No lottery luck for Jazz

May 21 2013 - 11:27pm


Jason DeCrow/The Associated Press
Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, a former Weber State star,  represents his team
Jason DeCrow/The Associated Press
Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, a former Weber State star,  represents his team

SALT LAKE CITY -- In terms of shock value, Tuesday's NBA draft lottery was, for the Utah Jazz, right up there with swimming fish and western sunsets.

No surprises at all, really.

Given a 98.2 percent chance of landing the No. 14 overall pick in next month's draft, the Jazz were unable to beat the odds. Owners of the best record among the 14 teams who missed this season's playoffs (43-39), they now also own the final pick in the lottery.

Jazz president Randy Rigby represented the team on the dais at Disney/ABC Times Square Studios in New York, joining an odd mix that included former Weber State guard Damian Lillard (there for the Portland Trail Blazers) and Nick Gilbert, the teenage son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

For the second time in three seasons, Nick Gilbert -- decked out in a bow tie and horn rimmed glasses -- helped bring the Cavs the top overall pick.

As for the Jazz, well, there was no such luck.

"Oh that hurt," said Rigby. "That hurt."

As Rigby sat under the bright television lights, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey was off camera, crossing his fingers but expecting a more probable scenario.

"It certainly gives us clarity," Lindsey said on a conference call with a small group of local media gathered at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We had done all of our work up to this point with 14 in mind, and if we moved up we're playing with house's money. It doesn't really change our preparations."

Lindsey and other members of the Jazz staff spent last weekend in Chicago, evaluating the talent at the draft combine.

The Jazz have already had one pre-draft workout at their practice facility and more will be scheduled shortly.

Lindsey said it's time to go back to work in preparation for the June 27 draft.

"Randy's going home and is going to try to sell some tickets for us so we can pay some players," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said he is heading to New Jersey where a two-day workout is scheduled for potential draftees.

"We'll actually get to see some guys play five-on-five and have full contact, so we're looking forward to that," he said. "And then, really, it's right back to work at the (Zions Bank Basketball Center)."

No team projected to get the No. 14 pick has ever slipped into the top three. In 1999 Charlotte was the final team in the lottery -- projected at No. 13 -- and came way with the third overall pick.

Since the draft lottery began in 1985, the Jazz have never picked higher than No. 3, which they did in 2011 when they took Kentucky center Enes Kanter.

They actually were projected at No. 6 that year but moved up despite a less than 10 percent chance of doing so.

Utah owned the No. 6 overall pick at the 2005 draft lottery but traded up to No. 3 in order to take Illinois point guard Deron Williams.

The 2012-13 Jazz had six former lottery picks on the roster: Marvin Williams (No. 2 in 2005), Derrick Favors (No. 3 in 2010), Kanter, Randy Foye (No. 7 in 2006), Gordon Hayward (No. 9 in 2010) and Alec Burks (No. 12 in 2011).

Cleveland will have the No. 1 overall pick for the third time in 11 years.

They took LeBron James with the top pick in 2003 and Kyrie Irving in 2011.

Nick Gilbert now is 2-for-3 representing his dad's team. Apparently the bow tie/thick glasses outfit is good luck.

Asked if he'd ever consider going for a similar look, Rigby said ... maybe.

"To get the No. 1 overall pick for the organization, I think I'd do pretty much anything I could, within limits," he said.

Gilbert expects the Cleveland Cavaliers are through with the lottery, and if so he sent them out a winner again.

The Cavaliers and their owner's son beat the odds for the second time in three years, winning the lottery Tuesday night to give them the No. 1 pick for the June 27 NBA draft.

Two years after charming viewers by responding to a question about being on stage by saying: "What's not to like?" the bowtie-wearing son of Dan Gilbert wore a stern look before this one. He said he expected he was done coming here and that he believed the Cavs would be in the playoffs next season.

Then they got a great jump on that goal, earning the first pick even though they had only the third-best odds to do so.

And 16-year-old Nick Gilbert delivered it, just as he did in 2011, when the Cavs used the pick to take eventual Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving.

"Kyrie is a hell of a player ... but this also felt almost as good," Nick Gilbert said. "That was the first time. This is the second time, but man does it feel good to get the first pick this last time. Get that last player to give us a push."

Ten years after winning the lottery that landed them LeBron James, the Cavaliers picked up another opportunity to help speed up the rebuilding process since his departure to Miami in 2010.

James' exit shook a franchise that had become a perennial contender with the Ohio native, but the Cavs aren't thinking about that now.

The potential No. 1 pick this year, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, is no James. But he could be a nice addition for the Cavs once he's recovered from a torn ACL -- if they keep the pick.

They also have Nos. 19, 31 and 33 for new coach Mike Brown, who they rehired after firing Byron Scott following a 24-58 season.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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