This was not the worst possible outcome. If the Kings had dropped to fourth and the Knicks had moved up to first or second in the draft lottery,
But this was bad. The team with the worst record in the regular season, with a roster that so perfected rolling over that it quit in November, went into this week's draft lottery with the greatest chance to land No. 1 and left with crushing disappointment. All those hours of dead air during 82 games, wasted.
It would be one thing if this were just about the Kings, this fitting addendum to their dreadful season, but that makes twice in three seasons the team that finished last dropped to No. 4 and the team that finished next-to-last dropped to No. 5 in the worst mathematical outcome for each. The Wizards got fifth this time, though at least with the comfort of not being close to the 29th-best club when healthy and with a summer vacation that already includes the boost of adding
And it would be another thing if the flawed system will be addressed, but no one appears capable of devising a better plan or willing to step up at the next meeting of the competition committee, composed of one representative from the basketball side of each team, to demand change. It will not be the Kings and, based on a survey of other teams, it will not be anyone else.
"I don't think so," Kings president
"You have to have something that makes some argument that the next way is different or better," he said. "I'm not sure I know what that better way is.
"It's one of those things that if there is, I'm not sure what it is. There probably is no perfect system. It's happened enough in the past already. It's not a first-time event. You have some sense [the drop] can happen. It's just that when it happens to you ..."
Valid point. No use complaining about the process if no one can come up with a better option. (Opposing viewpoint: The brainiacs who manage the jumbled algebra of the salary cap can't come up with a better way to play with Ping-Pong balls?) And it's certainly easy to see the logic in not simply ordering the lottery teams based on regular-season record, a move that would spark annual cries of tanking.
This is a series of system breakdowns, though. The team that finished last and had the greatest odds of drawing to No. 1 has held the spot only three times since the lottery began in 1985. It last happened in 2004, when Orlando used the first pick on
Meanwhile, the Kings were in line for No. 1 in 2009 and got No. 4; the Heat went from 1 to 2 in '08; the Grizzlies went from 1 to 4 in '07; the Trail Blazers went from 1 to 4 in '06; and the Hawks went from 1 to 2 in '05. The 2007 fun with numbers, in the
Sacramento's plunge to the lowest spot it could go came with a final slap of unwanted irony. Petrie was flying back from Barcelona as the lottery was breaking bad for the Kings and Wizards, after a scouting trip to Europe that included a look at
Petrie landed, turned on his phone and saw the text message from
"For a couple minutes, there was disappointment," Petrie said. "After that, moving on. The reality is, being in the top five is not the worst place to be. I think there will be other players who eventually surface in this draft. I mean, is there another alternative?"
• The Magic's three-game stretch that culminated Wednesday in Cleveland could not have been more impressive. Game 6 against the Celtics was huge as a response mechanism to Dwight Howard's frustration with the offense two nights earlier. Then, a Game 7 win on the road, in Boston no less, and enough said. Then, in Game 1 against the favored Cavaliers, Orlando played with composure down the stretch to become only the third team to win in Cleveland all season. It's not just meaningful beyond words for the Magic. Most any organization would have trouble topping that for a better three games in a row.
• Seven games of
• It's official. Nothing was more overhyped then the soap-opera breakup of