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Warriors keep lottery pick, Jazz lose out

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POSTED May 30, 2012 10:51 p.m.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors finally caught a break again in the NBA draft lottery.

The Warriors stayed in the seventh spot Wednesday night, just high enough for the franchise to keep its protected lottery pick. Utah would have taken the pick as part of a previous trade if Golden State landed outside the top seven.

Golden State has secured four picks in next month's draft: seventh, 30th, 35th and 52nd overall.

"Now we have the ability to put on the whiteboard endless possibilities as to what we can do," new Warriors general manager Bob Myers said by phone from New York, where he represented the team on stage. "It's a good feeling."

The New Orleans Hornets moved up from fourth to win the lottery.

Myers, carrying an Indian token as a good-luck charm from a casino that sponsors the team, said he "was a lot more nervous than I thought I would be" on stage. Warriors co-owner Peter Guber also was in the audience.

Golden State had the seventh-worst record at 23-43 and only needed to not fall back.

"It was one of those things where you can convince yourself that it was out of your control, but they played the intense background music, you look around the room and there's suspense and a palpable tension in there that's hard to overcome," said Myers, promoted from assistant GM last month. "My heart was beating pretty fast. Once I saw Toronto's name come up (at eighth), at that point, any outcome was going to be acceptable to us."

Not so much for Utah.

As part of last year's trade that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey, the Jazz would've acquired the first-round pick that originally belonged to Golden State. Utah also lost its own first-round pick to Minnesota as part of the trade that netted Al Jefferson in 2010. If the Jazz had not made the playoffs, where the team was swept by San Antonio, they would have retained that pick.

It wasn't all bad news for the Jazz. They still have another chance to grab Golden State's first-round pick next year (again top-seven protected) and in 2014 (top-six protected).

The Warriors were long overdue for a change of fortune.

The last time Golden State moved up in the draft lottery was in 1995, when it selected Maryland's Joe Smith with the No. 1 overall pick. The team has now stayed where it was slotted or fallen back in the 15 lotteries it has been in since.

This time, staying put was cause for celebration.

"Great news that we have the (hash)7 pick!" Warriors coach Mark Jackson immediately wrote on his Twitter account.

The Warriors needed a late-season slide and a bit of luck just to be in this position.

Golden State lost 17 of its final 20 games and won a coin flip last month to break a tie with Toronto, which also finished 23-43, moving up to the seventh spot and dramatically improving the team's odds of staying there. The Warriors had a 72.6 percent chance of keeping the No. 7 pick, 12.6 percent chance of moving up and 3.6 percent chance of winning the lottery.

"In medieval times, you had to run a gauntlet," Myers said. "It's almost like you had to run a gauntlet to end up where we are."

The Warriors also own San Antonio's first-round pick (30th overall) — acquired in a trade this season for Richard Jefferson in exchange for Stephen Jackson — and a pair of second-round selections. Myers said he does not expect the team to draft four rookies, opening the possibility he will use its stockpile of picks to trade up in the first round.

If not, the seventh spot has worked out well for Golden State in the past.

Hall of Famer Chris Mullin (1985) and Stephen Curry (2009) and Tom Meschery (1961) were all selected seventh by the franchise. North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Baylor's Perry Jones are among the most likely possibilities available at that spot.

The draft is June 28 in Newark, N.J.

"We did get a couple breaks, and we're happy about that," Myers said. "But I don't want to be in this position and I don't think our organization wants to be in this position where we're relying on chance and coin flips and lottery balls. We want to be in the playoffs. We were fortunate here to do something with the result we were able to obtain. But, honestly, I don't want to be sitting up there anymore."

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