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Cavaliers stumble to No. 5 selection in Draft Lottery

By CHRIS FEDOR • Updated May 14, 2019 at 11:19 PM

CHICAGO — The Cleveland Cavaliers’ reward for one of the franchise’s worst seasons is the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

In the first year with new lottery rules, put in place to discourage teams from tanking, the Cavs entered the night with a 14 percent chance at winning the lottery — equal odds as New York and Phoenix. But the flattening of odds led to plenty of chaos, with numerous teams jumping up as the picks were slowly revealed on ESPN shortly after 8:40 p.m. Tuesday night.

The No. 5 pick is where the Cavs were most likely to land based on the percentages. They had a 27.8 percent shot of selecting there. But this was the scenario Cleveland wanted to avoid, believing this class falls off after the top 3 picks (Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett).

The Cavs, who were hoping to win the lottery for the fifth time since 2003, finished with a 19-63 record this season, tied for the league’s second-worst mark.

The New Orleans Pelicans, with former Cavaliers executive David Griffin bringing lottery luck to his new team, won the top pick — and the right to draft consensus top player Williamson. It’s the second time Griffin has won the lottery in the last six years, representing the Cavaliers on stage for their lottery victory in 2014.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies also moved up based on their odds entering the night. The Grizzlies will pick second. The Knicks will select third. The Lakers, who had just a 9.4 percent chance of getting into the top 4, will select fourth overall.

Bickerstaff to be top assistant?

CLEVELAND — With John Beilein as new head coach, the Cleveland Cavaliers have started the process of looking at candidates to fill out his staff. According to sources who spoke with cleveland.com, ex-Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is one possibility and Bickerstaff is expected to discuss that opportunity with Beilein in the near future.

The Cavs and Beilein are seeking an experienced lead assistant to help make the transition from college to the pros as smooth as possible. Bickerstaff being out of a job makes it a bit easier than trying to pry away an assistant currently under contract with another NBA team.

Bickerstaff, who is coveted by many franchises around the league, was a casualty of Memphis’ front office shakeup following the 2018-19 season. Despite guiding the Grizzlies through an injury-plagued season, forced to use an NBA-record 28 players and finishing stronger than expected with 33 wins, widespread changes forced Bickerstaff out. It also led to the demotion of general manager Chris Wallace.

After spending more than 10 years as an assistant with Charlotte, Minnesota and Houston, Bickerstaff was named interim head coach with the Rockets before moving on to Memphis as an associate for the 2016-17 campaign. In three seasons as an NBA head coach (one with Houston and two in Memphis), Bickerstaff compiled a record of 85-131, including a 1-4 mark in the playoffs.

Bickerstaff has been praised for his player development and defensive approach, helping the undermanned Grizzlies finish ninth in defensive rating — a massive improvement from 2017-18 when they ranked 22nd.

The Cavs also known him well, as his father, Bernie, is currently a Senior Basketball Advisor with the team.

Bickerstaff was one of many candidates to interview for the Cavaliers’ head-coaching vacancy and a source said the Cavs would likely pick from that pile when it came to finding a lead assistant. Bickerstaff, who made a strong impression in his sit-down with Cavaliers team officials, also interviewed with the Los Angeles Lakers about their head-coaching gig before Los Angeles opted instead for Frank Vogel.

The Cavs announced Beilein as their new head coach Monday.

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