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What they said
by HoopsHype / June 27, 2002

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Yao Ming, 1st overall pick

"This is now a new start in my basketball life ... This is a new league in front of me to play, so it will be a new challenge for me. I know there will be a lot of difficulties in front of me, but I'm confident that I will learn from the N.B.A. and improve myself and improve Chinese basketball in the future ... One of the players, Steve Francis, he's the one I should know because he has a lot of commercials in China ...

... First of all, I will rebound for the Rockets ... Then, basically, I will play defense for the team. I will also show in the offense all the skills I can now do."

Rudy Tomjanovich, Rockets coach

"To get a player like Yao Ming is really more than you can ask ... We feel we now have a really big, athletic player that can do a lot of things. He's an athlete. Runs well. Shoots well. Passes well. And what I really like about him besides all those things is his attitude, his philosophy. This kid, his head is on straight. His No. 1 priority is the team ...

... He's got a great personality. We're not only getting a player we're going to be proud of, we're getting a human being, a solid kid that the Rockets, the NBA, everybody here in Houston is going to be proud of."

Leslie Alexander, Rockets owner

"Obviously, we think this guy has a chance to bring us championships, along with the other players we have ... But this is like The Natural. It is just an amazing story. I think this will bring both countries together. I think it will entrench Houston's place in the world. There will be a lot more publicity, a lot more focus in the press on Houston ... We're very happy. Elated."

 

CHICAGO BULLS

Jay Williams, 2nd overall pick

"I can't make a prediction ... All I know is our team is going to be very hungry. I can guarantee that we'll work hard ...

... I saw MJ playing golf when I was at Duke last week ... He came over and said, 'Come over here, Chicago Bull.' It was funny. But you get a chance to play in a city with so much tradition, a city with so much prestige, Chicago. It's going to be great. I look forward to it ...

... The way I look at it, nothing is going to be given to me. In life I had to work for everything and I expect to in Chicago. I'm just looking to be a point guard, running that team ... Winning is something they want to do. It's something I've known my whole life, so hopefully I can keep that going."

Jerry Krause, Bulls GM

"He [Jay Williams] is an outstanding player, but he's just as good a person ... We were sweating and hoping that he would be there ... We never really got to the point where we talked about trading the pick ... We think the young man we got is a very special player. We determined that very early, especially after we met him. This young man is not a 20-year-old."

Tyson Chandler, Bulls power forward

"He [Jay Williams] can get to the hole and make people better. I already see more dunks ... "We're going to be over .500 next season."

John Gabriel, Magic GM

"He [Jay Williams] is always looking to drive it down your throat and make something happen. Not every day in this league is your point guard your best offensive player. He will be ... I think he's better with the ball than Stephon Marbury was when he came into the league, a better scorer than Marbury."

 

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Mike Dunleavy, 3rd overall pick

"I would love to play for my dad. I think he does a pretty good job and knows what he's doing. But at the same time, I don't think that's ever occurred in the NBA. I don't know how that would be as far as the other guys on the team and people in the organization. It would be an interesting scenario, but I think it's one we could make work ...

... I need to continue to get stronger and a little bit bigger ... But I'm 6-9, 230, and for a small forward in the NBA, that's pretty good. I will continue to improve on my strength. I've worked real hard at it, and I think it's showed.''

Jiri Welsch, 16th overall pick

"I've played against many European players that are now playing in the NBA. I've played against Dirk Nowitzki, Arvydas Sabonis and Tony Parker. I know a couple of guys who are having success, and it makes me think positive that I can have some success also.''

Gary Fitzsimmons, Warriors assistant GM

"We think that we have changed the look of our team as far as skill level ... The focus of this draft was to find players who could shoot the ball consistently both coming off the dribble and with range, and who have basketball instincts."

 

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Drew Gooden, 4th overall pick

"There's always that doubt in the back of your mind that Commissioner Stern would call someone else's name ... Other than that I felt confident Jerry West saw something in me and that he would take me. Jerry West and the coaching staff and the organization had to do research. They wouldn't have picked me for nothing. I feel I'm a guy who can contribute on the backboards and create mismatch problems at both forward spots ...

... I'm comfortable playing the four and I feel I can grow to be more comfortable playing the three ... The tools that I have allow me to play on the perimeter and down low. The only thing is guarding (small forwards) on opposing teams. That'll be a transition for me."

Jerry West, president of basketball operations

"I've said this since the day I came here: We're going to take the best player ... I don't care if it's another big guy. We need to get as many talented players as we can. Hopefully, we'll have an opportunity some time in the future to be able to have a team where we have talent at all positions. That's what we're working towards here ...

... He [Drew Gooden] does a lot of things ... We think he's going to be versatile enough to play two positions."

 

DENVER NUGGETS

Kiki Vandeweghe, Nuggets GM

"Throughout the year there were indications various times where Antonio wasn't happy ... I still do think Antonio did like it here in Denver. When it struck me hard was when we had a meeting in Chicago (this month) with his agent, and it wasn't real clear whether Antonio was going to opt of his contract or not. We weren't exploring deals at all ...

... What this basically does for us is we get two young players we really like at the No. 5 and 7 spot ... We get a fine young player, basically in his prime, in Marcus Camby. He has not been fully healthy over the past couple years, but he should be rested. He was part of the Knicks going into the (1999) Finals. What it also does for us is helps us maintain all our cap space that we hard worked so hard to get, and we actually increase it by 5 or 6 million dollars ...

... If we play our cards right, we can now go after three (contract) players. It gives us all that much more flexibility and opportunity. We get younger. We absolutely do not lose Antonio McDyess for nothing, which I viewed as unacceptable ...

... If you want to get a chance at a superstar or a possible star in this league, you're going to have to go very young. We realize that, and we realize that's been the trend over the last few years. We tried to stay within our plan. Yes, we'll have to wait for these guys to be great contributors for a little while."

 

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Dajuan Wagner, 6th overall pick

"I think I can play the point guard ... I just do everything to help my team win ... I don't really have any concerns about getting my shot off ... I will just look to Coach and see what he wants me to do. I will do whatever Coach wants me to do as a scorer or not.''

Jim Paxson, Cavaliers GM

"We'll feel very comfortable playing Andre and Dajuan together ...

... Whenever you have a guy that gives you a year of service, a year of good hard work like Wesley did, I really appreciate what he did and this gives him a chance to further his career ... Wesley averaged 15 points for us, but sometimes things happen in this business. But I really appreciate all Wesley did for us.''

John Lucas, Cavaliers coach

"Boozer comes from a winning program ... He is a little undersized, but his strength and his attitude is something we can use in our program.''

 

NEW YORK KNICKS

Scott Layden, Knicks GM

"Knowing New York fans, I think they'll embrace Antonio McDyess ... He's a great rebounder, a rugged guy, he can score and he's somebody who can demand a double team. Our fans love players who play hard and they'll love Antonio McDyess ...

... We always look at deals as just a way to improve the team ... This is not about being bold. This is not about trying to make a statement or making big deals. It's about making the right deal for this organization and making a good deal to help us win ...

... We started working at this at 1 a.m. (Wednesday morning), and it was an all-day process. But at the end of the day, he was very comfortable with coming to New York. He has a good relationship with (Latrell) Sprewell, as there is the Alabama connection. He knows (Allan) Houston well from the Olympics. So those factors, coupled with the aggressive nature of the Knicks to improve, those were the most compelling factors ...

... He [Antonio McDyess] talked to me about a month ago when we discussed opting out of his contract, and the only team he talked to me about was New York ... He wants to be in the limelight and take on the pressure of leading a team to a championship."

Don Chaney, Knicks coach

"I think we've changed drastically ... We've added a player who can postup, and command double-teaming, can pull away from the basket, or even faceup and play at the elbow area. We've added a very versatile player offensively, a guy who will rebound, another piece that we'll have for the future."

Chris Wallace, Celtics GM

''It's an interesting trade. McDyess is obviously a big-timer. But can they re-sign him?''

Rick Kaplan, Camby's advisor

"He's sad because he made a lot of good friends here. He loved playing in New York. He had made New York his year-round home, and he's very sad to leave. He went to a team with vision. They're a team on the way up. ... So in that sense, he's disappointed to have to leave. That being said, the Nuggets are putting together a young and exciting team, and this is chance to start new relationships."

 

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Chris Wilcox, 8th overall pick

"There was a lot of talk that the Knicks wanted me bad, people saying, ‘Hope you go to the Knicks.' ... I thought I was coming to New York, but it didn't work out ... I'm a little [disappointed], but everything happens for a reason ... I don't mind going to the Clippers. I just want to make it into a positive."

Melvin Ely, 12th overall pick

"It all worked out ... My mother works in a steel mill now and that's no place for a woman to work. My older brother tried [to get her out], but fell short. Now my mother won't have to work anymore ... You're talking to someone who doesn't have a car and doesn't wear jewelry. My priorities in life are my son and my family. They come before me ...

... If it wasn't for him [Jerry Tarkanian], I wouldn't be here ... I thought I'd just end up being a nice college player and go get a job. Coach is the greatest because he pushes you to expect the best in every facet of the game ... And he told me, 'Whatever you do, get your mother out of Harvey.' Now she can live wherever she wants. But not Beverly Hills. I've been out there and it's expensive. I've got to keep her off Rodeo Drive."

 

PHOENIX SUNS

Amare Stoudemire, 9th overall pick

"I know the first year is a learning process for the guys, especially high-schoolers. After a year of learning, everything will work out."

Frank Johnson, Suns coach

"Is it a gamble? We don't think so ... We liked his [Stoudemire's] upside. We scouted him, watched tape of him and had him in here for two days. We liked everything we saw in him."

Dick Van Arsdale, Suns director of player personnel

"He (Casey Jacobsen) is just a player who is not going to be denied ... He reminds me of . . . he's not Dan Majerle, but he works just as hard. He can shoot the basketball. And he may not be the greatest athlete in the world, but he makes up for it in other areas."

 

MIAMI HEAT

Caron Butler, 10th overall pick

"I felt I was one of the top players in the draft this year. I'm going to make them pay for passing me. I'm not going to let them down, and I'm not going to let myself down ... I'm going to bring a lot of leadership, maturity and flashy basketball. I'm going to bring a lot of Ws, baby ...

... I don't see why I slipped so far in the draft ... But I slipped to a good team and me and my agent and my mother and the rest of my family always said God would put you somewhere where he wants you to be. It's a good vacation trip for my family."

Pat Riley, Heat coach

"We are absolutely, without a doubt, unadulteratedly excited ... We never, ever thought he would be there ... He's going to make everybody pay for not picking him ... He is very versatile, very strong, very quick ... He's an absolute slasher ... Everything is right to the rim. Runs hard. Drives hard. Fearless. Loves the baseline jumper. He doesn't have the range -- that's part of the game he needs to improve on. But he's a player that finishes. Around the rim. He's fearless ...

... I think he has learned some great life lessons in the last six or seven years ... We have a player who simply wants it and is ready to play."

 

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Jared Jeffries, 11th overall pick

"This is a dream come true for me ... To be able to play for someone like Michael Jordan in a city like Washington, D.C., is incredible ... I had a real good feeling when I left Washington on Monday that something like this could happen. I felt like I was able to really show Mr. Jordan and Mr. Collins exactly what kind of player I could be."

Juan Dixon, 17th overall pick

"Besides winning the national championship, this is the best day of my life ... I dreamt about this for so long ...

... A friend was with me and he'd been saying, 'Stop worrying. Your name is going to be called soon.' But when it was the Wizards' turn, that's when my hands really started to sweat."

Doug Collins, Wizards coach

"We feel very good about tonight ... In the first round we got two terrific young players who want to be here and both bring something that we need ...

... Juan has a Michael Jordan-like heart ... We all know the story of the tragedy of his family [with both parents dying as a result of drug use]. He's faced all the greatest odds and won. I love that ...

... He's a winner. He wants to take the big shot. He reminds me of Shane Battier in the way he just won't let his team lose ... When Maryland was down three late to Connecticut, he hits the big three-pointer. When they're on the ropes against Kansas, he scores the next nine points. With the game slipping away, he hits the three-pointer in the corner. He went to Duke and spanked 'em twice in Cameron. I love that."

 

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Marcus Haislip, 13th overall pick

"I'm not expecting myself to come in and be a scorer ... I just want to do the little things."

Ernie Grunfeld, Bucks GM

"We're very happy with Haislip ... He's one of the most athletic players in the first round. He's very explosive and has the chance to be a very good player for us down the road. He's going to have trouble beating out our veterans this year, but he'll be a very good practice player for us."

 

INDIANA PACERS

Fred Jones, 14th overall pick

"I sat there for a minute and couldn't move ... Then I got down on my knees and said my prayers and thanked the Lord ... I'm a power two-guard who can go out there and make plays ... I'm best in the open court, getting up and down the floor. I finish on the break and I can finish in traffic."

Donnie Walsh, Pacers president

"He can take the ball and create his own play ... He doesn't need screens, he doesn't need help, he can just take it and go. If he gets stopped he can just take it in the air and shoot it. That's what Tracy McGrady and Carter can do."

 

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Billy King, Sixers GM

"Hopefully our fans will judge us not by what we did on draft day ... No trophies are given for who draft wells and who doesn't draft well. Hopefully we'll be judged by what we do once the team is put on the court ... This is just the beginning process of what we do this offseason. What we did today is not going to determine how far we go next year. They draft is important, but I think it's also important to build a team, and not just with names of players that people know of ...

... This was his first time being traded, so I'd say 'stunned' was the word ... But it was probably the hardest one for me in a long time because of who he is. When the deal was presented to us, I was almost hoping it wasn't coming. But I also realized in my heart that it was the best thing for the franchise and probably the best thing for Speedy as well.''

Larry Brown, Sixers coach

"I'm dying that he [Speedy Claxton] is gone ... The issue we had is, we had some holes to fill. With Allen [Iverson], Eric [Snow] and Aaron [McKie], we didn't have an opportunity to play him as much as he deserved to play ...

... If he [Sam Clancy] comes with us this season, he'll challenge for playing time. To me, giving up two second-rounders for him was in the category of a no-brainer.''

 

ORLANDO MAGIC

John Gabriel, Magic GM

“The guy [Ryan Humphrey] is electricity."

 

UTAH JAZZ

Kevin O'Connor, Jazz vice president of basketball operations

"We heard [Borchardt] had been slipping, but we had him in the top 15 players ... With eight free agents, we felt he was the best player available."

 

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Qyntel Woods, 21st overall pick

"I'm surprised, but I'm not disappointed ... My mom had the biggest influence on me of anybody, and it was real hard growing up without a father, but I managed ... This means that I can take care of my family right now."

Bob Whitsitt, Blazers GM

"We thought so highly of him that we did not think he would be there at 21," Whitsitt said following the draft, which ended without Portland making any big trades."

 

DETROIT PISTONS

Tayshaun Price, 23rd overall pick

"It helped me a lot that I stayed four years in school ... I know a lot of people look at my body and say negative things. But I worked hard and I gained 20 pounds over my years at Kentucky."

Joe Dumars, Pistons president

"Tayshaun Prince was the guy we really wanted ... This is a guy who can make plays ... He is going to help us ... If Tayshaun wasn't there we would've traded the pick."

 

NEW JERSEY NETS

Rod Thorn, Nets president

"He [Nenad Krstic] is not ready to play in the NBA today ... I don't want him next year. Obviously, he needs to get stronger and needs some experience. We feel that, within a year or so, he can be a very productive NBA player ... He's got a huge upside. We scouted him. Watched a lot of tape on him ... Right now he is 6-11 and still growing. Never been on a weight program. He's got a huge upside. Hopefully we're not going to be in a position to draft a player with this kind of upside, particularly a bigger player."

 

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

RC Buford, Spurs assistant GM

"We went into the draft with several needs and one of them was finding point guard help ... We think Speedy Claxton is a great leader who has already proven himself in the league and can fit right in with Tony Parker ... Tony is going to have a great time playing against this guy in practice ... It's going to make him better ...

... In Spain, he [Luis Scola] is probably one of the three or four best post players. To get Luis at 56, we were shocked. He was a guy we were considering taking at No. 26."

 

ATLANTA HAWKS

Pete Babcock, Hawks GM

"He [Dan Dickau] has got an excellent perimeter game ... He's an excellent 3-point shooter, has toughness on the ball and distributes the ball very well. He sees his teammates ... In an ideal world, he would be 6-5 ... He's not 6-5, but he's not a small guard either. It's not like he's 5-10. It's all relative. He's the 28th pick."

 

BOSTON CELTICS

Darius Songaila, 50th overall pick

''I expected to get drafted anywhere and I did ... 'It was a nice surprise [going to the Celtics]. They have a great tradition. It's a great team. I'm looking forward to getting there and seeing what I can do in the summer league. I hope to be in training camp and make the team [this year]. I want to try to make the team right now because that's my dream. I want to go there and give it my best shot. I think I'm ready.''

Chris Wallace, Celtics GM

''He was one of the better players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year and he visited a number of teams from the late 20s in the first round to the early second ... 'As happens with several other players, the draft just went against him. He's a unique player because he has a high level of American college experience and he's a four-year senior, but he's a foreigner."

 

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Don Nelson, Mavericks coach

"[Sekularac] is a player who could very well be ready ... For the 55th pick, we're very, very happy to select this player."

 

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Phil Jackson, Lakers coach

"We didn't get everything covered. But we feel really comfortable with the fact that we've improved what we went out to improve, and that's team speed in the backcourt and our overall team speed. We have some young players we think can develop in that area ...

... Obviously the one space we still have as a question mark is a legitimate backup, seven-foot center to back up Shaquille. That's been a problem we've had to face for a couple years."


MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Marcus Taylor, 52nd overall pick

"I definitely have no regrets on coming out early ... It's a risk but it's a risk I was willing to take. I was very confident and I still am ... Hey, this is going to be a great situation. They have one of my favorite players in Kevin Garnett ... I was sitting at my parents' house and I had a big smile on my face. I expected to get drafted in the first round, but this is definitely the best situation for me in the second round."

Kevin McHale, Wolves vice president

"We were looking for a point guard. With the uncertainty of Terrell and Chauncey opting out, I'd say we had a lot more point guards on the board."

Quotes compiled from Boston Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Newark Star-Ledger, New York Daily News, New York Times, Philadelphia Daily News, Washington Post, Ledger-Enquirer, Chicago Tribune, Akron Beacon Journal, Detroit News, Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Houston Chronicle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, San Antonio Express-News, Salt Lake Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Arizona Republic and Oregonian

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