No moving parts in Wolves' lottery luck

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2014 - 6:57 AM

The bouncing balls left them no better off — as owners of the 13th pick.

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin, left, and minority owner Jeff Cohen celebrated after their team won the top pick in the the NBA draft lottery for the third time in four years.

Photo: Kathy Willens, Associated Press

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Given their lack of luck in such a thing during the franchise’s 26-year history, maybe that’s something of a victory.

The Wolves stayed put right where their 40-42 record last season placed them — with the 13th overall pick in the June 26 draft. Meanwhile, Cleveland won the draft’s first overall pick for the third time in four years.

Milwaukee will pick second overall despite posting the league’s worst record. Philadelphia will pick third.

Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders waited until Tuesday’s lottery before he proceeds with his coaching search, just so he knew better how his team might look before he hires someone to replace retired Rick Adelman.

Saunders has interviewed former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. Saunders is believed to have interviewed former Toronto coach and former Wolves player Sam Mitchell and former Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles. He still could hire one of those three, or consider possibilities such as longtime NBA coach P.J. Carlesimo, European coach David Blatt, Memphis coach Dave Joerger — if the Grizzlies make more unexpected front-office changes — or himself.

The Wolves survived a 1.8 percent chance that they’d lose that 13th pick to Phoenix as a condition in a trade they made with the Suns nearly two years ago.

The Wolves would have owed Phoenix their pick had the Suns vaulted from the lottery’s 14th position into the top three Tuesday in a made-for-TV event held at a Times Square studio in New York City.

But the Suns didn’t defy the long odds, so the Wolves keep their pick at least until next season, when they will owe Phoenix their pick if the Wolves don’t draft among the top 12 teams.

The Wolves never have beaten the lottery odds during their 26-year history. The best they’ve ever done is draft right there they should have been, given their regular-season record that year.

They didn’t get any luck, either, Tuesday night when both Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers moved back a slot after the Cavaliers, with a 1.7 percent change, leaped from the ninth slot all the way to No. 1.

The Celtics will pick sixth and the Lakers seventh. Either team would have had more ammunition for a potential trade with the Wolves for discontented star Kevin Love had it become a winner Tuesday and moved into the draft’s top three.

The Cavaliers also won the top pick in 2011, when they selected Duke guard Kyrie Irving, and 2013, when they took UNLV forward Anthony Bennett after superstar LeBron James left them in free agency in 2010.

The Wolves sent General Manager Milt Newton to represent them in New York City, but you could have figured their slim chance of finally finding luck in the lottery was doomed when another employee — sent to witness the actual lottery drawing behind closed doors — headed to the hospital before the drawing because of kidney stones.

The Wolves will choose from such prospects as Kentucky swingman James Young, Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas, UCLA combo guard Zach LaVine or possibly Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris or Creighton forward Doug McDermott if they keep that 13th pick.

Notable former No. 13 overall picks including Karl Malone in 1985, Kobe Bryant in 1996, Jalen Rose in 1994, Corey Maggette in 1999 and Richard Jefferson in 2001. In recent years, that slot brought teams Ed Davis, Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall and Kelly Olynyk.

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    Wednesday May 21, 2014

    June 26 • New YorkFirst round 1. Cleveland 2. Milwaukee 3. Philadelphia 4. Orlando 5. Utah 6. Boston 7. L.A. Lakers 8. Sacramento 9. Charlotte (from Detroit)10. Philadelphia (from...

  • Michigan’s Nik Stauskas (11) could give the Wolves help at shooting guard if he’s still on the board when the Wolves, if they keep the pick, select No. 13 in June. They again failed to move up in the lottery.

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