NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, aware of the attempt to tank for a high draft pick, warned teams about this practice.
The word “tanking” often gets associated with NBA teams that sit at the bottom of the standings, meaning they receive one of the top spots in the NBA Draft, pending the results of the lottery. The Philadelphia 76ers were linked to this practice under general manager Sam Hinkie, who accumulated draft picks for players, but was dismissed before “The Process” reached the playoff-esque level it has in 2017-18.
Rarely does the word “tanking” get directly heard from NBA teams. However, that was the case with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who received a fine $600,000 after he admitted to this practice.
Well, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made sure the league understood his stance on tanking, with this memo sent to all 30 teams, according to USA Today. It focused on the integrity of the NBA and his issue with teams’ attempt to lower their roster quality to secure a higher draft pick:
“Over the past several seasons, discussions about so-called ‘tanking’ in the NBA have occurred with some frequency, both in the public discourse and within our league, and you as governors have taken steps to address the underlying incentive issues by adopting changes to our draft lottery system that will go into effect next year,” Silver wrote in the letter which was obtained by USA TODAY Sports. “Throughout this period, we have been careful to distinguish between efforts teams may make to rebuild their rosters, including through personnel changes over the course of several seasons, and circumstances in which players or coaches on the floor take steps to lose games.
“The former can be a legitimate strategy to construct a successful team within the confines of league rules; the latter — which we have not found and hope never to see in the NBA — has no place in our game. If we ever received evidence that players or coaches were attempting to lose or otherwise taking steps to cause any game to result otherwise than on its competitive merits, that conduct would be met with the swiftest and harshest response possible from the league office.”
“The integrity of the competition on the playing court is the cornerstone of our league,” he wrote. “It is our pact with the fans and with each other, the fundamental reason we exist as a preeminent sporting organization, the very product that we sell. With everything else changing around us, it is the one thing in our league that can never change. We must do everything in our power to protect the actual and perceived integrity of the game.”
It’s something Silver clearly took issue with and will try to stay in front of. The first step will see the top three picks of the lottery have an equal 14 percent chance of the No. 1 overall selection. This starts in 2019. So, if this rule was in play for the 2018 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns would have equal odds at the No. 1 pick.
For the San Antonio Spurs, as long as this streak of playoff appearances continue, there’s no concern of tanking. They have not received a lottery pick since 1997. Before that, it was 1987 and 1989. Unless the Silver and Black fall out of the playoff race by April, they will not be in the lottery for the 21st consecutive year.
Weigh in on this, Spurs fans. How do you feel about tanking? Is it a problem for the NBA or something to let go?