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Bayless: I’ll show NBA

Ex-UA star spurred by drop to 11th

Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless appears headed to an up-and-coming Portland team, but a question seemingly will continue to dog him after he slipped to No. 11 in the NBA draft:

Is the former Arizona star a shooting or a point guard?

“I think they are crazy,” Bayless said when asked what he would say to people who don’t think he can play both guard spots. “That’s what I think.”

The question may have contributed to Bayless falling out of the top 10 in New York City and being picked by the Indiana Pacers, who agreed to deal him to Portland in a proposed trade that is expected to be finalized Friday.

Bayless appeared visibly upset that he went that low, after it was predicted in mock drafts that he could be picked as high as No. 4 by Seattle or realistically No. 7 by the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I have 10 teams to prove wrong now,” Bayless told ESPN radio. “I’m going to definitely go out and try to do that. Hopefully everything works out.”

About 30 minutes after Bayless was drafted, ESPN and the Portland Oregonian reported that Indiana agreed to send him to Portland for No. 13 pick Brandon Rush of Kansas, Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts. The Pacers also would send former Arizona State forward Ike Diogu to Portland.

Trail Blazers’ officials would not comment Thursday night because the deal is pending. But Bayless looked happier when he talked to ESPN about the young team, which includes former UA center Channing Frye and 2007 No. 1 pick Greg Oden.

“(Portland) is a great team already,” Bayless said, still wearing his Pacers’ cap. “They may be missing one or two parts. They are definitely a playoff contention team.

“Hopefully, I can go in there and play hard and be that missing part.”

Bayless becomes the fourth former Phoenix-area and former UA player to go in the first round. The others were Mike Bibby (second, 1998); Richard Jefferson (13th, 2001); and Frye.

Asked if he wants to be the best of the bunch, Bayless said no doubt.

“I want to be the best I can be,” he said. “If that (means) being the best out of Arizona, I’ll try to do that.”

Former UA guard Jawann McClellan was not drafted. He was hopeful on Thursday night that he would land on a summer league team. He’s not sure where that would be.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It’ll be emotional for me even if I get on a summer team.”

As for Bayless, he likley is headed to the youngest team in the NBA last season. Next season, Portland could be one of the more athletically talented squads if Oden returns from his knee injury and Bayless has an immediate impact.

The roster also includes forward LaMarcus Aldridge, shooter James Jones and talented guard Brandon Roy.

Bayless could not be reached by the Tucson Citizen and his agency did not respond to an e-mail on Thursday.

The Pacers agreed in principle to trade Jermaine O’Neal to the Toronto Raptors for point guard T.J. Ford, so that’s why they were willing to trade Bayless to Portland.

“I feel I can play any position the coach tells me to do,” Bayless told ESPN television afterward, not knowing then he might go to Portland. “If the coaching staff tells me to play point guard, then I’m going to do it. If they ask me to play off the ball, I’m going to do that too.

“Whatever the situation (is) I’m going to do it.”

Bayless is Arizona’s ninth lottery selection and the eighth UA underclassman to enter the draft early and be selected since 1991, joining Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004) and Marcus Williams (2007).

The Oregonian reported that the Blazers had Bayless ranked as the fourth-best prospect overall.

“I really like him; I think he’s a heck of a player,” Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard told the Oregonian.

Bayless was the first freshman to lead UA in scoring since Sean Elliott in 1985-86. Phoenix St. Mary’s High grad Bayless finished third in the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring, averaging 19.7 points. The honorable mention All-American averaged 4.0 assists.

According to the Oregonian, the Blazers likely would plug him in the point guard rotation in place of Jack.

Bayless would compete with starter Steve Blake.

The 6-foot-2 Bayless did not work out for Portland during the predraft process, but he got a big endorsement from Frye, who also attended UA and St. Mary’s High.

“He is extremely competitive and he is an extremely good talent,” Frye told the Oregonian in an e-mail. “I’m happy we have him here and he’s gonna make us better, not only on the court but off.”

According to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, which has a pre-established rookie pay scale, as the No. 11 draft pick, Bayless will make $1.661 million in guaranteed salary for the 2008-09 season.

His second-year salary, also guaranteed, will be $1.79 million.

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2008 NBA DRAFT

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PHOENIX SUNS

Hoping to address their chronic lack of toughness, the Phoenix Suns drafted Stanford 7-footer Robin Lopez with the 15th overall pick. The Suns chose Malik Hairston of Oregon in the second round, 48th overall, then shipped him to San Antonio for the Spurs’ second-round pick, point guard Goran Dragic of Slovenia.

PAC-10 POWER

It was a big night for the Pac-10 , which had five of the first 11 picks:

3. O.J. Mayo, USC, Minnesota

4. Russell Westbrook, UCLA, Seattle

5. Kevin Love, UCLA, Memphis

10. Brook Lopez, Stanford, New Jersey.

11. Jerryd Bayless, UA, Indiana (Portland)

Minnesota dealt Mayo’s rights to Memphis for the rights to Love in an eight-player deal after the draft.

FRESHMEN RULE

Point guard Derrick Rose is bound for his hometown team after Chicago made the dynamic ex-Memphis star the first pick.

Five players who left after one year in college were chosen among the first seven picks (Rose, No. 2 Michael Beasley (Miami), Mayo, Love and No. 7 Eric Gordon (Clippers).

And a record seven freshmen were taken by the 14 lottery teams, including UA’s Bayless and LSU’s Anthony Randolph (Golden State). Story, Page 4C

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A LOOK AT PORTLAND

The Trail Blazers (41-41 last season) have the youngest team in the NBA, including key big man reserve Channing Frye (LEFT), a former Arizona Wildcat.

A look at Portland’s potential starters, if the Jerryd Bayless trade from Indiana is finalized:

Shooting guard: Brandon Roy (23), 6-6, Washington,

Point guard: Steve Blake (28), 6-3, Maryland, or Bayless (19), 6-2, Arizona*

Center: Greg Oden (20), 7-0, Ohio State

Power forward: LaMarcus Aldridge (22) , 6-11, Texas

Shooting forward: Martell Webster (21), 6-7, Seattle Prep

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