It’s one thing for the NBA to relegate the Magic to persona non grata (no national TV love and unfavorable schedule). It’s quite another for the league to perhaps take away the one club in the bag that they’ve used since Dwight Howard departed.
If commissioner Adam Silver has his way, he’ll make changes to the draft-lottery system in an attempt to reward winning and curtail tanking, perhaps as early as this season.
Oh, yes, tanking — the scourge of our time.
It has to be stamped out, you know, for the sake of the children.
Silver wants to balance out the lottery, maybe awarding the bottom six teams with equal odds for a shot at No. 1. Maybe then a scenario can unfold like it did in … well, May.
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t try to tank last season, but surprisingly won the lottery despite just a 1.7-percent chance and the ninth-worst record (33-49).
All that did was allow the Cavs to pick Andrew Wiggins, trade him in a deal for All-Star Kevin Love and make LeBron James’ homecoming the league’s next feature attraction.
What exactly is Silver’s concern again?
Let’s see: It now has been 10 years since the team with the worst record won the lottery (Orlando claimed Howard at No. 1 in 2004).
Silver is overreacting — as are various critics — to last season’s full-out tanking tactics.
Several team-rebuilding projects and a hot-shot draft class just happened to meet at the intersection of Wiggins & Parker.
Even if it is utilizing the lottery format in place, no club wants to conduct a financially harmful campaign of strategic losing in the hope of landing a franchise star.
No team prefers to painstakingly rebuild with young players and invent mysterious injuries to key players late in the season, opening itself to charges of intentionally losing.
Does anyone really think the Magic, the Sixers or the Bucks want to be in this position?
Orlando is still in recovery after Howard forced a trade. Philadelphia basically fielded a D-League team last season. And what’s confusing is that Silver fiercely defended the Sixers against tanking accusations, even going as far as saying they were “doing the right thing.”
“It’s an insult to the entire league to suggest that these guys are going out on the floor and aren’t doing their very best to win games,” Silver said. “You look at any business, you look at short-term results and long-term results. And if somebody told you a business was going to operate on a quarter-by-quarter [basis], you’d say, ‘That’s not the way to operate a business.’ You’d say, ‘You need a strategy. You need to look at the long-term.’ And I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing.
“What they’re doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up.”
OK, so the commish did a little public-relations dance in taking up for the Sixers.
Understandably, the Sixers, according to ESPN, are opposed to Silver now suggesting it’s time to change the lottery odds. The Magic also should be annoyed. Picking at No. 4, this time they just missed out on the top three marquee draft choices of Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid, and the Magic are not yet ready to make a playoff push.
The NBA fined the Toronto Raptors $25,000 in one of the most unusual tampering cases in league history.
The Raptors, as a team, didn’t tamper with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, but rapper Drake did. The Canadian artist serves as the Raptors’ unpaid global ambassador.
At his concert recently in Toronto, with Durant in attendance, Drake told the crowd, “Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something. You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.”
The league considered this a recruiting pitch to Durant, who is under contract with the Thunder until 2016.
Wonder what would have happened if Drake had made his pitch to fellow rapper Jay-Z, who is Durant’s agent?
You’ll never guess …
The Magic’s longest-tenured player is a former physics major who hails from Canada.
Andrew Nicholson, eh?
Nothing quite reflects the stunning turnover in Orlando than the fact that Nicholson — heading into his third season — has been a Magic employee longer than anyone on the roster.
He was the Magic’s first-round pick on June 28, 2012, and was signed July 3, 2012.
Jameer Nelson was the club’s longest-tenured player at 10 seasons until the Magic released him this summer. Nelson tied Nick Anderson — Orlando’s first-ever draft pick in 1989 — for the most years with the team as a player.