ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported yesterday, via multiple sources, that the NBA’s plan to overhaul the lottery has met strong opposition from Sixers management, which, for obvious reasons, is hoping to delay any sort of changes that could come before next year’s draft.
In the current system, the NBA’s worst team has a 25 percent shot at landing the top pick and a top-four guarantee; the second-worst team has a 19.9 percent and top-5 guarantee; third-worst has a 15.6 percent and a top-six, and so on, with odds decreasing as you move further down the 13-team lottery.
In the new lotto format, according to Windhorst, “the bottom five or six teams could have an equal chance,” which in theory, would discourage tanking.
The rough draft of this plan was met with opposition by 76ers management, which is in the midst of a multiseason rebuilding project that is dependent on a high pick next year. The 76ers, sources said, are hoping to get the NBA to delay the plan’s implementation for at least a year because it would act as a de facto punishment while just playing by the rules that have been in place.
The 76ers, however, may struggle to gain support from Silver or fellow teams for holding off on the changes. Philadelphia’s planned sink to the bottom has caused a drag on revenues in one of the league’s largest markets and has upset some other teams, sources said.
Worth reiterating: the Sixers’ plan — disregarding regular season wins, collecting ping pong balls — is a byproduct of a CBA that rewards losing and regulates the salaries of rookies and superstars. It’s understandable, then, that they would disapprove of a major change right in the middle of their rebuilding process. But considering the Sixers are pretty much the embodiment of what the NBA wants to eliminate, they may have trouble gaining support from the 29 other teams, many of which may be morally opposed to losing on purpose. (It won’t help matters that they’re below the salary floor; a signal that they’re not even pretending they want to compete in the short-term.)
My stance is that the current CBA, not tanking, is the problem. Even if there is a lotto adjustment, the slots will still be weighted and draft picks will continue to be valuable commodities, there will remain an incentive to lose; though instead of the horrible teams gunning for the No. 30 spot, you’ll have the terrible teams gunning for 5/6 as soon as they’re out of playoff contention. The proposed change wouldn’t solve tanking. Instead, it’d put a Band-Aid on the problem — which doesn’t necessarily need solving.