NBA Still Mulling Draft Pick Prize For Proposed Tournament

As we relayed last week, the NBA sent a proposal to all 30 teams outlining possible changes to the league’s schedule for the 2021/22 season. One of those changes would be an in-season tournament which would reward the winning team with $1MM-per-player bonuses.

While that cash prize may motivate players to invest in the proposed tournament, it likely wouldn’t increase fans’ interest in the event. So, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links), the league continues to discuss possible incentives for fans and teams. One idea still being considered, per Stein, is extra draft pick compensation – perhaps in the form of a first-round pick – for the winning team.

Stein first reported earlier this month that the NBA was mulling the possibility of a draft-related reward for the winner of the proposed in-season tournament, so today’s report confirms that the idea may be gaining momentum. At the very least, it remains on the table.

According to Stein, further details on the NBA’s proposed schedule changes are expected to surface before the All-Star Game in February. The league will look to firm up a proposal that teams can vote on at the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings in April.

Besides the in-season tournament, the NBA has also proposed a play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference, and a re-seeding of the final four teams for the Conference Finals.

In order for the changes to be approved, at least 23 of 30 teams would have to vote in favor of them, and it remains to be seen whether that’s on track to happen. According to Stein, there been “strong concern” registered against the idea of re-seeding the final four teams. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also took to Twitter today to criticize the NBA’s proposed rewards for the in-season tournament winner.

“So dumb,” Cuban tweeted in response to Stein’s report on a draft-pick prize. “What will teams that are in the tax going out do, tank the tournament because they don’t want the pick? Or teams trying to build cap room? Be forced to trade it? Draft and stash?

“And to create incremental financial incentives to play games just sends so many wrong messages,” Cuban added, referring to the proposed $1MM-per-player reward. “Free agency recruitment will change. ‘Hey, we can’t compete for a ring, but we go all out for the (tournament), so sign with us and you could make another $1MM.'”

It’s possible that some of the scheduling changes could be approved while others fall by the wayside, but the NBA appears committed for now to all aspects of its proposal, so we’ll see what tweaks the league makes in the coming months to get more teams, players, and fans on board.

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