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Report: NBA again pursuing lottery reform


When draft-lottery reform was defeated in 2015, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the issue was on hold for a couple years.

Well, it’s been a couple years.

The cap has surged higher under new national TV contracts, and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in effect. With the league relatively stable, it’s time to revisit the issue.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The National Basketball Association is aggressively pursuing draft lottery reform that could be voted into legislation before the start of the 2017-’18 season, league sources told ESPN.

Commissioner Adam Silver is a strong advocate to de-incentivize tanking by implementing lower odds on the NBA’s worst teams to gain the top picks in the draft, league sources said.

If passed, the lottery reform would be phased into use over time, and there’s no indication that the 2018 NBA Draft would fall under new legislation, league sources said.

Wojnarowski added on ESPN that one of the proposals is that no team can have a top three pick in consecutive drafts. The Celtics have had top three picks in the last two drafts, the Lakers the last three, and the Sixers the past four.

This won’t eliminate tanking, but it could curb the most extreme forms. Currently, the team with the worst record has a 25% chance of picking No. 1, 47% chance of picking top two, 64% chance of picking top three and a 100% of picking top four. If those odds were lower, teams would presumably be less eager to chase last place.

However, by consequence, better lottery teams would be more likely to land a high pick. That could invite some unintended consequences:

Will fans of awful teams lose hope and become less likely to spend money on the NBA? Might teams tank into the lottery rather pursue a playoff berth likely to end with a quick exit? What else could happen that’s not predicted today?

A majority of NBA owners, 17 of 30, voted in 2015 to smooth the lottery odds. But the proposal fell short of the 23 votes necessary to change the system. At one point it looked like lottery reform would pass, but there was a push back by smaller and middle market teams that thought this could hurt their chances to rebuild down the line. Has that sentiment changed?

It’s so unclear what’s in each team’s self interest, especially because the reform could take effect at any time. Not only does every team have at least most of its own first-round picks, six – the Cavaliers (with that 2018 Nets pick acquired from Boston in the Kyrie Irving trade), Celtics, 76ers, Hawks and Suns – own another team’s pick that could land in the lottery.

Silver wants reform, and I think the owners will get behind him to pass something. But it’s far from certain.

Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson has another surgery, will miss entire season now

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans say rookie guard Frank Jackson won’t make his NBA debut this season after having follow-up surgery to remove residual scar tissue from earlier right foot operations.

The Pelicans say Jackson also received an injection in his foot.

The club says a specialist in New York handled Jackson’s latest procedure.

The Pelicans acquired the 6-foot-4 Jackson through a draft-night trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected the former Duke player with the first pick of the second round last summer.

Following the draft, the Pelicans signed Jackson to a three-year contract at the NBA minimum with two years guaranteed, but Jackson needed a second foot surgery last summer to address a setback following his initial surgery last May.

Jackson spent one season at Duke, averaging 10.9 points.


Giannis Antetokounmpo turns bad pass into ridiculous alley-oop (VIDEO)

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That is just not fair.

Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe threw an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo that was off the mark — high and behind him — but it just doesn’t matter. The Greek Freak gets up and throws it down.

It’s early, but it’s going to be hard to beat that one for dunk of the night.

League’s Last Two Minute Report backs referees (mostly) in Raptors/Thunder game

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Anyone who watched the Thunder’s win over the Raptors Sunday afternoon in Toronto — especially the final few minutes — thought it was not referee Marc Davis and crew’s finest hour. There were missed calls and three-straight ejections of Raptors players, which all seemed rather hair-trigger (especially coach Dwane Casey, who was tossed for something a fan behind him said).

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report doesn’t see it that way — it says the referees nailed it.

According to the report, there was only one missed call in the final two minutes: Carmelo Anthony held Pascal Siakam as a pass came to him with 11.7 seconds left, and that should have been called.

What about the play that set DeMar DeRozan off and ultimately got him ejected, the drive to the basket with 33 seconds left (and the Raptors down two) where DeRozan thought Corey Brewer fouled him? The report said that was a good no call:

DeRozan (TOR) starts his drive and Brewer (OKC) moves laterally in his path and there is contact. The contact is incidental as both players attempt to perform normal basketball moves….

RHH shows Brewer (OKC) make contact with the ball and the part of DeRozan’s (TOR) hand that is on the ball. The hand is considered “part of the ball” when it is in contact with the ball and therefore, contact on that part of the hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

(I didn’t see it that way, I think the contact was more than incidental, and to me looking at the replay Brewer catches some wrist and impedes the shot in a way that was not legal. Just my two cents.)

The report does not cover the ejections, which are reviewed by league operations but not part of this report.

Three thoughts out of all this:

1) Raptors fans/management/players have every right to feel the calls went against them in this game. As for calls always going against them — as DeRozan complained about after the game — 29 other teams and fan bases are convinced the officials have it out for them, too. I never bought that.

2) The Raptors didn’t lose this game solely because of the officiating. Russell Westbrook was clutch down the stretch, the Thunder were part of it, and the Raptors had other issues, too (Serge Ibaka had a rough game, for example).

3) This loss also does not say a thing about the Raptors in the postseason (even if they went a little too much isolation at the end) — this was their third game in four days, they looked tired and flat at the end. That will not be the case in the playoffs.

Rumor: Injured Jimmy Butler wore his jersey under shirt and jacket on Timberwolves bench

AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

Jimmy Butler‘s competitive fire burns hot.

How hot?

Butler is chomping at the bit to return from his knee injury. He sat on the Timberwolves’ bench during their loss to the Rockets last night wearing what appeared to be typical attire for a sidelined player. But dig deeper, and…

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This story is too good to check out.