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NBA draft lottery will stay the same, for now

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, on keeping the draft lottery the same: “There’s a recognition that the lottery is only one aspect of how to build a team.” Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Beyond Sport

SPRINGFIELD — NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Globe on Thursday that the league’s owners have agreed to retain the NBA’s draft lottery system indefinitely.

The current system gives the highest probability of landing the top overall pick to the team with the league’s worst record. There have been complaints over the past few seasons about teams, such as the Philadelphia 76ers, tanking games to improve their chances of a higher lottery pick.

There have been several ideas for changing the lottery system, such as returning to the previous system of giving all 14 non-playoff teams equal chances of winning the top pick. Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren suggested a “wheel” concept, in which all 30 teams occupy each of the 30 draft slots over a 30-year period to create competitive balance.


Those ideas will be tabled, perhaps for years, because the owners want to determine the impact of the new television money on competitive balance. The league’s salary cap will soar to an estimated $90 million after next season.

“There’s a recognition that the lottery is only one aspect of how to build a team,” Silver said following Thursday’s Hall of Fame Family Reunion dinner. “And given the inflow of the new television money next season and the large increase in the cap, ultimately the owners concluded that while we think we need to take a fresh look at the lottery system, let’s wait and look at the system holistically once the new money comes in.

“Because there’s always unintended consequences and at least everyone understands the rules of the road right now. I think we need to be deliberate about any changes we make, so we’ll turn back to it, but we’re going to leave things as is for now.”

When asked how long it will be before the lottery system is revisited, Silver said: “It will be a couple of years. We will have this very significant increase in the cap next year and I think we’ll have a sense then of how our teams react and what sort player movement we see.”


So for now, draft lottery critics should get used to the ping-pong ball system — and the perception that poor teams are purposely losing games to improve their chances at the best players in the draft.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.