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Strange twists to draft drama

We all figured the 2005 NBA Draft would feature a number of surprises. How about ''Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" meets ''The Twilight Zone" meets Tom Petty?

By the time the dust settled, everyone's mock draft looked like Sonny Corleone after he stopped at the toll both. The theme du soir was ''Free Falling." Teen phenom Gerald Green, thought to be the top high schooler and a lottery lock -- he didn't work out for anyone picking below 10 and was thought to be going as high as No. 3 -- dropped like a stone. Right into the Celtics' lap at 18.

They need another kid about as much as they need another limited partner. ''We're kid-ed out," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said two months ago. But Green is now theirs.

''Why he slid, I could care less," Rivers said.

Joining Green on the ''Moonwalk in New York" were Antoine Wright, Joey Graham, Danny Granger, and Hakim Warrick. They weren't the only surprises, just the unlucky ones.

Charlie Villanueva, thought to be going no sooner than the teens, went No. 7 to Toronto, a team that has Chris Bosh, who plays the same position, and last year drafted Rafael Araujo, who may not be able to play at all. That wasn't even the first shock; the Trail Blazers took high schooler Martell Webster at No. 6.

The four North Carolina early-entry candidates went in the first 14 picks, with two of them, Raymond Felton and Sean May, going to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Warriors selected Arizona State's Ike Diogu; he wasn't even invited to the Green Room but Danny Ainge liked the pick.

Oh, and did we mention the Lakers taking New Jersey high school center Andrew Bynum at No. 10? Good thing he majored in physics with Phil Jackson back on the bench.

''We thought it was our best chance to get a center for the future," said general manager Mitch Kupchak. Emphasis on future. Somehow, it's hard to envision Jackson getting enamored over that pick.

The first half of the lottery went somewhat according to Hoyle, with Utah center Andrew Bogut going first to Milwaukee and North Carolina's Marvin Williams going to the Hawks. Then came a run on point guards. The Utah Jazz, who earlier in the day traded two picks (Nos. 6 and 27) to Portland for No. 3, did so for one reason: to draft Illinois point guard Deron Williams. He should fit seamlessly into Jerry Sloan's system. The New Orleans Hornets then followed with Chris Paul of Wake Forest (whom the Celtics would have liked to have pried loose) and the Bobcats plucked Felton, a mild surprise. Charlotte had refused to trade up to No. 3 (for Nos. 5 and 13), which would have given them Paul or Deron Williams.

The selection of Webster by the Trail Blazers was a bit of a shocker. General manager John Nash likened Webster to Dale Ellis after Webster worked out for Portland, but he was thought to be going in the 10-13 range. The Blazers also acquired backcourt insurance later by getting point guard Jarrett Jack, who was chosen by Denver at 22.

The Knicks, as expected, went big for Channing Frye, the Arizona center, which drew applause from the New York-dominated crowd at Madison Square Garden (home of the Knicks and the WNBA Liberty, as commissioner David Stern reminded TV watchers.) Spike Lee liked the pick and it made sense, given the Knicks' dearth of height.

Golden State (Diogu) addressed its rebounding needs and the Lakers addressed the future. Orlando then pulled another surprise with the selection of Fran Vazquez, the Spanish project who, a year ago, was playing in the Spanish version of the NBDL. (It was a real treat watching Stuart Scott trying to interview Vazquez's interpreter.)

The Clippers then drafted Russian Yaroslav Korolev, following through on a commitment that many thought was flimsy at best. But Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy saw the kid play in a tournament in Moscow last spring and was smitten. If Korolev stays overseas, the Clippers won't have to pay him next season. You can be sure owner Donald Sterling signed off on that.

Then May (Charlotte) and Rashad McCants (Minnesota) went back to back to complete the Tar Heel four-pack. Duke also had four players picked in the first 14 choices in the 1999 draft; two of them are long gone (Trajan Langdon, William Avery) while the other two are semi-long gone in that they play for the Clippers (Elton Brand, Corey Maggette). May was yet another surprise, given that the Bobcats have Emeka Okafor and also have perimeter needs they could have addressed with Granger or Wright. McCants then went to Minnesota, probably as good a place as any with its core of veterans. The kid may have some issues, but he can shoot.

The Nets, thought to be looking big, went with Wright, a wing player, and Toronto finally made a pick that made sense, grabbing Oklahoma State's Graham. Indiana, then probably giddy, quickly pounced on Granger, a Joe Johnson-like, do-it-all swingman from New Mexico. By then, the Celtics were exchanging high fives in their draft room, even though they never worked out Green or had him in for interviews. But Ainge, GM Chris Wallace, and personnel director Leo Papile had seen the kid play.

Warrick was the last of the Green Roomers to greet Stern on the podium, going immediately after Boston at 19 to the Memphis Grizzlies. He had been slotted as high as No. 9 in some drafts but he also was seen slipping in some mocks prior to the draft.

After the draft-day dust settled, something expected happened. The Suns sent their first-round pick (21), Nate Robinson, to the Knicks to complete a trade of Quentin Richardson to New York for Kurt Thomas. Portland landed the rights to forward Linas Kleiza (27th overall) and forward Ricky Sanchez (35th overall) for Jack.

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