If Karma Ruled the NBA Draft Lottery
Close your eyes and imagine how the ping pong balls would bounce if karma ruled tonight's lottery ...
1. Sacramento Kings. You might think I'm being a homer, and you're right. I'm being a homer. But hear me out! The Maloofs (above) lost something like $20 million on the Kings this year. They didn't lay anyone off until last week ... and they only laid off 12 people. Before that, they shut down their private jet to start flying commercial. Maybe that doesn't seem like much ... and Joe Maloof did have double knee replacement surgery this fall. (I don't know about you, but Southwest's seats are uncomfortable enough already without heavy bandages and a limp. Especially when you could be on a flying yacht and write the mileage off as a business expense.)
Further, the Kings honored two former players this year, one of which (Vlade Divac) who was a far better humanitarian than player. The team's charitable contributions (above and beyond the NBA's call of duty) continued unabated despite the harrowing economic condition of the franchise. The team cut costs where it could -- Kenny Thomas stayed home on road trips, fer chrissakes -- without diluting the fan experience (unless you consider the waiver of Quincy Douby a dilution of the fan experience).
Finally, by trading John Salmons and Brad Miller to the Bulls for a pittance, the Kings directly helped bolster what would become one of the greatest first round series of all time. If you enjoyed a minute of Bulls-Celtics, you owe the Sacramento Kings a deep debt of gratitude. The world, thus, owes the Sacramento Kings a deep debt of gratitude. Pray for us, not those scoundrel Clippers.
2. Memphis Grizzlies. They didn't trade an All-Star for Kwame Brown's ununsed cap space this year! Way to go! But seriously, the Grizzlies did make the bold move of offering restricted free agent Josh Smith a substantial if fair contract last summer, which forced Atlanta to get off its butt and retain the forward. And even though Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace eventually caved in to the leaguewide Guillotine Party, they gave Marc Iavaroni a long leash before wheeling out the Iron Maiden. That's gotta be worth something. (The Grizzlies deserve a top-3 finish every year to make up for the 2003 lottery disaster.)
3. Charlotte Bobcats. For all the criticism of Bob Johnson's payroll, five teams (including the major market Clippers) were outspent by the Bobcats this season. As of now, eight teams have smaller payroll committments going into 2009-10. So let's drop that angle. Further, the hire of Larry Brown proved to be smart, the trade of Jason Richardson worked out, and the team didn't trade for Eddy Curry as expected! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT AMERICA?