Raptors take Bargnani with No. 1 pick

NEW YORK -- Andrea Bargnani went first. Then came the

The Toronto Raptors selected Bargnani with the No. 1 pick
Wednesday night in an unpredictable NBA draft that saw four of the
top seven picks switch teams by the middle of the first round.

LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas went second to the Chicago Bulls,
starting a flurry of trades that would also include the fourth,
sixth and seventh picks.

Aldridge's rights were later dealt to Portland for the rights to
Tyrus Thomas, who had been chosen fourth, and forward Viktor

"Right before they said my name, they said, 'They are going to
call your name in a minute, but don't worry about it, they are
going to trade you,"' Aldridge said.

The Trail Blazers weren't done dealing. They acquired the rights
to Randy Foye, taken seventh by the Boston Celtics, along with Raef
LaFrentz, Dan Dickau and cash for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff
and a 2008 second-round pick.

The Blazers then shipped Foye's rights to Minnesota for Brandon
Roy, the Washington guard taken sixth by the Timberwolves.

"When I see the guys go 1, 2, 3, it was just nerve-racking,"
Foye said. "But then like two picks before, my agent and Brandon's
agent were making eye contact and I didn't know what was going on
at the time. And once I saw my agent's face light up, he was like,
'Yeah, Boston is going to take you.'

"And then, 'Portland is going to take you.' And then when they
said Minnesota, I was like OK, good. Bring it on."

There were 15 trades, likely the product of a draft that lacked
star power. High school players are no longer eligible, meaning
Greg Oden, who surely would have been the No. 1 pick, is headed to
Ohio State instead of the NBA.

The Raptors didn't think they needed a deal, confident that
Bargnani, a 20-year-old forward from Italy, can live up to
comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki.

"Everyone has strengths, weaknesses, etc.," general manager
Bryan Colangelo said. "But at the end of the day, it came down
that we felt that Andrea Bargnani was really the best pick for the
future of this organization going forward. It's not about today.
It's about today and tomorrow and we think that Andrea is a player
that's not only going to help us in the short run, but we think
he's going to grow into a terrific star in this league."

The 6-foot-10 Bargnani, the first European player taken first
overall, has drawn the comparisons to the Dallas Mavericks'
All-Star because of his outside shooting skills. Playing last
season for Benetton Treviso in Italy's Lega A, Bargnani shot 37
percent from 3-point range.

He's the second straight foreign-born No. 1 pick after Milwaukee
chose Andrew Bogut of Australia from the University of Utah last
year. Bargnani is the first No. 1 pick to not play college or high
school basketball in the United States since Houston took Yao Ming
in 2002.

"I hope to help the team as soon as possible," Bargnani said.
"I'm a young player, I know that I will find a lot of tough
moments because it's a new league and I'm used to playing in

Aldridge then went in a pick that came from New York in a
preseason trade for Eddy Curry, and the fans at the Theater at
Madison Square Garden didn't have to wait for it to express their
anger toward Knicks coach and team president Isiah Thomas.

Chants of "Fire Isiah!" started 15 minutes before the draft,
and "Fire Thomas!" cries followed just before the pick. The fans
might get their wish next year -- Madison Square Garden chairman
James Dolan warned Thomas on Monday that he has one year to turn
around the franchise or he'll be out of a job.

Dolan wasn't spared, either: "Sell the Knicks!" chants also
rang out before the draft started.

Gonzaga star Adam Morrison went to Charlotte at No. 3 with the
Bobcats' first since pick Michael Jordan became a part owner of the
team in charge of the basketball operations earlier this month. The
mustachioed All-American led the nation in scoring as a junior with
28.1 points per game.

"It would be awesome if I could get some hands-on instruction
from Mike," Morrison said. "Any time the greatest player of
all-time is telling you what to do ... if he told me how to tie my
shoes a certain way, I would probably listen."

The Trail Blazers then selected LSU's Tyrus Thomas, who already
knew he wasn't going there. Even while wearing a Blazers hat, he
spoke of playing for Chicago.

"They're young, they like to run and Coach (Scott) Skiles, I
visited with him, and he's a great teacher and a motivator,"
Thomas said. "Just the organization as a whole, it has a bright
future so I'm looking forward to doing some good things in

The Atlanta Hawks also went for interior defense when they took
Duke's Shelden Williams at No. 5. The Blue Devils' career leader in
blocked shots was the ACC defensive player of the year in each of
his last two seasons.

The Houston Rockets took Rudy Gay at No. 8, the first of a
record-tying four Connecticut players taken in the first round. The
Golden State Warriors then grabbed center Patrick O'Bryant, whose
stock rose after he led Bradley to the third round of the NCAA

After Seattle took forward Saer Sene to close the top 10,
Orlando grabbed guard J.J. Redick, recently charged with driving
under the influence. As usual, the former Duke guard was greeted by
a loud, mixed reaction. He drew boos when he was shown on the
overhead TV screen, but eventually cheered after his pick was

The next pick was another popular one with the crowd: The
Hornets went with UConn's Hilton Armstrong from Peekskill, N.Y.
Marcus Williams and Josh Boone of the Huskies went with the 22nd
and 23rd picks, both to New Jersey.

Philadelphia grabbed guard Thabo Sefolosha, who played last
season in Italy, at No. 13, followed by Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer to
Utah; Cedric Simmons of North Carolina State to the Hornets with
the 15th pick, and the Bulls taking Memphis' Rodney Carney with
their second first-round choice.

In another trade, the rights to Sefolosha and Carney were later

Sacramento's pick of Rutgers' guard Quincy Douby at No. 19 drew
a roar, but the boos came right back when Isiah Thomas' face was
shown on the screen as the Knicks prepared to pick at 20th. They
didn't stop, either -- drowning out the last name of New York's
pick, South Carolina forward Renaldo Balkman, the MVP of the NIT
who averaged 9.6 points last season.

Villanova, Memphis and Michigan State also had multiple
first-round picks. The Tigers' Shawne Williams went to Indiana at
No. 17 and Memphis chose Wildcats guard Kyle Lowry at No. 24. The
Spartans' Shannon Brown (25th by Cleveland) and Maurice Ager (28th
to Dallas) went later.

The draft ended with deputy commissioner and fan favorite Russ
Granik announcing Iowa State's Will Blalock to Detroit with the
last pick. The remaining fans chanted "One more year!" for
Granik, who is leaving his position on July 1.