The Cleveland Cavaliers selected UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick Thursday night, making him the first Canadian to be the top choice and getting the NBA draft off to a surprising start.
The Cavaliers passed on big men Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, who went to Phoenix at No. 5, in favor of the forward who has starred for Canada’s junior national teams and was the Mountain West Conference player of the year.
There was suspense right until the end, either because the Cavaliers were unsure whom they wanted or were trying to trade the pick. Most predictions had them taking one of the big men.
‘‘I'm just as surprised as anyone else,’’ Bennett said.
David Stern, booed heavily in his final draft as commissioner, added to the surprise of the moment by pausing slightly before announcing the Cavaliers’ pick.
Orlando passed on both of the big men, too, going with Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick. Washington took Otto Porter Jr. with the third pick, keeping the Georgetown star local.
It was a good start to the night for the Hoosiers, with Cody Zeller going two spots after Oladipo to the Charlotte Bobcats.
National player of the year Trey Burke of Michigan went ninth, and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum rounded out the top 10 by going to Portland.
Local fans seemed pleased with their picks, cheering loudly when the Nets took Duke forward Mason Plumlee at No. 22 and the New York Knicks grabbed Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. two picks later.
There were 13 international players selected this year, beginning with Milwaukee taking Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 15 and ending with the last pick of the draft, Latvia’s Janis Timma going to Memphis.
The Jazz drafted Louisville center Gorgui Dieng with the 21st overall pick and planned to trade him to Minnesota as part of a package for Burke. A person with knowledge of the deal said that Utah sent picks 14 and 21 to Minnesota for Burke, the Michigan point guard who was taken No. 9.
The Jazz took UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad at No. 14 for Minnesota before grabbing Dieng.
Also, Denver traded center Kosta Koufos to Memphis for forward Darrell Arthur and the No. 55 pick. Memphis selected forward Joffrey Lauvergne of France.
Also among several other draft-night trades, Minnesota traded the rights to Colorado’s Andre Roberson, the 26th pick, to Golden State for a future second-round pick. The Warriors then Roberson’s rights to Oklahoma City for the rights to the Thunders’ No. 29 selection, Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin.
Goodwin’s rights were finally traded to Phoenix for the rights to Lithuanian forward Nemanja Nedovic at No. 30
One last time
The boos didn’t bother the outgoing NBA commissioner one bit.
Stern was booed and jeered at the Barclays Center every time he took the stage at his last NBA draft — and he seemed to bask in it.
Several times Stern smirked and paused to let the booing last a little longer, and he even egged the crowd on with subtle hand gestures that seemed to say, ‘Bring it on.’
Stern is retiring in February, 30 years after taking the job. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver will take over.
When Stern came out to reveal the final pick of the first round, he was greeted with cheers of “David! David!”
76ers, Grizzlies find coach
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown will be hired by the Philadelphia 76ers as the team’s new head coach, according to a New York Daily News Report.
Brown played at Boston University from 1979 to 1983, and was team MVP his sophomore season. In the 2012 London Games, he coached the Australian men’s team.
The Spurs already lost one assistant this offseason when Mike Budenholzer became Atlanta’s coach.
Dave Joerger was introduced as coach of the Grizzlies after a season in which they won a franchise-best 56 games but split with coach Lionel Hollins. Joerger, 39, was a successful head coach in the minor leagues and was the lead assistant under Hollins the last two seasons.
Dwight Howard is unlikely to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason, sources told ESPN.com.
Howard, who can net a five-year, $118 million deal from Los Angeles and a maximum of four years, $88 million from any other franchise, is willing to take less money if it means being better utilized, a source said. Another source told the website that Howard did not enjoy playing with Kobe Bryant or playing for coach Mike D’Antoni.
Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in his first year with the Lakers, both down from his career averages.
Lawrence Frank accepted new Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd’s invite to be his assistant, a league source told ESPN.com. Frank was Detroit’s coach last season, and he led the Nets, then in New Jersey, to four straight playoff berths from 2004-07 . . . After watching from afar as the team he rebuilt reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in nine years and came within one victory of dethroning NBA champion Miami, Larry Bird was reintroduced as the Indiana Pacers’ president of basketball operations.