Cavs win with Clips' pick

Updated: May 18, 2011, 2:14 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

Two years ago the Los Angeles Clippers won the NBA Lottery and the right to select Blake Griffin No. 1 overall.

The reverse happened this time.

The Clippers essentially won the lottery Tuesday night, but that pick had already been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a midseason trade involving Baron Davis and Mo Williams.

General manager Neil Olshey watched the lottery from a hotel room in Chicago, where he's attending pre-draft workouts.

There are a number of reactions he could've had: laughing, crying, throwing up, etc.

Olshey admits only to shrugging.

"The trade has played out well for both teams. We added a 28-year-old all star point guard [Williams] and $8.5 million in cap room and they have two picks in the top four," he wrote in a text message to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"We made the decision at the trade deadline that the next step for our team was going to be via trade or free agency. [This trade] gave us a better odds of improving than a 2.8 percent chance of winning the lottery and adding a seventh player under 23 to our roster."

The Clippers went 32-50 last season with one of the youngest rosters in the league. Olshey said that he plans to build around Griffin, the 2011 Rookie of the Year, and 22-year-old shooting guard Eric Gordon. They also hold Minnesota's unprotected first-round pick in the 2012 draft, which most experts consider deeper than this year's class.

After rookie forward Al Farouq Aminu struggled this season, Olshey determined the team needed to add more veterans, not take on more projects.

Williams averaged 15.2 points and 5.6 assists in 22 games with the team, following the trade. Davis averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 assists in 15 games with the Cavaliers.

Olshey said he doesn't believe Cleveland would have done the trade had the Clippers insisted on "protection" for their lottery pick. The pick had to be conveyed this year, Olshey said, because the Clippers had already placed top-10 protections on the 2012 first-round pick they sent to Oklahoma City as part of a trade for point guard Eric Bledsoe last year. The Thunder subsequently shipped that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade.

"Cleveland never would have done it [for a protected pick]. Their intent was to have an additional pick this year," Olshey said.

The Cavaliers will have the No. 1 and No. 4 pick in June's draft.

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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