Freddie Jones selected by Indiana with 14th overall pick in 2002 NBA Draft.
By CHRIS SHERIDAN
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Yao Ming went from China to Houston on a night when the NBAdraft had a bigger foreign influence than ever before, and Antonio McDyess wasdealt to the New York Knicks in the major trade of the day.
The 7-foot-5 Yao, who gained clearance from the Chinese national federationto play in the NBA only hours earlier, was selected first overall by theRockets on Wednesday night. It marked the first time a foreign player who didnot play college ball in the United States went No. 1 in the draft.
The Knicks and Nuggets pulled off the night's biggest trade, with McDyessand the 25th pick, Frank Williams of Illinois, going to New York in exchangefor Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and the rights to the seventh overall pick,'Nene' Hilario of Brazil.
The were a few other deals, too.
The three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers acquired the rights toMissouri guard Kareem Rush, along with Tracy Murray, from Toronto for LindseyHunter and the rights to the 27th pick, Chris Jefferies.
Philadelphia traded the 16th pick, Czech guard Jiri Welsch, to Golden Statefor a future first-round pick and a future first- or second-round pick. Orlandotraded the 18th pick, Chris Borchardt, to Utah for the 18th pick, RyanHumphrey, and a second-round pick, and Sacramento dealt the 29th pick,Gonzaga's Dan Dickau, to Atlanta for a future No. 1 pick.
But the biggest news of the night centered around the huge center fromShanghai.
Yao did not attend the draft at Madison Square Garden, staying in Beijingfor training with his national team. Yao shared high-fives and handshakes withhis family as commissioner David Stern announced the pick.
'This is a new start in my basketball and life career,' Yao said throughan interpreter. 'There will be a new challenge for me. I am confident I willlearn from the NBA and improve myself.'
The choice of Yao at No. 1 was expected, although the Rockets went through afew nervous days leading up to the draft while they waited to learn whether hewould receive clearance from his national team. Yao had earlier reached aseverance agreement with his professional team, the Shanghai Sharks.
The Chinese federation was concerned about Yao's availability for nationalteam commitments, but an agreement was reached earlier Wednesday.
'The whole franchise wanted this so badly. I just felt that it would all beworked out,' Houston general manager Carroll Dawson said.
Jay Williams, a junior guard from Duke who was the national player of theyear, went second to the Chicago Bulls. Williams gave hugs rather thanhandshakes to his family before donning a Bulls cap and walking onstage.
This marked the second straight year the Bulls got the second overall pick.A year ago, they acquired teen-ager Tyson Chandler from the Los AngelesClippers for Elton Brand in a major draft-night deal. Chandler, attending theBulls draft in Deerfield, Ill., donned a Williams jersey for the occasion.
This year's draft had no shortage of trade talk, with several teams tryingto move into the top 10 or acquire one the veterans - including McDyess, AndreMiller and Baron Davis - whose names had been prominently mentioned in traderumors throughout the day.
Mike Dunleavy of Duke went third to the Golden State Warriors, and newlyhired Memphis Grizzlies president Jerry West made his first personnel move fora team other than the Los Angeles Lakers.
With the No. 4 pick, West chose Drew Gooden of Kansas, a 6-foot-10 juniorpower forward and first-team All-America selection. The Big 12 Player of theYear, who averaged 19.9 points last season, would join a Grizzlies frontcourtthat already includes Shane Battier and Rookie of the Year Pau Gasol.
Denver, choosing fifth, selected center Nikoloz Tskitishvili of BenettonTreviso in Italy. The 19-year-old Tskitishvili was the first teen-agerselected. A year ago, high school seniors comprised four of the first eightpicks.
Dajuan Wagner of Memphis went sixth to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a clearsignal that the trade talk surrounding Miller - the NBA assists leader lastseason - was legitimate. Cleveland has told Miller it does not want to offerhim a contract extension for another year, and several teams have beencontacting the Cavs to make offers - most notably the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Knicks, with their highest pick in 15 years, selected the 6-foot-11Hilario - a rebounding and shot-blocking specialist who remains under contractto a professional team in Rio de Janeiro - and were showered with boos and achant of 'Fire Layden' - a reference to Knicks president Scott Layden.
Less than an hour later, though, the word was out that the Knicks weregetting McDyess. The fans never relented, though, unleashing an obscene chantwhen Layden appeared on the giant television screen to announce the deal.
'McDyess was a big component in the trade for us. You can tell by the sizeof the deal what we thought of him,' Layden said. 'We knew the No. 7 pick wasattractive, and we knew we could use it to make the team better.'
Chris Wilcox of Maryland went eighth to the Clippers, and the Phoenix Sunsselected Amare Stoudemire, of Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, with theninth pick.
That allowed the Miami Heat, a team desperate for a scorer, to selectConnecticut sophomore Butler with the 10th pick. Butler, a small forward whoaveraged 20.3 points for the Huskies, was one of the few players projected tobe ready to make an immediate offensive impact in the NBA.
Indiana forward Jared Jeffries went 11th to the Washington Wizards, givingMichael Jordan another young building block on his front line to go along withhis overall No. 1 pick from a year ago, Kwame Brown.
With their second pick of the first round, the Clippers took Fresno State'sMelvin Ely - the first senior to be selected.
Forward Marcus Haislip of Tennessee went 13th to Milwaukee, guard Fred Jonesof Oregon was picked by Indiana, the Rockets went the foreign route again withtheir second pick of the night by taking Slovenian forward Bostjan Nachbar andthe Wizards used their second first-round pick on first-team All-America guardJuan Dixon of Maryland.
After Borchardt and Humphrey and Rush were picked, Portland was able toselect junior college standout Qyntel Woods, a projected lottery pick whodropped all the way to No. 21.
Casey Jacobsen of Stanford went to Phoenix, Kentucky forward Tayshaun Princewent to Detroit at No. 23, New Jersey took 18-year-old center Nenad Krstic ofYugoslavia. San Antonio took Miami forward John Salmons, and thesoon-to-be-traded Jefferies and Dickau were the final two picks of the firstround.
There were nine foreign-born players selected in the second round after sixwent in the first round. Previously, the highest total of foreign playersdrafted was 14 in 2000.
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