Ping-pong ball falls Bulls' way in lottery
Heat to pick second; Knicks in sixth spot
The Chicago Bulls won the NBA's draft lottery last night in Secaucus, N.J., giving them the right to choose between star freshmen Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose.
Coming off a miserable season and still without a coach, the Bulls vaulted from the No. 9 spot, where they had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top choice.
They will almost certainly choose between Beasley, the Kansas State forward who averaged 26.5 points and an NCAA-best 12.5 rebounds, and Rose, the point guard who carried Memphis within minutes of the national title.
"After this season, we needed a break and I think we just got one," said Steve Schanwald, the Bulls' executive vice president of business operations who represented them on the podium.
The Miami Heat, who had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick thanks to their NBA-worst 15-67 record, fell to second. The Minnesota Timberwolves will go third.
The Seattle SuperSonics will pick fourth and the Memphis Grizzlies fifth, followed by New York, the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Jersey, Indiana, Sacramento, Portland, and Golden State. The lottery settled the top three spots. The remainder of the first 14 picks are determined by inverse order of their record.
Donaghy points fingerDisgraced basketball referee Tim Donaghy told investigators in the NBA betting probe that relationships among officials, coaches, and players "affected the outcome of games," his attorney said. The league said the charges were unfounded.
Donaghy's attorney, John F. Lauro, made the assertions in a letter filed in US District Court in Brooklyn Monday, in which he argued that his client should be sentenced to probation because he fully cooperated with prosecutors and has been undergoing treatment for his gambling addiction.
The letter also suggested that Donaghy told investigators about the gambling activities of other NBA officials and about a referee who passed "confidential" information to an unidentified coach.
Lauro wrote that the US attorney's office for the Eastern District agreed to plea agreements with other defendants in the case, even though his client told investigators about NBA matters outside of the government's initial investigation. Lauro said the disparity in treatment could not be fully explained because prosecutors have "surrounded this case with a cone of silence."
In a footnote, Lauro suggested the NBA might have "pressured" the attorney's office "into shutting down this prosecution to avoid the disclosure of information unrelated to Tim's conduct."
Commissioner David Stern, at his annual news conference at the lottery, dismissed the comments.
"It seems that in an effort to cushion whatever sentence is coming, Mr. Donaghy's lawyer has taken on the US Attorney's office, the FBI, and the NBA," Stern said. "I think that all of the facts are out and are going to come out and those assertions will prove to be baseless."
Stern denied the league pressured the government to cut short its investigation.
"Not accurate," Stern said. "Untruthful."
He was just as certain Donaghy was the only NBA official taking payoffs and betting on games he officiated. He confirmed once again that other NBA officials violated NBA rules by betting in casinos.