NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The Minnesota Timberwolves, perennial NBA draft lottery losers, have the best odds of finally claiming that elusive No. 1 Tuesday in Secaucus, N.J.
The 14 teams that missed the playoffs are in the lottery. It sets the top three picks, with the next 11 spots being determined in inverse order of a team’s record. So the Wolves can do no worse than No. 4.
Though the lottery is right here in the Tri-State area, there’s little excitement with the Nets and Knicks not involved.
“I’d much rather have Deron Williams,” King said.
Utah has two chances of winning. Their own spot is currently 12th.
The Timberwolves have a 25 percent chance of winning, thanks to their league-worst 17-65 record. But they shouldn’t design a jersey with the name of Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Arizona’s Derrick Williams or whichever other player they would consider with the top pick just yet.
The Wolves have gone backward seven times and stayed put the other six in their 13 previous lottery opportunities, falling to the No. 4 pick last year despite entering with the second-best odds of winning. In their only other chance from the pole position, they took a costly two-spot dive in 1992, missing out on Shaquille O’Neal and settling for Christian Laettner.
And the lottery has been no help at all lately to the teams that need it most. Not since 2004, when Orlando won and grabbed Dwight Howard, has the team with the worst record landed the top pick.
“Everybody tries to put labels like this guy’s a franchise guy,” said King. “Generally you find out afterward which guys are. I think if you do your work and you’re prepared you’ll find guys that fit your needs.”
Cleveland won the year before and selected James, who led the Cavaliers to their greatest success. But he bolted for Miami last summer and Cavs tumbled from a 60-win team to the worst in the Eastern Conference with a 19-63 record.
They have a 19.9 percent chance of winning with their own pick, plus a 2.8 percent chance of turning a pick owed them by the Los Angeles Clippers from the Baron Davis trade into the No. 1 selection. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s team will be represented on stage by his 14-year-old son, Nick, who was born with Neurofibromatosis (NF), a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body.
Toronto (15.6 percent), Washington (11.9 percent) and Sacramento (7.6 percent) round out the top five.
The Kings have lost ground in the lottery two years in a row but could have a winner in Johnson, who led the drive to keep them in Sacramento at least one more season. He came to New York last month and impressed NBA owners with a pitch that highlighted millions of dollars in sponsorship commitments, and team owners Joe and Gavin Maloof decided not to file for relocation to Anaheim.
Johnson said he was honored when the Maloofs asked him to represent the Kings. He took it as a sign of goodwill that the city and team can work together to finance a new arena.
Although Johnson played almost his entire career for the Phoenix Suns, he said when he was elected mayor of his hometown in 2008 that the Kings would forever be his favorite team.
“I’m going to negotiate with the Maloofs that if we get the No. 1 pick, then they’re going to have to sign me to a 10-day contract so I can wear a Kings uniform,” he said. “That’s my price of admission on this.”
The NBA draft is June 23 in Newark, N.J.
Who would you take with pick No. 1? Sound off below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)