The Cavaliers started their rebuilding process last night by drafting Duke point Kyrie Irving first overall, and then using the No. 4 pick on Texas forward Tristan Thompson.
Cheered on at the Prudential Center in Newark by family and friends, not far from where he starred at St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, N.J., the 19-year-old Irving showed no signs of any lingering problems with a right foot injury as he walked up the stairs to shake hands with commissioner David Stern.
Despite playing 11 games in his only college season because of a toe injury, Irving was too good to pass up with the Cavaliers’ first No. 1 pick since taking LeBron James in 2003. Irving has said he has no health concerns, making him the best choice in what’s been called a weak draft.
“I didn’t have any doubts about going to No. 1. I was looking to the organization to pick who they felt was the right choice,’’ Irving said.
The selection of Thompson was a bit of a surprise. The Cavaliers were reportedly interested in Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas, but they may have been turned off by his uncertain contract situation with a pro club in his home country. Valanciunas went fifth to the Raptors.
The Timberwolves took Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. The Jazz then took Turkish big man Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible at Kentucky.
Moving pieces The Bobcats agreed to send top scorer Stephen Jackson to the Bucks in a three-team trade involving the Kings that gives Charlotte another lottery pick to go with the ninth overall choice, UConn guard Kemba Walker. The Bobcats also sent the 19th pick (Tennessee forward Tobias Harris) and backup point guard Shaun Livingston to the Bucks. Charlotte also got the rights to the No. 7 overall pick (forward Bismack Biyombo of Congo) from the Kings and forward Corey Maggette from Milwaukee. The Bucks received guard Beno Udrih from the Kings. Guard John Salmons went from Milwaukee to Sacramento, which also got the rights to BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, who was picked 10th by the Bucks . . . The Pacers drafted San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard at No. 15, and then traded him to the Spurs for guard George Hill, a native of Indianapolis . . . A person familiar with the deal said the Mavericks have acquired guard Rudy Fernandez, and the former Trail Blazer confirmed his move to Dallas on Twitter . . . Portland traded one point guard for another, getting Raymond Felton from Denver in exchange for veteran Andre Miller.
Family matters The Morris twins, forwards Markieff and Marcus, of Kansas were the final two lottery picks. Markieff went to the Suns at No. 13. The Rockets then took Marcus . . . The Warriors drafted Washington State guard Klay Thompson at No. 11. Thompson’s father, Mychal, was the first overall pick of the 1978 draft, selected by Portland.
Union digs in Speaking from New York, union president Derek Fisher said the players won’t accept a bad deal to avert a work stoppage. “We’d love to avoid a lockout, but we’re unified in the sense of not being afraid if that’s what we’re faced with,’’ the Lakers guard said.
Player representatives from each team — including Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce of the Celtics — were in town for their summer meeting and were updated on the state of negotiations with owners. The collective bargaining agreement expires next Thursday, and the sides remain far apart headed into another session today.
“A lockout is something that we are trying to avoid by making multiple offers that treat our players fairly,’’ league spokesman Michael Bass said.
Hawks deny sale The ownership group of the Hawks said the team will not soon be sold, though SI.com reported yesterday that a sale is about to be consummated. The Atlanta Spirit issued a statement saying “there is no deal in place, nor is there an exclusive negotiating agreement in place.’’ . . . Lakers forward Ron Artest wants to change his name to Metta World Peace. Artest’s attorney filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking the change . . . The Suns delayed the date that Vince Carter’s contract becomes fully guaranteed, until the labor situation is resolved. Carter is owed $18.9 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million.