According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the reaction of several league executives was "part disgust, part resignation" following the Hornets receiving the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft despite just a 13.7 percent chance of winning the lottery.
"It's such a joke that the league made the new owners be at the lottery for the show," one high-ranking team executive reportedly told Yahoo! Sports. "The league still owns the Hornets. Ask their front office if new owners can make a trade right now. They can't. This is a joke."
Wojnarowski reports that many suspected the Hornets would somehow manage to come away from Wednesday's lottery with the top pick, even though the New Orleans didn't exactly have the best odds.
"That's the worst part for the NBA; these aren't the railings from the guy sitting at the corner tavern, but the belief of those working within the machinery that something undue happened here, that they suspect it happens all the time under [commissioner David] Stern," Wojnarowski wrote.
The conspiracy theories surrounding the NBA draft lottery will never die down. They've been at the forefront of the process since its implementation, largely because everyone wants to believe there's some reasoning beyond the lottery balls not bouncing their way for the selections playing out the way they do. But it's interesting to see the skepticism of league executives in this particular instance.
The Hornets, of course, are owned by the league, which is in the process of selling the franchise to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. As Wojnarowski points out, there's no proof and there will never be proof that the NBA draft lottery is rigged, but with the NBA trying to maximize the value of the Hornets for their re-sale, it is a little bit fishy.
If nothing else, conspiracy theorists are having a field day.
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