NBA Draft Lottery Notebook
Posted May 25 2005 12:58PM
Top three picks experience a shakeup
SECAUCUS, N.J., May 24 -- The Milwaukee Bucks, owner of the sixth-best chance of obtaining the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, pulled a coup Tuesday night, landing the top selection to everyone's surprise.
"Wow. I really don't know how to explain it," said Bucks General Manager Larry Harris. "Let's see. My kids being born was probably the most important thing but professionally, this is probably the best thing for me, for the organization and certainly for our fans.
"I don't know if I'll sleep tonight. A 6.3 percent chance for us to win -- being a math major, I didnít think we had much of a chance. But it was a heck of a day for the Milwaukee Bucks."
The Bucks, playoff participants in '03-04, suffered through a multitude of injuries this season and finished with a disappointing 30-52 record, third worst in the Eastern Conference. The loss of point guard T.J. Ford, who sat out the campaign with a back injury after proving himself a dependable quarterback as a rookie, was particularly devastating.
With the No. 1 pick in hand and the majority of the starters returning, Harris is confident the squad can get back on a winning track.
"The good thing is with the way the draft is setup now and the way our team is. The strength of our team is youth," he said. "We're good at the 1 spot, T.J. Ford is progressing [in physical rehab]. Michael Redd being a free agent -- I'm 100 percent convinced he will be back with us. Desmond Mason [will return] at the 3, Joe Smith at the 4.
"The fabric of our team is coming back," he continued. "Continuity and consistency I think is important. We can really go across the board [in the draft] whether it be a center, a power forward or a point guard. Even a 2-3, to get any of that depth to our roster will help us."
Despite Harris' memorable night, the lottery is not something he wants to experience again.
"With all the injuries and some of the trades we didn't make at the trading deadline to put ourselves in position to get something like this; is it all worth it?" Harris said. "I still think it's important to be playing on TV today. I think the playoffs is what we play for and this is going to help us get back there."
With so much riding on the NBA Draft Lottery and the outcome completely out of team officials' hands, NBA bigwigs resorted to some unusual superstitions as a means to sway the results.
"Yesterday, I found a penny yesterday on the sidewalk," said Portland Team President Steve Patterson before the lottery.
"Was it heads up?" a scribe asked, referring to the superstition that a heads up penny is lucky.
"Yea, it was heads ups," he replied. "There you go!"
The superstition proved true as the Trail Blazers ultimately won the third selection in the Draft, jumping two spots from the fifth pick they were slated to get based on probability.
"I'm excited," Patterson said of the outcome. "No matter what, we're going to wind up with a real good player to help this ballclub to help get back to being the pride of Portland. The lottery is not something you really have control over.
"Fortunately the basketball gods shined down on us."
Coincidentally, Fred Hoiberg, representing the Minnesota Timberwolves, also brought a penny, only in his case, it was anything but lucky. The Timberwolves landed the last spot in the lottery, 14th overall, as probability anticipated they would.
"I came out here with my wife yesterday and we found a penny in the street," he said. "I picked that up and thought it would be my lucky charm. But it wasnít meant to be."
Perhaps Hoiberg's penny was heads down.
During the introductions of the lottery team representatives, Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss was asked if she had brought along a good luck charm.†
"Actually, my boyfriend Phil (Jackson) gave me this Native American rock," Buss said. "Itís his good luck charm. I was hoping for a different rock for this finger, but this was the rock I got."
Buss held up her left hand and pointed to her ring finger in reference to the engagement ring that wasn't there.
Jackson is currently a hotly pursued candidate on the NBA coaching circuit and the Lakers are hoping to entice him into returning to the club he won three titles with.
"I am right in the middle," Buss told reporters following the lottery. "Itís a position I donít really like to be in, but when I started dating Phil six years ago I knew this would be one of the issues we would have. I am just happy that there is even an opportunity, because eight months ago if you would have told me that we were talking about Phil going back to the Lakers, I never would have believed it.
"Here we are, and I am optimistic -- I have never made any secret that selfishly that is what Iíd really like, and itís all about me and what I want," she continued as reporters broke out in laughter.
TWO ISN'T BETTER THAN ONE
Speaking of superstitions, when Atlanta Hawks General Manager Billy Knight hobbled into the NBA Entertainment studios with the aid of a cane, he was asked if his walking stick was his lucky charm.
"You don't have knee surgery for good luck," Knight quipped back.
The Hawks, which owned the worst record in the NBA at 13-69, had the best chances of landing the top spot but slid to No. 2 overall. Like the knee injury he suffered, Knight took the event in stride.
"I'm okay with where we're at," he said. "No. 2's a good pick. Now that we know where we are picking, we can decide who to bring to work out for us."
"We have a clear picture of where we're going and what we're going to do. We're comfortable with it."