Let's get this clear right off the bat: the NBA lockout is by no means a good thing in any way, shape or form. That said, if somehow there are no regular season games missed, an addition of a third round to the annual NBA Draft would make the lockout seem a lot less pointless than it currently stands with the main argument centered around billionaires and millionaires making more money.
I've suggested the NBA adds a third round to the NBA Draft for quite a few years, most recently summarized in this post from July, but former ESPN writer Chris Sheridan reports that the NBA has actually proposed a few options regarding extending the draft during the current collective bargaining talks.
Unfortunately, it seems that adding a third round could be a quite convoluted set-up -- at least compared to the easiest solution of simply tacking on another 30 picks to the end of the second round -- if Sheridan's sources aren't simply spit-balling.
- Under one proposal, the 15 teams with the worst records would continue to pick 1st through 15th, but then would also have the 16th through 30th picks. The teams with the top 15 records would have the first 15 picks of the second round, then would have the 44th through 60th picks, too. Under this proposal, the Chicago Bulls (whose 62-20 record was the league's best last season) would have the 45th and 60th picks instead of the 30th and 30th picks. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the NBA's worst record (17-65), would have their lottery pick and the 16th pick, but would no longer have the first pick of the second round - No. 31 overall.
- Under another proposal, the teams with the eight worst records would get an additional first round pick, beginning with selection No. 22, and the teams with the eight best records would have no first-round picks but would select at the top of the second round (picks 31 through 38), then also would get the final eight picks of the second round.
I believe I'm siding with the second proposal if those are the only two options, but I'm not sure the draft needs that much of an overhaul as it is -- though it would seem to help the D-League regardless, with or without changes to the D-League in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder have done so well, as I wrote about awhile back, the majority of teams would probably send their third round picks to the D-League while maintaining the player's rights in the future. It's been said that a change would need to be made to make that a possibility, but the Thunder have shown that where there's a will, there's a way.
NBA teams have slowly but surely been buying into the D-League -- nine teams will control at least the basketball operations of their Development League affiliates this coming season -- in order to get more out of it. If they're able to stash a player they think might eventually be productive in the minor leagues, it makes sense that the NBA will take advantage of it (as the Thunder have already done with their second round picks).
The difficult part will be convincing the players drafted in the third round to take what might be a substantial pay cut in order to play in the D-League. That onus is lessened, however, if the team is able to convince the player that playing in its system with its coaches will put him a couple steps closer to his NBA dream -- especially considering that the player would likely earn a call-up if injuries occur, something that couldn't happen if the player was in Latvia.
Overall, I don't know how much a third round would affect the D-League considering it'll only be beneficial to those NBA teams that are ready to take advantage of it. Fortunately, it seems more teams are seeing that the advantages can be great considering the relatively low cost of development in the D-League.