View Full Version : 6/28 ESPN Insider - Draft Picks don't stay long

06-28-2003, 12:52 PM
Draft becoming a short-term investment
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Friday, June 27
Updated: June 27
11:45 AM ET

Now that LeBron is a Cavalier, Milicic a Piston and Anthony a Nugget, the only question left is whether James will finish his career in the same city where it began, or Darko will become synonymous with Detroit and if Carmelo will ever even call Denver home.

In the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NBA was sure to include a rookie salary scale that was based on a three-year contract with two additional years at the team's option. This was, of course, the most logical way of keeping players who had absolutely no NBA experience from making more money than veteran NBA players. But it was also the best way of ensuring that clubs would have sufficient time to develop their drafted talent before turning them over to free agency and possibly losing them forever.

But it hasn't exactly worked out that way.

In 1994, Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were the first three players drafted. And not one of them is still playing for the Bucks, Mavericks or Pistons today. In fact, not a single lottery pick in that class is still on his original team's roster.

The 1995 class has only one lottery pick still on his original team, and it cost the Timberwolves more than $200M to keep Kevin Garnett, leaving little wonder why the rookie salary scale came into effect in this particular season.

The biggest news of last night's draft was that Kobe Bryant will reportedly opt out of his contract next season and become a free agent. Well, if Antoine Walker is eventually traded, as the rumors go, then that will leave only Allen Iverson and Kerry Kittles from the 1996 draft class still with their original teams.

Let's remember, this was the year the Bulls drafted Travis Knight with their first round pick and then renounced him before he ever made it to Chicago. He went from guaranteed first rounder to minimum salaried free agent. In the next seven seasons, he would go from Los Angeles to Boston, back to Los Angeles and then to New York.

Only Tim Duncan and Austin Croshere are left from the 1997 draft lottery class. If Michael Olowokandi leaves the Clippers as expected, that will leave only Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce from the 1998 class. Is Lamar Odom gone? What about Jason Terry? Are Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Wally Szczerbiak and Shawn Marion the only lottery picks left from 1999?

One year after the lockout and ensuing Collective Bargaining Agreement, the draft class of 2000 has reached the three-year mark with team options hanging in the balance and not even No. 1 pick Kenyon Martin knowing for sure what his future will hold in New Jersey.

Joe Johnson, the No. 10 pick of the 2001 class, has already been traded. Drew Gooden, the No. 4 pick of the 2002 class was traded 51 games into his rookie season.

Carmelo Anthony of the 2003 class going once . . . going twice . . .

The players from the Class of 1998 have just completed their fifth season in the NBA and, if unsigned already, will become unrestricted free agents on July 1 and can sign with any team of their choosing on July 16. But if circumstances remain the same as in the four classes prior to them, they will move on as 45 of those 52 lottery picks did.

And we're not talking about just any players.

Olowokandi was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft and has his bags packed. Elton Brand, the No. 1 pick of the 1999 draft, will be playing for his third team around this time next season. Mike Miller, the Rookie of the Year in 2000, is already playing for his second team.

What will become of Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick of 2001?

The 2002 draft class placed Yao Ming in Houston. But what about Jay Williams? Mike Dunleavy? Gooden is already gone, perhaps followed closely by Nikoloz Tskitishvili. That's four of the top five picks of only one year ago to the day.

NBA clubs, as mentioned earlier, can keep their first round draft picks for five seasons and then get to throw more money at those players than any other team when those contracts run out. For specific business reasons, the NBA wanted identifiable players with each franchise to foster growth within that city's fan base and ensure a strategically sound team.

Think of John Stockton, the No. 16 pick of the 1984 draft playing for no other franchise but the small-market Utah Jazz after 19 seasons.

He is the exception. Even extreme. But should he be?

Teams of today are trading away their players (Mike Bibby, No. 2 pick of 1998), are being forced to trade their players (Steve Francis, No. 2 pick of 1999) and wish they could trade away their players (Stromile Swift, No. 2 pick of 2000).

So far, five players were selected in the first round last night by one team and then traded before they could adjust their draft caps which only makes us wonder what would have happened if the new colors Cleveland picked out didn't match the pearl job on that new Hummer of LeBron's.

Tony tha Mavs fan
06-28-2003, 12:55 PM
Interesting article, just goes to show how hard it is to draft a franchise player, and to actually keep them more 4 - 5 years.

06-29-2003, 09:05 PM
wow, that is interesting. i am thinking we will be keeping dirk for a long time though.