The Kings, again, didn’t have the luck of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So prepare for anything from now until the NBA draft June 26.
For the third time in four years, the Cavaliers won the lottery to select first, moving the Kings back a slot to eighth.
The Kings, in the lottery for the eighth consecutive year, have never moved up in the lottery in that span. The Cavaliers had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the first pick.
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Now the Kings will begin lining up visits with top prospects.
The Kings have had the eighth pick once, in 1994, when they chose power forward Brian Grant. What they will do with it this year is a mystery.
Sacramento is among the busiest teams in the league in seeking out deals, and the pick will be the subject of trade speculation, especially since the team showed it’s not afraid of major roster turnover. The Kings finished this season with only four players left from the 2012-13 campaign after a flurry of trades.
The tone for that activity was set during last year’s draft, when the Kings vigorously tried to move up to select guard Ben McLemore, who fell to them at No. 7.
Expect the Kings to explore all options with their pick this year.
“We’re looking at everything right now,” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said from New York, where the lottery was held. “We think there will be a good player there at eight. We’ll also look at opportunities to move up, down and at veterans (in trades).”
D’Alessandro is in a better position to run this year’s draft. Last year, he was hired about two weeks before the draft.
Michael Malone already had been hired as coach, and in an unusual setup, he ran draft workouts with Geoff Petrie’s outgoing front office providing much of the information on prospects and helping with workouts.
D’Alessandro said this year he and the front office have collected plenty of information on several prospects.
D’Alessandro scouted players while working for Denver, but the focus was on those who would be available later in the draft.
“All our guys were really out a lot,” D’Alessandro said. “We’ve got a good read on the players in this draft.”
Staying at No. 8 keeps the Kings in line to look at several prospects. Among those who might be available are Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon, Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart and Creighton forward Doug McDermott.
The Kings do not plan to limit their focus to players they might select at No. 8.
“We go deeper than that because we try to rank out the draft,” D’Alessandro said. “We try to see which players will fit the Sacramento Kings. Clearly for us there will be a focus on the top 10, but I think we will be prepared for anything.”
This draft class is said to be much deeper than last year’s. For example, Smart, who some thought would have been a top-three pick last year, might not be a top-five pick after returning to school for his sophomore year.
“I think you’re going to see players throughout this draft in the first and second round that will turn out to be really good players,” D’Alessandro said.
The Kings do not have a second-round pick. That choice, 37th overall, belongs to Toronto because of the James Johnson trade in 2012.
D’Alessandro has not ruled out trying to trade or buy another pick to make up for not having that selection.
“We’ll look at that as well,” he said. “I think that we have two really good young players in Ben and Ray (McCallum) already and we’ll be adding another to that potentially.”
The Kings are “potentially” adding another young player because if a veteran who accelerates the rebuilding process can be acquired with the pick, the Kings will look to deal the choice. They are clearly open to discussions.
The goal is to win now, but if it means passing on a potential star for a veteran who is only a stopgap, the thinking changes. Minimal improvement with a veteran might not be worth it in the long run.
“It’s always a balancing act and you really have to look at both,” D’Alessandro said. “Given where we are, we believe we have a star in DeMarcus Cousins and potential stars in Rudy (Gay) and Isaiah Thomas. At the same time, you can’t pass on young talent that could be game-changing.”
FORECASTING THE LOTTERY PICKS
|No.||Team||Pick, position, school||Comment|
|1.||Cavaliers||Jabari Parker, SF, Duke||Cleveland will take a Duke freshman for the second time since 2011; savvy playmaker|
|2.||Bucks||Joel Embiid, C, Kansas||Best big man available will need time to develop but could become star of this class|
|3.||76ers||Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas||An athletic prospect who has been compared to former All-Star Tracy McGrady|
|4.||Magic||Dante Exum, PG, Austrailia||A point guard with great size (6-6) who will look to push the tempo|
|5.||Jazz||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana||After Utah lost two veteran bigs last offseason, Vonleh helps add frontcourt depth|
|6.||Celtics||Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky||A strong player who helped his stock with an impressive NCAA Tournament run|
|7.||Lakers||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State||Lakers finally have a point guard for the future who can learn from Steve Nash|
|8.||Kings||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona||Super athletic and loves to defend, Gordon fits into new culture in Sacramento|
|9||Hornets||Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State||Charlotte needs to improve its offense; Harris could ease pressure on Kemba Walker|
|10.||76ers||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan||One of the best shooters available; can create spacing for the young wing players|
|11.||Nuggets||Dario Saric, PF, Croatia||Skilled big man could eventually help Denver develop more on-court chemistry|
|12.||Magic||Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton||Might be the best shooter in the draft; admits he needs to improve his defense|
|13.||Timberwolves||Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA||A combo guard who is out to prove he can play the point and off the ball, too|
|14.||Suns||James Young, SG, Kentucky||A versatile scorer in college who would fit in with Phoenix’s uptempo style|