The Cleveland Cavaliers opened the 2013 National Basketball Association draft by making Anthony Bennett of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas the first pick, a move that surprised even the UNLV freshman forward.
Then came the real shocker -- ESPN reported that the Boston Celtics had agreed in principle to trade veteran All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets.
The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Bennett is the first Canadian selected top overall in the draft. Bennett, the fourth straight freshman chosen with the No. 1 pick, is from Toronto.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” said Bennett, who averaged 16 points and eight rebounds a game in his only season at UNLV. “I heard everything was up for grabs.”
The New York Knicks and Nets each had one pick last night. The Knicks took Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th selection and the Nets chose Duke University center Mason Plumlee with the 22nd pick. Hardaway’s father was a five-time NBA All-Star guard in the 1990s.
Many analysts had predicted University of Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel would go first in the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Noel ended up as the sixth pick, and might be traded before his NBA career begins.
Indiana guard Victor Oladipo was the second pick, by the Orlando Magic, and the Washington Wizards selected forward Otto Porter Jr. of Georgetown next.
Indiana forward Cody Zeller went fourth to the Charlotte Bobcats, followed by center Alex Len of Maryland going to the Phoenix Suns.
Noel, 19, went sixth to New Orleans. The Pelicans, who were named the Hornets last year, picked Kentucky center Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2012.
“It feels great to have an opportunity to play with Anthony,” said Noel, who is recovering from left knee surgery. “It’s going to be a shot-blocking party when I get down there.”
That block party may never materialize. Yahoo Sports reported, based on people within the league who were not identified, that Noel will be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for point guard Jrue Holiday.
Shooting guard Ben McLemore of Kansas went seventh to the Sacramento Kings, followed by the Detroit Pistons picking Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Michigan point guard Trey Burke was the ninth overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and point guard C.J. McCollum of Lehigh went 10th to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Burke did not stay a member of the Timberwolves for even one night. He was traded to the Utah Jazz for the rights to 14th pick Shabazz Muhammad, a guard from UCLA, and 21st pick Gorgui Dieng, a center from national champion Louisville.
The entire draft, however, was overshadowed by reports of the blockbuster trade between the Celtics and Nets.
ESPN, quoting unidentified people close to the process, said the Celtics had agreed to send center Garnett, forward Pierce and backup shooting guard Jason Terry to the Nets.
The trade cannot become official until July 10, when a league-wide moratorium on signings and trades is lifted after free agency begins July 1, the network reported.
ESPN reported that the Nets, who hired Jason Kidd as coach two weeks ago, will send forward Gerald Wallace and first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to Boston. The Celtics also will get Tornike Shengelia, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans and rights to the expiring contract of Kris Humphries.