

. . . We've also spotted Jeff Green (purple Ralph Lauren shirt, ties, dark grey slacks) and his parents appear to have arrived. He proceeded to go up in the elevator with his mom and dad.

. . . I have no idea what my sudden obsession with clothing is nor do I know why I'm explaining what each player is wearing to interview, but I do know we're anxious to see some of the outfits for tomorrow night. Chiefly, Noah's duds, which he is promising will be unforgettable. Greg Oden had mentioned during our Orlando visit that he was working on some special size 19 shoes for the event.

. .. A lobby snippet: One of Oden's representatives introduced Oden to a gentleman from Fleer trading cards and prefaced the introduction by saying: "Even though we're not in business with them, he's still a good guy to know." Classic.

NBA Draft: Welcome to the Westin

NEW YORK - We are about 32 hours from the start of the 2007 NBA Draft and your loyal Hang Time correspondent has touched down in steamy Manhattan for the festivities. We are currently entrenched in the lobby of the Westin Times Square where, at 1 p.m., there is scheduled media availibility with several of the projected top picks (list after the jump).

Upon our arrival we immediately bumped into Greg Oden as he was being shuttled around by some NBA types and avoiding the autograph hounds who are sweating in the midday sun and 90-degree heat as they await their prey. Oden is dressed in a light blue, button down dress shirt, jeans and sneakers (Nikes, of course). He is still tall, for those of you who were wondering.

Oden's teammate, Mike Conley, Jr. and their agent, Conley's father, just walked by the Hang Time perch and Senior is glad-handing the numerous well-wishers who are beginning to congregate at the Westin. Media types, hangers-on and general nuisance makers are also populating the open space of the lobby. A tall gentleman in an Al Thornton No. 12 FSU jersey also passed through and we're going to go out on a limb and guess it was Al's dad, Alford, who goes 6-foot-6. Horford also has three sisters who all nearly six feet tall as well, according to his bio in the handy-dandy NBA Draft Media Guide which has served as our bible since the Orlando Draft Camp.

. . . Yi is in da house! Yi Jianlian has been spotted in the lobby - blue blazer, white shirt, khaki slacks - and a camera crew chronicled him staring around the lobby. Compelling stuff.

. . . Oden just posed for a picture with a young buckeye fan (in an Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinal jersey) who appears to suffer from some mental disorder. Oden was gracious and friendly and clearly made the fan's day. Nice scene. Oden is surrounded by several "suits" and some fans are beginning to approach him for autographs.

. . . For those of you who recall our Final Four lobby adventures, we're sad to report that Drexel's Tony Chiles is not with us to provide witty repartee and there is a pronounced dearth of adult beverages, but we're still planning on providing worthwhile updates from the fifth floor interviews that commence in about 90 minutes (and last for an hour).

Continue reading "NBA Draft: Welcome to the Westin" »

NBA Draft: Rumor Mill Turning Away

Heading over to the Westin New York at Times Square in a few minutes to meet with a handful of the players who will be sitting in the green room Thursday night.

On the eve of the NBA Draft, speculation runs rampant. Among the news and rumors:

  • Suns Rising?: Lost in the Kevin Garnett buzz has been the talk of a trade that would move Phoenix into the lottery, a rumor that's been confirmed by the team's senior vice president of basketball operations. The Suns worked out Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Jeff Green and Yi Jianlian on Tuesday. The team has plenty of desirable assets for a potential trade partner including the No. 24 and No. 29 picks in this year's draft and the rights to Atlanta's first-round pick in 2008.

  • Seven or Better for Green: Georgetown standout Green turned down a workout with the Bobcats, who hold the No. 8 pick. This is a strong indicator that the Big East Player of the Year has a deal in place with a team ahead of Charlotte on the board, since there's no other reason Green's agent David Falk would make things difficult for Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan -- the client who made Falk one of the most powerful figures in sports before entering his current semi-retirement.

  • Hawes to Chicago?: Washington's Spencer Hawes traveled to the Windy City on Tuesday for a second visit. Given how Chicago's playoff bouncing at the hands of Detroit in the second round underscored the team's need for a big man who can command a double-team, Hawes to the Bulls with the No. 9 pick makes a lot of sense. While the second-best center in this draft might not slip that far, don't expect to hear his name any later.

  • From Gainesville to Graceland: Memphis, who holds the No. 4 pick, has brought in Florida teammates Al Horford and Joakim Noah for second workouts. North Carolina's Brandan Wright also got a second look from the organization but the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports growing speculation that the Grizzlies will select Noah if Horford goes third.

  • Wright's Wrong Stuff: Few players have performed worse on the workout circuit than Kansas swingman Julian Wright, who is expected to be the last player sitting in the green room Thursday night as a result.

June 26, 2007

NBA Draft: Getting Inside The Green Room

"There's an expression surfers use for the curl of a perfect wave. It's called 'the green room,' and getting inside it is the peak of the ride."

Brandon Walsh might not have been writing about basketball in his editorial on being a new student at West Beverly Hills High but his words still ring true as the NBA Draft looms: There's no question that the 14 collegians and one international player the league has invited to the green room Thursday night are approaching the peak of their lifelong experience playing basketball -- since an invitation all but confirms a first-round selection.

Corey Brewer, Mike Conley, Jr., Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Spencer Hawes, Al Horford, Yi Jianlian, Acie Law IV, Joakim Noah, Greg Oden, Rodney Stuckey, Al Thornton, Brandan Wright, Julian Wright and Nick Young have been invited to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden to watch the draft. Sure, anything could happen up until 7:30 p.m. Thursday and no team is obligated to pick anyone formally. But it's true that the NBA, hoping to avoid potential embarrassments like the Brady Quinn incident, tends to limit these invites to players who have solid promises from teams to be selected before the twenties.

That bodes well for Stuckey, the Eastern Washington slasher who has soared up the draft board in recent weeks and has a reported deal in place with Detroit with the No. 15 pick.

In fact, there's a very good chance that each of the invited players will occupy one of the first 15 picks. That's how my mock draft goes, anyway, which I'll be posting Wednesday afternoon.

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