"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Topics: Entertainment News
One thought for each pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, which is either a stately Internet tradition, dating all the way back to 2003, or lazy columnist schtick. Either way, it’s 29 more thoughts than I have on most Wednesday nights, and 30 more than I have on some of ‘em.
1. Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani, F, Italy
“This is a very rowdy crowd,” David Stern says as he steps to the podium. Always is. Charles Barkley helps make it rowdier when TNT has the draft. I still think they should move the thing around, let a different team host it every year, instead of having doltish Knicks fans screaming at Stern every year.
What’s the matter with doltish Cavs or Sonics or Rockets fans?
Bargnani is a 7-footer with three-point range who’s basically been a reserve in the Italian league for most of the last couple of years, though ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla says he became his team’s go-to guy at the end of last year. At 20, he gets compared to Dirk Nowitzki a lot, which looks like a setup for failure.
Jay Bilas of ESPN says he doesn’t think Bargnani — who he says doesn’t defend, rebound or post up at this point — is going to be great, but will be a good player. I’ve never seen Bargnani play and don’t know how accurate that statement is, but I said this last year, and I’ll say it every year: If you have the No. 1 pick, you have to get great. Good is a waste of the No. 1 pick.
If you’re not going to trade the top pick for a package, then I think you have to take the guy with the best chance of becoming a superstar, even if he also has the best chance of being a bust. In this draft, I think that’s either Tyrus Thomas, a ridiculous athlete, Rudy Gay, a hugely talented college underachiever, or Brandon Roy, whose name wouldn’t have just made you raise your eyebrows if he’d played his college ball in the Eastern Time Zone.
2. Chicago Bulls (from New York): LeMarcus Aldridge, F, Texas
The Blazers are trading fools. The Bulls are going to trade this pick, which they got from the Knicks in the Eddy Curry trade, to Portland for the No. 4 pick, forward Viktor Khryapa and future considerations. The Blazers are going to take Thomas for the Bulls at No. 4.
The teams have to make the pick, then trade the player, rather than just trading the picks, because of picayune bookkeeping rules involving a 2 p.m. deadline.
Portland earlier had traded point guard Sebastian Telfair, forward Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick to the Boston Celtics for the No. 7 pick, plus forward Raef LaFrentz and guardlike object Dan Dickau, who is changing teams for the fifth time in two and a half years.
I don’t think I get what Portland’s up to. Why trade the fourth pick for the second pick if you’re not going to pick Adam Morrison, who everybody knows is going to Charlotte with the third pick? If you want LeMarcus Aldridge and you know Chicago wants Tyrus Thomas, just let Chicago take Thomas second, then take Aldridge fourth. You save a few bucks and you get to keep Viktor Khryapa, for what that’s worth, and those future considerations.
On the other hand, if you can get the seventh pick for Sebastian Telfair, who was a reach at 13 two years ago and who hasn’t done anything worthwhile in the league, you’re doing something right.
3. Charlotte Bobcats: Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga
It wasn’t much of a secret that the new guy in the Charlotte executive suite, Michael Jordan, wanted Morrison. Others liked Rudy Gay.
You’ve pretty much got to defer to M.J. He’s the guy who took Kwame Brown with the top pick.
The Bobcats took UConn’s Emeka Okafor two years ago, North Carolina’s Raymond Felton and Sean May last year, and now Morrison. They’re on their way to an NCAA championship!
4. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyrus Thomas, F, LSU
So by Portland, you understand I mean Chicago. If this guy develops into anything at all, he’s going to be huge. Air Tyrus.
So thanks to this dumb bookkeeping rule, Thomas has to wander around with a Trail Blazers hat for a while and pretend to be excited about going to Portland, when really he’s going to Chicago. Change this bookkeeping rule.
I think Thomas is going to be a better play than Aldridge, who I think will be OK.
5. Atlanta Hawks: Shelden Williams, F, Duke
Awful lot of forwards at the top of this draft, though I wonder if Morrison won’t end up as a shooting guard.
Williams stayed in school, so he’s going to come into the league a lot more polished than most first-rounders these days. That means this pick will look pretty good for a while, but in a few years I think Williams will be nothing more than a solid role-player, and it’s going to seem like a wasted opportunity for the Hawks to have spent a No. 5 on him.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Roy, G, Washington
The first minor surprise, since everybody was talking about Randy Foye of Villanova, and the ESPN guys are saying the Blazers made the trade for the seventh pick because they wanted Roy. Whoops.
I think Roy’s a great pick for Minnesota. He should become a good complement for Kevin Garnett. With rare exceptions, such as Adam Morrison, great college players who play in the West and don’t play for UCLA or Arizona fly under the radar. Roy was a great college player. And I think his game will translate to the NBA.
7. Boston Celtics: Randy Foye, G, Villanova
The little five-minute clock on the Celtics’ pick expired two minutes ago and the ESPN guys are yammering away without a word about it. The Garden crowd is booing. Hello?
Finally, Stern steps up and says Boston, by which I mean Portland, takes Randy Foye of Villanova. Foye is maybe a point guard, maybe a shooting guard, but given the trade of Telfair, it looks like he’s going to be a point guard.
8. Houston Rockets: Rudy Gay, F, Connecticut
Word is the Rockets are going to trade Gay to the Memphis Grizzlies for Shane Battier.
As a Grizzlies fan, can I just say what great news this is? There are a lot of doubts about Gay’s toughness, work ethic and assertiveness. Well, if he’s ever going to harden up into an NBA star, spending a little time with Mike Fratello and Jerry West is a pretty good way to go about it.
What is Houston thinking? Battier’s a solid pro. Gay has a chance to be a superstar.
9. Golden State Warriors: Patrick O’Bryant, C, Bradley
So far we’ve had LeMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers wearing a Bulls hat, Tyrus Thomas of the Bulls wearing a Trail Blazers hat, Randy Foye of the Trail Blazers wearing a Celtics hat and Rudy Gay of the Grizzlies wearing a Rockets hat. That 2 p.m. rule is really great.
Also, that five-minute clock appears to be for show only. It keeps expiring long before the next pick is announced. Good thing they have it, though. The Warriors take so long making the ninth pick that Stern announces it as the 10th pick.
The Warriors always screw up their lottery pick. This isn’t an exception unless O’Bryant gets a whole lot better than I think he’s going to get.
10. Seattle Sonics: Saer Sene, C, Senegal
Stern announces him as Muhammad Sene. He’s wearing an orange suit, which, amazingly, works with the green Sonics ball cap. Sene’s apparently a project.
Meanwhile, the Blazers and Timberwolves have swapped the sixth and seventh pick, which means Minnesota gets Foye after all and the Blazers get Roy. I’m still puzzled about that 2-for-4 trade, but otherwise the Blazers look to me like they’re making a bunch of savvy moves.
Which of course should worry Blazers fans to death. Not to mention the Blazers.
11. Orlando Magic: J.J. Redick, G, Duke
Redick gets a lot of cheers as he’s announced, a change from before the draft, when his image on a video screen had been booed. ESPN’s Dan Patrick had suggested that maybe that was a tribute to his great career at Duke. Maybe, but then again, Redick just has a knack for making people dislike him.
I read a predraft story somewhere in which a number of players were asked whom they credited for their success. They all mentioned either their parents, their high school coach, their college coach or some combination. Redick said, “Myself.” He reportedly said it with a laugh and explained that without much natural talent, his success was a product of hard work, and maybe he meant to be self-deprecating, but it was just another one of those things he says and does that make him seem like a jerk.
Before the start of the draft ESPN’s Mark Jones had asked him about a recent drunken-driving arrest. “How have you dealt with the legal issue of the DUI?” Jones asked softballishly.
“Well,” Redick said flatly, “I’ve hired a lawyer. Legally, there’s not a lot I can do right now. I’m just letting my lawyer handle that.”
Clang! Guy must have Bud Selig as his P.R. consultant. That would have been a nice chance to be a little human, talk about how sorry he was to let his fans down, that sort of thing.
As for Redick the player, he can shoot, but I don’t think he has enough game for the NBA. He can’t create his own shot and he won’t get wide open against NBA defenders. And he won’t be able to guard most opponents.
Best-case scenario is he’s the last guy in your rotation, a shooting specialist who can pump in a couple of jumpers before the other team gets around to paying some attention to him. I’m saying it’s a wildly optimistic leap of imagination to think of Redick as another Steve Kerr.
Is that worth a lottery pick? Kerr went late in the second round.
12. New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: Hilton Armstrong, C, Connecticut
I hate that phrase “score the basketball.”
13. Philadelphia 76ers: Thabo Sefolosha, G, Switzerland
Stern announces the Sebastian Telfair for No. 7 — Randy Foye — trade with Boston before this pick. Except we know that Foye’s really going not to Portland but to Minnesota. Telfair’s effectively been traded for Roy, not Foye, boy. Stern’s one trade behind. This is so dumb.
Sefolosha is a 22-year-old veteran of the Italian league. And, whoops, he’s going to Chicago for the 16th pick and, we’ll learn shortly, a second-round pick next year and some cash. Stuart Scott, interviewing each draftee after he’s picked, reports that Sefolosha has just asked him if he should keep the Sixers hat on now that he’s going to Chicago.
Or is he going to Portland? I can’t keep track, but I think, in some sense, at some point, we all go to Portland, if you know what I mean.
14. Utah Jazz: Ronnie Brewer, G, Arkansas
Ooh, a little smack talk between Patrick and Stern. Stern hesitates for a moment before coming out and Patrick jokes about it. Stern finally arrives and says, “Dan, I was sitting in the back listening to your pithy comments.”
The crowd oohs, and Stern continues, “wondering when you might have something nice to say about one of our draft picks.” I hadn’t noticed Patrick hammering on the picks, though Bilas, Greg Anthony and Stephen A. Smith have all been fairly critical of several choices.
“I always liked commissioner Tagliabue better than you,” Patrick jokes, only no one except Patrick’s co-panelists laughs.
15. New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (from Milwaukee): Cedric Simmons, F, North Carolina State
Stern announces the Roy-Foye trade. This is like the old days in the NBA, watching the Finals on tape delay. If you’re an NBA rookie, please report to Portland. We’ll sort you all out later.
16. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Carney, F, Memphis
Not you, Rodney. Put on that Bulls hat. You’re going to Philadelphia.
17. Indiana Pacers: Shawne Williams, F, Memphis
Stern announces the 2-for-4 trade between Portland and Chicago. Remember? Aldridge for Thomas. I think we’re starting to catch up here. He’s about to announce that Miami is the champion and that a basket from behind an arc painted on the floor 23 feet, nine inches from the hoop will be worth three points.
18. Washington Wizards: Oleksiy Pecherov, F, Ukraine
Amazingly, we’re well into that part of the draft where you get projects, long shots and lesser prospects, some of whom could develop into surprise stars, because this isn’t an exact science.
It never ceases to astonish me that the entire rest of the world can only produce about a dozen guys every year who look pretty clearly like they’re ready to be halfway decent players in the NBA.
19. Sacramento Kings: Quincy Douby, G, Rutgers
Something else that never ceases to astonish me: Stephen A. Smith gets just a little bit more annoying every time I see him on TV.
20. New York Knicks (from Denver via New Jersey via Toronto): Renaldo Balkman, F, South Carolina
I wrote this in a hatchet job on Isiah Thomas this week: “If there’s a Tony Parker hiding in this draft, Thomas isn’t going to find him unless he’s hiding in Jerome James’ jersey.”
Several readers wrote to tell me that while they think Thomas is an idiot, they have to admit drafting is the one thing he does well. When he was running Toronto’s draft he picked Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady, and he got Channing Frye, Nate Robinson and David Lee for the Knicks last year.
Stern picks this moment to announce the 13-for-16 trade, which drives the Knicks fans crazy. They want to hear the pick! Then Stern announces Balkman and the Knicks fans are all, “Can you talk about trades some more?”
Actually, they’re all booing. The home fans had wanted UConn point guard Marcus Williams, who had been thought of as a lottery pick but has fallen this far, possibly because of character questions. He pleaded guilty to stealing some computers last year and was suspended.
“This to me is a stunner,” Bilas says. “I’m stunned. This is a second-round basketball player. Second round! Nobody else would have taken him in the first round.”
Anthony adds, “To have the 20th pick, with an opportunity to get a lottery pick in Marcus Williams, even if you chose to utilize that via a trade down the line, that guy’s going to carry so much more value for you in trying to revamp and improve your roster. I don’t understand the move.”
But remember: Isiah knows how to draft.
21. Phoenix Suns (from L.A. Lakers via Boston via Atlanta): Rajon Rondo, G, Kentucky
Andy Katz of ESPN reports that the Suns are going to trade this pick to Boston in exchange for, get this, Boston also taking creaky forward Brian Grant. And his contract, of course. Gotta love the salary cap and the luxury tax.
All this because the Celtics want Rondo. I’m not sure you bother picking up the phone to get Rajon Rondo, never mind taking on Brian Grant’s contract.
22. New Jersey Nets (from L.A. Clippers): Marcus Williams, G, Connecticut
Williams finally gets picked. Pretty good player to go at No. 22. The Rajon Rondo pick’s going to look pretty silly in a couple of years.
23. New Jersey Nets: Josh Boone, F, Connecticut
This is the first day off of the World Cup and, you know what? I miss it.
24. Memphis Grizzlies: Kyle Lowry, G, Villanova
I miss those high school guys in the draft too.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shannon Brown, G, Michigan State
Jerry West is interviewed on ESPN and he pretty much says he can’t understand some of these trades. He’s talking about Portland. Why trade up for a guy if you were going to be able to get him anyway?
Glad I’m not the only one.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (from Miami): Jordan Farmar, G, UCLA
My first thought is this guy’s not an NBA player, but I have a feeling Phil Jackson will find a way to make him look halfway useful.
This is the final piece of the Shaquille O’Neal trade, so once Farmar gets going, we’ll finally be able to evaluate that baby.
27. Phoenix Suns: Sergio Rodriguez, G, Spain
The Suns are going to sell this pick to — you know who, right? — Portland. You think I’m kidding but I’m not kidding.
28. Dallas Mavericks: Maurice Ager, G, Michigan State
ESPN has assigned Jim Gray to cover just the Los Angeles Lakers and their 26th pick. Not sure that’s necessary, but it does effectively limit his appearances.
The ESPN guys are raving over Ager but for some reason he never impressed me that much at Michigan State. Now that I’ve said that: Meet the new Michael Jordan.
29. New York Knicks (from San Antonio): Mardy Collins, G, Temple
The Knicks fans don’t even bother booing Collins. I don’t think they know who he is.
This just in: The Portland Trail Blazers have accidentally traded their entire roster for itself.
30. Portland Trail Blazers (from Detroit via Utah): Joel Freeland, F, England
Hey, look, the Trail Blazers finally get to do something. And they take an English teenager who looks like a big stiff. I think they can probably unload him on the Celtics. “Take the Brit kid or we’ll send you Darius Miles!”
Previous column: How Dusty Baker lost his mojo
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)