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Wizards deal Hayward to the Timberwolves


MINNEAPOLIS -- Rare is the day when a Western New Yorker gets selected in the NBA draft but that's exactly what has happened the past two seasons -- and both Lazar Hayward and Jonny Flynn are now teammates.

Hayward, the former Traditional High School and Marquette star who was a shocking first-round selection by the Washington Wizards on Thursday night, had his draft rights traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Hayward along with Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica, the 35th overall pick, from Washington in exchange for the draft rights to Clemson forward Trevor Booker, the 23rd overall pick, and Hamady N'diaye, the 56th overall pick.

The deal means the Timberwolves could become Western New York's adopted team since Hayward, the 30th overall selection in the draft, will now play along side former Buffalo News Player of the Year and Syracuse Orange star Jonny Flynn -- who was picked sixth overall in the 2009 draft.

"Very, very excited. It's a good group of guys," Hayward said Friday during an interview at the Timberwolves' team Web site. "I'm up for the challenge and I can't wait to get out there. I talked to Jonny. He's really, really excited."

Hayward is the first product from the Buffalo Public Schools' Yale Cup to get drafted since Seneca's Damone Brown was the second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001.

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Wall gets star's welcome

WASHINGTON -- John Wall was driven in an SUV-size limo to the Verizon Center, where he stepped onto a red carpet surrounded by scores of fans who cheered, craned their necks and did their best to snap photos of the Washington Wizards' No. 1 overall draft pick.

Once inside the arena, he learned that the mayor had proclaimed Friday as "John Wall Day" -- an honor Alex Ovechkin didn't get until winning a league MVP.

Wall also watched a video that welcomed him to the nation's capital, with greetings from local sports stars Donovan McNabb, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Ovechkin, who spoke in Russian and did his own fist-rotating imitation of the John Wall Dance.

There were also posters and a massive banner outside the arena proclaiming Wall as a "game changer" -- complete with information for ordering tickets.

The Wizards, a team that needs all the positive vibes it can get, went about as over-the-top as they could to celebrate their new face of the franchise.

"To be on the red carpet, I felt like I was big time," Wall said. "I've never been on a red carpet before."

The hero's treatment came one day after Wall was chosen at the top of the NBA draft, instantly making him the great hope for a team that in recent months defined the word embarrassment. He's only 19 years old, but the Wizards made clear they're pinning more than a wall's worth of expectations on the point guard from Kentucky.

But was it all a bit too much, especially for someone yet to put on an NBA uniform?

Wall, coach Flip Saunders and team president Ernie Grunfeld all had essentially the same answer: It's nothing compared to Kentucky.

"We had a lot of people here," Saunders said. "At Kentucky, they would have opened up Rupp Arena and they would have had 20,000, so he's used to this type of situation. He's been through it so much it's not going to affect him at all."

The same arena used to be awash in Gilbert Arenas memorabilia, but nearly all of it was taken down when the three-time All Star pleaded guilty in court to bringing guns to the locker room and was suspended 50 games by the NBA last season. Arenas is still with the team -- under contract for four more years with a contract too rich to trade -- but the Wizards are rebuilding their team and reputation around the new kid.

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Turner is ready

PHILADELPHIA -- New 76ers draft pick Evan Turner says he's looking forward to facing the top players in the world on a nightly basis when the NBA season starts.

Philadelphia introduced Turner on Friday, and the Ohio State standout who was the second overall pick of Thursday's draft stressed how excited he is to get to work with his new team and its new coach, Doug Collins.

Turner said he'll need to become more consistent with the his long-range shooting, and is eager to join fellow guard Jrue Holiday in the backcourt for the Sixers in the summer league.

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