By Marcus Thompson II, CONTRA COSTA TIMES
The Warriors were one pingpong ball from nailing the four-digit combination that secured the top pick in the NBA draft. The Los Angeles Lakers were one pingpong ball from moving up to the third pick, which means the Warriors were one ball from dropping one spot to 10th, according to a Warriors representative at the drawing in Secaucus, N.J.
But when the 21st NBA draft lottery was done Tuesday and the lottery picks revealed, the Warriors were still at No. 9. And they're OK with that.
"I guess (Baron Davis) didn't have that lucky penny," said Warriors general manager Rod Higgins, who represented the Washington Wizards when they landed the top pick in 2001. "It's hard to move up. Now our work obviously, as it has been from the start, is cut out for us to find a player. And there will be a player there for us at nine, as well as at 40 and 42."
Davis, the Warriors point guard, represented the team at the lottery in Secaucus, N.J.
Only two teams moved up. The Portland Trail Blazers went from No. 5 to No. 3. But the biggest jump belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks, who leap-frogged five teams to win the No. 1 pick despite having the sixth-best chance.
The Bucks haven't won the lottery since 1994 when they took Glenn Robinson out of Purdue. The good luck figures to help Milwaukee re-sign one of free agency's prized players in shooting guard Michael Redd, who reportedly has told the Bucks he wants to return but only if they can contend.
"I don't know if I'll sleep tonight," Milwaukee general manager Larry Harris, who was armed with a fishing lure and a bracelet sent by Bucks fans for luck, told the Associated Press. "Being a math major, with a 6.3 percent chance to win, I didn't think we had much of a chance at it.
"I told (Redd) we would do whatever we can. Phase one is done. So now we have to make sure we make the right decision."
The New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats and Utah Jazz all dropped two slots. The Hornets fell to No. 4, the Bobcats to No. 5 and the Jazz to No. 6. There was no movement between picks No. 7 and 14.
The Atlanta Hawks, who at 25 percent had the best chance for the top pick, dropped to No. 2.
The Warriors remained stagnant for the third consecutive year and have not moved up in any of their past nine draft lotteries. But they have some options at No. 9.
Because they have some attractive trade pieces -- Mike Dunleavy, Mickael Pietrus and Zarko Cabarkapa -- they still may be in play for Utah center Andrew Bogut, North Carolina forward Marvin Williams or Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul -- considered the best three players in the draft.
"It certainly opens up opportunities with other teams that would like to get the first pick," Harris said. "I don't want to come out and say that the Milwaukee Bucks are trading the pick, but it certainly creates a lot of buzz for the Milwaukee Bucks. We are in position now where we control the draft."
Without making a trade, the Warriors figure to have a wealth of talent to choose from at their draft position -- not to mention their two second-round picks. They are in position to improve a team that is expected to make a playoff run next season.
Even though Davis didn't have a lucky penny.
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