On the NBA | A little unrest after draft night

The craziest confluence of existing and future franchise-level NBA talent met this past week, with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant coming, Ray Allen going and Kevin Garnett staying put - for now. At the end of the day, the Western Conference got stronger and taller, and the East got quicker and shorter.

The West got better.

20070701_inq_aldnba01-a
Thaddeus Young left Sixers GM Billy King feeling "ecstatic,"but the 19-year-old played only one year of college ball.

The 76ers, in their most important draft in a generation, couldn't move up into the top 10 to get a surefire star, so they took a shot on Thaddeus Young, the Georgia Tech freshman forward, becoming one. As Tim Hardaway once famously said, we gonna see.

Now, to your burning questions about the draft.

Did Billy King take the wrong Young on Thursday? I have a vested interest in the answer; I'm anticipating future employment opportunities with the organization. - Playtherightway@WachoviaCenter.com.

The Sixers could have taken USC guard Nick Young, who could have been plugged into the starting lineup next season. Instead, they took a flier on Thaddeus Young, the kind of player who makes scouting an inexact science. Some see gold; others see dross.

Thaddeus Young can't just be a decent rotation player for the 76ers. He has to become an unlikely star, the way Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd and Carlos Boozer became stars. If that's a lot to put on a 19-year-old guy, well, nobody told the Sixers they had to trade Allen Iverson.

Yes, the Sixers will have gobs of cap room next summer, with hopes of landing an existing star or, perhaps, a young, emerging talent such as Warriors guard Monta Ellis. But for every Utah that lands a Boozer in free agency, there's an Atlanta, which has had millions to spend for years to little effect.

The draft is the surest way to turn your franchise around, and the Sixers have pinned their hopes for a resurrection on Young. He's been compared by some scouts to Lamar Odom, which would be fine.

He just can't become Lamar Mundane.

I couldn't keep up with all the moves the Blazers made on draft night. Is Kevin Pritchard getting paid by the trade? And will moving Zach Randolph be good or horrible? - William Walton, Mars.

In 12 months, Pritchard, the Blazers' new general manager, has remade the team. He had nothing to do with getting Oden; that was manna from heaven (i.e., David Stern's lottery).

But Pritchard took Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, the fourth pick overall last year and a 2008 second-round choice and turned them into LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Channing Frye, Steve Francis, Taurean Green and center prospect Joel Freeland. (And Raef LaFrentz. Hey, it's the cost of doing business.)

Portland owner Paul Allen's wallet bought European guard prospects Rudy Fernandez and Petteri Koponen, who'll both stay overseas for at least a year.

If the Blazers buy out Francis, they'll have only four players under contract with more than three years of NBA experience. That means Portland will struggle early next season as Oden learns the NBA game and Nate McMillan tries to find a rotation with which he's comfortable. But if the Blazers get a sniff of success, watch out.

Did the Bobcats make a mistake trading for Jason Richardson while handing the Warriors a young leaper like Brandan Wright? - Fat Coach, Maui.

The Bobcats didn't have a go-to guy before Thursday. Now they do. At $51 million for the next four years, Richardson is a potential 25-point guy at a less-than-max price, which is music to Charlotte owner Bob Johnson's miserly ears. But Golden State needed to free up dollars to re-sign rising free agents Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes and to extend Ellis.

I'm not sure I agree with the Lakers' taking Javaris Crittenton. That's just the kind of stupid move Mitch Kupchak would make. Why the heck aren't they getting me - um, Kobe - any real help? - Mister24@ESPNPR.com

Right now, who are the Lakers better than in the West? Memphis? Maybe Minnesota? They're far behind San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix, a step behind Utah and Houston and Denver and the Clippers, probably equal with a healthy New Orleans and Golden State and a little ahead of Sacramento and Portland and Seattle. But not for long.

That said, Crittenton was a great value pick at 19; some teams think he'll be better than Acie Law IV, who went 11th to Atlanta. For all the heat Kupchak has gotten, he's drafted promising talents in Andrew Bynum and Crittenton at center and point guard - the two hardest positions to fill. But it's hard to imagine Bryant will be any more patient watching Crittenton develop than he's been waiting for Bynum.

Does Ray Allen still have game? - Jesus Shuttlesworth, Big State University.

Yes, he does. And with Paul Pierce breathing down Danny Ainge's neck to bring in a veteran, Ainge didn't have much choice but to go get Allen from Seattle instead of taking another kid with the fifth pick. Perhaps we've heard the last of Boston's unending "five-year plan."


Contact staff writer David Aldridge at 215-854-5516 or daldridge@phillynews.com.