Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Tanking causing tension for NBA


The Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings, right, looks to pass the ball on Wednesday as the Philadelphia 76ers’ T.J. McConnell, left, reaches from behind at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Photo: AP

Adam Silver sees successes all around the NBA, yet cannot stop thinking about the teams who are not successful. And he cannot make them try to be.

Tanking is the problem the NBA commissioner cannot solve.

He cannot force every team to try to win when they all know sometimes there is more reason to lose. And though he understands rebuilding, he loathes losing on purpose.

“Let me add, I find it an incredibly difficult issue,” he said on Friday.

He spoke shortly after ties were broken for positioning ahead of the draft lottery, which seemed a bigger priority than the postseason for some teams this season.

And as the Philadelphia 76ers head to the playoffs as the hottest team in the league led by youngsters they drafted during multiple seasons of tanking, it is hard to tell other teams they cannot do it.

No team was punished for tanking, beyond the US$600,000 Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined for his comments on Julius Erving’s podcast that the Mavericks were better off losing, but there were discussions with other clubs.

“I will just say we had conversations with several teams about what the product was that they were putting on the floor and I’ll leave it at that,” Silver said.

He is hoping to take some of the incentive of tanking away with lottery that takes effect next season.

The three worst teams are to have 14 percent chances at the top pick, instead of the current format in which the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance.

This season that was the Phoenix Suns, who appear to also be on a multiseason tanking agenda after shutting down healthy regulars last season.

Dallas, the Memphis Tigers, the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks also threw out some curious lineups that sometimes looked incapable of winning.

The new format might not stop tanking — and could even make it worse in some respects. Teams only need to be third-worst in the league to have the best shot at the No. 1 pick, rather than having to anchor themselves at the bottom.

So Silver said that the league continues to look at the issue, but even he senses that more work is going to have to be done.

“We recognize that our goal is to put the best competition on the floor and it’s balanced against legitimate rebuilding of some teams, but I know we’re not there yet,” Silver said.

“I certainly wasn’t satisfied, there can only be so much cajoling out of the league office and it’s one of the those things that the last place I want to go as the commissioner is the league office to start dictating minutes and which particular players should be playing at what points of the game, and I recognize that the incentives are not aligned right now that there’s a huge incentive to increase your chances in the draft lottery especially in the old system. As I’ve said we’re switching the system for next year we’ll see how much of an impact that has,” he said.

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