Adam Silver

2014 NBA lottery is 100 percent fixed. Probably. Sort of.

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Adam Silver’s NBA is no better than David Stern’s. The lottery is still fixed.

If you want to see the lottery odds the league is pitching, take a look. But I have the real odds – and proof of the conspiracy.

Two years ago – before the lottery – I wrote:

The NBA no longer owns the Hornets, but is still committed to keeping them in New Orleans. With their arena improvements needing approval of the state legislature in July, the Hornets could ride the Anthony Davis buzz and ensure there are no hitches. The league spent a year-and-a-half trying to sell the team without finding a buyer, so maybe Tom Benson needed a No. 1 pick thrown in the deal. David Stern has also meddled in the Hornets’ business before, in the Chris Paul trade. Davis would help Eric Gordon, and therefore Stern’s reputation, because Stern was the one who handpicked Gordon for the Hornets rather than taking the Lakers’ offer.

Of course, the Hornets got the No. 1 pick. It was so obvious.

And then last year, again before the lottery:

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.

Yup, Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. Saw that coming.

Isn’t it always convenient how the most-obvious team wins the lottery? That happening proves it’s fixed. If it were truly random, a team other than the one you know the league wants to win would at least sometimes get the No. 1 pick. But that literally never happens.

RELATED: Complete 2014 NBA draft lottery preview

Here are the true lottery odds:

Milwaukee Bucks

Odds of winning the lottery: 25 percent 100 percent

Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry just bought the Bucks, and they were determined to complete the sale before the lottery. Suspicious timing. Obviously, the NBA offered the No. 1 pick to grease the wheels. There’s no other explanation why a team Forbes valued at $405 million sold for $550 million. Milwaukee is worth that – only with a No. 1 pick thrown in.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds of winning the lottery: 19.9 percent 100 percent

Last year, 76ers president Rod Thorn became the NBA’s president of basketball operations. He’ll reward his former employers with the No. 1 pick. Even if Thorn wanted to take the high road, the 76ers really forced the league’s hand here. By tanking, their attendance fell 2,848 fans per game from last season – by far the biggest drop in the NBA. The league can’t afford to have such dismal numbers in such a large market, so it will expedite Philadelphia’s rebuild.

Orlando Magic 

Odds of winning the lottery: 15.6 percent 100 percent

Cleveland lost LeBron James and then got the No. 1 pick. New Orleans lost Chris Paul and then got the No. 1 pick. Orlando lost Dwight Howard and then… Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. OK, I guess LeBron was worth two compensatory No. 1s. But now that the Magic deferred a year, they’ll get the top pick. The NBA doesn’t let teams suffer too much after losing a superstar, and Orlando has paid its dues.

Utah Jazz

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.4 percent 100 percent

Though Andrew Wiggins is still the likely No. 1 pick, don’t rule out Jabari Parker. He’s more polished, and that could give him the edge in many statistical models teams use. So, the NBA will give the Jazz the top pick to ensure they get Parker. A Mormon star in Utah would have HUGE marketing potential. Parker could be bigger than Malone.

Boston Celtics

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.3 percent 100 percent

The Celtics are a flagship franchise, and they play in the Northeast, an area the NBA is biased toward. The last time Boston floundered, Kevin Garnett was conveniently sent there by former Celtic Kevin McHale. The Celtics have moles all over the the league. They’re leaning on their connections – established over years of excellent and money-making play – to get a No. 1 pick. The Boston market is too valuable to the NBA to allow another season like the last.

Los Angeles Lakers

Odds of winning the lottery: 6.3 percent 100 percent

Los Angeles is the biggest market in the lottery, and the NBA wants to keep putting the Lakers on national television. The league can’t do that as long as they remain this bad. The No. 1 pick would turn the Lakers back into marketing giants and bring streams and streams of revenue to the NBA. Did I mention money? Money, so much money. This No. 1 pick, in Los Angeles, could swing billions.

Sacramento Kings

Odds of winning the lottery: 4.3 percent 100 percent

The Sacramento City Council will meet at 6 p.m. locally vote on whether to fund the Kings’ new arena – essentially immediately after the lottery results are televised (show begins at 5 p.m. in California). The implication is clear: Give us the No. 1 pick, or we vote no. Now that the Sacramento City Councilors have made their demands, will the NBA acquiesce? Yes, yes it will.

Detroit Pistons

Odds of winning the lottery: 2.8 percent 100 percent

Andre Drummond has developed a cult following of fans, and the NBA sees potential. With Stan Van Gundy helping him to refine his game, all Drummond needs is another star. Then, the Pistons are set, and the league can market Drummond – who’s young, charismatic and exciting – both locally and nationally. The Pistons’ attendance is highly volatile, swinging based on the team’s quality. Across the country, people will be drawn to Drummond – as long as he plays for a winner.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.7 percent 100 percent

I don’t know what Dan Gilbert is blackmailing the NBA with, but it sure works. Two No. 1 picks in three years is unprecedented in the current weight setup. Gilbert tried showing restraint on his golden goose, exercising his ability to get a top pick only every other year. But now, the Cavaliers owner is getting desperate. He traded for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes and still couldn’t make the playoffs, and Anthony Bennett sure deserves a mulligan. Gilbert will cash in again.

Denver Nuggets

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.5 percent 100 percent

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke also owns the St. Louis Rams, who just drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player. In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, the NBA wants to draw attention to its most tolerant owners – even if their most-notable acts came in another sport. Denver getting the No. 1 pick will put the spotlight on Kroenke and his open-mindedness at a time the league really needs people like him at the forefront.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.1 percent 100 percent

The team formerly owned by the NBA will definitely get the No. 1 pick. The league took over the franchise just to keep it in New Orleans, a point of pride after Hurricane Katrina. But the Pelicans still rank in the bottom third of the league in attendance. Anthony Davis has certainly helped. One more No. 1 pick will really get New Orleans over the hump.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.6 percent 100 percent

The NBA owners held a lockout with a goal of breaking up the Miami’s Big Three. Not only do the other owners not want super teams to be sustainable, they want to prevent them from forming by keeping their own stars – and they geared the rules toward that. They’ll gear the lottery toward that too, giving Minnesota the No. 1 pick and a much better chance of keeping Kevin Love.

Phoenix Suns

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.5 percent 100 percent

The Suns were the only lottery team competing hard until the end of the season, and Silver will reward that. The new commissioner has shown a willingness to overhaul the draft system, moving toward a setup that no longer encourages failure. He’s on record as interested in a play-in model for the final playoff spots, too – something that really would have helped Phoenix this season. But those type of big-picture fixes take time to implement. For now, Silver can just give the Suns the No. 1 pick as an end-around to achieving the outcome he believes should occur. It’s like a team getting the ball when touching it last going out of bounds following an uncalled foul on the opponent – and we know that’s approved in Silver’s NBA.

Commit these to memory now, or if you forget, check back after the lottery to see why it was rigged. After tonight, you only need to remember one of these outcomes – but then remember it forever and let all the sheeple know the truth.

Pistons-Kings game delayed for smoke over court (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins, in his eternal battle with referees (and everyone else), retroactively won every argument he’s ever had when he had to alert the officials in last night’s Pistons-Kings game to the large cloud of smoke coming toward the court. It was only then that the refs stopped play.

But the best reaction to the mistimed fog machine was Sacramento coach Dave Joerger:

LeBron James tweets: I’m not mad at Cavaliers GM David Griffin

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers rallies his teammates in the huddle during player introductions prior to the game Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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After tearing into the Cavaliers’ roster construction last night, LeBron James said he’d tweet even more thoughts.

LeBron delivered, softening the point everyone amplified (that he wants roster improvements) and emphasizing the point that got overlooked (that he’s on board with Cleveland general manager David Griffin):

I’m guessing LeBron saw how his comments went over and wanted to quiet the storm he created. What he said sounds so much more resentful. These tweets read as much more constructive.

But the underlying point remains: LeBron is unsatisfied with the roster.

He won’t be a free agent until 2018, but remember, dissatisfaction with the Heat’s roster contributed to him bolting Miami.

Wizards wearing all black to Celtics game for a figurative funeral

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The Celtics and Wizards have a little rivalry brewing:

The latest chapter comes for tonight’s game, with the Wizards – imitating a commonly used fashion for closeout playoff games – wearing all black to the arena.

Kelly Oubre Jr.:

We’re wearing all black to the game. So you know where we’re going with that.

Round three. Let’s get it.

Wall (as Beal yells encouragement in the background):

All black everything. A funeral.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response…“That’s cute!”

Isaiah Thomas, via Blakely:

“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”

Gotta agree with the Celtics here. This is an absurd level of motivational showmanship for a January game.

But I also love it! These petty feuds are fantastic and spice up a long regular season.

My favorite part of the Wizards’ funeral motif: Even if they “bury” Boston tonight, these teams meet again in March.

‘It’s eating me alive:’ DeMarcus Cousins again leading Kings’ longshot playoff push

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, right, drives against Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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When the Kings drafted DeMarcus Cousins, he named his rookie goals: “Get to the playoffs, go for the championship.” But the NBA humbled the young player, as Sacramento went just 24-58 and missed the postseason for the fifth straight year. Cousins emerged for his second season resolute on a more-modest goal: “Playoffs. We’ve got to make the playoffs this year. It’s not even a goal. It’s basically in our contract, I believe. So, we’ve got to make the playoffs this year.”

Five seasons later, Cousins is still chasing that elusive postseason trip.

“It’s eating me alive,” Cousins said. “Every loss or every time another team wins in battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive. Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season.”

A depressing chase for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, where every team in the race is at least seven games under .500, has opened the door for the 17-27 Kings. They’re 1.5 games and three teams out of playoff position – a more daunting challenge than often realized. Not only must they play better, they must hope a couple teams ahead of them don’t also heat up. 538 gives Sacramento just a 5% chance of reaching the postseason, and ESPN is even more pessimistic at 3.8%.

Beginning his career with seven straight lottery trips would be another crushing blow to Cousins, who has built a credible case as the NBA’s best center. Greg Monroe is the only current player with more win shares who hasn’t reached the playoffs:

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Nobody nears Cousins besides Monroe, and the next-closest player, Jazz center Rudy Gobert, likely makes the playoffs this year. Monroe leads in win shares, because he entered the league more polished than Cousins and built a head start (and because this stat probably inflates’ Monroe’s contributions relative to Cousins’.) Monroe has never neared Cousins’ peak, and Monroe is now a backup for the Bucks. The only thing second-team about Cousins is his two All-NBA appearances.

Kevin Love is the only other player since the NBA-ABA merger to make multiple All-NBA teams before his first playoff season. He, of course, left the Timberwolves for the Cavaliers to escape lists like these.

On the other hand, there have been indications from both sides Cousins will soon sign a veteran-designated-player contract extension projected to be worth more than $219 million over five years. Staying in Sacramento and playing for owner Vivek Ranadive seems like the surest bet to keep Cousins’ postseason drought active.

Cousins already ranks in the top 25 all-time in win shares before a player’s first playoff season (which doesn’t count this season, because playoff teams aren’t yet determined):

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Cousins has 5.2 win shares this season and counting. Missing the playoffs again would launch him into the top 10 of this dubious list – and he could keep climbing.

Not only do the Kings face daunting odds to reach the postseason this year, it’s difficult to project them into the playoffs for the foreseeable future. Years of roster mismanagement have taken a toll.

Since drafting Cousins, Sacramento has held top-10 picks every year. Those have netted on draft night: Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons, Thomas Robinson, Ben McLemore, Nik Stauskas, Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere and Bogdan Bogdanovic – who’ve combined for a measly 2.2 win shares this season. And most of those win shares come from Stauskas and Robinson, who no longer play for the Kings.

In fact, Stauskas was sent out in a disastrous trade that gives the 76ers swap rights on Sacramento’s 2017 first-rounder* and Sacramento’s unprotected 2019 first-rounder.

*The Kings’ first-round pick must fall in the top 10 to be swap-eligible. Otherwise, it goes to the Bulls, the result of another botched trade.

Sacramento has also recently struck out on major free agents and then settled for Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes and Ty Lawson. That adds up to one mediocre supporting cast.

Meanwhile, Cousins is better than ever. He has taken a larger offensive burden, including as a distributor and suddenly dangerous 3-point shooter, while cutting down his turnover rate. Defenders are often overmatched, and they foul him more than anyone in the league. And while Cousins’ defense comes and goes, it can be quite impressive while he’s locked in.

The result is a team that plays at a 41-win pace with Cousins on the floor and a 17-win pace when he sits, continuing a disparity seen over the last few years. Hera are the Kings win paces over 82 games with Cousins on (purple) and off (black):

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Obviously, teams generally play better with their stars and starters on the court, and Cousins is a star who usually shares the court with other starters. But this gap is particularly egregious, and Cousins’ fellow starters have underwhelmed.

So, more and more falls on Cousins’ shoulders.

Playing for his sixth head coach and third general manager in seven seasons, Cousins sets the tone for the Kings, for better or worse. He plays with a unique rage, sneering resentfully at anyone who gets in his way on the court – like players trying to defend him or referees, gasp, calling a foul on him. He leads the league with 12 technical fouls and is on pace to get (at least) 16 and an automatic suspension, which he also triggered last year.

His highs are incredibly high and his lows are unnecessarily low.

That moodiness has frustrated coaches and teammates, but it also sometimes works himself and his teammates into a productive frenzy. Sacramento usually plays passionately, which is both to its credit and a sign of a talent scarcity considering the team still loses so frequently.

“I’m still confident,” Cousins said, “and I still believe we’re going to make that push for the playoffs.”

For the last few years, Cousins has looked unstoppable while the Kings have been quite easily stoppable. He’s trying to drag the franchise up with him, but optimism and desire might not be enough. At a certain point we must ask: What more can Cousins do?