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Change of guard in Washington

Along with Wall, Wizards get Hinrich

K. PRITCHARD Fired before draft K. PRITCHARD
Fired before draft
Associated Press / June 25, 2010

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John Wall is ready to go to Washington and clean up the Wizards.

And he’ll have more backcourt help when he gets there — whether or not Gilbert Arenas is still around.

The Wizards selected Wall with the No. 1 pick in last night’s NBA draft and agreed to a trade for Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, hoping they’ve found players who can help them quickly bounce back from a season that was embarrassing on the court and in the locker room.

“I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players,’’ Wall said. “I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I’m going to take on any challenge there.’’

The SEC player of the year is the first Kentucky player ever chosen first overall. He goes to a team still reeling from Arenas’s season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the locker room.

Wall could replace Arenas as the Wizards’ point guard, or perhaps play alongside him in a potential high-scoring backcourt.

The pick came shortly after a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press that the Bulls had agreed to trade Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft to the Wizards. The Bulls will also receive a future second-round pick.

Arenas is eligible to return next season, but Wall is ready to take charge of the team.

“I was always a leader by example being the first in the gym and the last in the gym,’’ Wall said. “But I’m a leader that doesn’t mind speaking up to the older guys.’’

The Hinrich deal can’t become official until July 8, when the new salary cap takes hold and the Wizards can take Hinrich’s $9 million salary for next season without having to send back something of similar financial value. For Chicago, the deal clears $10.3 million from the books for next year and leaves the Bulls with about $30 million to spend in free agency.

Blazers dump GM

The Trail Blazers fired general manager Kevin Pritchard after six seasons, ending months of speculation that he had fallen out of favor with billionaire owner Paul Allen.

The Oregonian newspaper reported about an hour before the draft that Pritchard had been dismissed, and the team confirmed the firing at the conclusion of the draft.

Pritchard said last week he understood that a search firm had been hired to find his replacement but vowed to fight for his job. He was under contract through next season with a team option for 2011-12.

Pritchard ducked out of the Blazers’ practice facility before the conclusion of the draft. He did not return phone messages.

The Blazers entered the draft with two picks (22d and 34th), and traded with Minnesota for the rights to the No. 16 pick, Nevada forward Luke Babbitt, in exchange for swingman Martell Webster. Portland also received veteran forward Ryan Gomes.

Thunder acquire Aldrich
After taking Cole Aldrich 11th overall, the Hornets agreed to trade the Kansas center with veteran shooting guard Morris Peterson to Oklahoma City for the 21st and 26th picks in the first round. Peterson is heading into the final year of a four-year, $23 million contract. The Hornets will receive Iowa State forward Craig Brackins (21st) and Washington forward Quincy Pondexter (26th) . . . The Hawks and Nets exchanged their first-round picks. Atlanta traded Texas forward Damion James, taken at No. 24, to New Jersey for Xavier guard Jordan Crawford, the No. 27 pick.

Grizzlies go for guards
The Grizzlies went into the draft searching for a backup point guard and to improve their scoring off the bench. They picked Xavier Henry (Kansas) at No. 12 and Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) at No. 28. Memphis also took South Florida guard Dominique Jones at No. 25, but swapped him to the Mavericks for cash in a deal believed to be close to the league maximum $3 million . . . Three months ago, West Virginia forward Da’Sean Butler tore a ligament in his left knee during the national semifinals. The injury may have knocked him out of the first round, but he did go 42d overall to the Heat.

UConn gets on the board
With the second-to-last pick of the draft, the Magic took Connecticut forward Stanley Robinson at No. 59. Robinson, who averaged 14.5 points per game as a senior, was the only player from a New England school drafted . . . Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds became the first AP All-American since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 not to be taken in the draft. The point guard averaged 18.5 points and 3.3 assists per game last season for the Wildcats. The other four All-Americans were all taken within the first five picks . . . The Big 12 Conference led the way with seven players selected in the first round. The Southeastern Conference was next with five — all from Kentucky — while the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East both had four.

Bosh knows the order
Appearing as a co-host on ESPN Radio yesterday morning, Raptors All-Star forward Chris Bosh, a marquee piece of this summer’s sparkling class of free agents, said when the offseason-movement window opens July 1, the entire league, himself included, will be waiting to see what decision LeBron James makes about his future in Cleveland. “He’s a great player and I would be crazy to think that all the teams that are considering him, they would talk to somebody else first,’’ Bosh said. “I think everybody is going to be going at him first.’’ . . . Carmelo Anthony doesn’t hit the market for another year but could land a big contract extension from the Nuggets this summer. Anthony told Yahoo! Sports Wednesday night that he is mulling a three-year extension worth about $65 million. The Nuggets aren’t commenting on the report and Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, didn’t return a message from the AP . . . A judge in Chicago issued an arrest warrant for Knicks player Eddy Curry because he’s failed to appear in court in connection with a civil lawsuit.

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