INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers didn’t need to trade with the Dallas Mavericks in order to move up and get the second player they wanted Thursday night in the NBA Draft.
After surprising everyone by taking UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick, Cleveland did what was expected when Sergey Karasev was still available at 19 and quickly nabbed the 6-foot-8, 202-pound swingman from Russia.
“It’s my dream come true,” Karasev said. “I’ve wanted to play in the NBA. Now I’m part of it.”
With four picks going into the night, numerous reports said the Cavs traded their first choice in the second round, California shooting guard Allen Crabbe at No. 31 overall, to Portland for a pair of future second-rounders. The team had not confirmed the deal at press time.
With the third pick in the second round, No. 33 overall, Cleveland took Arizona State swingman Carrick Felix, a 6-6¼, 203-pounder who averaged 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in his third college season.
Reports surfaced two weeks ago that the Cavs, thinking Karasev might be off the board, were working on a trade to acquire the No. 13 pick from Dallas, but they ended up not needing to do that.
Karasev, who won’t turn 20 until Oct. 26, was the seventh-youngest player in the draft and has already played at the highest level in Russia, where he has been a pro since 2010.
The left-hander still needs to add strength, but is billed as an aggressive offensive player who can score in a variety of ways.
In his current season playing for BC Triumph — he flew back to Russia late Thursday for an upcoming game — he is averaging 18.7 points on .451 shooting from the field overall, .328 on 3-pointers (21-for-64) and an outstanding .878 at the line. Karasev has taken 74 free throws in 12 games, an indication he does more than just shoot from the perimeter.
“Cleveland needs shooters, and I think I’m a guy who can shoot the ball,” he said. “If I do the job over the year, I’m going to have a lot of minutes. I’m just going to keep working.”
Some think Karasev might challenge Alonzo Gee for the starting small forward job, but he’ll need to add some weight and improve his rebounding in order to do that.
“I’m ready to come next year to play in Cleveland,” he said, adding, “I’ll try to really help them and go as hard as possible.”
Weight a minute
Bennett is listed at 6-8, 240, but recent reports have said his weight is up to 261 pounds. When asked about that, he never did reveal exactly how much he weighs.
“I played at 245,” he said. “Everybody was saying I gained 25 or 28 pounds. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t that much. It was 15, 14, if not 11. It wasn’t a high, crazy number.”
Bennett, who underwent surgery on his left shoulder and didn’t attend the NBA Draft Combine in May, added he’s almost all the way back to full health.
“The first week of August, I’ll be back 100 percent,” he said.
One of the knocks on Bennett going into the draft was he was a tweener, meaning he wasn’t big enough to play power forward in the NBA and didn’t have the quickness and ballhandling ability to play small forward for extended periods.
“They said it in high school, they said it in college,” he said. “At the same time, I kind of did my thing. I feel like I have a 7-1, 7-2 wingspan, and that’s really helped me out. I don’t pay any attention to being a tweener. I’m a basketball player.”
Who’s No. 1?
Starting in 2012 and going backward, here are the last 30 players chosen with the No. 1 pick: Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Greg Oden, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Yao Ming, Kwame Brown, Kenyon Martin, Elton Brand, Michael Olowokandi, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Joe Smith, Glenn Robinson, Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Johnson, Derrick Coleman, Pervis Ellison, Danny Manning, David Robinson, Brad Daugherty, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson.
Prior to Bennett, Irving (2011), James (2003), Daugherty (1986) and Austin Carr (1971) were chosen No. 1 by the Cavs.
None of the moves have been publicly announced, but it looks like Mike Brown’s coaching staff is close to complete.
Jim Boylan, who served as Milwaukee’s interim head coach last season after Scott Skiles was fired, has been hired as Brown’s lead assistant. Boylan, a point guard on Marquette’s 1977 national championship team, previously worked for the Cavs in the 1990s.
The Cavs have also hired Phil Handy, Iogor Kokoskov and Vitaly Potapenko as assistants and retained Jamahl Mosley from Byron Scott’s staff.
The Cavs will play three preliminary games in the Las Vegas Summer League before being seeded for a tournament that will run from July 17-22.
Cleveland will play the Los Angeles Lakers at 8 p.m. on July 12, Memphis at 8 p.m. on July 14 and New Orleans at 6 p.m. on July 15. All three games will be at the COX Pavilion.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.