At top, draft has domestic taste

James, Anthony go 1, 3

nine of first 10 selections, 16 of 20 are home-grown

Nba Draft

Pro Basketball

June 27, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Despite forecasts that the NBA draft would be primarily a foreign affair, league general managers chose to go domestic, at least at the top of the draft last night.

Only one international player, Serbian center Darko Milicic, was taken in the first 10 picks, and only four were taken in the first 20 overall selections at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Polish forward Maciej Lampe, who was projected to go as high as fifth in the draft, and French guard-forward Boris Diaw, who was a borderline lottery selection, fell well below expectations.

Diaw was taken 21st by the Atlanta Hawks, while Lampe, who reportedly was going to have difficulties getting out of the contract with his European team, Real Madrid, fell all the way out of the first round, and was taken by the New York Knicks with the first pick of the second round.

Still, a record eight international players were taken in the first round, up from six last year.

LeBron James topped the draft as the first overall pick, going, as expected, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was one of three high school players to be chosen in the first round.

That number was up from just one last season: Amare Stoudemire, who became Rookie of the Year. The record is four taken in the 2001 draft, which included the first overall selection in the Washington Wizards' Kwame Brown.

The arrival of Akron, Ohio, native James, though expected since the Cavaliers won the first pick last month, was greeted wildly in Cleveland, where the team sold replica jerseys at $50 each. One concession stand at Gund Arena reportedly sold 270 jerseys in one hour.

"LeBron is like one in a billion," Cavs forward Darius Miles said moments after James became his newest teammate. "Like there was Magic Johnson, Now, there's LeBron James. It comes once every couple decades."

Said team owner Gordon Gund: "There is no player for whom we would have traded this pick. There isn't a whole team."

The draft followed its expected direction: after James, Milicic was taken second by the Detroit Pistons and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony was drafted third by the Denver Nuggets.

The Toronto Raptors, drafting fourth, passed up a potential trade and took Georgia Tech freshman Chris Bosh as had been thought.

"Being picked so high is a definite honor. You always hope," Bosh said. "I'm happy it's over."

Things got interesting from there when the Miami Heat, drafting fifth overall, took Marquette shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four.

The Los Angeles Clippers, going next and reportedly in the mood for a point guard, crossed things up by taking Central Michigan center Chris Kaman, the best true low-post player in the draft, presumably as insurance in case center Michael Olowokandi leaves as an unrestricted free agent.

The Chicago Bulls then selected Kansas point guard Kirk Hinrich, likely as protection in case Jay Williams is unable to return from a career-threatening motorcycle accident he suffered last week. At a minimum, Williams, the second overall pick in last year's draft, will not play the 2003-04 season.

The Milwaukee Bucks selected Texas point guard T.J. Ford with the eighth pick, and the New York Knicks, who had wanted Kaman, settled for Georgetown forward Mike Sweetney.

Sweetney's selection had been preceded by the partisan fans of New York, where the draft was conducted, chanting "Fire Layden." The reference was to embattled Knicks general manager Scott Layden.

"They called my name and they cheered for me, and that made me feel real happy," said Sweetney, who will be the fifth power forward on New York's roster.

The Wizards, drafting 10th, chose Georgia swingman Jarvis Hayes.

In contrast to the previous two seasons, when there were a number of major trades, there were only two deals of consequence, and those were fairly minor.

The newly crowned NBA champion San Antonio Spurs dealt their first-round pick, Brazilian guard Leandro Barbosa, to the Phoenix Suns for a future first-round pick.

The Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies swapped their first-round picks, with point guard Troy Bell and swingman Dahntay Jones going to the Grizzlies for guard Marcus Banks and center Kendrick Perkins in a deal that was confirmed by the teams' respective GMs.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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