ESPN – The NBA’s board of governors voted to pass legislation on draft lottery reform and guidelines for the resting of healthy players in the regular season.
The NBA draft lottery reform passed with a 28-1-1 vote, with Oklahoma City voting against and Dallas abstaining. The NBA needed 23 of 30 teams — a three-quarters majority — to pass the legislation.
The voting was part of a two-day meeting of the board in New York that concluded on Thursday.
The NBA’s new lottery reform takes small steps to curb tanking, but only for some teams, writes Zach Lowe.
The lottery reform changes will be instituted for the 2019 NBA draft.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been a strident proponent of both legislative agendas, pushing owners and team executives on his belief that passage was important for elements of the league’s economy, competitive balance and public perception.
The NBA needed a three-fourths majority to pass draft lottery reform, which is designed to discourage teams from tanking to pursue the best possible odds to select highest in the draft order.
Silver called the issue of tanking “corrosive” and acknowledged that the reform in place is “far from perfect.” But the commissioner hoped that the new rules would dissuade teams from trying to finish with the worst record in the league to put themselves in position to land the top pick.
The resting regulations deliver Silver the ability to fine teams for sitting healthy players in instances that include nationally televised games. That legislation needed a simple majority to pass.
“It ultimately is my hope that the rules go in the drawer and that teams step up here and see that there is a larger obligation to our fans, to the basketball community,” Silver said regarding the rest issue.
In the new lottery odds, the three teams with the worst records will share a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, a change from the descending percentages of 25, 19.9, and 15.6 in the current system. Four teams — increased from three — will become part of the lottery draw, which means the No. 1 lottery seed could drop no further than fifth, No. 2 could drop no further than sixth, No. 3 no further than seventh, and No. 4 no further than eighth.
Silver said the lottery reform was “important because there was a perception in many of our communities that the best path to rebuilding their teams was to race to the bottom.”
The commissioner added: “I don’t necessarily agree that (tanking is) the optimal strategy to create a great team, but it became currency in this league. So much so that there were situations in many of our team communities where the team felt under pressure to engage in that strategy, even when they didn’t think that was the best strategy to build their team.”
Some small-market teams were hesitant on the plan, because officials believed it ultimately limited their odds of acquiring elite talent because free agency has traditionally favoured big-market teams.
In the new resting legislation, Silver will have the discretionary ability to fine teams for resting players in several instances, including sitting multiple players outside of unusual circumstances in a single game, and healthy players in nationally televised ESPN, ABC and TNT games.
When teams decide to rest players in games, they’ll be encouraged to do so for home instead of away games. Star players sitting out are expected to be on the bench during games and encouraged to be accessible to fans for interaction before the game.
The league announced that any violation of the new resting rule will be deemed as conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the NBA. Teams that violate the rule will be fined at least $100,000.
Silver suggested that the league would continue to tweak its rest policy in the coming seasons.
“I think the owners all understood when we were discussing them that sort of the devil is in the details here in terms of how it is we will enforce them, and we’re going to do our best,” the commissioner said. “But my hunch is that once we see them in operation, we’ll be back having additional discussions as to just the right way to calibrate it.”
The NBA rid the 2017-18 season schedule of many back-to-back games around nationally televised appearances, giving teams presumably less reason to sit out players for high-profile games.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to our teams,” Silver said. “It comes down to a sense of obligation our teams have toward the league that they’re a part of.”
ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.