What evidence is there that the Nets would want J. R. Smith? Rod Thorn was open back in June 2004 that the Nets liked Smith and would have blown up the sale of their first-round draft pick that year if the St. Benedict's Prep product had been available at #22, as these news reports from the day after that draft indicate:
Thorn said the decision was just about a foregone conclusion, although some curiosity was piqued when prepster J.R. Smith was still available at 18 (taken by the New Orleans Hornets) and former St. Joseph's guard Jameer Nelson was available at No. 20 (taken by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Orlando Magic.)
"(Smith) was a guy that we were certainly considering," Thorn added. "`With his shooting and athletic ability, we did not see him getting to 22 and he didn't.
"And (Nelson) would have given you a second thought, yeah."
--Bob Considine, Asbury Park Press
Thorn admitted there were some players that intrigued the Nets. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark) star J.R. Smith "was a guy we were certainly considering" and Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's, the consensus NCAA Player of the Year, "would have given you a second thought." But neither made it. Smith went No. 18 to the Hornets and former Nets coach Byron Scott while Nelson was selected at No. 20 by the Nuggets, who then traded him to Orlando.
"When all the big players dropped out of the draft, they would have gone ahead of us and we thought then maybe somebody would have fallen to us," said Thorn, explaining how the Nets' hopes were damaged. "It [trading the pick] was not a foregone conclusion but our feeling was the players we were really interested in wouldn't get there."
--Fred Kerber, New York Post
The Nets had still held out hope - albeit very slim - that one of the players they coveted would somehow slip to No. 22.
They loved sweet-shooting Luke Jackson, though he clearly wasn't going to make it out of the lottery and didn't. He was taken tenth.
They were infatuated with local guy J.R. Smith and held out hopes he might fall, but their old buddy Byron Scott and the Hornets got the St. Benedict's star at No. 18.
"He was a guy we were certainly considering for his shooting ability and his athletic ability," Thorn said. "But we did not think he would get to 22."
The last player remaining that would have made them re-think trading their pick was Jameer Nelson, the St. Joseph's point guard, who fell through the lottery and beyond. "It would have given us a second thought," Thorn said.
But when the Nuggets grabbed Nelson at No. 19, the trade was as good as done.
--Brad Parks, Newark Star-Ledger
As the draft moved closer and closer to the Nets' No. 22 overall pick Thursday night, CEO Rod Thorn and his staff thought there might be something they could use after all.
J.R. Smith, the 6-foot-6 product of Newark's St. Benedict's Prep, looked like he might last, and point guard Jameer Nelson of St Joseph's, the consensus college Player of the Year, was tumbling, too.
That gave the Nets pause about their prearranged deal to send the pick to Portland.
But New Orleans' and former Nets' coach Byron Scott beat the Nets to Smith with the No. 18 pick, and Denver drafted Nelson No. 20, then traded him to Orlando.
Thus, the Nets drafted 6-foot-9 Russian Victor Khryapa on behalf of Portland, trading him for journeyman point guard Eddie Gill plus "cash considerations" that could be worth as much as $3 million.
--Steve Adamek, The Record