Barring a trade, the New Orleans Pelicans won’t participate in the NBA draft June 26.
Facing long odds in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, the Pelicans came away with the 10th pick overall, which went to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pelicans had traded this year’s first-round pick, along with last year’s at No. 6, to the Sixers on draft night 2013 to obtain point guard Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans would have kept the selection had they landed one in the top three Tuesday in New York.
Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps, who was in New York for the lottery, has said Holiday was worth the two picks. New Orleans also received second-round pick Pierre Jackson, a promising point guard who can score, in the deal.
“I think (Holiday) is an elite point guard with size and strength,” Demps said. “I think he’s going to be good for us for a long time.”
Holiday played in just 34 games after breaking his right tibia Jan. 10. But coach Monty Williams also said getting Holiday, a defensive stalwart who averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 assists, is key to the team’s championship aspirations.
The Pelicans also do not have a pick in this year’s second round, having sent it to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 2009 trade to acquire forward Darius Songalia. This year marks the third time but the first since 2002, before the first season in New Orleans, that the franchise does not have a draft pick.
Even without a pick, Demps said the Pelicans will be fine. Along with Holiday, they obtained shooting guard Tyreke Evans before last season, which saw the continued development of other young players such as 2012 overall No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, rookie center Jeff Withey and second-year small forward Darius Miller, who is a restricted free agent.
Although Demps was hopeful of landing a top-three pick, he knew the Pelicans had just a 4 percent chance of it happening, and that it was 87 percent they would wind up at their prelottery spot — 10th, which is based on their 34-48 record. He said he still will work on improving the roster this summer. Center and small forward would be high on the list.
“We plan to be aggressive,” he said. “Salary cap-wise, we are in good shape.”
For the third time in four years, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the draft lottery and has the No. 1 selection. The Cavaliers are expected to take Kansas 7-footer Joel Embiid, considered to have the most upside in the draft. The other top players available are both small forwards: Embiid’s Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker.
Cleveland, however, chose UNLV small forward Anthony Bennett with the top pick last season. In 2011, they picked Duke point guard Kyrie Irving.
Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin said winning the pick was still “a defining moment” for the franchise.
“We certainly hope it will be,” he said. “We look to fill some holes in our lineup. We feel like we have talent. They didn’t fit.”
The Cavaliers had just a 1.7 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick based on their 33-49 record this season, which had them in the seventh spot. Cleveland beat out the Milwaukee Bucks, who had the worst record in the league at 15-67 and had the highest odds to getting the pick — 25 percent.
The Bucks finished second and the 76ers third. Philadelphia had the second-worst record last season (19-63) and had a 19.9 percent chance of getting the top selection.
But with two top-10 picks on the heels of getting center Nerlens Noel, the sixth player chosen last year, in the trade with New Orleans, the Sixers are in good shape to continue their rebuilding effort. Philadelphia also has five second-round picks for this draft. The 76ers cleared the deck of salaries by trading center Spencer Hawes, guard Evan Turner and power forward Lavoy Allen, and their roster will look completely different next season.
The Orlando Magic (23-49; third spot) also came away with two picks, theirs at No. 4 and one from the Denver Nuggets at No. 11. And, the Charlotte Bobcats got the Detroit Pistons’ pick at No. 9.