SI.com's NBA draft day blog
Ricky Rubio expressed some subtle concerns about playing in Minnesota
Jordan Hill believes his work ethic will win over initially skeptical Knicks fans
Brandon Jennings made a late arrival after being drafted in the lottery after all
SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported from the 2009 NBA draft with all the behind-the-scenes stories, rumors and news filtering through Madison Square Garden. Steve Aschburner also contributed from Minneapolis.
12:01 a.m. Friday: As we close up shop on the 2009 NBA draft, we'll leave you with a futures tip: If you're looking for an early line on the 2011 draft lottery, Brandon Jennings says to keep an eye on Jeremy Tyler, the highly touted high school junior who plans to skip his senior year at San Diego High to play in Europe.
"I think the kid is going to do a lot better than I did," said Jennings. "European basketball is more of a big man's game. Big men are always in the key, and there's a lot of zone [in Europe], so I think it will be good for him. He might surprise a lot of people. Everybody's like, He's leaving, he's not finishing his senior year, but overseas is more of a big man's game and they really like to play inside. My thing for him would be to stay strong mentally because it can be tough. You're a long way home, with a different language and different coaches. But if he stays there for two years, he'll be the top draft pick when he comes out." -- Richard Deitsch
11:24 p.m.: No line was drawn in the stand, no ultimatums issued, as the possibility loomed late Thursday that Euroleague sensation Ricky Rubio, who surprisingly slid to Minnesota at No. 5, might not buy his way out of his contract with DKV Joventut for next season.
Given how much David Kahn, Minnesota's new president of basketball operations, had invested emotionally in Rubio as his first of four first-round selections, the former lawyer and sportswriter cooled it on the rhetoric front.
"Nobody here tonight, myself especially, will be banging his fist on the table, saying, 'He must be here!' It's a very complicated matter," Kahn said. "We need to understand that we're not in control of the situation vis a vis the buyout. ... I think it's too early to worry about that. But I said this to the agent tonight: If any team in this league can afford to wait a year, dare I say two, it's us. Y'know? It's us."
Rubio, 18, has played professionally for four seasons already and has a buyout clause estimated at $6 million. Agent Dan Fegan reportedly is trying to negotiate that down, especially with Rubio slotted for a No. 5 pick's guaranteed salary, not a No. 2 or No. 3 as expected.
The Wolves drafted Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn immediately after taking Rubio because they liked him, rather than as insurance against not having Rubio in 2009-10. Kahn said he sees the two point guards playing together in time. He also downplayed any notion that Rubio's reluctance has more to do with Minnesota in general than buyout hurdles.
"I don't think it's a destination problem," Kahn said. "I believe he would have been more than happy to play in Oklahoma City. And with all due respect to Oklahoma City ..." -- Steve Aschburner
11:15 p.m.: Just caught up with SI's Ian Thomsen, who offers some instant analysis as the second round chugs along. Says Thomsen: "We all knew it was going to be a point-guard-heavy draft. I just didn't think all the point guards would go to Minnesota. I think the Knicks improved themselves with Jordan Hill, Toney Douglas and Darko Milicic. I think this is Darko's last stand. If anybody can get something out of him, it will be Mike [D'Antoni]. They didn't spend a lot of money for these picks but I think they got guys who will produce next year, including Douglas, who is a scoring point guard.
"Late in the first round, I think Omri Casspi will be interesting this year. We'll see how his game translates, and I think he'll come over this year. Not a great shooter but he is used to big game situations. They have him for the next three years under a cheap contract, and Geoff Petrie has a great eye for guys like him.
"I instantly love the Spurs getting DeJuan Blair in the second round [No. 37]. He was viewed as a potential lottery pick until teams got wind of his medical reports. He had surgery on both knees in high school and his long-term were not good. That's why he fell to the second round. Now he's going to a team that wants to see what he can do now as opposed to five years from now. He's going to help them next year. He's a strong, active guy and they won't ask him to play big minutes.
"Earlier today, Jennings was supposed to be in the green room. I heard they were going to pull him out of the room, so I called Bill Duffy the first thing this morning and he said he was going to talk to Brandon about it and make sure that he wasn't put in an uncomfortable situation. As recently as 6 p.m. tonight, Bill still didn't know where Jennings was going to go. He could have slid all the way to No. 17 or worse, but Jrue Holiday turned out to be the one who slid. That opened up room for Jennings to Milwaukee at No. 10. Now everybody should be happy." -- Richard Deitsch
11:04 p.m.: This from the helpful people at the NBA communications department: The first round began at 7:39 p.m. and ended at 10:22 p.m. -- Richard Deitsch
10:59 p.m.: The 39th pick in the draft -- Swedish small forward Jonas Jerebko -- emerged from a seat in the crowd upon getting selected by Detroit and headed for the stage to shake the hand of NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "It's been a long time but when I heard by name, I was very happy," he said. "They have Tayshaun Prince in my position and I can learn a lot from a guy like that." Nice moment. Somewhere, Bjorn Borg is smiling. -- Richard Deitsch
CURRY HEADED TO SUNS? It looks like the rumors Amar'e Stoudemire was headed to Golden State had some truth to them. Hope you like the desert, Mr. Curry.
10:38 p.m.: As one of the 5,000 point guards Minnesota selected this evening, Jonny Flynn sounds like someone who'll be sticking around with the Timberwolves: "Going to Minnesota is a great fit for me," said Flynn. "You've got Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, two big men that can make my life easier. I get them the ball in situations where they can score and they make me a better player." As for the snow, Flynn won't be bothered a bit. He played his college ball at Syracuse and calls Niagara Falls, N.Y., home. -- Richard Deitsch
10:32 p.m.: With the Cavs' selection of small forward Christian Eyenga (Congo) at No. 30, five international players went in the first round of the 2009 draft, up from four players in '08. But it's a low number this decade. Since '00, the draft has had six or more international players selected in the first round with the exception of the last two years. --Richard Deitsch
10:16 p.m.: Ricky Rubio didn't calm fears among Timberwolves fans that his NBA debut might, in fact, have to wait until the fall of 2010. In his first chat with Twin Cities media by conference call, Rubio admitted that his buyout from DKV Joventut Badalona in Spain might not go smoothly or even happen at all.
"My agent [Dan Fegan] is working on that. I think we can be in agreement," Rubio said, somewhat hesitantly.
But do you want to play in Minnesota this season? "Yeah, I want to play in the NBA," he said.
This year? "I don't know if it will be this year or next year. We'll see, because my buyout is big ($6 million). But we're talking about it with my agent, and he's working hard."
Rubio acknowledged that sliding to No. 5 and the lower guaranteed salary that accompanies that slot could hurt his buyout chances. He denied that the Wolves' recent losing tradition or Minnesota's climate would be a factor. "No, no. Only for my mom, because she doesn't like the cooler weather," Rubio said. "For me, if it's warm or not ... I want to play minutes."
The question remains: In Minneapolis or in Spain?
The other question: If Kevin McHale had been around to draft Rubio, only to have him stay in Spain, how would Wolves' fans be handling that news? -- Steve Aschburner
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