Freed from the shackles of the World-Wide Leader, Chris Sheridan is now breaking news on his own site. The latest, after yesterday's rosy prediction that a deal will get done in time to save the season, is the possibility of radical changes to the NBA draft. The NBA wants a third round in the draft, a pitch which was met with a couple of counter proposals.
_ Under one proposal, the 15 teams with the worst records would continue to pick 1st through 15th, but then would also have the 16th through 30th picks. The teams with the top 15 records would have the first 15 picks of the second round, then would have the 44th through 60th picks, too. Under this proposal, the Chicago Bulls (whose 62-20 record was the league’s best last season) would have the 45th and 60th picks instead of the 30th and 30th picks. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the NBA’s worst record (17-65), would have their lottery pick and the 16th pick, but would no longer have the first pick of the second round — No. 31 overall.
_ Under another proposal, the teams with the eight worst records would get an additional first round pick, beginning with selection No. 22, and the teams with the eight best records would have no first-round picks but would select at the top of the second round (picks 31 through 38), then also would get the final eight picks of the second round.
I'm not 100% sure owners would be into that scenario. What happens to first round picks that are traded? How can you make a deal for Player A and two first round picks in exchange for Player B when those two first round picks might not exist? That takes a valuable chip out of the hands of good teams who are looking to make smart moves to stay good.
Don't reward being crappy with extra first round picks. You're just going to create a scenario where a team is teetering on the edge of that 15th worst record and then tanking to get two picks in the upcoming draft, especially if it's a strong one. That'll turn a middle of the road team into a better team more quickly, but its encouraging the tanking to get there. And what happens when you have a sub-.500 team that squeaks into the playoffs but manages to still get one of the 15 worst records? Now you're giving a playoff team two first round picks too?
I get the desire for competitive balance. But such radical changes to the draft are not necessary. It's actually more of the same kind of approach that has gotten us to this point.
"Hey, a minor change to this issue is probably in order..."
"OK, how about instead we propose a completely insane radical change that will drive us miles apart on this issue?"
"Done!! Now let's go disparage each other in the press."
How about making a minor change to the system where the lottery is more heavily weighted towards the worst records? Or how about we do away with the lottery altogether and stop worrying about teams "tanking" to get the worst record. It hasn't stopped teams from doing it anyway, so why bother? Or how about some middle ground where the worst three records get the top 3 picks and then teams 4-15 are in the lottery to determine the rest of the positioning? Then if you want to add a third, fourth or 25th round... so be it.
Competitive balance can be addressed in many ways: tweaks to the draft, tweaks to the salary cap system, and tweaks to revenue sharing. Minor issues all around... issues that we've seen some movement on already... are the key to getting this deal done. I'm leaning on Sheridan's report yesterday as my beacon of hope that this kind of compromise is possible.