Blazers make big splash in draft
- Kerry Eggers
- Portland Tribune - News
Trades land Aldridge, Roy and others
The Trail Blazers made the biggest splash of any team in Wednesday's NBA draft, trading three veterans in three separate deals to position themselves to secure draftees LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas and Brandon Roy of Washington.
In one of the most active drafts by a team in NBA history, Portland wound up with four first-round picks - though the last two are unlikely to soon play in the NBA .
After plenty of draft-day wheeling and dealing, Portland wound up with the Nos. 2 and 7 picks and what it hopes is immediate help on the front line and in the backcourt.
In a trade made moments before the draft, Portland sent the No. 4 pick, forward Viktor Khryapa and future considerations to Chicago for the No. 2 pick. With the No. 2, the Blazers got the 6-11 Aldridge, who averaged 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season.
Earlier in the day, Portland moved point guard Sebastian Telfair, center Theo Ratliff and a second-round pick in 2008 to Boston for center Raef LaFrentz, guard Dan Dickau and the No. 7 pick and cash considerations. With that pick, the Blazers selected Villanova's Randy Foye, a 6-4 point guard who was Big East Conference player of the year last season.
Moments later, the Blazers announced they were swapping Foye and cash considerations to Minnesota for the No. 6 pick, Roy, the Pac-10 player of the year in 2005-06.
Later in the first round, Portland sent cash considerations to Phoenix for the 27th pick and the rights to Sergio 'Spanish Chocolate' Rodriguez, 20, a flashy 6-3 point guard from Spain. With the 30th selection, Portland took 6-10 forward Joel Freeland out of England, a 19-year-old likely to stay in Europe for seasoning for at least another year.
With the first pick in the second round, Portland chose James White, a 6-7 forward out of Cincinnati who averaged 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds as a senior last season. The Blazers then sent the rights to White to Indiana for the 45th pick in this year's draft, 6-10 Florida State forward Alexander Johnson, and two future second-round draft choices. A little later, Portland sent Johnson to Memphis for a future second-round pick.
'To mix sports metaphors, we hit a home run today,' Portland President Steve Patterson told ESPN. 'LaMarcus is the kind of player who could have been picked first in the draft. We feel very fortunate to get both him and Brandon Roy. ... A lot of great things happened to us today.'
Asked if the Blazers followed a plan in the draft, Patterson said, 'We definitely did ... we wanted people who could play defense. We wanted to get younger, get players who can grow the team with.'
Patterson said the Blazers didn't necessarily want to unload Telfair, 'but you have to give up value to get the second pick in the draft. (Boston General Manager) Danny Ainge wanted a young point guard. Raef is three years younger than Theo. We're excited.'
'I really didn't know where I was going to end up,' said Aldridge, an all-Big 12 choice who turns 21 on July 19. 'I was hoping I'd end up on a good team. Portland is a great spot for me to go to. They're in the rebuilding process, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.'
Aldridge's workout in Portland impressed the Blazer staff, and vice versa.
'I told my agent (Arn Tellem), 'I love this place. This is it,' ' Aldridge said. 'I like the coach (Nate McMillan), and being around Portland, I just loved it. I told him my agent, 'This is the place where I want to be.'
Aldridge said he considers himself a power forward at this point in his career.
'My best position is a 4, but as I get stronger, I'll be able to play both 4 and 5 (center) equally,' he said.
Aldridge said he is 'real good friends' with Roy. 'I was real happy with everything that happened with Portland. We're real cool.'
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas compares Aldridge to Chris Bosh, Toronto's All-Star forward.
'He has great feet and runs the floor extremely well,' Bilas said of Aldridge. 'He is more of a finesse big guy, and the way he runs the score can be stunning. He gets up, has long arms and a soft shooting touch. He has a nice jumper and has been working on a jump hook. He has to work on his strength. He gets pushed off the low block. It's a good draft pick. I liken him a little bit to Chris Bosh.'
The 6-6 Roy said he was confused when it was announced he had been chosen by the Timberwolves.
'Once Minnesota called my name, I was sure there would be a trade,' said the Seattle native, who averaged 20.2 points while shooting .508 from the field and .402 from 3-point range as a senior at UW. 'But when it didn't happen for a while, I was thinking, 'Maybe I'm going to Minnesota.' In the middle of an interview, I was told I was going to be a Trail Blazer, I'm like, 'OK, that's the way it's supposed to be.'
'I'm extremely excited to be a part of this organization. It's a great team, a great group of young guys. I'm anxious to get going.'
Roy is close to Martell Webster, the 19-year-old Blazer guard who has known Roy since Webster was 10 years old.
'We have known each other since the days we played at St. Joseph's Catholic School up on the hill by my grandmother's house,' Webster said. 'We used to go up there every day and play with the older guys just to get better. Brandon was like a big brother to me, teaching me the ropes. Now I can come in and maybe teach him some things.'
Webster signed a letter of intent with Washington before declaring for the NBA draft last year.
'I thought we might get to play together in college,' Roy said. 'We could have learned from each other. Now we get a chance to do it in the NBA.'
Roy said with his versatility, he can play both guard positions and small forward.
'I won't affect Martell's playing time very much,' Roy said. 'I can help push him to get better.'
'We definitely can play at the same time together,' Webster said. 'He's a guard, but he's a combo. We're kind of like the same. We both can play the 2 and the 3. Neither one of us is greedy, and we love to make our teammates better.'
Ratliff, 33, has two years and $23.3 million remaining on his contract. The 6-11 LaFrentz, 30, is due about $35 million over the next three years, including $12.7 million in 2007-08.
Toronto opened the draft by selecting Andrea Bargnani, a 7-0 forward out of Italy who turns 21 in October. Bargnani, playing for Benetton Treviso, averaged 11.6 points in 30 games in the Italian League and 10.9 points in 18 games in the EuroLeague.
Charlotte took Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison with the third pick. Then Portland, drafting for Chicago, took Louisiana State forward Tyrus Thomas at No. 4.
The first surprise came when Atlanta chose Duke forward Shelden Williams with the fifth pick, ahead of Roy, Connecticut's Rudy Gay and Foye. Houston got Gay at No. 8.