Jazz, Warriors have much at stake in draft lottery

Published: Tuesday, May 29 2012 8:38 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor watches action as the Jazz play Portland in Salt Lake City Thursday, April 26, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — There won't be a mad rush to buy last-minute tickets across the Idaho border, but a much-anticipated lottery is being held on Wednesday night.

This particular game of chance is even legal in Utah.

Whether or not it proves to be fortuitous for the Beehive State is another question.

The NBA's draft lottery will take place in New Jersey beginning at 6 p.m. (ESPN), and the 2012 picking pecking order and the Jazz's first-round fortune are both up for grabs.

"We're on hold until after (tonight)," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "There are a lot of different things that can happen. Stay tuned. We'll see where it takes us."

The Jazz aren't officially involved in the lottery because they qualified for the playoffs — a late-season push that resulted in them losing their own first-round pick (No. 18) to Minnesota as the final piece of the 2010 trade for Al Jefferson.

But Utah still has plenty at stake in Wednesday's action.

Because of last year's Deron Williams trade, Utah will acquire the Warriors' first-round selection — as long as it isn't in the top seven.

The Warriors fell into the No. 7 slot after losing 22 of their final 27 games in what many outsiders skeptically view as a tanking job to keep their protected pick.

The Jazz still have a 27.55 percent chance of obtaining Golden State's lottery pick, which would require one of the seven teams in the 8-14 spots to leapfrog the Warriors after the ping-pong balls stop bouncing around this evening.

Golden State tried to ensure itself of a first-round pick in this purportedly deep draft by striking a pre-lottery deal with the Jazz, but a league source told the Oakland Tribune "that's probably not going to happen."

Regarding the reported trade attempt, O'Connor said, "I would have no comment."

If the Warriors keep their pick by remaining in the top seven, the Jazz still have chances to pick up Golden State's No. 1 pick in either 2013 or 2014 (top six protected).

If that doesn't happen, the Jazz will receive two second-round picks from the Warriors.

In the past five years, the No. 7 team has dropped to the eighth spot on two occasions.

Currently, the Jazz only have a second-round pick in the June 28 draft — No. 47 overall.

Usually, Utah brings in a wide variety of players to work out leading up to the draft. That hasn't happened yet and might be difficult to do without a first-round pick. O'Connor said the organization will have a better idea of its upcoming plan of attack for this year's draft after it knows whether or not it has a first-round selection.

Utah has assets available to help shore up its weaknesses this offseason, either before the draft, during the free-agency period or prior to training camp. Those assets include a $10.7 million trade exception from the Mehmet Okur deal, a midlevel exception and the Warriors' first-round pick.

The Jazz currently have nine players under contract for the 2012-13 season, although veteran guard Raja Bell made it clear at locker cleanout that he doesn't see himself returning for his final year.

Charlotte has the best odds of winning this year's lottery (25 percent), followed by Washington (19.9 percent), Cleveland (13.8 percent), New Orleans (13.7 percent) and Sacramento (7.6 percent).

Lottery probabilities

Top five teams

1. Charlotte (25 percent)

2. Washington (19.9 percent)

3. Cleveland (13.8 percent)

4. New Orleans (13.7 percent)

5. Sacramento (7.6 percent)

NOTE: Odds of Warriors' pick falling to Jazz (No. 8 or lower): 27.55 percentNBA Draft Lottery

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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