If you thought I’d have trouble churning out Draft Diary XI with the future of my beloved Celtics hanging in the balance, well, you’re sorely mistaken. After 11 straight draft nights, I could write this column while trapped underneath Big Baby Davis. I mean, you really thought the likes of Danny Ainge, Jesus Shuttlesworth and Yi Jianlian could hold me down? Come on.
(All right, they may have held me down a little. But just a little.)
Without further ado
4:30 p.m. (PT): Thanks to rumors that the Celtics might trade the No. 5 pick, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West for a soon-to-be 32-year-old shooting guard coming off double ankle surgeries (Ray Allen), I just spent the last 20 minutes on basketball-reference.com trying to find one great shooting guard who didn’t decline significantly in Years 12 through 14 of his NBA career. Here’s the list: Reggie Miller. That’s it. Also, I just threw up in my mouth and some of it went up the back of my nose.
4:32: David Stern’s intro could be best described as “wobbly.” When he mentioned that New York was home of “the Knicks and the Liberty” and a couple of fans predictably jeered, he didn’t even give us a sarcastic pause. They might have to take him into the shop for a tune-up.
4:34: Funny shot of 12 employees in Portland’s draft room realizing they were being shown on TV, then inexplicably standing up and applauding happily. It’s just like I feel about the rumored Ray Allen trade, only the exact opposite.
4:35: Jay Bilas calls Greg Oden “the ultimate high character guy.” I would have gone with Gandhi.
4:36: Stephen A. Smith on Portland taking Oden: “They better pick him — THAT’S THE SENSIBLE THING TO DO.” We’re nearing the phase of his career when Smith might need to change his gimmick, kind of like when Puffy changed to P. Diddy. I think “Stevie A.” or “The Notorious S.A.S.” could buy him another two years. That’s the sensible thing to do.
4:36: The Blazers select Greg Oden with the first pick — a moment that would have been much more exciting if Ric Bucher and his new Gordon Gekko hairdo hadn’t ruined it. (Note: After Buke’s report, I wanted to “break” the report that the Sonics would pick Kevin Durant second; none of my editors would oblige. Cowards.) Meanwhile, Oden gets a full-fledged, “Thank God he seems like a good guy” smile from Stern during their handshake. If there was a bizarro version of the moment when he shook hands with J.R. Rider in 1995, that would have been it.
4:39: “You can’t teach 7 feet!” The Notorious S.A.S. screams.
(See, it works. I told you.)
4:40: I have to say, Oden seems like a legitimately good guy. Even Stu Scott seems charmed. If the Blazers were “Platoon,” Oden would be Willem Dafoe, Zach Randolph would be Tom Berenger, and Brandon Roy would be the Charlie Sheen character caught in the middle between good and evil. The more I’m thinking about it, they might need to trade Zach. Like, right now.
4:41: Andy Katz reports that Boston agreed to deal the No. 5 pick, Szczerbiak and West for Allen. Not even 10 seconds later, the Sonics take Kevin Durant the guy I’d been rooting for the Celtics to get since December.
(Hold on, I’m picking my jaw off the ground.)
Unless there’s another major move coming — and Lord, let’s hope so — are we really contending for the title in 2008 or 2009 with Pierce, Jefferson, Allen, Doc Rivers and nine unproven young guys? Are we even winning 47 games? Three seasons from now, if you’re watching Doc and Danny Ainge announcing the same TNT game, then you flick channels and see a broken-down Ray Allen jogging around a half-empty TD Banknorth Center at age 34, you’ll think of me. I promise you.
4:43: They just spent the last two minutes discussing Durant, and I didn’t even feel jealous of Jay Bilas’ orgasmic hyperbole because I was so rattled by the Allen trade. (Hands off, Jay — I have the No. 1 media man-crush on Durant.) To be clear, I’m a big Allen fan: He’s an excellent player; he always wanted to play in Boston (unlike everyone else in the league); I would have loved this trade if he were 28 or 29; and it’s hard to top the comedy of Ray Allen and Allan Ray playing for the same team.
Here’s the problem: Allen’s draft class was the year before I wrote my first draft diary. His movie (“He Got Game“) came out nearly a decade ago. He played at UConn with Donyell Marshall, Donny Marshall and Doron Sheffer. This guy is not a spring chicken — just look at his hairline, for cripes’ sake. This feels like Mitch Richmond going to the Bullets for C-Webb all over again. I’m somewhere between “quitting coffee and trying to make it through Day 3” rattled and “waiting for the results of an HIV test” rattled. And you know who’s going to suffer? You, the home reader. That’s who.
(Note: And just wait until John Hollinger comes out with his inevitable “Every quality 2-guard in NBA history declined as a player after Year 12 except Reggie Miller” feature to torture me. You know it’s coming. Damn you, John Hollinger. Damn you.)
4:46: Meanwhile, the Hawks finally do the right thing in an NBA draft: They took the third-best guy (Al Horford) at No. 3. Billy Knight, it’s like we don’t even know you anymore! Even more shocking, it looks like Joakim Noah abandoned his ponytail, slapped on a bow tie and hired Carrot Top’s hair stylist. Let’s hope he doesn’t drop into the second round because of this.
4:47: Marc Stein sends me an e-mail about the Allen trade that ends, “It could have turned out worse.” Great. That’s just the celebratory e-mail I was hoping for on draft night: “It could have turned out worse.”
4:51: Al Horford speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese, but unfortunately, he doesn’t speak Stu Scott. Have I used that joke before? Ah, screw it. I feel more depressed than an Elliott Smith album right now.
4:52: Memphis grabs Mike Conley Jr. at No. 4. Really good pick. I’d tell you more, but I’m busy trying to find the right adjective for my father on the phone right now. Beaten down? Distraught? Perplexed? Horrified? Apoplectic? All of them fit. He’s absolutely appalled by the Allen trade.
“Shooting guards always lose their legs when they hit 32 or 33!” Dad yelps. “It happens to all of them. They can’t avoid it. Make sure you put in your column that we traded the fifth and seventh picks in consecutive years for a point guard who was too short and a shooting guard who was too old. Put that in your column. Put it in. I hate this trade.”
(Ummm sure thing, Pops.)
4:56: Dad calls again: “And by the way, I liked Delonte West. Put that in, too. Terrible. This is just terrible.”
4:58: Boston picks Jeff Green for Seattle at No. 5, but Green has to go through the charade of wearing a Celtics hat for the next few minutes because the trade hasn’t been officially announced yet. Topps needs to release a special series: “Trading cards of NBA draft picks who had to wear the wrong caps for 15 minutes.”
5:00: Hey, did somebody commission an “Extreme Makeover” of the draft and nobody told us? All the suits look classy; all the moms look like they hired personal trainers what the hell is going on here?
5:04: Uh-oh. Milwaukee just took Yi Jianlian at No. 6 even though they weren’t on his list of acceptable cities because of its lack of a Chinese population or for that matter, any population other than good-natured, heavyset Caucasians who enjoy dark beer and fried food. This is gonna end badly. You’ll see Brett Favre booed at Lambeau before you see Yi putting on a Bucks uniform.
(Another bad sign: We learned tonight that Yi’s first name is pronounced “E,” which means you could call this pick an “E-6.” Literally.)
5:08: Yi’s interpreter-less interview with Stu Scott wins the ESPY for “Best impersonation of Andre the Giant by a Chinese guy” and “Biggest lock to be turned into a YouTube clip by at least 500 different people.” Although you have to admire him for doing it. I’m starting to come around on Yi — the thought of him shoveling out his car in minus-10 degree weather in January while fighting back tears and screaming, “Why????? Why?????” in Chinese is delightful for some reason. Too bad they’ll trade him. If the Chinese government can torture Jack Bauer for two years, it can definitely break the Bucks.
5:11: You have to love the T-Wolves — they waited a year too long to trade KG, then frantically shopped him for the past week, and while all this was happening, owner Glen Taylor headed to China for his honeymoon. Hey, Kevin, good luck dealing the most important player in franchise history, I’ll be in Beijing with my fifth wife! Anyway, they just grabbed Corey Brewer at No. 7. Another well-done, logical pick. We’re 5-for-7 right now.
5:12: Just had the following exchange with my buddy House:
House: “I’m driving home from softball, did your team make a trade?”
Me: “Yeah, we traded the fifth pick, Wally and Delonte for Ray Allen.”
House: “Noooooooo!” (Raucous laughter.)
5:13: Our best ESPN graphic of the night as Rachel Nichols discusses Charlotte’s plans at No. 8: “Jordan actively involved in the draft.” You know you’re a shaky GM when TV networks feel the need to point out that, yes, you have decided to become actively involved in the selection process of a lottery pick.
5:19: Just won a three-team parlay on Charlotte grabbing UNC’s Brandan Wright at No. 8 (the old WNBA strategy strikes again!), Jay Bilas loving the pick (“He runs the floor like a deer!”) and Bilas calling his wingspan “extraordinary” (easy money).
5:23: Classic shot of a Bulls fan in the stands wearing a Jordan jersey and holding a “Thanks Isiah!” sign, immediately followed by a mortified Spike Lee. You have to love the NBA draft. I’m starting to cheer up. Pierce, Jefferson and Allen maybe I can talk myself into this. That’s not a bad top three, you have to admit.
(By the way, I’m drinking heavily. Just so you know.)
5:26: Chicago takes Carrot Top Noah at No. 9, opening the door to use Ben Wallace’s salary in a trade four months from now after Kobe kidnaps Mitch Kupchak’s family and holds them hostage in an undisclosed location. Plus, we got some extended shots of Noah’s happy mother. A win-win all the way around. Hey, did you know she was Miss Sweden during the same year that Jerome Bettis was growing up in Detroit?
5:28: If you’re scoring at home, “great motor” is the official catchphrase of the 2007 NBA draft. Bilas has a great motor for the phrase “great motor.”
5:32: Looking disturbingly like Chris Mihm, Spencer Hawes goes 10th to the Kings. Now they have a young center who can’t rebound or protect the rim, an aging center (Brad Miller) who can’t rebound or protect the rim, a guy who started the biggest melee in NBA history (Ron Artest), the coach from “Hang Time” (Reggie Theus), tons of bad contracts, and owners (the Maloofs) who’ve made more reality-TV-show appearances than every other NBA owner combined. What a mess. O.J. Mayo should just buy a house in Sacramento now and get it over with.
5:37: The Notorious S.A.S. spends 60 seconds questioning Chicago’s Noah pick, wonders why the Bulls didn’t address low-post scoring without mentioning a single alternative (either in the draft or through trade), then adds at the end, “Again, [John] Paxson knows what he’s doing, he’s a phenomenal executive.” I’d like that minute of my life back. No, really.
5:39: Our long national nightmare is over: The Hawks finally drafted a quality point guard (Acie Law IV). It’s like Billy Knight just pooped in our fridge and ate a whole wheel of cheese, isn’t it? Mark Jackson celebrates the occasion by making a midget joke.
5:44: S.A.S. spends a minute telling us how much the Sixers need to go big at 12 and how nothing else is acceptable. Everyone else agrees with him, then — right as Mike Tirico is about to throw it to the commish — S.A.S. says, “Thaddeus Young with this pick, I suspect they’ll take him.” And they do. Um what???? Fortunately, Bilas saves the day by praising Young’s upside.
5:59: Our last two blue-chippers get taken: Julian Wright (Hornets) and Al Thornton (Clippers). Love both of those picks — not just the players, but the fits with the teams. Has there ever been a first round in which more lottery teams did the right thing? And you’re not gonna believe this, but Bilas loves Thornton’s motor. What about my motor, Jay? I’m gamely plowing through my diary even though my favorite team may have just made this decade’s version of the Webber/Richmond trade.
6:07: After Detroit takes Rodney Stuckey at 15, Bilas calls him “a poor man’s Dwyane Wade.” Hmmmm. Who’s the homeless man’s Wade? Damien Wilkins? Marquis Daniels?
6:11: Nick Young goes to the Wizards at No. 16, breaking the record for “fastest we’ve ever cleared out all the prospects invited to the draft” (usually there’s a one straggler). More importantly, he’s dressed like Mr. Roarke. Smiles, everyone, smiles.
6:14: Good God, Isiah finally made a good trade! It happened! Somehow, he just landed Zach Randolph for Channing Frye and Stevie Francis! I’m shocked! What’s happening to this league? Even Isiah is doing the right thing! I can’t stop using exclamation points! How was that the best Portland could do for Randolph?!? He’s good for a 25-10 in the East! And if it doesn’t work out, who cares? They gave up a bad contract and a half-decent forward to take a $50 million flier on a dominant low-post player. Great move. I stand by these thoughts even if Zach starts an international incident at Scores within the next nine months.
(Follow-up note: I think Portland GM Kevin Pritchard spent an hour thinking about it and decided, “You know what? Just to be safe, maybe it’s best that Oden and Randolph never, ever, ever meet. Call Isiah and tell him we say yes to the crappy Francis-Frye offer. We can’t mess around.”)
6:16: It’s only fitting that Stern’s microphone went out right as he was announcing New Jersey’s pick at 17: troubled BC star Sean Williams, the perfect rebounder/shot-blocker on paper for the the Nets. Unfortunately, Sean couldn’t attend the draft because he’s home watching “Planet Earth” on Blu-ray and eating three bags of Doritos at once.
6:24: Jim Gray takes a break from reporting blockbuster three-team trades that don’t happen to file a dispatch from Lakers headquarters. Yaaaaaaaawn. The Kobe Saga is showing signs of turning into the new Barbaro Watch. Wake us up when they decide what to do.
6:28: Dickie V. and S.A.S. scream at each other in a split-screen for a while, followed by them making a dinner bet about whether the 2007 draft will prove deeper than the 2003 draft. Imagine being the waiter at that table? Guys, seriously, don’t bother tipping me; I slit both of my wrists 10 minutes ago and I’m bleeding to death as we speak. Thanks, though.
6:38: Gray interviews Mitch Kupchak. It turned out to be as uninformative as it was uncomfortable. Hard to believe, I know.
6:40: Our last four picks: Marco Belinelli to Nellie and the Warriors (some things are meant to be); Javaris Crittenton to the Lakers (why would a team that runs the triangle take two straight PGs in the first round?); Jason Smith to Miami (the metrosexual David Lee); Daequan Cook to the Sixers (getting flipped to Miami for Smith, along with two railroads and $200 cash).
6:42: Bilas on Stephen A. Smith: “He needs to become more coachable and learn how to play with other people.” Whoops, he said that about Daequan Cook. Sorry about that.
6:48: At 22, Charlotte takes my favorite sleeper in the draft: BC’s Jared Dudley. I liked Dudley, Big Baby Davis, Taurean Green and Aaron Brooks as my sleepers in the 20-45 range this year. I’m going 4-for-4 this year. I will not be pulling a Julio Lugo.
(Note: Just to clarify for everyone outside New England, “pulling a Julio Lugo” means going 0-for-4.)
6:51: I have to say, Spike Lee is really growing on me — I always enjoy his thoughts on the Knicks these days. Maybe he’s a 375th-impression guy.
6:53: Looks like Boston acquired the 35th pick in the Ray Allen trade, as well. Hmmmmm. I’m feeling a little better about things. I was a 2 out of 10 two hours ago now I’m a 3 out of 10, and I’ll be a 5 out of 10 if they take Big Baby with one of their second-rounders. As for my Dad? Let’s call him.
6:53: “I’m still a 0 out of 10,” he says.
Let’s skip through the rest of the first round: Wilson Chandler to the Knicks (shockingly, Stephen A. loved the pick); Rudy Fernandez to the Blazers (purchased from the Suns, who continue to piss on their fans by dumping crucial first-rounders for money reasons); Morris Almond to the Jazz (much-needed shooting); Brooks to the Rockets (sleeper No. 2 in the books); Arron Afflalo to Detroit (typically savvy Dumars pick); Tiago Splitter to San Antonio (typically savvy Spurs stash-away pick); Alando Tucker to the Suns (scoring off the bench!); and Petteri Koponen to the Sixers (seriously, can you imagine anyone with that name actually becoming an NBA star?). Also, G-State dealt Jason Richardson to Charlotte for the rights to Brandan Wright, one of those moves that has “the first step in another trade in which G-State gets Yi” written all over it.
One more thing: With the second-rounder obtained from Seattle, my dad and I were on the phone rooting for Big Baby and when it happened, we both cheered and did the whole “I can’t believe we got him at 35!” routine. Sure, it was a minor victory, but when you’re a Celtics fan these days, you take what you can get.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His book “Now I Can Die In Peace” is available in paperback.