Mixing and matching

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

It was a night when teams went either small or big, turned to athleticism or looked overseas to fill a need.

It was a night when Michael Jordan's status as a flawed executive was reinforced and when New York's unfaithful booed the Knicks' selection.

One night and one small step taken by teams as the NBA's off-season begins to take shape.

With free agency about to kick in and some high-profiled players rumoured to be on the trading block, the ensuing weeks promise to usher in more change and fuel further conjecture.

Teams are either reloading or rebuilding and realizing that building championship contenders can't be done overnight.

The New Jersey Nets served notice of their intentions well before the Chicago Bulls made Derrick Rose the first overall pick.

In a deal that requires medical consent, New Jersey shipped Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

In Jefferson, the Bucks get a versatile small forward who can defend, create his own shot and attack the rim.

Throw in the selection of Joe Alexander, who went eighth overall, and suddenly Milwaukee is flirting with a playoff position.

The Nets benefited from the draft's first victim when Brook Lopez, whom many draftniks had pegged to go as high as fourth overall, fell to the 10th spot.

Lopez gives New Jersey a legitimate centre and a player who enters the league with a chip on his shoulder.

Long term, the Nets are in a position to shed considerable salary as they make the move from the Meadowlands to Brooklyn.

Already, there's talk New Jersey is bent on enticing LeBron James when the Cavs' superstar is eligible for free agency in the summer of 2010.

As currently constituted, New Jersey will have as much cap flexibility as any team when 2010 arrives.

Until then, there will be plenty to digest with plenty of stars in play.

Rose, a Chicago native, will give the Bulls an athletic guard who relishes his leadership role.

While Pat Riley sent out mixed messages about Michael Beasley, the Miami Heat boss used the second overall pick to select the Kansas State power forward.

In the days leading up to last night, Miami had been one of the most rumoured teams linked in trade talk, including a blockbustre involving Shawn Marion and Elton Brand of the L.A. Clippers.

"I try not to think about it too much," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said after hearing his name bandied about in speculation.

"You don't know what's going to happen until it happens. I just know that we're going to be better next season."

Like many, it remains to be seen.

Even with a healthy Dwyane Wade, Miami needs an upgrade at the point.

As much as teams tried to fill holes last night or go with a prospect they fill can help down the road, draft night really amounts to one big crapshoot.

O.J. Mayo is perhaps the best player immediately capable of stepping into the NBA.

With that in mind, Minnesota took the combo guard with the third overall pick, even though the T'Wolves could have gone with a piece to complement Al Jefferson in the frontcourt.

UCLA teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love went fourth and fifth overall to Seattle and Memphis, respectively.

Westbrook isn't a true point guard, but he's projected as the best on-the-ball defender on a young Seattle team that can't make stops.

The stage was then set for NBA commissioner David Stern to announce the Knicks' pick at the sixth slot.

In the same WAMU Theater at Madison Square Garden where Knicks president Donnie Walsh unveiled Mike D'Antoni as New York's new head coach, came the choice of Italian small forward Danilo Gallinari.

The fans wanted a point guard, but Gallinari fits the perimeter-oriented style D'Antoni wants to use.

Gallinari's father, and agent, Vittorio, played with D'Antoni in Italy.

Eric Gordon went to the Clippers, who may soon lose Corey Maggette.

Jordan used the first of two first-round picks by Charlotte on Texas guard D.J. Augustin, who doesn't exactly fill a need.

Of course, no one knows with any certainty what exactly Jordan is trying to accomplish.

Quietly, Larry Bird is reinventing the troubled Indiana Pacers.

Larry the Legend still has plenty of work to do, but based on last night he's not alone.


Videos

Photos