Silver: NBA Closely Monitoring Possible Tanking Efforts

With a competitive race to the bottom of the NBA standings taking shape, the concept of tanking has been in the news a little too much for the league’s liking as of late, prompting commissioner Adam Silver to remind teams of the NBA’s stance. As Sam Amick of USA Today details, Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams last week on the same day that he issued a $600K fine to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for his public comments on tanking.

Within his memo, Silver noted that the NBA has been “careful to distinguish” between genuine rebuilding efforts and instances in which players or coaches make any effort to lose games. While the former is described by Silver as a “legitimate strategy to construct a successful team,” he reiterates that the latter has “no place” in the NBA.

“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,” Silver said.

Tanking is generally perceived as a strategy dictated by team management, rather than players or coaches. While players would never deliberately try to lose a game, roster and lineup decisions coming from above can make winning an uphill battle for those same players. Silver’s memo stresses that the “integrity of the competition on the playing court” is his primary concern, and he wants to avoid even the perception that it’s compromised in any way.

“We have no basis at this time to conclude that the Mavericks team is giving anything less than its best effort on the court, and Mark has assured us that this is not the case,” Silver said in the memo, referring to Cuban. “But even a suggestion that such conduct could be occurring is obviously damaging to our game, as it creates a perception of impropriety. It is also extraordinarily unfair to the players and coaches who are, in fact, competing at their highest possible level every night. You are therefore advised to avoid such statements, and to pass along this admonition to all other key personnel in your organizations.

“We will continue to monitor closely the play of all teams during the remainder of the season,” Silver concluded.

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18 thoughts on “Silver: NBA Closely Monitoring Possible Tanking Efforts

  1. Thomas Swanson

    Commissioner Silver can talk, but he’s looking at the bottom of the standings thinking how do I prove it? Sacramento and Detroit have already said they are playing for next season.

    • hatjuice

      I gots no problems with tanking, am in favor of it as a smart way to rebuild. As a Pistons fan, they are NOT playing for next season, they already ruined that chance. SVG has put this team in a terrible position to rebuild, tanking is what he should have done and not trade away assets and give up any meaningful cap space for the foreseeable future. This team will not make the playoffs, then won’t have a draft pick in a deep draft and also without cap space to build on the zero depth he has. He’s tanked this team in the worst way. Rather be bad for a couple years with assets than to sit around in the middle of the pack with zero chance of improvement.

      • hiflew

        Zero chance? Really? Pick #15 could provide a Giannis or a Kawhi Leonard or, going back a bit, Steve Nash. Do you think those players would give you “zero chance at improvement.”

        Do you know the number of overall #1 picks since the lottery began that have won an NBA championship with the team that drafted them? 3, Duncan, LeBron, and Kyrie. And two of them were on the same team.

        There is no justification for losing on purpose. People have been banned from the game for points shaving. How is that any worse than going onto the court hoping to lose?

        • hatjuice

          Going out on the court and having individual players deliberately losing on purposes isn’t the same as tanking. I don’t think that’s right either. But having some players that are of lesser talent out on the court who still try very hard (if only to find there own place in the league) but are clearly overmatched vs a majority of teams is ok with me. All while ACQUIRING draft picks and other young players that haven’t reached their potential yet and seeing if they’re a fit for your teams future is MUCH better than dinking around the 8th spot in the playoffs or the 15th pick in the draft continuously.
          I’m not saying they need the #1 pick. Also do you know that plenty of really good to great players have bee picks 1-10? A lot more rare to get a good player at 14-15 range. Duh. That’s also a stupid stat considering free agency and the way the league is now.

        • Rewane

          Because to many winning regular season games with close to zero chance at title doesn’t mean anything, unless you are a team with developing young stars and potential superstars coming into their prime.
          Also do you know the only number one pick not being an all star in the last decade is Anthony Bennett. Also do you know the other number fifteen picks you didn’t mention aren’t even regular starters. That’s a pretty big difference in probability.

          • Thomas Swanson

            Of the top picks in the last decade, not one played on a winning team his rookie season. Blake Griffin, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz (a few games) didn’t even play their rookie seasons.

            • Rewane

              How many more 15th picks did not even play regular minutes on a losing team?

              • Thomas Swanson

                Because of one-and-dones, talent has changed. Now you usually don’t see juniors and seniors taken until the late first and early second rounds. It’s also why the Malcolm Brogdans and Kyle Kuzma’s outperform the top picks. The top picks aren’t ready to come out yet. The more experienced college players get to learn on good teams. The top picks have to learn on the fly. The NBA players want to eliminate the one-and-done for the money, but only a few are ready for the NBA.

              • Thomas Swanson

                I’d guess a lot of players taken with the 15th pick would be on winning teams. Their teams made the playoffs. It’s better for Paul George to learn behind Danny Granger than to start for a team like the Suns.

        • Thomas Swanson

          An asterisk on LeBron. He left and came back because of Kyrie and getting Kevin Love.

          • Thomas Swanson

            Read what KD and Durant are doing is called buying a championship. The old Lakers, Celts, Bulls, Pistons, etc. are true championship. Those days are gone with free agency.

            • Thomas Swanson

              There are a lot of former number ones who didn’t work out. Adam Morrison to start. Portland gets the nod of bad picks with Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan and Greg Oden over Kevin Durant.

      • Thomas Swanson

        SVG just said a couple days ago that he’s playing for next year. I was surprised to hear it since they are not out of the playoffs yet.
        Teams like Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, and Sacramento are in rebuild. Orlando and Brooklyn need to be.

    • tyork21

      The Kings are playing the players they drafted and if you watch any of there games they aren’t tanking they just are good enough yet so take there name out of the tanking convo

  2. smittybanton

    Yawn. sixers and houston astros say ‘hi’.

    Do folks realize the Los Angeles Lakers had a worse record than the Sixers during the Hinkie-era?

    • hiflew

      Why are you comparing the Astros, a team that won the world title in a different sport, to the Sixers, a team that has not even made the playoffs since their rebuild started? I know some already have turned Simmons and Embiid into the new Magic and Kareem, but they have done nothing yet.

      Plus there is a big difference between being bad because your best player retired and being bad because you aren’t trying to win. Tanking is not simply being bad, it is not trying to be competitive.

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