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Banish the buzzard? Heat at mercy of NBA Draft lottery

This year’s NBA Draft lottery could be an all-or-nothing proposition for Pat Riley and the Heat.

This year’s NBA Draft lottery could be an all-or-nothing proposition for Pat Riley and the Heat.

The buzzard hasn’t been heard from in 16 years. The Miami Heat hope it doesn’t squawk a week from now.

Days after the Heat fell from four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals into the NBA Draft lottery, Heat President Pat Riley quipped of his team’s next major moment, “Hopefully on May 19, we don’t have any more buzzard’s luck along the way.”

For Riley’s team to have much pluck in the month preceding the June 25 NBA Draft, the Heat must at least hold their No. 10 lottery seed in the random-but-weighted May 19 drawing.

If their pick remains within the first 10, they will have punched their ticket to the draft. Otherwise, the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick immediately goes to the Philadelphia 76ers to complete a previous trade.

So what does lottery history say?

Time is on their side.

But that their lottery luck also has been mostly unkind.

Over the past 15 years, no team seeded beyond No. 10 has moved up in the lottery, meaning no team seeded at No. 10 has been bumped down since then.

The last time it happened was in 1999, when the Charlotte Hornets went into the lottery seeded No. 13 and jumped to the No. 3 selection, drafting Baron Davis at that slot. That moved the Cleveland Cavaliers from No. 10 to No. 11. A scenario similar to those ’99 Cavaliers this year would move the Heat out of the draft.

In some cases, the player selected was traded before the draft night was over.

But that jump by Charlotte in 1999 was the only time in the 20 years since the lottery has moved to its current odds setup that a team seeded beyond No. 10 has jumped up in the draft.

(It happened twice previously, when the odds were decidedly better for teams seeded No. 10 or worse: in 1993, when the Orlando Magic leapt from No. 11 to No. 1 to select Chris Webber and immediately trade him for Penny Hardaway; and in 1990, when the Seattle SuperSonics moved from No. 10 to No. 2, to select Gary Payton. During the first five lotteries, from 1985 to ’89, each of the non-playoff teams were given an equal chance of moving up in the order, making comparisons to those lotteries moot.)

Against that backdrop of hope is the reality of how the lottery also has been largely unkind to the Heat in their previous eight visits, having never moved up in the process in the franchise’s 27-year history.

The last time the Heat visited the lottery, in 2008, they went from the No. 1 seed to the No. 2 selection, when the Chicago Bulls beat the odds to move from No. 9 to No. 2. The Bulls exited that process with Derrick Rose, the Heat with Michael Beasley.

Before that, the Heat took a painless step back in the 2003 lottery, going from the No. 4 seed to the No. 5 pick, but emerging with Dwyane Wade and the franchise’s first NBA championship three years later.

Their two previous times in the lottery, the Heat held their seed at No. 10, taking Caron Butler in 2002 and Kurt Thomas in 1995.

Before that, the Heat essentially were at a loss in the lottery slipping from No. 9 to No. 10 in 1993, winding up with Khalid Reeves; dropping from No. 2 to No. 5 in 1991, when they drafted Steve Smith; falling from No. 2 to No. 3 in 1990, when they traded that landing spot for Willie Burton and Alec Kessler; and slipping from No. 1 to No. 4 in 1989, when they drafted Glen Rice.

So how will it work, with May 19 now just a scant week away?

As the No. 10 lottery seed, the Heat have a 91-percent chance of retaining a first-round pick (by not dropping to No. 11 or below). At No. 10, the Heat hold 11 of the 1,001 four-number lottery combinations distributed in the random-but-weighted process. According to the lottery odds, that would leave the Heat with a 1.1-percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick, a 1.3-percent chance at the No. 2 pick and a 1.6-percent chance at the No. 3 pick, with only the first three picks determined by the drawing, with the selections thereafter determined by inverse order of finish (for an overall 4-percent Heat chance at a Top 3 pick). At No. 10, the Heat would have an 87-percent chance of remaining at No. 10. The math leaves them with a nine-percent chance of losing their first-round pick.

While the lottery mostly will be about survival for the Heat, there does remain the possibility of the type of leap Seattle made in 1990.

Under the current odds adopted in 1994, no No. 10 seed has ever moved up.

With such luck, the possibilities of landing Jahil Okafor, Karl Anthony-Towns, D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay would take flight.

For now, the priority is simply avoiding the buzzard.

So how did the Heat get in this position, where failing to make the playoffs might is not enough to assure life after the lottery?

It started amid the free-agent frenzy of July 2010, when after signing Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James, the Heat worked out sign-and-trade deals for Bosh and James to assist in maximizing the length and value of those contracts. Among the first-round picks swapped out was this year’s first-round pick protected through the first 10 selections. Even with James cutting his Heat deal short and returning to Cleveland, the pick remained forwarded.

From Cleveland, the pick went to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal that netted Kevin Love for the Cavaliers. From there, Minnesota dealt the pick to the 76ers for Thaddeus Young.

As a result, should one of the teams seeded beyond the Heat move up in the draft, the Heat would move out of the first round, going from the opportunity of potentially selecting from the likes of Arizona forward Stanley Johnson, Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein, Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker or Kansas forward Kelly Oubre to (barring a trade) waiting to exercise the No. 40 overall pick (their second-round selection their only other current pick in the draft).

Banish the buzzard? Heat at mercy of NBA Draft lottery This year’s NBA Draft lottery could be an all-or-nothing proposition for Pat Riley and the Heat. This year’s NBA Draft lottery could be

Feeling lucky? Combined Mega Millions, Powerball jackpots worth nearly $1 billion

Some people swear by them, even if others think they’re silly. But this week, everyone might be trying to influence Lady Lucky by carrying some fuzzy dice or a rabbit’s foot keychain, or tossing a penny in a wishing well.

The reason? Two large lottery jackpots with a combined worth of nearly a billion dollars are up for grabs.

The multi-state games — Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing and Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing — are offering a combined total of $842 million. It’s the highest combined total for the two jackpots since October 2018, when the Mega Millions pot hit $1.537 billion and the Powerball hit $687.8 million.

Drawn Tuesday night, the Mega Millions jackpot offers an annuity value of $432 million and a cash prize of $329.7 million, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Lottery. That would make it the 10th largest prize in Mega Millions history, and the largest since June 2019.

The Wednesday night Powerball jackpot carries an annuity value of $410 million and a cash prize of $316.4 million. This is the highest the Powerball jackpot since March 2019 when a $768.4 million jackpot was won in Wisconsin.

Tickets for both the Mega Millions and Powerball can be purchased in-store or online at palottery.com. Players can also purchase tickets using the lottery’s official app.

The odds of matching all five numbers and the gold Megaball number is 1 in about 302 million, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. The odds of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is 1 in about 293 million. There are a total of nine ways to win a prize in Mega Millions or Powerball, ranging from the jackpot down to $2.

Pennsylvania Lottery Powerball and Mega Millions winners have one year from the drawing date to claim prizes. The holder of the winning ticket should sign the back of the ticket and contact their nearest lottery office.

The Keystone State hasn’t had a Mega Millions jackpot winner since July 2015 when Steven Peloquin of Virginia claimed a jackpot with a cash value of $91.8 million. He bought his winning ticket at the Penn 80/Flying J Travel Plaza in Milton, Northumberland County.

Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing and Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing are worth a combined total of $842 million.