NBA Rumors: Jeff Van Gundy Would Refuse to Tank

By Bill Simpson

May 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; NBA team owner Michael Jordan announces that the Charlotte Bobcats will change their name and branding to the Charlotte Hornets starting in the 2014 2015 season at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

If you were an NBA general manager, would you consider tanking?

Current ESPN broadcaster and former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, Jeff Van Gundy, understands the reasoning but still says no.

“You play by the rules,” Van Gundy said in an interview with me. “You try to do what’s right for your organization, but not putting out a good product for your fans has consequences; and not trying to put out the best team you can has consequences, so there’s a lot of things to weigh.”

“It’s one of the reasons why I’m glad I’m not a general manager,” Van Gundy admitted.

“I would have a hard time making the decision to not try to win.”

Look at the Charlotte Bobcats.

Mar 26, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Brooklyn Nets center forward Andray Blatche (0) drives to the basket while defended by Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) during the first half of the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan and management decided to sign Al Jefferson in the offseason instead of tanking; and they are now playing as well as they ever have, currently ranked seventh in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s funny that we’d even ask the question ‘Is it wrong to try to win?’

Van Gundy makes a good point.

“You think about how absurd the question is: Are they wrong to try to win? They’ve had a lot of high picks and, frankly, they don’t have a lot to show for it, so, to me, the free agent route may be better for them.”

The Bobcats are a game and a half behind the sixth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Time will tell if Charlotte made the right decision to forego tanking this season and be a competitive team.

So far, Jeff Van Gundy likes what he sees.