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NBA Draft reform can wind up benefiting Knicks in 2019

If the Knicks are going to be bad — and that certainly appears to be the case — now is a good time.

There are several tantalizing prospects set to enter the 2018 NBA Draft and with the league determined to reform the Draft Lottery, the Knicks’ chances of landing the top pick in 2019 just improved.

Maybe there was a method to Phil Jackson’s madness after all. (Nah, I’m not buying that either.)

According to an ESPN report, the NBA competition committee is recommending a plan to alter the draft lottery in order to combat tanking and set guidelines for teams resting players, which has become an epidemic over the last few years. The Board of Governors will vote on the committee’s recommendations on Sept. 28.

The lottery reform is pretty straightforward. The three worst teams will each have a 14 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick. Under the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25.5 percent chance. The second and third worst teams have a 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent chance respectively.

It still comes down to bouncing ping-pong balls, but the proposed change makes sense. Legislating rest is a more complicated issue.

The NBA competition committee is recommending a plan to alter the draft lottery in order to combat tanking.

The NBA competition committee is recommending a plan to alter the draft lottery in order to combat tanking.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has already altered the regular season schedule to give players more off days. That means fewer back-to-backs and the elimination of four games in five nights. This is not your grandfather’s NBA. It’s not even Charles Oakley’s NBA any longer.

What the league is hoping to avoid is having high profile players on top teams sitting out nationally televised games. Last season, Golden State rested Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for a Saturday game against San Antonio on ABC. That’s bad for business. It’s especially bad for the poor suckers who bought tickets to see the league’s best team.

A few weeks later, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sat out an ABC game against the Clippers. LeBron was spotted on the bench sipping coffee as if he didn’t have a care in the world. The optics are not good.

But at least LeBron was in the building. He created a stir earlier in the season when he not only skipped a game in Memphis, he didn’t even get on the plane.

The competition committee’s proposal is to encourage teams to sit healthy players for home rather than away games, and discourage the practice during games played on ESPN, ABC and TNT. Silver could fine teams if they sit healthy players.

The NBA may also set guidelines for teams resting players, which has become an epidemic over the last few years.

The NBA may also set guidelines for teams resting players, which has become an epidemic over the last few years.

(Ben Margot/AP)

Essentially, this rule is for a handful of teams, especially the Cavs, Warriors, Celtics and Spurs, who have turned the practice of resting healthy players into an art form.

LeBron also has it down to a science. And for good reason. LeBron will enter the 2017-18 season having played 217 postseason games. That includes seven straight trips to the Finals.

If there is any player who knows how to prepare himself for May and June, it’s LeBron, who will turn 33 on Dec. 30th. If LeBron feels it is in his and the Cavs best interest to miss a game in January or February, he’s going to do it. The fans can complain, the league can punish Cleveland management and we can all talk about how today’s players have gone soft.

But guess what? LeBron is judged on the playoffs, not the regular season. His philosophy is “I can give it to you now or I can give it to you later” when the stakes are high and more viewers are tuned in. If given the choice, the NBA will gladly take the latter. Over the last three seasons, LeBron has played in 74, 76 and 69 regular season games. And never misses a playoff game. The man knows what he’s doing. As does the commissioner.  

Tags:
new york knicks
nba draft

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