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Clippers Are Experienced at This Game

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The NBA lottery, a series of mathematical probabilities, has long been a staple for the Clippers, who have participated in five of the first six made-for-TV events and would have been in the other had it not been for a trade. Have one and they will come.

The only different look in today’s proceedings, to be held at halftime of the Eastern Conference playoff game, is that General Manager Elgin Baylor will stay in Los Angeles and send Coach Mike Schuler to New York’s Equitable Center.

Business as usual would be the Clippers getting a high pick in the lottery. Last year’s No. 8, used to draft Bo Kimble, was their worst finish. Before that, they got second, first, fourth and third. This time, however, they will need some luck to get that good a position.

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The complicated procedure involving 10 other teams will actually be held behind closed doors, with Mike Williams, the vice president for public relations, representing the Clippers. First, a draw will break a tie with Orlando, another 31-game winner, and determine the number of possibilities for the top pick. If the Clippers win that, they will have three Ping-Pong balls among the 66 in a hopper, two if they lose.

From there, the balls will be pulled out of a mixing cylinder to determine the order for the first three picks of the draft June 26. After that, the teams will automatically go in reverse order of their regular-season finish, meaning Denver can do no worse than fourth, Miami no worse than fifth, and so on. Without a win, place or show, the Clippers will go ninth or 10th, again depending on the tie-breaker with the Magic.

Soon after, the important parts of the scene--the finish--will be played out for the national television audience and the participants on stage, none of whom will know the back-stage happenings.

Soon after that, Baylor will become one with his telephone. Like many others, the Clippers are drawn to Kenny Anderson, the early-entry point guard from Georgia Tech. But the chance to deal to pick for a veteran ballhandler, someone with the ability to lead as well as play, has even more appeal.

Who will be calling? Should the Clippers beat the odds and land one of the top three picks, Baylor doesn’t figure to have to do much dialing. At nine or 10, he may have to generate something himself and throw in another player or draft choice to get the same deal done.

No bios will be needed for anyone on their wish list. They are prominent names all and include, in no particular order:

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--Isiah Thomas, Detroit. Undaunted by his recent injury problems, the Clippers have had interest in the Piston captain for years. He’s older now, but he also has a couple of championship rings. Detroit would like to get younger and the Clippers, with six No. 1 picks the next three years, are in position to help.

--Derek Harper, Dallas. This may be the longest shot of all, because the Mavericks, themselves a lottery entrant, may decide to give the current team one more chance before breaking it up. On the other hand, if Dallas gets a high pick in its own, the Mavericks could take a new point guard and trade Harper for another No. 1 and a much-needed front-court scorer, such as Ken Norman.

--Pooh Richardson, Minnesota. The former UCLA star doesn’t fit the mold of playoff-tested veterans, as do the others on this list, but he also has been wasted the last two seasons in the slow-down style of recently fired Coach Bill Musselman. His future is bright. As is the case with Milwaukee, the Timberwolves’ getting a pick in the top two or three and the chance to draft a new point guard would help in a big way.

--Jay Humphries, Milwaukee. The Bucks have three guards--Alvin Robertson, Dale Ellis and Humphries--and the need for size. The Clippers will dangle a forward, Norman, maybe, and the pick, hoping Milwaukee will be sold on the idea the chance to draft a center.

--Doc Rivers, Atlanta. The teams talked before the trading deadline expired in February. The Hawks are making noise about breaking up a team that will never win the championship in its current state. The Clippers may help turn up the volume.

The other teams involved in the lottery are Denver, Miami, Sacramento, Charlotte, New Jersey, Dallas, Minnesota, Washington, Orlando and Cleveland.

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Clipper Notes

The Clippers also have pick No. 22 or 23, depending on another tiebreaker. Phoenix’s choice originally was sent to Seattle in the Xavier McDaniel trade and then to the Clippers as part of the Olden Polynice-Benoit Benjamin package. . . . Gary Grant’s future with the Clippers apparently is nonexistent. If attempts to trade him are unsuccessful, the possibility is very real that they will cut him and eat the final two seasons of his contract. . . . Decisions are due by July 1 on qualifying offers to Tom Garrick and Mike Smrek for retaining the right of first refusal to the free-agents to be.

The Clippers hotly pursued Jeff Malone in trade two seasons ago, when they were looking for an off guard in the absence of Ron Harper and a consistent outside shooter. Unless he signs a new contract with Utah in the next six weeks, Malone will become a restricted free agent, but the Clippers are no longer interested.

“Ron Harper is back and healthy and he’s going to have a better year next year,” Elgin Baylor said. “And we certainly haven’t given up on Bo Kimble, so I don’t know why we would (sign Malone). If he was a point guard, OK. But Jeff is primarily a shooter.”

The Lottery Process The NBA draft lottery will be held today in New York to determine the first three selections in the 1991 draft June 26. The 11 teams not involved in postseason play are eligible, with the team with the worst record receiving 10 chances, and so on. Draft positions four through 11 are based on the reverse order of record among teams not selected for positions one through three.

Sixty-six Ping-Pong balls representing each of the 11 teams’ chances will be placed in a cylinder, mixed, then drawn to the top to decide the top three picks.

This year’s lottery:

Number Team Record of balls Denver 20-62 11 Miami 24-58 10 Sacramento 25-57 9 Charlotte 26-56 8 or 7* New Jersey 26-56 8 or 7* Dallas 28-54 6 Minnesota 29-53 5 Washington 30-52 4 Clippers 31-51 3 or 2* Orlando 31-51 3 or 2* Cleveland 33-49 1

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* A draw will be held before the lottery to determine the chances of teams that had same record.

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