New Orleans status entering May 16 lottery close to being finalized

LOS ANGELES – Even though there are still two games remaining in the regular season, New Orleans is already nearly assured of either the ninth or 10th pre-lottery slot during the May 16 event. The NBA draft lottery will determine whether the Pelicans keep a 2017 first-round draft pick that otherwise will be conveyed to Sacramento, as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade in February.

At the moment, New Orleans (33-47) would be placed in the No. 10 pre-lottery slot, which carries a 4.0 percent chance of earning a top-three pick (the only way the Pelicans will keep the selection is if it finishes somewhere between 1 and 3; if not, Sacramento will get it). The other pre-lottery likelihood for New Orleans is the No. 9 slot, with Dallas (32-48, hosts Denver tonight) the only team that can mathematically surpass the Pelicans in the league standings (Minnesota and Sacramento are both 31-49 and can tie NOLA). The No. 9 pre-lottery position carries 6.1 percent odds of earning a top-three pick. If the Pelicans and the Mavericks finish the regular season in a tie for the 9 and 10 slots, those odds would be split evenly, with each Southwest Division club garnering a roughly 5.0 percent chance of placing in the top three May 16.

Other notes from pregame at Staples Center:

E’Twaun Moore is out of Tuesday’s game, joining Anthony Davis and Cousins as DNPs. “He won’t play tonight,” Alvin Gentry said of Moore. “He wanted to go tonight and practiced yesterday, but there is soreness and it doesn’t make sense (to play through it). He’s dying to play tomorrow, so more than likely he’ll play in Portland.” …

The Pelicans will start Tim Frazier and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt, with the frontcourt again consisting of Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca. …

Gentry on goals for Quinn Cook and Cheick Diallo over the final two games: “I want them to play relaxed and try to stick to the gameplan. I thought Quinn did a really good job (at Golden State), but it doesn’t surprise us, because he played that way for us in training camp.”