NBA evaluating draft lottery reform to discourage tanking

NBA pursuing a draft lottery reform (0:44)

Adrian Wojnarowski describes a meeting that the competition committee will have to recommend a vote for a NBA draft lottery reform. (0:44)

The NBA is aggressively pursuing draft lottery reform that could be voted into legislation and instituted by the 2019 draft, league sources told ESPN.

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

The proposed measures would also increase the chances of better teams making a jump into the draft lottery. The NBA's 14 non-playoff teams compromise the league's annual draft lottery system.

The NBA competition committee, comprised of several general managers and coaches, is expected to vote next week on sending a formal recommendation to the board of governors for final passage, league sources said.

The competition committee is given significant latitude to challenge and amend the league office's proposals, and thus could recommend none, part, or all of a proposal for the league owners to vote upon at its late September board of governors meeting in New York.

Presently, the NBA team with the worst record can drop no lower than No. 4 from No. 1, but the NBA's currently proposed legislation could allow that team to drop from first to fifth in the lottery, league sources said. This would include a domino effect through the lottery, where the second-worst record -- presently dropping no lower than fourth -- could fall to sixth. Then the No. 3 team could drop as far as seven, and on down, league sources said.

Currently, the teams with the three worst records have an ascending chance of winning the No. 1 pick, including (No. 3) 15.6 percent, (No. 2) 19.9 percent and (No. 1) 25 percent.

The NBA's proposal would flatten those odds and give the three teams with the worst record the same percentage of earning the No. 1 overall pick, league sources said. Now, the worst record to the fifth-worst record is a gap of 25 percent to 8.8 percent, but new legislation would tighten that difference significantly, league sources said.

For example, the fifth-worst team would only have a few percentage points less than those teams with newly equal odds among the three worst teams, league sources said.

At the apex of the Philadelphia 76ers tanking saga, the NBA's board of governors voted down a somewhat more liberal proposal on lottery reform in 2014.

Another idea born out of the competition committee that could gather support, league sources said: No team can pick in the top three of the draft in consecutive years. For example, if Minnesota wins the No. 1 pick and drafts Karl-Anthony Towns -- as was the case in 2015 -- it can pick no higher than No. 4 in the next lottery. For now, that idea is outside of the league office's proposal but is expected to be considered in the upcoming committee meeting, sources said.

The competition committee is also finalizing its recommendations to the board of governors on the league's new resting plan, which would level punishment on teams for sitting out key players for nationally televised games, or multiple key players for road games, league sources said. The commissioner's office has pushed a plan of minimizing, if not eliminating, the intentional resting of players in nationally televised games.

Many NBA executives believe those new measures will effectively impact the perception of the tanking issue, what with the incentivizing of teams to play healthy starters down the stretch of the season. Many teams believe that tanking is no longer an issue in the league, and that the fear of other teams mimicking the 76ers' process has been unwarranted.

There is some fear among small-market teams that lottery reform will make it even harder for them to obtain star-level players through the draft, especially because of a pervading belief that it has become increasingly hard to do so through free agency and trades. Teams believe that the process of trading for star players has become more difficult, with agents and players warning that they'll leave come free agency and will never consider re-signing with those teams.