Nuggets acquire Weems from Bulls
June 27, 2008
DENVER, Colorado ” The Denver Nuggets jumped back into the NBA draft, acquiring Sonny Weems from the Chicago Bulls in a three-team trade.
The Arkansas guard/forward was selected by the Bulls with the 39th overall pick before being shipped to the Nuggets Thursday night.
In the trade, the Bulls ended up with the draft rights to center Omer Asik of Turkey, who was selected 36th overall by Portland. The Blazers ended up with Denver’s second-round pick in 2009, New York’s second-round spot in ’09 (which was owned by Chicago) and the Bulls’ second-rounder in 2010.
The 6-foot-6, 203-pound Weems averaged 15 points a game last season for the Razorbacks, and was named to the all-Southeastern Conference team.
“He’s as athletic as you get,” said Mark Warkentien, the team’s vice president of basketball operations. “He’s so athletic that he can fit in the NBA as an energy guy.”
Denver traded out of the draft Wednesday, sending its spot at No. 20 to the Charlotte Bobcats for a future, protected first-round selection. The Bobcats parlayed that pick into center Alexis Ajinca of France.
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The team didn’t have a selection in 2007 and traded away their second-round pick, Leon Powe, to Boston in 2006.
Once Weems began to tumble down the draft, the Nuggets started working the phones for potential deals. They had Weems ranked high on their draft board, potentially as a middle of the first-round selection.
“We all had Sonny ranked very high,” said Rex Chapman, the vice president of player personnel. “The farther he slipped, the more interested we became. I feel very fortunate to get him where we did.”
The Nuggets are coming off a season in which they won 50 games for the first time in 20 years.
However, the Lakers swept them out of the playoffs, the fifth straight season Denver has failed to advance out of the first round.
Still, Chapman doesn’t feel the team is that far away from being a contender.
“I firmly believe that the difference between the two teams that played in the finals this year and about maybe 12 other teams is not that vast,” Chapman said. “There’s not a big difference. If you can somehow find the right mix and get some momentum, and good mojo going in your direction, you can make some noise.”
Warkentien said the team was prepared to sit out the draft, had a player like Weems not fallen to them.
“We went shopping,” Warkentien said. “We had our credit card and if we saw something that we thought was on sale we were going to buy. We liked the price … It’s kind of the nature of the draft ” guys slip and slide.”
Before attending Arkansas, Weems played two seasons at Arkansas-Fort Smith, helping the team to a 33-3 record and a National Junior College Athletic Association championship in 2005-06.
Weems, who will turn 22 on July 8, is known for his explosive leaping ability and quick first step to the hoop.
“He’s a world-class athlete,” Chapman said.
The fact that Denver has two potential first-round picks next season weighed heavily in the decision to give up a second rounder to the Bulls.
“We had our ducks in a row doing our preparation,” Chapman said. “We were prepared for something like this. If it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. But we feel very fortunate to get a quality player at No. 39.”