NBA DRAFT LOTTERY

Clippers are put in their place at NBA draft lottery

Clippers come in with the eighth-best chance of winning the top overall selection and come out with the No. 8 pick. The Washington Wizards, who had the fifth-best chance, get the No. 1 choice and are expected to take Kentucky point guard John Wall.

May 18, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

In the end, the Clippers stayed put.

They came into the NBA draft lottery with the eighth-best chance of winning and left Secaucus, N.J., on Tuesday night in the exact same position.

Washington, which came in with the fifth-best chance, won the lottery and is widely expected to select Kentucky point guard John Wall. The Wizards were represented by a stunned-looking Irene Pollin, the widow of Abe Pollin, the team's longtime owner.

She wore her husband's championship ring, from 1978, for good luck and said in a TV interview that it felt like he was "really here."

Selecting second will be Philadelphia. New Jersey, which had the NBA's worst record, dropped to third. Minnesota fell from second to fourth.

The Clippers had a 2.3% chance of winning, which would have been a stunning sequel to last year. They won the 2009 draft lottery and selected forward Blake Griffin.

"From my perspective, it's not where you pick, it is what you do with the pick that counts," said Clippers President Andy Roeser, who represented the team at the lottery, as he did last year.

Said General Manager Neil Olshey: "We've been preparing the whole time to be at eight, to be in that range. That's where our preparations have been. . . . We've got nine open roster spots."

Last year's draft was considered particularly strong and looks even better, upon reflection, than it did at the start of the regular season.

And this upcoming draft?

"I don't know if it is as top-heavy as last year," Olshey said. "There were people last year that people were really high on in the upper half of the lottery. I think there's more depth here and a little more versatility. If you look at projections, you're looking at a lot of bigs in the middle of the lottery."

Roeser hopes this will signal the end of the Clippers' May lottery tradition.

"We hope we get one more trip — with some other team's pick and that we don't go again," he said. "That's part of what we have to accomplish this summer. To put the team in the position where we're playing basketball this time next year and not having these conversations about lottery picks."

Search goes on

Meanwhile, there's that head coaching search. The Clippers have not conducted a formal interview for the vacant position.

"We're going to work on our time frame," Olshey said. "We are working diligently behind the scenes. And believe it or not, this does indicate you can do things quietly and not have them played out in the media."

Additionally, Olshey said that Griffin has been able to resume working out "with no restrictions, at full speed, 100%." Griffin missed all of last season because of a fractured kneecap.

"He's working out in May as if we're ready to tip off in October," Olshey said. "He's in a great spot. If we were playing games right now, he'd be out on the court playing."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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