Nets shut out at NBA draft lottery

Updated: May 30, 2012, 10:58 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets suffered their first defeat Wednesday night.

With a 25 percent chance of winning one of the top three picks in next month's NBA draft, the Nets instead had to settle for the sixth pick in the league's annual draft lottery, held at the Disney/ABC Times Square Studio in Manhattan.

Furthermore, since they did not finish in the top three, the Nets must ship that pick to the Portland Trail Blazers, to complete the trade for forward Gerald Wallace that the teams made two months ago.

The New Orleans Hornets, who had the fourth-best chance of landing the first overall pick at 13.7 percent, moved up to No. 1 and are expected to select Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis, the consensus college player of the year.

The Nets had the sixth-best chance, 7.5 percent, of finishing in the top slot.

"We've got a lot of scenarios that we have on our board," Nets general manager Billy King said after the draft order was revealed. "This was one where, it sort of lets us know which direction to go.

"We are not in the sixth pick, but I think we'll come out with some players that are pretty good."

The Nets were hoping for a bit of good luck to begin their new era in Brooklyn, after spending the past 35 seasons in New Jersey. The franchise had won the draft lottery twice before, in 1990 and 2000.

But things didn't pan out this time around.

Now the team must turn its attention to trying to retain All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who is expected to opt out of his current contract July 1 and become an unrestricted free agent.

Earlier Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that Williams won't re-sign with the Nets unless the team trades for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. But Williams later denied that report via Twitter.

When asked whether he feels optimistic about his team's chances of keeping Williams, King said, "I feel comfortable."

Regardless, the Nets' chances of retaining Williams certainly were weakened by the result of the lottery. A top-three pick -- used either to select a talented young player from the college ranks or as a trading chip to add Howard -- would have made Brooklyn a more attractive long-term destination.

As it stands now, the Nets have no first-round pick in this year's draft, which will be held June 28 -- ironically at the Nets' former home, the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

That could change, however. King has a history of being proactive, having swung seven trades in his past three drafts, two of which came as the GM of the Philadelphia 76ers.

"You evaluate the draft, you look at the talent that's there, and if there's somebody that you wanna go get, I've always had a history of being aggressive," King said. "So not having this pick doesn't preclude us from getting a pick in the draft.

"We're gonna evaluate it. If there's a player we want, we'll do everything we can to get that player."

The Nets are coming off a 22-44 season, tied for the fifth-worst record in the league. They currently have just four players under contract for next season: MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams.

Starting center Brook Lopez, coming off an injury-plagued season, is a restricted free agent. Power forward Kris Humphries is an unrestricted free agent. And Wallace has a player option that he is likely to decline, making him a free agent as well.

"Gerald Wallace has the ability to opt into his contract in mid-June, so I'll continue to talk to him," King said. "We're gonna evaluate the draft and look at the draft possibilities. But also we have [salary] cap flexibility and may look to create some more cap flexibility so we can offer free agents."

The Nets have not made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.

Neither New York team has a first-round pick in this year's draft, barring a trade. The Knicks would have had the No. 16 pick, but that selection now belongs to the Houston Rockets, as part of the Tracy McGrady trade in 2010.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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