There was a 90.7 percent chance that the Philadelphia 76ers would wind up with the No. 11 pick at the end of Tuesday night's Draft Lottery... and that's exactly what happened.
Neither of the team's representatives - co-owners Josh Harris and Adam Aron - brought any sort of lucky charm with them to New York last evening, but it probably didn't matter all that much. The Sixers did the most damage to their chances by winning 11 out of their last 20 games - pride is a fool's fortress - and no rabbit's foot, four-leaf clover, or Steve Nash bobblehead doll was going to magically vault them into the top 3.
There typically isn't much to be gleaned from events like this (it's really just a vehicle for owners and general managers from across the league to get together to talk shop), but in between bites of penne pasta and prime rib, both Harris and Aron were willing to speak on the record about the future of the franchise. And while Harris sidestepped a direct question in regards to how close he thought his team is from being a contender - "I'm going to let [new GM] Sam [Hinkie] speak about that" - he and Aron offered a few interesting takeaways:
Aron on Hinkie's role in the search for a new head coach:
"People in the ownership group will certainly interview the serious candidates, but it's Sam's search to run."
Harris on analytics:
"I think people get confused when you talk about analytics... All you're doing is adding data to player evaluation. Seems like it's very logical."
Harris, prior to the lottery results being announced, on whether he believes in luck:
"In my day job (as manager of a private equity firm), I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make smart bets, smart investments... but I've never been much of a superstitious person. And obviously in this... this is pure luck. There's nothing you can do to influence this."
(Note: You could have influenced it by not winning those meaningless games in April. But I digress...)
Harris on whether the team has enough information to make a decision on Bynum:
"Diligence is a process - you're always gathering information. But obviously, we've been thinking a lot about that. Certainly, we have more information than... the league at large, having lived with Andrew, and we have an exclusive negotiating period right now, so certainly we're looking at it, and gathering more information every day."
(Note: Call me crazy, but "Living With Andrew" sounds like a fantastic idea for a sitcom - I can hear the laugh track as I'm typing this. Levin: Have your people call my people.)
Harris on his role in major basketball decisions:
"The way it works with something that significant, the basketball people are tasked with developing a viewpoint, and certainly on that kind of decision, I would be briefed... I mean clearly, when there are big, big money issues, certainly we're going to get involved, because we're the ones writing the checks. But I think what we've shown is that if it's kind of important for the team, we think it moves the needle, we think it's a smart risk, we'll spend. We don't want to be dumb about it or stupid about it - the reality is, including the amnesty, our payroll was $84 million last year. So that was... kind of a lot of money."
Harris on coming out of the lottery with the No. 11 pick:
"Expected value. I figured when we came here I had a small probability of being super happy, and a small probability of being slightly sad, and I'm neither, We're right were we expected to be, but it was nice to be here and support the Sixers. It was good."
Again, the Draft Lottery isn't a place where earth-shattering revelations are made. But as is the case with virtually every NBA-sanctioned event, the night belonged to outgoing Commissioner David Stern, who gave something of a "State of the Union" address prior to ESPN's televised proceedings.
Stern may not be the most affable person in the world, but he's almost always the smartest man in the room, and his "G" (read: gangsta) is so unparalleled, it's impressive to watch him in action. For an example, take this exchange between Stern and a reporter last night:
Reporter: Three of the four teams that are in the playoffs are probably from your smallest markets. Is that a concern when it comes to your TV partners in terms of your ratings, etc.?
Stern: Not in the least. I asked Heather Cox (of ESPN): How do you define small?
Reporter: It's not Los Angeles, New York or Chicago.
Stern: Is it the lower half of the league?
Reporter: Well, I think popular TV markets...
Stern: Lower half?
Stern: Good, thank you. We have four teams in the lower half of our TV households. It's not three of four, it's four of four. Miami is 16th. And it just goes to show you that if you have good teams, people will want to watch... Miami wasn't a big market, defined by the media as a big market until it attracted big players, and then suddenly it became a big market.
Reporter: I'm talking about the international market that goes beyond graphs and sizes...
Stern: Really? You should go back and look at some of the numbers. Sorry - it doesn't hold.
The best example of David Stern's G? At the reception prior to the draft lottery, there was an empty table that was literally guarded by a woman for the better part of two hours.
She wasn't eating or drinking like every one else in the room - she just stood next to the table with a stoic expression on her face like the guards in front of Buckingham Palace. It soon became clear that the table was reserved for a VIP, but while a simple "This table is reserved for Commissioner David Stern" sign probably would have sufficed, but that's not how Stern rolls. I'm really going to miss that guy.
Hopefully, Hinkie has that same amount of G if and when someone on the basketball side of the house floats a proposal to sign Bynum to a long-term deal. But while Hinkie may or may not have Stern-level G, he definitely has the No. 11 pick. And given the uncertain nature of this year's draft class, we all may want to break out the lucky charms come June 27.