NBA Draft Lottery: Winners, Losers, and Billy King

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Mike Donnelly looks at the winners and losers from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery. By the way, while we are discussing the NBA, save your river of tears about officiating Boston fans. Let’s not act like your stars have never received the benefit of a quick whistle. You are going to get swept because you are vastly inferior to Miami on the court not because of the referees. – JC

Winners

New Orleans Hornets – Obviously. They had the lottery rigged for them defied the odds, and improbably landed the #1 overall pick, and with it, the chance to draft Anthony Davis. They already have a few pieces in place, with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and Trevor Ariza, so adding Davis will speed up the rebuilding process. They won’t be competing for a title any time soon, but now they have something to build on, which is something they couldn’t really say after David Stern screwed them with the whole Chris Paul fiasco last year.

Anthony Davis – Davis knew all along he would be the #1 overall pick, so his stock didn’t go up or down last night. The reason he came out as a winner was because he doesn’t have to go play in Charlotte for that abysmal Bobcats team. I mean have you seen that roster? It would be a shame to see him waste away there. He’s much better off in New Orleans, especially if David Stern is going to continue rigging things for them to succeed. Err–I mean, especially since he has a better supporting cast. Yeah, that’s it.

Conspiracy Theorists – What a day for NBA Conspiracy Theorists everywhere! 27 years after David Stern allegedly rigged the 1985 Lottery so the Knicks could land Patrick Ewing, something even more fishy occurred last night. After absolutely screwing the Hornets last year with the Chris Paul situation, and after a solid year of Tom Benson low-balling him with offers to buy his team that nobody wanted, David Stern somehow magically convinced Benson to up his offer and meet the asking price just a few weeks before the draft. Hmm. And then, despite having the 4th best chance to land the #1 pick, the Hornets and Tom Benson–I hope you’re sitting down for this one–land the #1 pick! Shocking!

So to recap: David Stern owned this team for a year, single-handily set them back a few years with the Chris Paul thing (and owed them one as a result), and somehow sweetened the pot for Tom Benson to pull the trigger on the purchase. Was the #1 pick that sweetener? We’ll never know…

(Yes, yes it was)

Losers

The Brooklyn Nets – Oof, what a disaster. Due to a stunningly bad trade last year (we’ll get to this later), the Nets needed to land in the top 3 of the lottery last night or else lose their 1st round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers. They pulled #6. Ouch. So now, the Nets have basically nothing to trade for Dwight Howard and are almost definitely going to lose Deron Williams to free agency. I’m sure people will be lining up to watch Jordan Farmar and Gerald Green go 20-62 next season in their brand-new stadium…

Michael Jordan – Poor Michael will now actually have to do a little work now that his Bobcats landed the #2 pick instead of the slam-dunk choice of Anthony Davis at #1. If GM Rich Cho can track him down on the golf course or casino, or wherever Michael spends his time these days, the choice will likely come down to unpolished UConn center Andre Drummond or Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who may be the next Scottie Pippen. It’s almost a guarantee they’ll make the wrong choice and take Drummond, and that’s why they’re the Bobcats.

Billy King (Couldn’t think of a category name worse than “Loser”, so we’re gonna just name this the Billy King group)

Billy King – Seeing Billy King continue to get high-level jobs in the NBA blows my mind. Are there zero other qualified candidates out there that teams feel the need to recycle proven failures like Billy King? Is it his fault the ping-pong balls didn’t fall the Nets’ way and they didn’t land a top 3 pick? No. Is it his fault they made one of the most indefensible trades in recent NBA history putting them in a position that they needed a top 3 pick? Yes! Including a 1st round pick that was only Top-3 protected in a trade for a soon-to-be-30-year-old free agent Gerald Wallace, when the Blazers were supposedly only asking for a mid-to-late 1st round pick in return is completely and totally asinine. And his logic defending the trade–that they only liked 3 players in this draft so they didn’t mind losing the pick if it was after that–only shows him to be even more incompetent. Newsflash, Billy: Just because you don’t think a pick from #4 on is valuable, doesn’t mean other teams don’t. In fact, just knowing you thought that would make me jump through hoops trying to land a pick after #3 in this draft if I were an opposing GM.

It’s mind-boggling he even got this job with the Nets in the first place after his comical performance running the 76ers. Let’s take a look at some of his greatest hits:

  • Signing Theo Ratliff and Matt Geiger for a combined $108 million in 1999
  • Trading 1st round picks on multiple occasions for: Mirsad Turkcan, Jumaine Jones, and Kenny Thomas (so there is a precedent here for him making indefensible trades of 1st round picks)
  • Signing 35-year-old (but probably older in actuality) Dikembe Mutombo and Aaron McKie for a combined $117 million in 2001
  • Gave Samuel Dalembert and someone named Brian Skinner a combined $85 million
  • Inexplicably traded for a declining and injured Chris Webber in 2005, crippling their salary cap. Less than two years later, Billy King negotiated a $25 million buyout, basically paying Webber NOT to play for his team. Savvy!
  • Traded franchise player Allen Iverson for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and 2 late 1st round picks that he used to select Daequan cook and Petteri Koponen. Nice!

It appears as though Billy King learned absolutely nothing from his tenure in Philadelphia and is intent on flushing the Nets down the toilet as well. They’re likely to lose Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace is a free agent (don’t think for a second Billy King isn’t about to overpay him big time to justify the trade, though), and they have no other real assets. When asked after the lottery if he would re-do the Wallace trade knowing he would lose his 1st round pick, he stunningly replied, “Absolutely”.

I’d agree with him, if only the question instead was: “Should you be fired?”