Our next chance to judge the James Harden trade — as if it hasn't been scrutinized enough — has come.
The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday night. It will reveal this year's draft order and determine whether the Thunder will receive Toronto's first-round pick.
It's a selection Oklahoma City received as part of a package that included Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two other picks.
Whatever happens, the team's fan base, as well as close followers of the trade's fallout, likely will be split.
If the Thunder lands the pick, it'll be the 12th overall selection and perhaps viewed by most as a disappointment. If the pick remains with Toronto and rolls over into next year, the Thunder seemingly will get criticized for failing to receive an asset in exchange for Harden that could help sooner rather than later.
A perfect storm put the Thunder in this position of possibly picking at the back end of the lottery. No way could this have been what the front office had in mind when the powers that be insisted on Houston including Toronto's first-rounder before pulling the trigger on the deal.
But here they are, stuck with a worst-case scenario after everything that could go wrong for the placement of this potential pick did go wrong.
First, a quick refresher on how we got here.
Houston acquired a Toronto first-round pick in the deal that sent point guard Kyle Lowry to the Raptors. The Rockets then sent that pick to the Thunder along with Martin, Lamb and two additional picks they had acquired from other teams in previous deals: a future first-round pick from Dallas and this year's second-round pick from Charlotte.
The Raptors pick, from the start, was traded with what is referred to as protection. In this case the selection would remain with Toronto if the pick landed in the top three or 15 through 30. Because the Raptors failed to make the playoffs, their pick is guaranteed to be in the top 14. The pick will remain with Toronto only if the Raptors move into the top three in Tuesday's lottery. Because the system is heavily weighted toward the lottery team with the worst record, the Raptors have just a 2.5 percent chance of a top three pick.
If Toronto does move into the top three, the protection would kick in and the pick would defer to the 2014 draft. But then the protection decreases to only the first two picks, as well as 15 through 30.
Because the lottery determines only the top three selections, the Raptors pick cannot be slotted anywhere from four to 11. It can, however, fall to 13 or 14 if either or both Dallas (slated to pick 13th) and Utah (picking 14th) move into the top three.
In a draft that appears to be void of a single franchise player and short on can't-miss stars, the Thunder must either hope the Raptors jump into the top three and try again next year or be prepared to make the best of an imperfect situation.
But only with the benefit of hindsight can you question what the Thunder received.
When Oklahoma City made the deal, Toronto was coming off a 23-win season. By all accounts, the Raptors were headed for another year near the bottom of the standings.
That's when things started to go awry.
Washington and Minnesota, both potential playoff teams, were plagued by injuries. They both finished with worst records than Toronto. Going into Tuesday's lottery, the Wizards are slated to pick eighth, while the Wolves are penciled into the ninth hole.
Toronto then acquired Rudy Gay from Memphis in what was nothing more than a salary dump by the Grizzlies at the end of January. But with their new 20-point scorer in the lineup the Raptors went 17-16 from Feb. 1 on. Making matters worse, Toronto won seven of its final eight games, going from 20 games under .500 to a 34-48 season — an 11-win improvement from 2011-12.
Meanwhile, while the Raptors were winning, Portland was in a tailspin. The Trail Blazers lost its final 13 games and 27 of their final 37. That sunk the Blazers into the 10th slot.
And when Philadelphia, another team beset by injuries, finished with an identical record as the Raptors, a coin flip was needed to break the tie and determine which team would be penciled in to pick first between them.
On April 19, the Raptors lost the coin toss and fell to 12th.
And here we are.