(This story was originally published in 1993)
The Warriors made a big, bold move in Wednesday’s draft to get the big, bold player who could make them an NBA title contender.
In a stunning, last-minute maneuver, Coach Don Nelson traded the No. 3 pick, Memphis State guard Anfernee Hardaway, and three future first-round picks to Orlando for the rights to the No. 1 pick, 6-foot-9 Chris Webber, whose ferocious inside play led Michigan to the past two NCAA finals.
Philadelphia took 7-6 Shawn Bradley of Brigham Young with the No. 2 pick.
“I think we’re ready to challenge as a contender,” Nelson said. “I think we’ll be able to play with anybody next year, and I’m excited about it.”
The trade, the first in league history involving the No. 1 pick on draft day, was anticipated after the Warriors took Hardaway, who is expected to replace Scott Skiles as the Magic point guard.
If a deal for the No. 1 pick hadn’t been agreed upon, a Warriors source confirmed, the Warriors would have chosen Kentucky’s Jamal Mashburn, who was taken by Dallas with the No. 4 pick.
That would have been all right with the crowd of 4,500 attending the Warriors’ draft party at the Coliseum Arena. They cheered highlights of Mashburn before the draft started, but they jumped from their seats and roared when NBA Commissioner David Stern said from the draft site in Auburn Hills, Mich.: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to announce a trade. Orlando . . . ” Magic fans, conversely, booed the announcement at the Orlando Arena.
Webber, 20, who is expected to play power forward and center for the Warriors, also anticipated a deal. “There’s no guarantee that I go to Orlando,” Webber said after he was selected by the Magic.
The deal, Nelson said, had been discussed with Orlando since the Warriors moved from seventh to third in the May 23 draft lottery, but it was consummated only about an hour before Orlando selected Webber. The Magic, a Warriors source said, originally asked for Hardaway plus four future first- round picks or Hardaway plus three first-round picks and Tyrone Hill.
Although the Warriors talked the Magic down Wednesday, they’ve still mortgaged their future. Orlando gets three No. 1 picks, to be used no earlier than 1996, 1998 and 2000. The Warriors’ next non-lottery first-round pick belongs to Dallas, and they couldn’t trade their ’95 selection because the league prohibits a team from trading consecutive first-round selections.
The Warriors did look to the future by trading their second-round choice, the 34th overall, Western Kentucky’s Darnell Mee, to Denver for the 43rd pick, Utah’s Josh Grant, and a 1994 conditional second-round pick.
“Three first-round picks is definitely a lot to give . . . to move up two spots,” Nelson said. “Our time is now. If we do what we’re supposed to do in developing the players and the team, those first-round picks are not going to be major picks. If we can’t do that, something is wrong.”
League rules prohibited the Warriors from making the deal contingent on Orlando selecting a specific player, but they wanted to assure themselves of getting either Webber or Bradley. To do that, they had to guarantee Orlando the three future first-round picks no matter what happened — even if Philadelphia pulled a surprise and left Bradley for them to take with the third pick. The Warriors didn’t expect that to happen.
“We thought we knew what would happen there,” Nelson said, although he added that the Warriors would have been content with Bradley.
“We thought he’d take a full year to develop, but we were quite willing to take that chance with him.”
Assistant coach Gregg Popovich said the Warriors won’t have to wait on Webber, who weighed 263 pounds at an NBA pre-draft camp.
“This guy,” Popovich said, “walks into the gym and says, ‘Let’s go to battle.’ He’ll have guys in the league trying to physically test him the same as Bradley, but he won’t even know they’re trying to.”
Orlando, which also considered taking Mashburn at one point, became enamored with Hardaway after he worked out recently with Magic center Shaquille O’Neal in Los Angeles. The two are starring in a movie about college basketball stars called “Blue Chips.”
“Shaq made a phone call and said, ‘You should take this guy,’ ” Nelson said.
The Warriors are quite happy he did.