OFFSEASON

2011 NBA Draft: First Round

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2011 NBA Draft: First Round

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn BOSTON Like most NBA drafts, much of the smoke leading up to the draft provided few sparks once the picks were made.

As expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Duke's Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick. Kyrie, whose father Drederick was a standout basketball player at Boston University, was followed by Arizona's Derrick Williams who was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 2 pick.

At that point, things started to get kind of tricky.

The Utah Jazz had the No. 3 pick, and seemed torn between taking Kentucky's Brandon Knight or Enes Kanter from Kentucky. The Jazz, who also had some interest in trading down to select BYU star Jimmer Fredette, stood pat and selected Kanter.

Kanter's selection triggered a run on international talent, with three of the next four being from outside the United States.

That run opened the door for the Detroit Pistons to select Knight, a 6-foot-3 point guard projected by most to be among the top four or five players selected.

Kemba Walker, who led UConn to a national championship this past spring, was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Walker's stiffest competition for National Player of the Year honors this past season was Jimmer Fredette, who was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks (but will be sent to Sacramento as part of a three-team deal involving the Bucks, Kings and Charlotte Bobcats).

Rounding out the lottery (top-14 picks) were Golden State selecting Washington State's Klay Thompson at No. 11; Utah took Colorado guard Alec Burks at No. 12; Kansas' Markieff Morris was chosen by Phoenix at No. 13 while the Houston Rockets rounded out the lottery, selecting his twin brother, Marcus, with the No. 14 pick.

In addition to the draft being dominated by international players early on, the first round will also featured a handful of trades involving solid NBA players - but no superstar talent.

Milwaukee, Sacramento and Charlotte were involved in a three-team trade in which the Bucks acquired Beno Udrih (from Sacramento), Shaun Livingston (from Charlotte) and Stephen Jackson from Charlotte. The Kings acquired John Salmons (from Milwaukee) and the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's draft, Jimmer Fredette. The Bobcats, one of the more active trading partners on Thursday, received Corey Maggette (from Milwaukee) and the No. 7 pick (Bismack Biyombo) from the Kings.

Charlotte would later draft Jeremy Tyler, who was soon traded to Golden State.

The San Antonio Spurs traded George Hill to Indiana for the rights to the Pacer's No. 15 pick, Kawhi Leonard.

The Houston Rockets are reportedly set to ship Brad Miller and the No. 23 pick (Nikola Mirotic) plus future considerations, to Minnesota for Jonny Flynn and the Timberwolves' No. 20 pick (Donatas Motiejunas).

A draft wouldn't be complete if the Celtics' Danny Ainge didn't make a move. The C's used their No. 25 pick on Providence's Marshon Brooks, and traded him to New Jersey for the No. 27 pick (Jajuan Johnson) and a 2014 second round pick.

"I like it a lot," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of adding Johnson to the roster. "We didn't think he'd be there, and he was."

In addition to Johnson, the C's were also interested in Boston College's Reggie Jackson and Marquette's Jimmy Butler who were selected No. 24 and No. 30, respectively.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA