For a moment there, it appeared as if we were nearing some sort of draft lottery reform in the NBA. We even got a sneak peek at one of the proposed reforms, the “wheel” system presented by Mike Zarren of the Boston Celtics. The supposed need for reform was brought about by the supposed tanking epidemic, with the Philadelphia 76ers as a supposed patient zero. “Supposedly” pops up a lot in that last sentence because, in reality, there was no dire need, no epidemic, and the 76ers certainly weren’t the first, or most egregious, employers of this method. The call for immediate reform has hushed recently, to the point where Adam Silver told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that the NBA is keeping the current lottery system for the foreseeable future.
“There’s a recognition that the lottery is only one aspect of how to build a team,” Silver said following Thursday’s Hall of Fame Family Reunion dinner. “And given the inflow of the new television money next season and the large increase in the cap, ultimately the owners concluded that while we think we need to take a fresh look at the lottery system, let’s wait and look at the system holistically once the new money comes in.
“Because there’s always unintended consequences and at least everyone understands the rules of the road right now. I think we need to be deliberate about any changes we make, so we’ll turn back to it, but we’re going to leave things as is for now.”
Obviously, the lottery system isn’t perfect, but a perfect system might be unobtainable because there will always be ways to exploit and take advantage of any system. So, rather than rushing into reform, the league is taking the wise move of letting everything play out — specifically the influx of cash after the TV-rights deal goes into effect before the 2016-17 season. It’s a smart move, putting this off until the owners get a better view of the changed landscape (Silver said it will likely be a few years before they revisit the issue). It’s also smart because there are more pressing issues the league needs to address besides tanking – such as doing their best to prevent a work stoppage in 2017.