Suns pick Duke's Deng, trade him to Bulls

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns drafted Iowa State forward Jackson Vroman on Thursday night, acquiring someone they rated as a first-round pick after trading away their chance to draft seventh.

"For him to drop to (No.) 31, it was exciting," Suns president Bryan Colangelo said.

"Because there were some tenuous moments whether or not he would be there.

We did have a few backup plans."

Colangelo said the potential deals fell through, leaving the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Vroman as the Suns' lone rookie out of the draft.

Phoenix had traded its second-round pick to acquire Donnell Harvey earlier this year.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said Vroman, who didn't play basketball until high school, has center Jake Voskuhl's work ethic and a chance to stick in the NBA.

"It's likely he'll be around," D'Antoni said.

"He'll go through summer league, and I expect him to make the team.

We wouldn't have drafted him if we didn't think he had a great shot at making the team, and we expect him to contribute, even.

"A talent that's overlooked is how hard he plays."

The Suns worked out a deal Wednesday with Chicago, giving them the No.

7 selection in return for Bulls' second-round choice, a conditional first-round draft pick and $3 million.

Under NBA procedural rules, the Suns drafted Duke forward Luol Deng for the Bulls, and Chicago reciprocated by drafting Vroman before the trade was acknowledged.

The deal dropped the Suns $16.3 million below the NBA's projected $46 million salary cap, and Colangelo said the Suns would be active during the free-agent signing period that begins next week.

"We got a trade taken care of that enabled us to go into this draft and stay alive and still take a player out while still freeing up enough cap space to make things interesting on July 1," Colangelo said.

Vroman was 6-8 as a senior in high school, but went unrecruited because of his inexperience.

He played two years at Snow, a Utah junior college, but still went on to finish second in Iowa State history in field-goal percentage (.558) and ninth in blocks (70).

As a senior, Vroman averaged 13.9 points and 9.6 rebounds – the first Cyclones player to lead the Big 12 Conference in rebounding since Dean Uthoff in 1980.

Vroman improved his draft chances when he averaged 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.

He said he wasn't disappointed at being chosen two spots below the first round, where players receive guaranteed contracts and automatic four-year deals.

"In the long run it won't really matter," Vroman said.

"I'd say I run the floor real well, rebound and play hard.

"That's my one attribute is that I try to play hard at all times.

I need to work on my free throws, jump shot and gain some weight possibly to be a bigger inside presence."

The conditional pick could be high if the Bulls don't improve drastically.

The Suns will get Chicago's first-round pick next year unless the Bulls are one of the top three teams to draft.

If that happens, they would have to have the No.

1 choice in 2006 to keep it from the Suns.