Why there’s a 100 percent chance the NBA lottery is fixed

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The NBA lottery is fixed. There’s no question about it. Just as last year’s draft order was determined by a David Stern-led conspiracy, this year’s will be determined the same way.

Think about it. If the NBA lottery really were legitimate, why not conduct the draw publically rather than in a back room? If the league conducted the lottery in the open, nobody could ever question the results.

So, don’t bother tuning in tonight. I’ll tell you why it’s totally fixed.

Orlando Magic

Odds of winning the lottery: 25 percent 100 percent

The NBA doesn’t technically have compensatory picks, but we all know Stern takes care of teams that lose superstars. The Cavaliers lost LeBron James, and then they won the Kyrie Irving lottery. The Hornets lost Chris Paul, and then they won the Anthony Davis lottery. Now, the Magic lost Dwight Howard, and it’s their turn to land the top spot.

Charlotte Bobcats

Odds of winning the lottery: 19.9 percent 100 percent

The Bobcats might be the league’s most stale team. That’s part of the reason Charlotte is changing its nickname back to the Hornets, but a new star would go much further. Charlotte once packed the stands for NBA games, and with a good team, ticket sales will surge again. Plus, Stern wants to boost Michael Jordan’s profile.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Odds of winning the lottery: 15.6 percent 100 percent

Stern desperately wants to create a Cavaliers-Heat rivalry to boost rankings, and to do so, he must make the Cavaliers better. Dan Gilbert remained loyal during the lockout, and especially after LeBron became the worst example of players seizing control from teams, Stern will reward Gilbert with a second No. 1 pick.

Phoenix Suns

Odds of winning the lottery: 11.9 percent 100 percent

Robert Sarver might not be selling the Suns, but he’s at least dipped his feet in the water more than other owners. It’s particularly important for the NBA that its franchises for sale are as valuable as possible, raising the value of all franchises in the process. If Sarver decides to sell anytime in the next five years, having the No. 1 pick on his team would raise Phoenix’s value.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds of winning the lottery: 8.8 percent 100 percent

Selling the New Orleans franchise proved so difficult, the NBA took over the team for a while. Even then, the league needed time to find a buyer. You think Tom Benson ponied up $388 million for only one No. 1 pick? He’s getting at least two from Stern. The NBA showed it was committed to keeping a team in New Orleans, and for that decision to be financially viable, the Pelicans need more talent, which Stern will gladly provide.

Sacramento Kings

Odds of winning the lottery: 6.3 percent 100 percent

This just reeks of the Hornets situation last year. The NBA brokers the sale of a team shortly before the lottery, and – poof – that team gets the No. 1 pick. Why do you think these sales occur this time of year? Stern sweetens the pot with a No. 1 pick.

Detroit Pistons

Odds of winning the lottery: 3.6 percent 100 percent

The Pistons’ attendance has been extremely volatile in the last decade. When the team was good, the Pistons led the league in home fans. Lately, they’ve ranked near the bottom. So, the marginal value of giving Detroit the No. 1 pick is extremely high. Stern also has a habit of rewarding the new owners with the No. 1 pick, and though Tom Gores had to take a backseat to more pressing matters in Cleveland and New Orleans, he’ll finally get that No. 1 pick promised to him when he bought the Pistons in 2011.

Washington Wizards

Odds of winning the lottery: 3.5 percent 100 percent

It’s the second term of a basketball-loving president, and if the NBA is going finally cash in on the marketing that would come with Barack Obama attending more games, the Wizards must be better sooner than later. Obama has been spotted at Wizards games before, but if those games became higher profile, Obama would probably attend more. That’s the type of cache the NBA could use as it expands globally.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.7 percent 100 percent

Glen Taylor might not be selling the Timberwolves, but he’s at least dipped his feet in the water more than other owners. It’s particularly important for the NBA that its franchises for sale are as valuable as possible, raising the value of all franchises in the process. If Taylor decides to sell anytime in the next five years, having the No. 1 pick on his team would raise Minnesota’s value.

Portland Trail Blazers

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.1 percent 100 percent

Just as Paul Allen buys so many late first-round picks, he bought the No. 1 pick, too. Why do you think the league’s other owners put up with a rigged lottery? It’s because the “lucky” owner pays off the rest. Really, everybody wins. Allen gets his top player, and the other teams get cash for a player they didn’t deem that valuable (or else they would have bid higher). Best of all, because this income is under the table, no taxes.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.8 percent 100 percent

Philadelphia is the largest media market in the lottery, and Sterns obviously wants his big-market teams to be better. 76ers fans can be among the league’s most-passionate – and the NBA is getting increasingly better at turning that passion into money – but this season’s malaise sucked the life out of the fan base. Nothing would get Philadelphia fans going like the No. 1 pick in the draft, and even if they boo him on draft night, at least they’ll be watching.

Toronto Raptors

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.7 percent 100 percent

Not only are the Raptors the only NBA team based outside the United States, Toronto has plenty of overseas flavor. The Raptors are the NBA’s gateway to worldwide expansion, and the more fans the league draw sin Toronto, faster the growth will occur.

Dallas Mavericks

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.6 percent 100 percent

In the first full season since Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks, Dallas missed the playoffs. Now that he’s personally involved, Cuban won’t sit quietly as the NBA fixes the lottery – unless his teams wins it. Stern will give into Cuban just this once, helping the Mavericks reach the playoffs next season and allowing the NBA to continue its lottery-rigging ways without Cuban interfering.

Utah Jazz

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.5 percent 100 percent

Greg Miller’s ownership has been a little rocky, lowlighted by a very public feud with Karl Malone, since the death of Miller’s father, Larry H. Miller. Stern and Larry were old friends, and on his way out, Stern will do his old bud one last favor. Salt Lake City might not be the biggest market, but at this point, Stern doesn’t care. He just wants to look out for his friends.

Don’t worry, this post will still be here after the lottery in case you forget why it was fixed. Once you know who won the No. 1 pick, come back to check why we told you all along the whole thing was rigged for that team.

Hornets’ GM slips up, introduces Dwayne Bacon as Dwyane Wade

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It’s a slip that would have made Freud proud.

Charlotte had a good draft night. In the first round, Kentucky shooter Malik Monk fell to them at 11 and they grabbed him. In the second round, they took a smart risk with Florida State wing Dwayne Bacon.

Friday came the usual team press conference with the GM introducing his players and Charlotte GM Rich Cho made a mistake, introducing Bacon as “Dwyane Wade.”

I love Bacon’s reaction.

Cho instantly realized his mistake and laughed it off, then later said: “Actually, I think they have some similarities.” Hornets fans can only hope.

Kevin Durant trolls Westbrook, haters with cupcake hat — now topped with a ring

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Back when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were breaking into the NBA together and learning how to win together, one of their veteran mentors was tough guy Kendrick Perkins. When Perkins thought someone was acting soft, he called that player a “cupcake.”

When news broke on the Fourth of July last summer that Durant was leaving OKC for Golden State, the NBA world freaked out. Except for Westbrook. He just posted one Instagram photo that day — a tiered tray of red, white, and blue cupcakes. It was meant as a subtle jab at Durant, but when word got out (via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated) what it meant, Thunder fans embraced it and had cupcake signs and clothing made for Durant’s return to Oklahoma City.

Durant had the last laugh — he’s got a new hat with a cupcake on it, topped by a ring.

Well played Durant. Well played.

Another report Rockets “aggressively” trying to clear cap space to chase Chris Paul

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Daryl Morey is big game hunting. Again.

The Rockets, with James Harden running Mike D’Antoni’s offense, made a leap up to the NBA’s second tier last season — then landed with a playoff thud. The team should be better the second season in the same system, but to get past the Warriors, the Rockets need more talent.

Hence the Rockets are going to chase Chris Paul. That’s not new news to anyone paying attention, but Chris Haynes laid it out in more detail in on SportsCenter.

The Rockets need talent and Chris Paul is unquestionably that. He and James Harden could figure out how to play together.

The problem is money. Chris Paul is going to demand max or near-max money, so close to $30 million. The Rockets enter the summer with about $10 million. The Rockets need to clear cap space and are ready to deal so long as they don’t take contracts back. Lou Williams will make $7 million next season, so even moving him and Patrick Beverley is not enough to land a Chris Paul or Paul Millsap. Moving Ryan Anderson ($19.6 million) or Eric Gordon ($12.9 million) helps much more.

That Morey is being aggressive isn’t the news, the question is can he find a willing partner to lower some money off his cap and give him a sense of what is to come. CP3 is going to meet with a lot of teams, but the Clippers do have advantages and are the favorites to retain him.

Jimmy Butler trade sets the stage for looming free agency

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(AP) — As draft night approached, some of the heavy hitters in the NBA – Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Boston, the Clippers among them – were jockeying, making calls and looking for deals to try to position themselves to make a run at the Golden State juggernaut.

The Warriors’ greatness has forced the rest of the league to do deep self-examination and be aggressive in upgrading their rosters if they’re even going to have a chance to compete. The Celtics and Cavaliers were looking hard at Pacers star Paul George and Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, the Rockets and Spurs were looking at clearing cap space to make a run at some big-name free agents next week and the Knicks were, well, the Knicks.

Draft night always lays the groundwork for what will happen when the circus (officially known as free agency) begins on July 1. And with all of those contenders looking to make a splash, the biggest move was made by … the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves reunited Tom Thibodeau with Butler, giving up two promising young players in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick to land one of the best two-way players in the game. The move should jumpstart Minnesota’s pursuit of its first playoff spot since 2004 and, the Wolves hope, pave the way for success in free agency.

“I think it will (help) a lot,” Thibodeau said. “With players, they look around the league, they see the makeup of the team, they see how they play, play together. That’s the main thing. Both offensively and defensively.”

The Timberwolves have long had difficulty attracting free agents to a relatively small market that spends four months of the year covered in ice and snow. Landing a top-15 player like Butler to team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins sends a sign of how aggressive the teams could be.

The Bulls plunged head-first into a rebuild with the decision, and now it’s up to the Pacers to decide if they want to do the same.

Much to the dismay of Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, George let it be known last week that he did not plan to re-sign in Indiana when he becomes a free agent next summer. Most of the league assumes that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who appear to be in a tug-of-war with the rival Celtics for George’s attention.

“I’m confident we’ll get something,” Pritchard told reporters in Indianapolis on Friday.

One of the big markets affected on Thursday night was at point guard, the deepest position in the league. Philadelphia, the Lakers, Sacramento, New York and Dallas all drafted point guards in the top 10, which could diminish the options for veterans like Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague and Patty Mills.

The elite point guards available – Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry – should have no trouble finding significant contracts. With Tony Parker suffering a serious injury in the playoffs, the Spurs were reportedly trying to clear space to make a run at Paul, who is widely considered the best point guard in the league. Paul has spent the last six seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, but has yet to advance to the Western Conference finals.

The Clippers are trying to make a decision about retooling around the core of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but really it’s a decision that depends largely on Paul’s thinking. He has long struggled to win big in the postseason, and heading to San Antonio to join with Kawhi Leonard or Houston to team up with James Harden could prove to be more attractive.

Lowry figures to remain in Toronto with a Raptors franchise that he has helped put back on the map, but after that there will be few teams in the market for a high-priced starting point guard. Denver, Utah, New York and Indiana could wade into those waters. But if they look at themselves as still being a couple of year away, they might be hesitant to spend big bucks on a veteran.

Other big names available include Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Andre Iguodala. And while some of the very biggest names like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry figure to stay put, it only ramps up the sense of urgency for teams that have big holes to fill.

The clock is ticking and Thursday night provided the first steps toward making big improvements to the roster.

The Timberwolves rocked the boat with Butler, but the waters were calm after that, which should only mean one thing: It’s about to get real choppy when the clock strikes midnight on July 1.