CHICAGO – In a city Michael Jordan helped make famous, this was rarefied air for Dallas Mavericks assistant general manager Michael Finley.

During Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, Finley was the commander of the Mavs’ most prestigious position of the night. A Chicago native himself, Finley was nestled in a room at the McCormick Place alongside NBA officials and executives from other NBA teams that were involved in the Draft Lottery.

That’s a position that usually was reserved for one of the Mavs’ original employees – Keith Grant. However, after Grant retired last year, the baton was passed to Finley.

“It was cool,” Finley told “That was my first time being back there.”

Finley got to see first-hand the ping-pong balls bouncing around, and coming out of the hopper with the future of several teams invariably riding with the results.

The Mavs had a 65.9 percent chance of finishing the Draft Lottery with the No. 10 pick, which is exactly where they ultimately finished. But they also had a three percent chance of hitting the jackpot and winning the lottery, a 3.3 percent chance of securing the second spot, a 3.6 percent chance of nabbing the third slot and a four percent chance of finishing fourth.

So, how close did the Mavs come to at least getting into the top four of the Draft Lottery?

“It’s a whole combination that has to come to – certain number of combinations in order for you to get to the top four,” Finley said. “It’s a four-number combination, and we were never even one number away from getting in the top four.

“I think we had two numbers at one point. We needed four. If you got four, we would have been in the top four.”

Had the Mavs finished in the 11th position in the lottery, their first-round pick would have gone to the New York Knicks as the final piece of the 2019 trade which brought Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks to the Mavs.

The Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans had worst odds than the Mavs of finishing in the top four. But if one of those teams had leaped over the Mavs, the likelihood of the Mavs losing their first-round pick to the Knicks this year was prominent on everyone’s mind in Mavs Nation.

“To be honest, I was more worried about the teams behind us not jumping us,” Finley said. “As long as their numbers didn’t hit, I was satisfied.

“If one of those teams jumped us, that means they went into the top four. So that would have pushed us back.”

Mavs general manager Nico Harrison admitted Finley “was doing the heavy lifting” and was also “back there making sure everything was on the up and up. It’s better being back there than on the stage.” Meanwhile, Harrison, represented the Mavs on the stage for the live ESPN televised portion of the Draft Lottery.

Harrison said it was interesting chatting beforehand with “some of the (NBA) people who I’m friends with like David Griffin (who is the executive vice president of basketball operations) with the Pelicans. We genuinely like each other.

“I’m like, ‘No, I can’t wish you luck, because if I wish you luck, then that means I didn’t (win). And then he’s not going to wish me good luck, either.’ But afterwards, he said congratulations.”

Finely said his nerves didn’t get frayed knowing all the implications of what was at stake.

“The worst-case scenario is we get the pick next year,” he said. “But we didn’t lose the game.”

When it was all said and done, both Harrison and Finley shared a big smile.

“I’m glad it’s over with,” Harrison said. “I’m excited.”

BRIEFLY: So, what’s next for the Mavs? The NBA Combine is Wednesday through Sunday at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. That’s where the Top 60 prospects who will likely be selected in the June 22 NBA Draft are working out and scrimmaging in front of a throne of NBA executives, including Mavs general manager Nico Harrison and assistant general manager Michael Finley. As it gets closer to the draft, the Mavs will huddle up and decide who they eventually would like to draft. “We’ll be in the gym interviewing players in the morning and then the 5-on-5 in the afternoons,” Harrison said. “Either way it’s a relief (the NBA Draft Lottery is over), honestly, because you know what the situation is. Now you can focus all your energy on what is to be versus what could be.”. .Kyrie Irving, Dwight Powell, Justin Holiday, Frank Ntilikina, Theo Pinson and Markieff Morris are the Mavs who will become unrestricted free agents this summer. “We’re still hoping that we sign him,” Harrison said, referring to Irving. “There’s really not much we can do between now and then. Nothing’s changed since the end of the season.” As far as the other Mavs’ free agents, Harrison said: “I’m not going to go through the list and tell you are we going to try to sign everybody. The same conversations we did at the end of the year, that’s the same how we feel now. Literally, nothing’s changed. Nothing at all has changed.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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