Wine and Gold Go Fourth

May 30, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

On Wednesday night, Nick Gilbert and the Cavaliers didn’t shock the NBA world like they did one year ago. But they still secured a pick that’ll propel them to the next level – landing the No. 4 selection in this June’s Draft.

As for the 2012 Lottery’s big winner, it was the New Orleans Hornets who, like the Cavaliers one year ago, battled through a rough transitional season to beat the odds and take home the top pick.

The Cavaliers’ contingent – represented on stage once again by Nick Gilbert – were resplendent in matching suits, specs and bowties. The group included Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, Cavaliers Vice-Chairman Nate Forbes as well as the same trio of Browns from last year – Joe Haden, Bernie Kosar and Josh Cribbs – and former NFL player, Dhani Jones.

Despite not taking top honors at this year’s Lottery, the Cavaliers are still sitting pretty – now owners of the fourth, 24th, 33rd and 34th overall picks in the Draft.

“(It was) another exciting day for us,” said GM Chris Grant on Wednesday night. “We feel great about where we are, looking to getting a lot of these young guys in here. It’s a chance to add another really good young player to our roster. (Players, I should say – with the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks.) So it’s a good day. We feel good about it and we’re excited about the prospects.

“Now our process really begins.”

The Charlotte Bobcats went into Wednesday’s drawing with the best chances (25 percent) to lock up the top pick. But Michael Jordan’s squad will be bridesmaid’s on June 28. After the Hornets and Bobcats, the Wizards locked up the No. 3 pick. The Sacramento Kings will select after the Cavaliers at No. 5.

But as disappointed as Air Jordan might have been, the Brooklyn Nets suffered the biggest blow. By finishing outside the top three, their 2012 pick – No. 6 overall – goes to the Portland Trailblazers, who also landed the 11th pick on Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers and Hornets both finished with a 21-45 record, but a coin toss actually earned the Wine and Gold an extra ping pong ball. But this May, the basketball gods smiled on the Big Easy – a club that's technically still league-owned, but was recently sold to New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson.

After locking up the top pick – via a deadline deal with the Clippers – one year ago, the Cavaliers also won the rights to the No. 4 choice in 2011. With that pick, Cleveland surprised many pundits by selecting high-flying Texas forward Tristan Thompson, who recently was named to the All-Rookie Second Team after leading all first-year players in total rebounding.

Chris Grant and the Cavaliers brain trust’s job now becomes finding another gem at No. 4 – as well as at 24, 33 and 34.

“It’s an important 30 days or so to bring these guys in here, meet them, work them out and learn as much about them before we make a decision,” said Grant.

When the Wine and Gold do make their selections, their youngsters will have an opportunity Cleveland’s two picks didn’t have last offseason – the ability to work with teammates and coaches all summer long. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have already said that they intend to play in this year’s Vegas Summer League. And they’ll have an opportunity to get acclimated with as many as four new rookies this year in Sin City.

Overall, the Cavaliers didn’t have the blockbuster night like they did last May 17, but they still came away with a big prize – one of four critical pieces that should move the franchise drastically forward.

“We feel like where we’re sitting is fantastic,” smiled Grant. “We’re going to get a really good young player and we’re excited about that. So, from our standpoint you kind of want the day to get over so you find out where you are so you can start scheduling workout and bring guys in. But we’re in a good spot.”

That spot has been determined. What Chris Grant and the Cavaliers do with it will be revealed on June 28.