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Report: Sixers Oppose Draft Overhaul, Want Changes Delayed

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Per a report from Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, the NBA's Board of Governors is looking to vote on a change to how the NBA lottery is conducted, which could change as soon as next season.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com is reporting that the Sixers are objecting to the NBA's proposed lottery changes, which the league is pushing to have active by next season.

Windhorst reports that the changes could be voted upon at the NBA Board of Governor's preseason meeting in October.

From Windhorst's article:

The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

Earlier this month at league meetings in Las Vegas, lottery reform measures were introduced and changes could be voted into place by the NBA Board of Governors at their preseason meeting in October. Though there are several facets and the proposals haven't been finalized, essentially the goal of commissioner Adam Silver is to balance out the lottery odds so the worst team or teams wouldn't have the highest chances of landing the top pick, sources said.

Windhorst would go on to report that the plan was met by the predictable opposition from the Sixers:

The rough draft of this plan was met with opposition by 76ers management, who are in the midst of a multiseason rebuilding project that is depending on a high pick next year. The 76ers, sources said, are hoping to get the NBA to delay plans for at least a year because it acts as a de facto punishment while just playing by the rules that have been in place.

Kyle did a good job of summarizing the proposed changes.  In short, it aims to give the 5-6 worst teams essentially the same shot at the #1 pick, while changing the lottery to draw for the top 6 picks rather than just the top 3.

I've talked at length about why I think "fixing" tanking is the wrong way to go about it: about why it's a reaction to the rules the NBA has put in place over the years, about why the NBA killing free agency as a means of team building has brought us here, and about why changing the way the lottery is run without fixing the other competitive balance issues will lead to more problems than it fixes.

Those are all still issues at the front and center of my opposition to the latest proposal.  Making a league where teams are given huge advantages in their ability to retain their stars, minimizing the impact that cap management can have to pull in top talent for non-destination teams, then compounding that by punishing teams who turn to the only avenue that they have left is incredibly frustrating.

But there are a couple of details about this, specifically, that frustrate me on top of that.

The reactionary nature of the NBA

Tanking isn't exactly a new phenomenon.  There have been allegations of tanking for decades, from Houston and Chicago in the 80's, to San Antonio in the 90's, and Boston and Oklahoma City in the 00's.  There is nothing unique about what the Sixers are doing.

Except for how transparent they are about the process.

The only thing really different about what the Sixers are doing is that they're not lying to you.  The common fan could figure out that the Celtics were tanking for Greg Oden.  Ryan Gomes could figure out that the Celtics were tanking for Greg Oden.  But because Danny Ainge kept up the facade of caring about the integrity of the game, that was somehow less of an issue?

Adam Silver's flip-flopping

Last spring, Adam Silver supported the Sixers long-term plan.

"You look at any business, you look at short-term results and long-term results. And if you told a business, if somebody told you a business was going to operate on a quarter-by-quarter [basis], you'd say, 'That's not the way to operate a business.' You'd say, 'You need a strategy. You need to look at the long-term.' And I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they're doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up."
...
"And so, if you look at what's happened here over the last several years, it's badly needed," he said. "Somebody needs a plan. Somebody needs a vision to win here. And I think that's what's happening."
-- Adam Silver

Yet, privately, it seems that Silver is pushing ahead with trying to remove the Sixers strategy from being effective.  Why?  Why has his opinion changed?  Or was he just trying not to be at odds with the Sixers right away?

I think Adam Silver is an incredibly smart man, and his comments last spring gave me hope that he saw the real competitive balance issues that exist in the league, and that the Sixers plan is simply a reaction to that.  Now I'm not so sure.

That they're willing to make the change so soon.

The league's willingness (nigh, desire) to make the change immediately is a rather rash move to seemingly fix/punish the Sixers.   No change this drastic in nature should be done with so little forewarning, as teams have devised their plans based on the rules currently in place.  If the goal is to actually fix the lottery (and I don't think there's a solid argument that this actually fixes the issues with the lottery) rather than to punish the Sixers, there's no reason to make the rule change so quickly.  Again, this introduces more problems than it solves, which is why it makes it seem as if this is more punitive than preventative in nature.

That the Sixers are only pushing to delay this.

My biggest objection to the rule changes have nothing to do with the Sixers.  If the NBA were looking to start this new lottery system 10 years in the future, I'd still object.  My issues stem mainly from how this impacts competitive balance and avenues that have-nots have to build their team.

As such, I'm slightly miffed that the Sixers are only looking to delay this for the upcoming season.  It comes off as entirely based on how it impacts them.  In my ideal world, teams like the Rockets, Thunder, and other powerhouses would be opposing this as well, because I would hope that ownership and management teams would be more concerned with the long term ramifications of such a rule change rather than how it impacts them in the short term.  However, like almost everything related to this lottery change, it seems that more people are being reactionary than thinking long term.

The league, from a competitive balance perspective, has serious issues that need to be fixed.  But this is not it.  This is a reactionary, punitive measure that causes more problems than it fixes.  The fact that it's seemingly being rushed through just makes matters worse.