According to Yahoo! Sports news demigod Adrian Wojnarowski, the Board of Governors have voted down proposed changes to the NBA Draft lottery:
The NBA draft lottery reform has been voted down at Board of Governors meeting, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. System stays.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Thirteen teams voted against the reform, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Big markets -- Chicago and Washington -- voted against the reform, source says. Small market Sacramento voted for it. Strange twist.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Here were the 13 "No" votes, sources told Yahoo: PHX, PHL, OKC, NO, DET, MIA, MIL, San Antonio, Utah, Wash, ATL, CHA and Chicago.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
One owner tells Yahoo: "Several teams started to wonder about unintended consequences and voted no to be able to do further study."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Twenty-four hours ago, passage of draft lottery reform was considered a sure-thing. NBA was confident it had 23 teams. Then It fell apart.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
One glum GM tells Yahoo: "Well, we still have the 'Be as shitty as humanly possible' strategy available in future if we need it."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
I understand the need for lottery reform, and I understand the allure of tanking both. At the end of the day, the NBA decision makers were against making this change at this point in time.
Here at SB Nation we have a handy timeline of these events from the reason for the reform all the way to the reactions from specific teams. Check it here! The TL;DR story is as such:
It seemed like a given that the NBA would change the draft lottery odds in response to the 76ers' tanking efforts, but a last-minute movement by other small-market teams swung enough votes to prevent that from happening.
To get a little more context on why some Board members switched their vote, or voted against what some would think better brings competitive balance, peep this article. Tom Ziller, whom you all read daily I am assuming, broke down what was at stake -- back in August.
These days, there's a different reform we talk about in NBA circles: the draft lottery. The league may take action before the season begins and establish new odds for the 2015 NBA Draft, despite the protests of the Philadelphia 76ers. As I've argued, lottery reform is a thing precisely because Sixers GM Sam Hinkie has so effectively and so nakedly played the draft to his advantage. That's not a criticism of Hinkie or his plan -- under the current system, it's a totally valid strategy that's considerably less destructive than some would have you believe.
But the brutal honesty of Hinkie's gambit sparked a whole lot of outrage and a push for immediate reform. Apparently, Silver is on board with a few tweaks to the system to drop the likelihood the very worst teams will guarantee themselves a top pick.
What's interesting to me, as I first wrote about in March, is how these two reform movements play against each other.
There is diversity among the NBA's cadre of horrible teams. Not every ugly club is engaging in institutional tanking. Consider last season. Those Sixers finished with the league's second-worst record after scraping most of the veteran value off of the roster. But the Milwaukee Bucks were even worse ... and not on purpose. Before the season, the Bucks loudly stated their intent to make the playoffs, and were held up as the counterexample of the Sixers and their ilk. Milwaukee was the team that would not tank.
Re-read that piece today, it's all about the "unintended consequences" of draft reform.
Why bother? Because I think that draft reform, love it or hate it, is going to happen. Enough rich people want it to happen so they will keep tweaking it until it's acceptable to the rest of the Board. For those of us who would want fewer changes (and I know I am radical in what I'd like changed in the NBA, like a larger court and legal 'in bounds' areas of the court extending 1 foot beyond the back board and removing camera men), and I consider myself among them, let's look at the teams that voted "no" to the change.
Original image taken from Sportrac.com
As you can tell from the annotations I've added you see that the teams that voted against lottery reform are mostly the teams with the most cap space, and that's because they're mostly all in the current build where their best players are on their rookie contracts still. There are exceptions, but some of those teams have made their legacies through the draft, specifically the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Furthermore, there is a high correlation between the teams that voted against change and teams who are in 'small market'. (N.B. Miami Heat play in a small market, but it is an attractive market. The Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves actually play in substantial markets, but are in UN-attractive locations.)
So who said no? The teams that have the most to gain from this current set up. Key players who did not vote as we expect them to would be the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T-wolves I can get, their former GM Kahn went ballistic every year they had a lot of ping pong balls, but never drafted in the Top 3. In fact that's a point of record. Sacramento probably wants to play along with the rest of the big boys because their owner, Vivek Ranadive, is doing the 'scratch your back / scratch my back' thing right now with the NBA. Chicago voted against reforms, obviously, because they somehow stole Derrick Rose through the draft. The Orlando Magic, a small market team under the cap with young players as their core, well, they voted FOR change, despite winning the lotto two years in a row and getting Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway. I guess they are quick to forget their own history?
As it stands right now we all can postulate on why each team did what they did; but I do think the writing is on the wall. Tanking is here to stay, and some people want to change it. The team that started this whole issue, the Philadelphia 76ers, are more than happy with the result of this vote. If you look at this small market, low budget, small market voting bloc, though, you see that there is a divide between the ownership groups in the NBA.
Eventually we may see them try to run the table like the BRIC Nations in the future. But as for now, everything stays the same. I do think change will come though, it is inevitable.