It's the New Jersey Nets' serve now that they're the winners of the NBA's first ping-pong lottery.
The Nets, who lost 65 of 82 games this season, can keep the first pick in the draft on June 27 or trade him for a package of veterans - or maybe for a veteran and a lower first-round selection.Regardless of what happens, Nets vice president Willis Reed said, there's a lot of work and decision-making ahead.
"The work really starts now, from now until the 27th of June," Reed said. "We have to do a lot of evaluation of our team. We will interview 10 or 11 guys, not that we would consider taking all of them No. 1, but to see if we can trade for a lower pick."
Derrick Coleman, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Syracuse, is considered the top player available in the 1990 draft, but Reed believes power forward Roy Hinson is his best veteran player.
On Sunday, however, Reed indicated he wouldn't rush to trade the No. 1.
"It would take a lot of talking and some unusual things to happen for us to trade this pick," Reed said. "Right now, we're looking to use this pick to help us."
In previous NBA lotteries, each of the teams involved had an equal chance to draw a high pick. But that was changed this year to give the weakest teams the best chance to improve themselves in the draft.
The Nets, because they had the worst record, had the most ping-pong balls in the drawing - 11 of the 66 that determined the top 11 picks in the draft.
Conversely, Atlanta and Seattle, who both finished 41-41, had a pre-lottery drawing to determine which team would get only one ball and which would get two.
The SuperSonics won that drawing for the extra ball, and that was enough to win the second pick, although they had only two of the 65 remaining balls after New Jersey got the first spot.
"We felt we had a chance for a top three pick," general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said. "That's why people play the lottery, to beat the odds. With the season we had, our luck had to change.
"We were fortunate twice, first by getting the two balls against Atlanta and then getting the No. 2 pick."
Bickerstaff also was non-committal about who the Sonics would take.
Besides Coleman, the draft is expected to be dominated by perimeter players such as Dennis Scott of Georgia Tech, Gary Payton of Oregon State, Kendall Gill of Illinois, Bo Kimble of Loyola Marymount and Rumeal Robinson of Michigan.
"Winning the No. 2 spot gives us the ability to listen, and it gives us leverage," Bickerstaff said. "We'll do anything that will help us improve the team. There's a lot of research ahead for us. We have to wonder how valuable this pick is for someone else."
Sonics president Bob Whitsitt said it was exciting when Commissioner David Stern opened an envelope for the 10th draft spot and it had Golden State's logo inside. That was where Seattle would have picked if it hadn't made the top three.
"As soon as No. 10 wasn't us, we were cruising," Whitsitt said. "I knew we were in the top three."
The remaining lottery picks have Miami third and Orlando fourth, followed by Charlotte, Minnesota, Sacramento, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta.
The lottery drawing determined the top three picks and the remaining draft spots were in reverse order of record.
Jazz will pick 23rd
1. New Jersey
8. Los Angeles Clippers
10. Golden State
13. Los Angeles Clippers
17. New York
24. San Antonio
27. Los Angeles Lakers