NBA trying to combat tactics of selfish Sixers

NBA trying to combat tactics of selfish Sixers
July 30, 2014, 1:00 pm
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this year he was concerned about the perception that teams "need to be bad to get good." (USA Today Images)

Earlier this month Sixers managing owner Josh Harris and other members of his ownership group were seen at a Sixers Las Vegas summer league game.

As it turns out, their visit to Las Vegas brought some news from the NBA Board of Governors meeting that could greatly impact the team's future.

According to, the NBA is pushing to change the NBA draft lottery rules in time for the 2015 draft.

Currently, the draft lottery system gives the team with the worst record a 25 percent chance of landing the number one overall pick. The team with the fifth worst record has an 8.8 percent chance at picking first.

According to the report, which cites sources, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is trying to balance the lottery odds, so the worst team does not have the highest odds.

In short, the league is attempting to take away "tanking" incentives.

The Sixers ended up with two lottery picks this past June: their own pick was No. 3 and a pick from the Pelicans acquired in the Jrue Holiday trade was No. 10.

In 2015, the Sixers keep their first-round pick if it is in the top 14 (Arnett Moultrie trade).

Many people believe, given the makeup of their roster, the Sixers, for a second consecutive season, will be competing for the worst record in the NBA. Last season they finished with the second-worst record (19-63) behind Milwaukee.

Sixers president Sam Hinkie and head coach Brett Brown do not use the word "tanking" when describing the team's approach, preferring to say the team is rebuilding through player development.

Other teams around the NBA don't find the Sixers' use of semantics acceptable.

One league executive told’s John Gonzalez that he believes the rule changes will happen this year and said some teams were not very happy with how the Sixers exploited the lottery/tanking rules, and this is the result.

On March 1, the NBA commissioner was in town for the Allen Iverson jersey retirement. That night Silver was peppered with questions about the Sixers’ approach to rebuilding.

At the time, Brown's squad was in the midst of what became a 26-game losing streak.

"I don't want to ignore the issue that the chatter is out there," Silver said that night. "If there is a perception out there that teams need to be bad to get good, we need to address it.

"We have a draft lottery in place. The purpose was to take the incentive away from teams potentially losing games in order to get a higher draft pick. We have tinkered with it (draft lottery) over the years, and if we need to adjust it again then we will.

"I am concerned about the perception. I am not concerned about what is happening in Philadelphia."

The first opportunity for Silver to address the “losing-to-win” issue was at the July Board of Governors meeting.

He did.

The next meeting is in October, and voting on draft lottery rule changes is expected.

Last season after trading away Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, the Sixers fielded a team that lacked experience and talent.

Ten-day contracts were commonplace, as were bringing up players from the D-League. They were under the league salary cap minimum at season’s end.

The Sixers' approach was not against the rules, but it certainly pushed them to the limits.

In the offseason, the Sixers used their two lottery picks on players that will have no impact on their hopeful improvement next season.

Joel Embiid is recovering from foot surgery that likely will sideline him for the 2014-15 season. Dario Saric is spending at least the next two years playing in Turkey.

If all teams who did not consider themselves championship contenders took the Sixers' approach, the league wouldn’t be competitive. Teams would save money and fight for high lottery picks, but on a nightly basis arenas would be empty, and the product would be sub-standard.

The Sixers may feel like they are being targeted by these likely rule changes, but 29 other teams may have felt the Sixers were acting in their best interest only, as opposed to the best interest of the 30-team league.

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