The Bucks got stripped of a second-round pick for tampering with Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Heat and Bulls could face similar consequences after acquiring Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball in sign-and-trades. The way teams negotiate early with free agents, more picks could be lost in future years.
What executives don’t understand is the NBA’s practice of having teams — like the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022 — forfeit late second-round picks as “punishment” for their deeds (in this case, tampering with Bogdan Bogdanovic). In their minds, late second-round picks have been devalued so much with the advent of the two-way contract that this becomes more of a punishment for young players hoping to hear their names called.
“Why are we punishing players by reducing the number of picks that are made in the NBA draft?” one executive pondered. “Players work their entire careers to get to the point that they can hear their names called on draft night. It’s completely unfair to them to have fewer bestowed that honor because of backroom shenanigans that are entirely out of their control.”
One solution that was brought up would be to keep the number of players drafted capped at 60 and award these forfeited picks to teams that either won their division or a potential in-season tournament or perhaps to the team for which the NBA’s new Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion plays.
This is so backward.
The draft is an anti-labor mechanism. Just because players dress up for draft night and celebrate hearing their name called doesn’t change that fact.
There will still be 450 standard-contract and 60 two-way roster slots across the league. No job opportunities are being lost.
When a player gets drafted, he can negotiate with only one NBA team. His leverage is minimal. Plus, worse teams get priority in selecting prospects.
Undrafted players can negotiate with all 30 teams and find the most desirable situation.
In the current setup, undrafted players tend to be lesser prospects. Teams generally draft higher-rated prospects first. So, getting drafted correlates with success.
But it’s not because those players get drafted.
If there were fewer draft slots, the newly undrafted players would be better off.