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Stan Van Gundy: Getting rid of NBA draft and max contracts would solve parity issues

Interesting thoughts from SVG

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA passed a reform to the lottery process that will give each of the three worst teams in the league an equal chance at landing the top draft pick in efforts to curb tanking. Stan Van Gundy was unimpressed.

SVG told Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press that the best path to league parity would be to completely blow the draft apart, along with changing the way contracts are passed out.

“I’d get rid of it, just get rid of the draft altogether,” Van Gundy said when asked lottery reform. "We’d just deal with the salary cap. Make all (rookies) free agents coming in and if I want to go give a guy $50 million a year, good, but I got to do it under the cap.

“I think if you did that and you had no individual max on players, we’d start to get some parity in the league, but the league really doesn’t want parity. They want the super teams, and I get that. It’s worked well, business-wise.”


“Is he (Durant) going to give up $25 million a year to keep the team (Warriors) together? Hell, no,” Van Gundy said to laughter.

Killing the NBA Draft is an idea that’s floated around the media for quite some time, sparked by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz in 2012 and this piece from Tom Ziller of SB Nation is required reading on the subject.

The idea is that the draft is inherently illogical for all sides. It rewards the most inept franchises, which winds up putting the most talented players on the most bumbling teams.

Ziller, among others, suggested the same free agency approach endorsed by SVG. Ziller wrote:

The NBA can do this using rookie salary cap exceptions. Under this plan, each team would receive two rookie salary exceptions per season: one equal to 75 percent of the mid-level exception ($6.1 million in 2017-18) and one equal to the biannual exception ($2.4 million in 2017-18). Let’s name them for clarity’s sake: the full rookie exception and the minor rookie exception.


How can teams use these exceptions? Just as with the mid-level exception, the rookie exceptions can be broken up among multiple players or only partially used. In a twist on how exceptions are usually treated, rookie exceptions can also be traded. Teams could essentially trade their ability to sign a player to a rookie exception.

Franchises who are more interested in building their teams with young players could acquire multiple rookie extensions for any given year. These would be far less valuable than draft picks currently are since draft picks are guarantees of getting rookies under contract, whereas the exceptions serve only as opportunities to sign rookies.

Personally, I love the idea.

Teams would be forced to build their teams in a strategic way. They’d be forced to approach their young players with a strategy on how they’re going to be developed and sell that young player on how they’d be used.

As it is, teams often get more excited about the value of a draft pick than than the actual player they draft with that pick. Everyone raves about how the Boston Celtics hoarded their plethora of draft picks, but look what they amounted to between the 2015 and 2016 Drafts: Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, Marcus Thornton, Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic, Deyonta Davis, Rade Zagorac, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil, and Abdel Nader.

Brown is the only one among them who has ever gotten a spot in the Celtics rotation. Sure, some of them were flipped for future picks and quite a few were international guys let to develop elsewhere. But guys like Rozier, Mickey, and Jackson have been impressive in the D-League and have deserved a shot on the court. But instead, Danny Ainge has just treated them as “assets.” Well, until they aren’t anymore, then then they’re unceremoniously waived and left to hope to catch on with some other team.

Jordan Mickey came into the league as a 21 year old with arms that could give an F-150 a bear hug that he used to be an elite shot blocker at LSU and also boasting three point range. He spent the past two years in the D-League averaging 18.6 points per game with a shooting line of 52/40/75 along with 10 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. He deserved to be putting in that work for a team with an interest in bringing him along.

Mickey landed on his feet, signing a two year deal with the Miami Heat. But couldn’t that have happened two years ago? Instead of looking to land a spot in the rotation this season, he’s left having to prove himself all over again with a new franchise.

Stephen Zimmerman hasn’t been as lucky. Despite being seven feet tall with a promising shooting stroke and only having just turned 21 years old, Zimmerman was waived by the Orlando Magic, who didn’t have any plan on how they planned on bringing him along. Already loaded at the center position with Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, and Marreese Speights, they had no need for Zimmerman. He was only able to land an unguaranteed training camp deal on a Lakers roster that is already pretty much full.

This isn’t deeply wrong to these players who landed in bad situations that they had absolutely no control over. The benefit is 100 percent with the teams, 0 percent with the players. That’s messed up.

/steps off soapbox

Back to Van Gundy.

So the quickest rebuttal to these ideas is that the biggest markets would just land all the talent. Nah.

“They say everybody would want to go to L.A., well how much money are they going to give up to go to those places?” Van Gundy said.


It’s rather patronizing to players to just write them off as so superficial. Sure, quality of life is important for choosing where you live. But it’s not like the best NCAA basketball programs are Miami, USC, and St. John’s. It’s more like North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas.

I once rode my motorcycle from Indiana to Colorado and went 400 miles out of the way to go through Oklahoma City in the interest of avoiding Kansas. That’s how terrible that state is. Yet some of the most talented 18 year old basketball players in the country willingly go there.

Awesome cities that are traditionally considered not to be free agent destinations like Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Denver will be fine. So long as they have good people running their teams. If they don’t, well, then they’d be screwed. And they’d deserve to be - at least until they decide to get good people to run their teams.

What say you DBB? Is SVG crazy or bring on the revolution?


Dump the draft and max deals

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  • 8%
    (26 votes)
  • 17%
    (55 votes)
  • 74%
    Viva la revolution!
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