Michael Doleac was ecstatic after Wednesday's NBA Draft. And if it wasn't for Orlando, the University of Utah product could have left the proceedings jazzed as well.
"All I can say is we like Mike and we'd love to have him on our team," Utah Jazz basketball operations chief Scott Layden said. "But it just didn't work out."
The Jazz reportedly contacted the Magic about a possible trade when the 6-foot-11, 270-pound center slipped into position where Orlando could draft him. The Magic held the 12th and 13th picks in the gathering at G.M. Place - the latter courtesy of the Jazz who less than two weeks earlier opted not to exercise an option it held on the selection.
Layden, who would neither confirm or deny speculation that Utah wanted the pick back as the draft progressed, said Orlando made a good choice in taking Doleac at No. 12.
"Mike is a terrific player. It was kind of interesting that he went right before the pick we had at 13," Layden said. "So I guess we don't have to answer the question of what if."
Though surprised he was still available, Magic general manager John Gabriel said Doleac was the guy his team wanted all along. Orlando coach Chuck Daly is impressed with the 21-year-old's range and shooting touch. He even went so far as to compare the former Runnin' Ute to one of his former players in Detroit, Bill Laimbeer.
"I guess that means I'll have to go in the weight room and beat somebody up," Doleac said in a conference call with the Orlando media..
"You'll definitely have to get a lot nastier, a lot nastier, to be like Bill," Daly retorted."`But (Doleac) can definitely shoot it, and that's something we really need. We'd get open shot after open shot last season and have nobody who could hit it. This kid can hit it."
Utah coach Rick Majerus, who provided draft analysis for TNT at the draft, said Daly is going to love having Doleac on his roster.
"There's a lot of better players in this draft, but I don't think there's a better kid," Majerus said while reeling off Doleac's accomplishments on and off the court. "He's a great teammate. He's going to give his body up for the team. He's going to lay it down for his teammates and for the coach to win."
Doleac led the Utes to the NCAA championship game after averaging 16.1 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior. Layden said the Jazz grew to appreciate their neighbor for a variety of reasons. The list of accolades includes Doleac's worth ethic in school (he's studying to become an orthopedic surgeon) and on the basketball court.
"He's got a lot of qualities which will fit well in the NBA," Layden said. "We've always liked Mike. He's our type of player. I was surprised he didn't go at No. 9 (to Milwaukee), but some weird things happened in the top 10. And there he was at 12. It's a good pick for Orlando."
Doleac, who celebrated being drafted by joining family and friends at a Vancouver steakhouse, said he wasn't surprised. He's just happy to be in a great situation. Doleac and former Dixie College star Keon Clark of UNLV, who was taken 13th, fill an immediate need for Orlando in the middle. After the team traded Rony Seikaly to New Jersey last February, the Magic relied upon aging veteran Danny Schayes to man the post.
"It would be great to be able to come in and contribute right away," Doleac said. "`But I don't know if that's possible. I'll try to come in and make every contribution that I can make."
The Magic also have a player who admittedly would have been equally as happy to remain in Utah. Doleac said both were great situations.
"This is a dream come true," Doleac said, eager to begin his professional career. He'll attend a press conference in Orlando Friday morning.