Sources: 76ers fighting new lottery proposal
The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
Earlier this month at league meetings in Las Vegas, lottery reform measures were introduced and changes could be voted into place by the NBA Board of Governors at their preseason meeting in October. Though there are several facets and the proposals haven’t been finalized, essentially the goal of commissioner Adam Silver is to balance out the lottery odds so the worst team or teams wouldn’t have the highest chances of landing the top pick, sources said.
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJoel Embiid, the former Kansas star and No. 3 pick in the draft, is a key figure in the 76ers’ rebuilding plan, one the team believes could be hindered if the NBA’s new lottery changes go into effect next year.
Currently, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of getting the top pick and the team with the fifth-worst record has an 8.8 percent chance of winning it. In a new format, this could be altered so the bottom five or six teams all would have an equal chance.
Though the NBA likely will not frame it this way, these considered changes could be seen as an anti-tanking measure, as teams with the worst records may not earn significantly higher lottery odds.
The rough draft of this plan was met with opposition by 76ers management, who are in the midst of a multiseason rebuilding project that is depending on a high pick next year. The 76ers, sources said, are hoping to get the NBA to delay plans for at least a year because it acts as a de facto punishment while just playing by the rules that have been in place.
The 76ers, however, may have a struggle to gain support from Silver or fellow teams on holding off the changes. Philadelphia’s planned sink to the bottom has caused a drag on revenues in one of the league’s largest markets and it is has upset some fellow teams, sources said.
The 76ers currently have more than $ 30 million in cap space, and they made two lottery picks last month in injured center Joel Embiid and European prospect Dario Saric who aren’t expected to contribute much this season. They also have recently been in trade talks to move their highest-paid and longest-tenured player, forward Thaddeus Young.
In short, the team is positioned to have one of the worst 2014-15 records in the league on the heels of a 19-63 season that included a 26-game losing streak. In addition to developing and identifying young players, the 76ers went into this plan believing it would give them a better chance at the highest picks in the 2015 draft, as well.
It is something they have not made a secret, which is why the potential lottery changes have made the team feel like it is being targeted.
“I think the season has been a huge success for us,” 76ers owner Josh Harris said in April. “All these pieces are in place to make this an elite team that will compete consistently for the NBA championship. There are no shortcuts to it. Unfortunately, it takes a long time. I’m really happy with the progress.”