Blazers select forward Claver with 22nd pick

PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers traded Spanish guard Sergio Rodriguez but had an otherwise uneventful draft night on Thursday.

There was speculation the Blazers might make a splash, but their most notable move was trading Rodriguez and the rights to draft pick Jon Brockman of Washington to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph.

Rodriguez, a 6-foot-3 guard known for flashy passes, has played three seasons in the NBA, all with the Blazers. Last season he averaged 4.5 points and 3.6 assists in 15.3 minutes per game.

Teamed with countryman Rudy Fernandez, the duo became known by Blazers fans as the "Spanish Connection."

The 6-foot-9 Pendergraph was the 31st overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft by Sacramento. He averaged 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Sun Devils last season.

"We're excited to add a player like Jeff, who is a four-year starter, hard worker and has a strong athletic presence inside. We feel he can help this team," Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard said.

Brockman was the 38th overall pick in the draft.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said Rodriguez had asked to be moved. The Spaniard had played off the bench behind starter Steve Blake last season. Rookie Jerryd Bayless also played at point for Portland.

"He wanted a larger role on this team, and it just wasn't possible," McMillan said.

The Blazers didn't make a big move in the draft, so now speculation centers on free agency. Teams can start negotiating with free agents on July 1 and begin signing them a week later.

"We're going to be active in free agency, there's no doubt about it," Pritchard said.

Portland won 54 games last season and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2003, with a young and talented group anchored by All-Star Brandon Roy and forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

With Fernandez and Frenchman Nicholas Batum already on the roster, the Blazers added more international flavor by selecting forward Victor Claver of Spain with the 22nd overall pick.

The 6-foot-9 Claver has played the last three seasons for Pamesa Valencia in Spain. Last season he averaged 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over 15 games but fractured his left leg.

"He's young, but he has a very high ceiling," Pritchard said. Claver will stay in Spain for the foreseeable future while he develops.

The Blazers acquired the 22nd pick from Dallas on Wednesday in exchange for the 24th pick.

With the 33rd pick, the Blazers took forward Dante Cunningham out of Villanova. The 6-foot-8 power forward averaged 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season.

With the 55th pick, the Blazers took guard Patrick Mills, an early entry candidate out of St. Mary's. In two seasons with the Gaels, he averaged 16.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

Mills played for his naive Australia in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was praised by McMillan, who was an assistant coach on the gold medal-winning U.S. team.

While the Blazers' night was not headline-making, Pritchard was satisfied.

"We do feel we helped ourselves in this draft," he said.

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