Published June 27, 2008
NEW YORK – Minutes after the NBA draft started, Derrick Rose learned he was headed home. Long after it ended, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love were on the move.
A night that began with the expected pick ended with a stunning trade, which had two top-five selections changing teams as part of an eight-player deal between Minnesota and Memphis.
The Timberwolves dealt the rights to Mayo, the No. 3 pick, to the Grizzlies for Love, taken two spots later, in a trade that wasn't completed until past 2 a.m. EDT, some two hours after Boston made the 60th and final pick of the draft.
Minnesota also received Mike Miller, Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal, and sent Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner to Memphis.
"We fully expected to have O.J. on our team next year," Minnesota assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg said. "This deal came up very late in the draft. We just felt this deal had too many pieces that addressed needs that we had that we just couldn't pass it up."
"Plans are on the fly in this business," Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said. "We were hoping to get O.J., but awhile back it was obvious he was not going to drop to five."
Hours earlier, the Chicago Bulls selected Rose, who grew up on the city's South Side, with the No. 1 pick, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.
With Beasley going second to Miami and Mayo following, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time in draft history.
"We actually talked about this earlier," Beasley said. "We all grew up together and we all grew up playing against each other and we all made a pact together that we would all be here. Just to see it all fall into place and see it all happen is kind of crazy."
Five of the first seven players selected and 10 in the first round were freshmen, both NBA records. It was also a big night for the Pac-10 Conference, which had five of the first 11 picks.
Rose led the Tigers to the national championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard's playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories.
"We talked so much about it. We really did," Bulls general manager John Paxson said. "Very honestly, at the end when we made our decision, it was unanimous with my scouts and coaches and myself. This was the direction we wanted to go in the end, and it has nothing to do with the talent of Michael Beasley. This had everything to do with the direction we felt was right for us."
The 6-foot-3 Rose put on a red Bulls cap, hugged some supporters, including Memphis coach John Calipari, and shook hands with Beasley, seated at a nearby table, before walking onto the stage to meet NBA commissioner David Stern.
"I was a little nervous when they came back out, but I always had that in mind that I want to be No. 1," Rose said. "So it was great hearing my name and being the No. 1 pick."
Expected to contend for a division title, the Bulls instead stumbled to a 33-49 record and eventually replaced two coaches. But with just a 1.7 percent chance, they won last month's draft lottery, giving them a chance to quickly return to the playoffs.
"It feels great to go in and compete," Rose said. "I'm just blessed to be in that position right now, because a lot of people aren't. And just knowing that we are a few pieces away from really contending as a team, it just makes me happy."
Miami settled for Beasley, who wasn't sure if the Heat would go for Mayo instead. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be 2 inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 he's listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.
UCLA guard Russell Westbrook was the first non-freshmen taken, going fourth to the Seattle SuperSonics — with new teammate and reigning Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant standing and applauding the pick from the back.
Love gave UCLA consecutive picks and the New York Knicks followed at No. 6 with Italian forward Danilo Gallinari, whose father played with new coach Mike D'Antoni overseas. Fans in Madison Square Garden weren't impressed, booing loudly.
"It's part of the game, all the players have got to hear this," Gallinari said. "Not every time can you hear good things. It's normal."
Indiana guard Eric Gordon became the fifth freshman taken, going to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 7. West Virginia's Joe Alexander, whose stock began to rise after a strong run at Madison Square Garden in the Big East tournament, went to Milwaukee with the next pick.
Charlotte gave new coach Larry Brown a point guard, taking D.J. Augustin of Texas with the ninth pick. New Jersey took Stanford center Brook Lopez at No. 10, and Arizona's Jerryd Bayless joined fellow Pac-10 guards Mayo and Westbrook by going 11th to Indiana.
Bayless' rights were later traded to Portland along with Ike Diogu for the rights to Brandon Rush, the No. 13 pick from national champion Kansas, Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts. Rush's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Associated Press about the deal shortly after Rush was taken.
Sacramento pulled a surprise at No. 12 with Rider forward Jason Thompson, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the year and the first senior taken. Golden State grabbed LSU forward Anthony Randolph — yet another freshman — with the 14th and final lottery pick.
Robin Lopez joined twin brother Brook in the NBA when Phoenix chose him at No. 15. That started a run of big men in which Philadelphia took Florida's Marreese Speights, Toronto picked Roy Hibbert of Georgetown at No. 17, and Washington drafted Nevada 7-footer JaVale McGee with the 18th pick.
Darrell Arthur of Kansas was the final player in the green room, lasting until the 27th spot, where New Orleans grabbed him — and dealt his rights to Portland for cash in a previously arranged deal. The Trail Blazers then traded his rights to the Houston Rockets, who shipped them to Memphis in another transaction.
NBA champion Boston chose J.R. Giddens of New Mexico with the 30th and final pick of the first round.
Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson (No. 52, Miami) and Sasha Kaun (No. 56, Seattle) were taken in the second round, giving the Jayhawks five players in the draft — and all had their rights traded. Chalmers was picked by Minnesota but his rights were later dealt to Miami. Cleveland later acquired the rights to both Jackson and Kaun.
Joey Dorsey (Portland, No. 33, rights traded to Houston) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (New Jersey, No. 40) of runner-up Memphis also were picked. Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan, considered a possible lottery pick, tumbled to the Clippers at No. 35.
Other well-known names going late in the draft included: UCLA's Luc Mbah a Moute (No. 37, Milwaukee); Georgetown's Patrick Ewing Jr. (No. 43, Sacramento); Kansas State's Bill Walker (No. 47, Washington, rights traded to Boston); and Kentucky's Joe Crawford (No. 58, Lakers).