Nick Gilbert expects the Cleveland Cavaliers are through with it, and if so he sent them out a winner again.
The Cavaliers and their owner’s son beat the odds for the second time in three years, winning the lottery Tuesday night to give them the No. 1 pick for the June 27 NBA draft.
Two years after charming viewers by responding to a question about being on stage by saying: “What’s not to like?” the bowtie-wearing son of Dan Gilbert wore a stern look before this one. He said he expected he was done coming here and that he believed the Cavs would be in the playoffs next season.
Then they got a great jump on that goal, earning the first pick even though they had only the third-best odds to do so.
And 16-year-old Nick Gilbert delivered it, just as he did in 2011, when the Cavs used the pick to take eventual Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving.
“Kyrie is a hell of a player ... but this also felt almost as good,” Nick Gilbert said. “That was the first time. This is the second time, but man does it feel good to get the first pick this last time. Get that last player to give us a push.”
The Orlando Magic fell back one spot to No. 2, while the Washington Wizards vaulted from the No. 8 spot to third.
Ten years after winning the lottery that landed them LeBron James, the Cavaliers picked up another opportunity to help speed up the rebuilding process since his departure to Miami in 2010.
James’ exit shook a franchise that had become a perennial contender with the Ohio native, but the Cavs aren’t thinking about that now.
“It’s so long ago already. I knew it is only three years but in NBA years it’s like dog years. It seems like it is 15 or 20 years,” Dan Gilbert said. “We’ve been just so focused on building the team the last few years, I can’t look back. There is nothing you can do. I am just happy about (Tuesday).”
The potential No. 1 pick this year, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, is no James. But he could be a nice addition for the Cavs once he’s recovered from a torn ACL — if they keep the pick. They also have Nos. 19, 31 and 33 for new coach Mike Brown, who they rehired after firing Byron Scott following a 24-58 season.
“We were hoping regardless of what pick we got that this would be our last lottery,” Dan Gilbert said. “We thought originally after everything had to be reset that it would be a three-year process. You never know. It could be four. We thought three years, but having No. 1 and 19, we’ve got a pretty good chance of this being the last one for a while.”
Dan Gilbert and the rest of the Cavs entourage — all wearing wine-colored bowties as well — celebrated their latest victory, which came with 15.6 percent odds after they finished with the NBA’s third-worst record at 24-58.
When they won the lottery in 2011, the Cavs had the eighth best odds.
“For everyone in Cleveland who has supported us through these three years, I think this is for them,” Dan Gilbert said. “Is that right, Nick?”
“It feels good,” said Nick, who was born with neurofibromatosis, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time.
Not even having four-time winner Pat Williams on stage and 25 percent odds could get the No. 1 pick for the Magic. The team with the best odds hasn’t won since 2004, when Orlando won for the third time with Williams representing them and drafted Dwight Howard. The franchise hadn’t been back since 2006.
“We had such a nice run up here, over the years. Yeah, we came to win, so when they turned Cleveland over it was like “How did that happen? Absolutely! How did that happen?” Williams said.
“We had a better shot, a better percentage. ... I think the Lord was looking out for that little guy from Cleveland.”
Even heading back to their Hornets name couldn’t change the luck of the Bobcats, who were lottery losers for the second straight year. Hours after owner Michael Jordan announced they were planning to get back the original nickname of the Charlotte franchise, the Bobcats fell from No. 2 to the fourth spot.
Last year, Charlotte had the best odds of winning after the worst season in NBA history but fell back one spot to second.
The lottery sets the top three teams, and the remainder of the 14 teams finish in inverse order of their record.
Phoenix will pick fifth, followed by New Orleans, Sacramento, Detroit, Minnesota, Portland, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Utah.
The Thunder got the Raptors’ pick as payment of a previous trade because it didn’t move into the top three. Bryan Colangelo represented the team on stage on the day the Raptors announced he would stay on as team president but they would hire a general manager.
Guards Ben McLemore of Kansas and Trey Burke of Michigan, the college player of the year, and Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. are considered other top available players.
With uncertainty at the top, this is another year when the No. 1 pick could’ve been a high school player if eligible. Kansas-bound prep star Andrew Wiggins may have been the choice, but the age limit requiring players to be 19 years old and a year out of high school will remain unchanged at least until the players’ association has a new executive director to replace the ousted Billy Hunter.
The union would like the limit to be lowered or scrapped entirely, while the NBA has expressed interest in raising it to 20. It’s on a list of “B-list” items from the 2011 collective bargaining negotiations that the sides still plan to discuss.