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Knicks select Jordan Hill with first round draft pick

The Knicks selected power forward Jordan Hill with the 8th pick in the NBA draft.

Stephen Curry had long been courted by the Knicks, but he went to Golden State, who had the 7th pick.

The Clippers selected Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick Thursdaynight, grabbing the only player considered a sure thing.

Griffin was the consensus college player of the year afterleading the nation with 14.4 rebounds per game while averaging 22.7points last season for Oklahoma. The Clippers said they would takethe forward with the top pick just hours after they won the draftlottery last month, and never considered changing their minds.

"The fact is we're getting an incredible player, incredibleperson, an impeccable work ethic and a guy that we plan on havingin L.A. for many years to come," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavysaid. "He's going to be a great, exciting fit for our ballclub."

The draft followed a day of blockbusters in the NBA.

A deal that sent Shaquille O'Neal to play alongside LeBron Jamesin Cleveland was completed earlier Thursday, and Eastern Conferencechampion Orlando acquired Vince Carter from the Nets in a swapcompleted shortly before the first pick was made.

San Antonio landed Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee on Tuesday,and more big names could be available this summer as teams areforced to slash payroll. The best way to improve quickly this yearwas through trades, because the draft was considered weaker than inrecent years.

It lacked the star power of 2007, when Greg Oden and KevinDurant battled it out for top pick honors, or when Derrick Rosebeat out Michael Beasley last year.

There was no debate this time. Dunleavy announced the Clippers'intentions shortly after his team's surprising lottery win, andthey began a marketing campaign featuring the forward the next day.

The Clippers are hoping Griffin turns out better than their lastNo. 1 overall pick. They opened the 1998 draft by taking center Michael Olowokandi, a bust who is out of the league.

"I'm not worried about what's happened in the past," Griffinsaid. "Just excited about the opportunity."

The Memphis Grizzlies then grabbed Connecticut center HasheemThabeet, a dominant rebounder and shot blocker who doesn't havestrong offensive skills.

After the two big men, the rest of the first round was expectedto be dominated by point guards, with perhaps 10 or more expectedto go in the top 30 picks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves took two of them with the fifth andsixth picks. They snapped up Spanish teenager Ricky Rubio at No. 5,a pick they acquired from Washington earlier this week, beforegoing for Syracuse's Jonny Flynn with the next pick.

It was thought Rubio might go as high as No. 2, but that neverworked out for Memphis. Instead the Grizzlies went with Thabeet,the 7-foot-3 native of Tanzania who switched from soccer tobasketball just a few years ago and has rapidly developed hisdefensive skills, but still has work to go on the other end.

"I've been around great guys, coach Calhoun, the UConn programhelped me out a lot," Thabeet said.

Oklahoma City took high-scoring Arizona State guard James Hardenwith the No. 3 pick and Sacramento followed by drafting Memphisfreshman Tyreke Evans -- who like Griffin was wearing a purple tie.So was Stephen Curry, the NCAA scoring leader from Davidson whowent at No. 7 to Golden State.

Jordan Hill (New York), Demar DeRozan (Toronto) and BrandonJennings (Milwaukee) rounded out the top 10, but Jennings missedhis chance to don his Bucks hat and shake hands with commissionerDavid Stern. His agent, Bill Duffy, released a statement earlierThursday saying he had advised Jennings and his family not toattend the draft and wait in the green room because he was unsureof his client's draft position.


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