DALLAS — Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t convinced the NBA’s new draft lottery system will discourage teams from tanking, which is why he abstained from the vote during last month’s board of governors meeting.
The lottery reform passed by a 28-1-1 vote, with the Oklahoma City Thunder the lone team voting against it. The NBA needed 23 of 30 teams to pass the legislation. Cuban told ESPN that he proposed two alternative scenarios — one to the board of governors, another privately to commissioner Adam Silver — that would have more strongly discouraged tanking than the proposal that passed.
However, neither of Cuban’s proposals got any traction. Cuban pitched other members of the league’s board of governors on a system in which the draft is abolished, with teams getting a pool of money to sign rookies based on their records.
“The team with the worst record gets the most money and the team with the best record gets the least money,” Cuban said. “It’s like a free agency. It makes it a lot harder to tank because you don’t know if you get the best players if you’re horrible all the time. “Nobody liked that at all, not a single person.”
Cuban’s other idea was to lock the team with the worst record into a draft slot — either third or fourth — to force teams to compete to avoid being at the bottom. That idea never got discussed in the board of directors meeting.
“Now all of the sudden, if it’s close at the end, you’re going to see teams play as hard as they can because if they end up with the worst record, they don’t get the best pick,” Cuban said, explaining the logic of his idea.”You basically eliminate them from getting the best player. Everybody else would just be the way it is now.
“Adam didn’t like that. That never got to the board of directors, but that one was my favorite. I brought up [the other proposal], but after that one got shot down, I didn’t bring up the other one. When I got no response on the one, I just dropped the other because it was obvious that what they had proposed was going to pass.”
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.
“It’s OK, but you still have the best chance of getting the best pick if you have the worst record,” Cuban said. “The hope is if you’re one of the bottom three, you’re going to try. Now, if you’re one of the bottom three, the odds are all the same. It doesn’t get any better if you get any worse, and that’s OK, but you’re still going to try to tank to get a chance at the best pick.
“If you can’t get better than third or fourth (pick with the worst record), if you try to tank, you’re never going to get the best pick. It’s hard to say, ‘Now we’re going to start winning games because we’re at risk.’ But it is what it is. Hopefully, it’s not even a consideration for (the Mavericks) this year or next year.”