West fumes after Portland Trail Blazers win NBA Draft Lottery Print
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Tuesday, 22 May 2007 21:40
NBA Headline News

 SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) -Two longshots from the Pacific Northwest won the NBA draft lottery and the right to select can't-miss picks Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.
The luck of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics also left outgoing Memphis Grizzlies president Jerry West calling for the league to dump the weighted lottery system that rarely has helped the league's worst team.
West was fuming Tuesday night after the Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, the teams with the league's three worst records, got the fourth, fifth and sixth choices in the June 28 draft in New York behind Portland, Seattle and Atlanta.
Portland, which only had a 5.3 percent chance of winning, beat the odds and won the right to select either Oden or Durant. The SuperSonics will get the other and the Hawks, who had the fourth worst record, will have the pick of the rest of the draft that might be one of the deepest in years.
``It's about as disappointing as you could ever hope for,'' West said minutes after the lottery was announced at the NBA Entertainment Center. ``It's like pitching pennies. It's grossly unfair to the team, but I've said it before, I don't think the lottery is fair. I never liked it. I don't think it's a good system at all, period.
``There have been a lot of picks in the lottery that have (failed). There are two in the lottery this year that are not going to fail. There are two superstars in the draft. I think for the teams fortunate enough to get them, the fortunes of their franchises have changed forever.''
That will be Portland and Seattle.
For the Trail Blazers, the lottery was sweet revenge. A year ago, they had the worst record in the league and ended up with the fourth pick.
Now they will have the top pick for the fourth time franchise history. Two were duds (LaRue Martin and Mychal Thompson). The other was a fellow named Bill Walton and he led them to an NBA title.
``Huge, unbelievably huge,'' general manager Kevin Pritchard said. ``Franchise making. ... Rip City again, here we come.''
Pritchard would not say whether the Trail Blazers would pick Oden, the center who led Ohio State to the NCAA championship game, or Durant, a high-scoring forward who made Texas fun to watch.
``Either one, you can't go wrong,'' said Brandon Roy, the NBA rookie of the year who represented the Trail Blazers.
The 7-foot Oden is the likely top pick, because dominant centers are harder to find.
Milwaukee will go sixth, followed by Minnesota, Charlotte and Chicago, which had the rights to New York's pick through the Eddy Curry trade. Sacramento will be 10th, followed by the Hawks, Philadelphia, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since the NBA switched to a weighted lottery system in 1994, only two NBA teams with the best chance of landing the top pick have gotten it - the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1993 (LeBron James) and the Orlando Magic (Dwight Howard) the following year.
This marked the first time since 1993 that the three worst teams all dropped out of the top three.
``This is not sour grapes, it is not,'' West said. ``I didn't expect we would get No. 1 or No. 2. I just don't like it at all. No other sport does it this way.''
The presence of the Oden and Durant created a lot of interest in the lottery. More than 100 media received credentials.
Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds despite being limited for much of the season while recovering from right wrist surgery.
Durant led the Big 12 with 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, and was the AP national player of the year.
Portland, which had a great draft night in 2006 by getting Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge through trades, had more than luck on its side.
``I have one lucky charm, my daughter gave it to me, it's a little ladybug pendant,'' Pritchard said of his 10-year-old daughter, Kendall.
It worked.
With either Oden or Durant, interest in the SuperSonics should pick up. The Sonics haven't been able to get a new arena and aren't guaranteed to be in Seattle past next season.
``Hopefully it gets people more excited,'' Sonics president of basketball operations Lenny Wilkens said. ``Seattle has great fans. And like we say, it's not over until the fat lady sings.''
The Hawks were the other big winner Tuesday. Moving up one spot saved them from having to send their pick to the Suns as a result of the Joe Johnson trade. And Atlanta also picked up Indiana's pick, No. 11, from the Al Harrington deal since the Pacers stayed put.
``This gives us a chance to look at what really need as far as helping us progress as a franchise,'' Hawks vice president and former star Dominique Wilkins said. ``This is big for us. Everybody wants the No. 1, No. 2 picks. But any time you get in the top three picks, this is monumental for us.''
 

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