Booker and N’Diaye Arrive Quietly

On the day Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye were drafted by the Washington Wizards, there was little discussion about the contributions they could make to the team. There was casual mention of them both being mature seniors, but little else.  The focus on that day, was number one draft pick John Wall.

Yesterday, when Booker and N’Diaye were officially introduced by Team President Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Flip Saunders, it seemed like both players would finally have the spotlight to themselves.  But less than an hour after their introductory press conference was completed, the Wizards announced a trade that sent Quinton Ross to the New Jersey Nets for Yi Jianilian and cash.

Luckily for Booker and N’Diaye, Grunfeld knows just how important both players are to the Wizards.

“We had a couple of objectives in this draft, and we wanted to get tougher.  We wanted to get players in this organization that were going to play hard every single night, be professional, and carry themselves in the right way,” Grunfeld explained.  “I think that with these two players we were able to get that.  We think they bring something special to the table, physicality, defensive presence, and an aggressiveness I think we were looking for.”

Coach Saunders shared the same sentiment.

“At the end of last year when we talked about moving forward and especially when we obtained the number one pick in the draft, we said in order to get where wanted to get and be a championship caliber team, we had to improve our competitiveness, improve our intensity, our character of our players–and knowing that every time they stepped on the floor they were going to play at an extremely high level.  Both these guys possess that,” Saunders told the media.

Booker, who says his game is similar to that of Paul Milsap and Carl Landry, led Clemson in scoring and rebounding during his senior year, by averaging 15 points and 8.2 rebounds.  But when asked what the biggest strength of his game was, he went in a different direction.

“I love defense,” Booker said confidently. “If an offensive player tries to challenge me with the ball, I’m not going to back down from anybody. It’s a big challenge for me. I don’t want anybody to score on me or score on my team. I’m going to do anything I can to keep the ball from going in the hole.”

N’Diaye, who compares himself to Ben Wallace, averaged 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and a whopping 4.5 blocks a game during his senior year at Rutgers en route to Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors.

While talking with the media he was very candid about his shot-blocking abilities and how he sees his game overall.

“I’ve got a long way to go.  Six years of basketball, doesn’t mean this is my best,” N’Diaye said with a huge smile.  “Blocking shots really… its a feel.  Its something that I love to do, and like Trevor[Booker] said, I don’t like when people score on me, so I will jump as high as I have to, to get that ball.”

Both  Booker and N’Diaye wowed Saunders and the Wizards coaches in their workouts.  Booker said he had a “LeBron James-like” block on one of the players he was facing and the coaches were really impressed.  N’Diaye was blocking every shot in sight during his workout, but not keeping them inbounds.

When Saunders asked him why he kept sending the ball out of bounds, N’Diaye replied: “Coach, the crowd goes crazy!”

Booker, N’Diaye, the much ballyhooed John Wall, and the other summer league invitees will participate in rookie mini-camp, before they head to the Vegas Summer League, Saunders said during the press conference.   Specific dates for the mini-camp were not given.

Wizards Acquire Yi Jianlian

The Washington Wizards traded forward Quinton Ross to the New Jersey Nets for forward Yi Jianlian and cash considerations according to Team President Ernie Grunfeld.

“This trade is a good opportunity to add a skilled seven-footer with significant NBA experience who was the sixth overall pick in the draft just three years ago,” said Grunfeld.  “Yi fits in very well with our ongoing plan of building towards the future with a core of young, talented players.”

For the Nets, this move clears more salary cap room as they continued their quest for LeBron James and the other major free agents of 2010.  And according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Yi’s skillset did not exactly fit in to new Nets coach, Avery Johnson’s plans.

In Yi, the Washington Wizards gain a player who can play both the small and power forward positions, and he gives them a bit of insurance while Andray Blatche recovers from foot surgery.  Salary cap wise, this still allows the Wizards flexibility since Yi has a player option that the team has the option of picking up at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

Yi was originally the sixth pick of the 2007 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he averaged 8.6 points and 5. 2 rebounds.  He was traded to the Nets before the 2008 season, and in two seasons there, he averaged 10.3 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

The Wizards acquired Ross along with Josh Howard and James Singleton on February 13th of this year as part of the trade that sent DeShawn Stevenson,  Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler to the Dallas Mavericks.  He played sparingly for the Wizards averaging just 1.5 points in 25 games.

The acquisition of Yi, is one of the several moves the Wizards have made this offseason.  During last Thursday’s NBA Draft, they took John Wall number one overall, along with Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye.  The Wizards have also reportedly added former Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich and Kevin Seraphin from France, and Washington Post beat writer Michael Lee is reporting that an qualifying offer will not be made to Wizards guard Randy Foye, thus making him a free agent.

Stay tuned to Hoops Addict for more information on the Washington Wizards.

Rashad Mobley On Fox Sports Radio

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of appearing on Fox Sports Radio with Brian Webber and Pooh Richardson.   I discussed the factors involved in Phil Jackson’s return next year and where LeBron James and the rest of the 2010 free agent class may end up going.

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