About 40 minutes before the second day of Orlando Pro Summer League action tipped off back in early July, I walked over to the snack area of the media dining room in the Amway Center hoping to merely stuff my backpack with a few Nature Valley granola bars and head to my seat on press row. That's when an NBA Hall of Famer and former executive approached the snack bar as well, prompting a conversation.
We touched on the typical summer league points of interest: Who's impressed you, etc. Then, as my interest in the 76ers became obvious, he immediately jumped at the opportunity to criticize not only how the Sixers were blatantly tanking, but also how the media has paid so much attention to Sam Hinkie's transparent rebuilding scheme. He pleaded that the media had stopped caring about winning. He complained that we focus too much on the process now, suggesting we should be covering how awesome the Spurs were before immediately jumping into the Draft.
As he talked, my thoughts were that he was personifying the "Basketball PhD" naivety that has derailed so many NBA franchises, like the mid-2000's New York Knicks. Before he had to leave, he concluded his argument by playfully attesting, "your generation is supposed to be changing the world, what the fuck are you guys doing?"
Brian Windhorst's report yesterday flashed this memory through my mind. Derek said it perfectly in his post on the report, "The league's willingness (nigh, desire) to make the change immediately is a rather rash move to seemingly fix/punish the Sixers." During that conversation, it was clear the legend was blaming the Sixers for a "league-wide" tanking issue, yet refused to acknowledge other teams have played into the tank-friendly system.
That's why the immediacy construed in Windhorst's report is truly insane. Not only because it's simply rash and short-sighted, but also because it messes with team's current initiated draft pick trades, which was not an element of Boston Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren's wheel proposal. At this juncture, the NBA could first implement the wheel for the 2020 Draft at the earliest once several currently-owed 2019 second round picks are traded.
That makes more sense to me. Teams like the Celtics, Sixers, Magic, Suns and even the Cleveland Cavaliers, to a certain extent, have loaded up on future first round draft picks hoping to capitalize on the current lottery system as it stands. Changing the lottery system essentially overnight before the May 2015 lottery would obviously devastate the building plans of those teams. That would be like buying a lottery ticket and then being told you were only eligible for a fourth of the prize money the day before the drawing on the off chance you even win.
Windhorst also reported that the Sixers' tank job has "caused a drag on revenues in one of the league's largest markets." While this is true, thanks to the NBA's revenue-sharing system, the Sixers' basketball operations ultimately turned a profit last season, according to a league-wide memo Zach Lowe reported and discussed on the B.S. Report — another example of Sixers leadership capitalizing on the NBA's current rules and regulations.
So, we have two cases of the Sixers simply being smart enough to capitalize on the rules that most NBA teams are either too afraid to take advantage of or not bold enough to explore. The NBA's reward for that? Apparently trying to curtail the organization's efforts to "build the next big thing for Philly."
While I was growing up, my dad would often tell my siblings and I, "Life's a bitch, and then you die." While blunt, it was his way of saying that life may not always be fair. If the NBA does go forth and reform the lottery before 2015, it won't be fair, but Sam Hinkie and the Sixers will have to move on and deal with it. Still, that doesn't mean the league's actions would be just. The motives behind the NBA's lottery reform discussions are just as transparent as the Sixers' rebuild it's trying to prevent.