Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How the Lottery Affect Miami's Plans

Lowest Committed 2010-11 Payrolls
New York Knicks$18.64 m
New Jersey Nets$26.63 m
Miami Heat$30.67 m
Chicago Bulls$31.85 m
Los Angeles Clippers$33.53 m
Sacramento Kings$34.0 m
Minnesota Timberwolves$35.17 m
Washington Wizards$41.02 m
Source: ESPN.com

Well, the NBA Draft lottery has come and gone and the top three picks belong to the Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets.

All three should come away with really good players, but the big prize was John Wall and the Wizards have just won the right to draft him. They seemed very excited to win the lottery, but did not tip their hand. Also, John Wall did not seem thrilled by the result of the lottery - refusing to acknowledge questions about how he fit in with Washington, instead offering a general response about helping out his team.

Washington, however, will be an exciting team with this starting lineup:
C - McGee
PF - Blatche
SF - Howard
SG - Arenas
PG - Wall

The fallout from the Wizards will likely be a move for Gil to his more natural SG spot. He is undersized, but he will score more than the opposing SG more often than not anyway. PG Shaun Livingston and combo guard Randy Foye are more likely to leave as free agents in search of better opportunities for minutes and career revivals. Miami will likely address the point guard position last, so they may be picking up pieces from the scrapheap like they have been ever since they showed Jason Williams the door.

Philadelphia will have plenty of talent to chose from even if they don't view Evan Turner as the answer. Speaking of "The Answer", he has become an afterthought due to his bad behavior and poor performance on the court. He has likely played his last NBA game for similar reasons as Rafer Alston, but he does figure to be an intriguing option for minimum money once Miami stocks up the front end of their roster. He seems a lock for the All-Star game as long as he plays in the NBA, but will his play be worth the headache?

New Jersey's slide into the third spot is the best news for Miami fans out of this lottery drawing, because it has taken some wind out of the sails of a franchise that has cleared the second most cap room, behind the New York Knicks (until Wade opts out, which would place Miami as the team with the most cap room). They are projected to draft PF Derrick Favors or SF Wesley Johnson. The odds favor Favors, but Johnson because can play SG or SF which gives them more flexibility in free agency. However, the delayed move to Brooklyn, coupled with not getting the #1 pick and people's natural desire not to work for a scary Russian boss should keep top tier free agents away. Their most realistic targets strategy will be overpaying second tier free agents and RFA's like Rudy Gay and Tyrus Thomas who need someone to be willing to wait a week to find out if their contract will be matched.

Overall, it was a positive thing that New Jersey did not win the lottery even though they still are in position to add an elite rookie + two top free agents to their roster. Had they won the lottery, Jay-Z and company would have had a far stronger pitch to the elite free agents. The day ends just as it started, with Miami at the front of the free agent line.

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