The Jazz really did want Wyoming center Eric Leckner in Tuesday's NBA Draft. They took Leckner with the No. 17 choice in the first round, even though highly regarded forwards Mark Bryant of Seton Hall and Jerome Lane of Pitt slid to them as the draft unfolded
Immediately after their scheduled pick, the jazz talked with Miami about sending 1987 first-round pick Jose Ortiz to the Heat for the No. 20 choice, but no deal was made. Miami took DePaul guard Kevin Edwards with its second of two first-round choices.The 6-foot-11, 265-pound Leckner averaged 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds as a senior, helping the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament.
Leckner was a three-time MVP of the WAC tournament and was a career 61-percent shooter.
Leckner, a native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., enjoyed his best year as a junior when he averaged 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds.
"It'll be interesting to see where I fit in with the program," Leckenr told the audience at the Jazz's Salt Palace draft headquarters by telephone.
The first two choices in the draft were no surprise, the L.A. Clippers taking Kansas forward Danny Manning and Indiana following with Marist center Rik Smits.
The intrigue started with the No. 3 pick, as Philadelphia took Pitt forward Charles Smith, amid reports they planned to trade him to the Clippers for a shooting guard. Smith was the Big East player of the year, emerging as an outstanding scorer and rebounder in a physical conference that should have prepared him well for the NBA.
New Jersey, as expected, went with Auburn forward Chris Morris at No. 4. Golden State chose Kansas State guard Mitch Richmond, and the Clippers opened the possibility for that trade with Philadelphia by taking Bradley guard Hersey Hawkins.
The trade ended up being a three-way deal, with the Clippers sending forward Michael Cage to Seattle. Philadelphia sent Smith to the Clippers in exchange for Hawkins and Seattle sent Michigan point guard Gary Grant (No. 15) to the clippers, and also delivered a 1989 first round choice to Philadelphia.
With the No. 7 pick, Phoenix took Temple forward Tim Perry, who will team with the Suns' No. 2 overall choice of last June, power forward Armon Gilliam.
The No. 8 choice was a little surprising, Charlotte taking 19-year-old Kentucky guard Rex Chapman. The Hornets had taken several guards in last week's expansion draft, including the Jazz's Rickey Green and former Jazzman Dell Curry, and also traded for the Jazz's Kelly Tripucka. Chapman left Kentucky following his sophomore season.
The other expansion team, Miami, made a somewhat more logical pick at No. 9. The Heat took Syracuse forward-center Rony Seikaly, who will join former Syracuse teammate Pearl Washington, the point guard Miami drafted off New Jersey's list last week. San Antonio followed with 6-7 Georgia point guard Willie Anderson, who will replace Jon Sundvold as the Spurs' No. 3 guard, the top reserve at both backcourt positions.
The moves that affected the Jazz started at No. 11, with Chicago taking Vanderbilt center Will Perdue. With the Bulls adding Bill Cartwright in a Monday trade with New York. Perdue will serve as a backup center and actually replaces Mike Brown, who ended up with the Jazz via the expansion process.
Washington which always seems to have an impact on the Jazz's plans, could have taken a center, fearing the loss of free agent Moses Malone. But the Bullets went with Oklahoma forward Harvey Grant at No. 12. Chicago had passed up Grant, whose twin brother, Horace, plays for the Bulls.
At No. 13, Milwaukee took Iowa State guard Jeff Grayer, the Cyclones' all-time leading scorer.
The Bucks will have time to bring along Grayer, with free agent Sidney Moncrief having re-signed Monday.
Phoenix followed with Central Michigan forward Dan Majerle, whose stock rose the most of any player in the postseason all-star tournaments and who interested the Jazz. Majerle was the MVP of the Portsmouth invitational, an event usually attended by players expected to go in the second round or later.
Seattle took Grant at No. 15, eliminating any chance that the Jazz would take a true point guard, and paved the way for the three-way trade.
Houston's choice of Missouri guard Derrick Chievous left the Jazz with their choice of several frontcourt players at No. 17. After the Jazz's pick, Sacramento took San Jose State guard Ricky Berry.