Kings executive vice president of basketball operations Scott Perry had a simple wish when it came to Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery.
“You wanted to see your name at 10 but didn’t want to see it at eight,” Perry said.
Perry got his wish and the Kings finally got lucky for the first time in 11 consecutive seasons of being in the lottery, ending up with the fifth and 10th picks in next month’s NBA draft.
The Kings saw their logo at No. 10, meaning the pick acquired from New Orleans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade didn’t move into the top three, which would have meant the Pelicans would have kept it.
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Then at eight, the New York Knicks were revealed as the team, meaning the Kings moved into the top three.
But they didn’t stay there.
Because of a 2015 trade with Philadelphia, the 76ers had the right to swap with the Kings, so Sacramento ended up fifth instead.
That trade sent Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to the 76ers in what was a salary dump for the Kings to clear room under the salary cap to sign free agents. The Kings still owe the 76ers an unprotected pick in 2019 from the deal.
“Still, it was a good feeling to know you had moved up into the lottery, so you figured you were going to improve from the No. 8 spot,” Perry said. “Wherever that was going to end up to be was going to be a positive for us. ... We’re going to be well prepared.”
During the 11-year run of missing the playoffs, the Kings had never moved up in the lottery. Even with the worst record in the NBA in 2009, the Kings picked fourth, the worst-case scenario.
So while picking fifth is not as good as picking third, the Kings will gladly take their good fortune.
“I think anytime you can have a pick in the top five, in particular in a draft like this where the talent pool is pretty deep, it’s a great opportunity,” Perry said.
The Kings are searching for a young point guard, like Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, who most have rated behind Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball at the position.
If Fox is gone, that would leave a high-level talent like Duke small forward Jayson Tatum, who would also fill a major need for the future.
“I’m definitely going to take it as a sign of good karma and hopefully it a precursor of good things to come in the short term and the long term,” Perry said.
By also having the 10th pick, the Kings will be in the mix for some intriguing prospects like Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac and Arizona forward Lauri Markkannen.
General manager Vlade Divac traveled to Europe this week to watch the EuroLeague Final Four in Istanbul, Turkey.
He’ll see guard Bogdan Bogdanovic play for Fenerbahce of the Turkish Basketball Super League. The Kings own Bogdanovic’s draft rights from last year’s draft-day trade with Phoenix and hope to persuade him to play for the Kings next season.
But Tuesday was all about the luck the Kings finally had in the lottery.
“It’s time for us to hunker down and continue learning as much as we can about all these guys are going to be in the range for both picks,” Perry said.
Draft order of lottery picks
1. Boston (from Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia (from Kings)
5. Kings (from Philadelphia)
8. New York
10. Kings (from New Orleans)