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Clippers learn lottery fate today

May 20, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

Once again the Clippers' hopes depend on a ping-pong ball.

The Clippers will learn their position in this year's NBA draft lottery tonight in Secaucus, N.J., with Coach Mike Dunleavy representing the organization. The lottery will set the top three picks in the June 26 draft.

Dunleavy is not taking any lucky charms, but he does have one trick up his sleeve. "I just got back from Italy," Dunleavy said, where he scouted international players and joked, "I saw the pope."

The Clippers finished with the New York Knicks at 23-59 for the NBA's fifth-worst record. But because they lost a tiebreaker with New York, the Clippers hold the sixth spot heading into the lottery. From there, they can either move up to one of the top three spots or fall as far as the ninth spot.

They hold a 7.5% chance of landing the top overall pick, an 8.3% shot at the second pick and a 9.8% chance at the third pick. Overall, the Clippers have the best odds at standing pat with the sixth selection (41.4%).

If the Clippers do pick sixth, NBAdraft.net has the team taking Eric Gordon, a freshman guard from Indiana. Gordon signed with agent Rob Pelinka, who also represents Clippers Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman.

This year's draft is considered a two-man race for the top pick between Memphis guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Elgin Baylor, Clippers vice president of basketball operations, said that after the team learns its positioning, it will focus on drafting a player who will best fit its system. "When you go in, you like the player you take and you hope he can develop into a quality player," Baylor said.

The Clippers selected forward Al Thornton in last year's draft, now considered a bargain as the No. 14 overall pick. Thornton was selected to the league's All-Rookie team last week.

Their selection in the draft next month will be the 27th top-10 selection in the organization's history.

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Dunleavy was inducted to the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame on Monday. He finished his collegiate career as South Carolina's third-all time leading scorer with 1,586 points.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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