League Rejects Lottery Reform

The NBA Board of Governors has voted against changing the draft lottery, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Only 17 teams voted to approve reform, short of the 23 needed for it to pass, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter links). The Sixers, Suns, Thunder, Pelicans, Pistons, Heat, Bucks, Spurs, Jazz, Wizards, Hawks, Hornets and Bulls were the “no” votes, Wojnarowski tweets. The news is quite a shock, even though momentum seemed to be gathering to block the change, as most reports indicated that reform was likely to pass easily. Lowe heard from ownership sources as recently as 36 hours ago who expected only one or two teams to vote against the proposal (Twitter link), and the NBA was confident as of 24 hours ago the measure would pass, according to Wojnarowski (on Twitter).

Doubt crept in even for at least one team that voted for the changes that would have given the three teams with the poorest records longer odds at the top pick each year, as the Raptors had mixed feelings, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). An owner told Wojnarowski that concern about unintended consequences influenced the thinking of several teams, who want to buy time to study the idea further (Twitter link). That echoes a pair of tweets from Lowe, who wouldn’t be surprised if the Board of Governors revisted lottery reform later this season.

The impetus for change came from leaguewide distaste for the drastic rebuilding effort of the Sixers, who’ve stripped their roster of virtually all of its serviceable veterans and whose losing threatens to drive paying customers away in one of the NBA’s large East Coast markets. Such a downturn in interest would affect revenue sharing leaguewide, though many fans have shown their support for the team’s plan to try for greater success later at the cost of middling success in the near term. The Sixers showed opposition to changes from the start, but Thunder GM Sam Presti this week campaigned to stress to league decision-makers the effects that lottery reform would have on small-market franchises. He argued that reducing the odds that inferior teams have of grabbing the No. 1 overall pick would serve as a further disadvantage to small-market teams that already have a handicap in free agency and trades, as Wojnarowski explained Tuesday.

The primary proposal the Board of Governors considered would have given 12% chances at the top pick to each of the teams with the four worst records. A report Tuesday indicated that other ideas, including one that would give each lottery team equal odds at the No. 1 pick, were in play, but it’s unclear if they drew any significant support. Changes, if they had passed, likely would have taken effect for the 2015 lottery, but instead it appears the current system will remain in place for at least one more lottery.

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