Chaos rules NBA draft

Trades blow in after Nets tab Martin, Grizzlies take Swift

Bulls, Magic wheel, deal

Clippers pick Miles, prep star from Illinois

June 29, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The Orlando Magic used last night's NBA draft to get ready for the free-agent signing period, which begins Saturday. The Chicago Bulls used the draft to reload a decimated roster. And the Los Angeles Clippers used it to prepare for the season - the 2003 season.

The Magic, the first team in history with three lottery picks, kept one. The Bulls, two years removed from the last of their six championships, used all six of theirs in the two-round draft. And the Clippers wound up with three first-round picks, including high school star Darius Miles.

After the New Jersey Nets and Vancouver Grizzlies began the proceedings at the Target Center in Minneapolis by choosing the players most predicted they would - Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin going to the Nets as the No. 1 pick, followed by LSU's Stromile Swift to the Grizzlies - the Clippers brought chaos to the order.

They ruined Chicago's plan by selecting Miles, the talented 6-foot-9 forward from East St. Louis, Ill. Miles became the first high school player picked among the top three players. Kevin Garnett was chosen No. 5 in the 1995 draft. The Clippers would later get the 10th pick from the Magic in point guard Keyon Dooling of Missouri and take shooting guard Quentin Richardson of DePaul at No. 18.

'This was a heck of a deal for us," Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said of the trade that brought Dooling, along with veteran guard Derek Strong and second-year forward Corey Maggette, from Orlando for a No. 1 pick in next year's draft. 'This has been quite a day."

The decision by the Clippers to draft Miles ahead of Iowa State's Marcus Fizer set off a number of strange decisions and subsequent trades.

It caused the Bulls, who were hoping to trade up in order to draft Miles, to pick Fizer instead despite the fact that Elton Brand, the league's co-Rookie of the Year last season, plays the same power forward position.

Fizer was the first pick for the rebuilding Bulls, and though he will be reunited with former Cyclones coach Tim Floyd in Chicago, it seemed to make the least sense to everyone but Bulls general manager Jerry Krause.

"We felt as if we were going to take the best player available," Krause said. "We were certainly pleased that Marcus Fizer was available at No. 4."

The Magic, picking next, drafted Florida forward Mike Miller. Aside from dealing Dooling to the Clippers, who subsequently traded point guard Eric Murdock to the Dallas Mavericks for center Sean Rooks, Orlando also traded the No. 13 pick - Fresno State's Courtney Alexander, the NCAA's leading scorer last season - to the Mavericks for a future No. 1 draft pick.

Those deals allowed the Magic to get more under the salary cap than the $18 million it had been going into the draft. Orlando now will be able to try to sign at least two free agents for the $9 million maximum for the first season. Orlando is interested in signing both San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Detroit's Grant Hill.

"We're set and loaded," said Magic coach Doc Rivers, whose team will still have as many as nine first-round picks to play with over the next four years. "Now we have to go do something about it. We're confident we can."

The trades by the Magic were among five involving first-round picks last night.

After the Atlanta Hawks selected Cincinnati's DerMarr Johnson with the No. 6 pick, the Bulls picked Texas center Chris Mihm, then traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Michigan guard Jamal Crawford, who had been picked eighth.

The Houston Rockets drafted center Joel Przybilla - the only player booed by the crowd, who remembered his premature departure from the University of Minnesota during his sophomore year last season. Houston later traded the 7-footer to the Milwaukee Bucks for Georgia Tech's Jason Collier, the No. 15 pick. The Rockets also received a first-round pick for Przybilla.

One certainly about last night's draft: The NBA definitely got younger. After Martin was picked No. 1 - bringing tears of joy to the 6-9 power forward, who broke his leg right before this year's NCAA tournament - the next 10 players were underclassmen.

Perhaps the most ecstatic player taken in the first round was Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves. The Most Outstanding Player in this year's Final Four after leading the Spartans to their first championship in 21 years, Cleaves was picked by the hometown Detroit Pistons at No. 14.

"I'm still pinching myself from winning that championship, and I have to continue to pinch myself," Cleaves said. "I feel like I'm in a fairy tale."

Cleaves' college teammate, Morris Peterson, also went in the first round, at No. 21 to the Toronto Raptors.

The Washington Wizards, who didn't have a first-round pick, chose relative unknown Mike Smith, a 6-8 guard from Louisiana- Monroe, with the 35th pick overall.

The only player from the Baltimore area selected was Temple's Mark Karcher (St. Frances), who stayed in Philadelphia as the No. 48 pick of the 76ers.

Second round

30. L.A. Clippers, Marko Jaric, g, Fortitudo Bologna, Italy.

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