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Clippers make Griffin first pick in NBA draft

Even a team as inept as the Clippers was able to do the right thing Thursday night.

The Clippers made Blake Griffin, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Oklahoma, the No. 1 player taken in the NBA draft. Griffin, widely considered to be the best player on the board, should be able to make an immediate impact in an organization that has had just two winning seasons in the last 30 years.

"That's just history, that's in the past," Griffin said when asked if he was concerned about going to a franchise that has had such a consistent lack of success.

While it was a big day for Griffin and the Clippers, the biggest basketball story of the day took place long before NBA commissioner David Stern walked onto the stage of the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden to begin the NBA draft show.

Early Thursday, the Cavaliers announced that they had completed a deal to bring Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns to join MVP LeBron James. The Cavs sent the Suns center Ben Wallace and swingman Sasha Pavlovic, along with a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and cash.

The move was a clear signal to the rest of the league that the Cavaliers are going for broke next season, which could be James' final one in Cleveland. James, in case you haven't heard, is a free agent in 2010. The Cavs, it seems, are out to show him that they will do whatever it takes to get him his first NBA championship.

O'Neal, 37, has one year and $21 million remaining on his contract. He has won four championships during his 17-year career, three as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and one in Miami.

The trade wasn't the only trade involving a big-time player. Also before the draft, the Nets announced that they were sending eight-time NBA all-star Vince Carter to the Magic along with Ryan Anderson. In return, the Nets received point guard Rafer Alson, shooting guard Courtney Lee and power forward Tony Battie. Though none of the three have the drawing power of Carter, they do have expiring contracts that will help the Nets clear $18 million off their 2010-2011 salary cap.

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