Adam Silver Calls Tanking “Corrosive”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke out against tanking today in his annual All-Star Weekend address, calling the practice “corrosive,” relays Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“I, personally, don’t think it’s a winning strategy over the long term to engage in multiple years of rebuilding,’’ Silver said. “There’s a mindset that, if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be really bad. I believe personally that’s corrosive for those organizations.”

Silver lives in New York, Berman notes, and has daily exposure to the Knicks, who dropped 18 consecutive games before beating the Hawks on Thursday. The league changed its rules this year to reduce the benefits of having the worst overall record, giving equal odds at the top pick to the three bottom teams. However, the move hasn’t had the desired effect as the Knicks, Suns, Cavaliers and Bulls are far separated from the rest of the NBA in our latest Reverse Standings. The allure of adding a star such as Duke’s Zion Williamson is too tempting, even with the new odds.

“I’m pretty sure we acknowledged at the time we didn’t think we’d solve the problem,’’ Silver said, hinting that additional changes may be on the way.

Here are some more highlights from Silver’s speech:

  • The commissioner believes the recent trend of high-profile players making public trade requests is harmful to the league, relays Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Pelicans center Anthony Davis is the latest star asking to be moved — a story dominated the trade deadline and figures to loom over everything else this summer. “I don’t like trade demands, and I wish they didn’t come,” Silver stated. “I wish all those matters were handled behind closed doors. . . . I think we could do a better job as a league in avoiding those situations that get to the point where players are demanding to be traded or, in a worst-case scenario, saying they won’t honor their contract.”
  • Silver brushed aside concerns that small-market teams can’t compete in the NBA, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The commissioner noted that the league has remained popular even with both New York teams, both Los Angeles teams and Chicago all missing the playoffs last season. “If you look at the success of the so-called big markets in the last five years, they’ve been at an all-time low in terms of their success on the floor,” he said. “… We didn’t have the traditional big market teams even playing in the playoffs.”
  • Silver admitted that the move to add Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade to the All-Star Game was suggested by a fan’s email, tweets ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
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30 thoughts on “Adam Silver Calls Tanking “Corrosive”

    • the dude

      Spurs didnt tank. They legit had theyre top 4 or 5 players ojt for the season, and I am pretty sure it was the lockout year. Seriously, Dominique Wilkins led the team in scoring the year the Spurs got the Duncan pick.

      • the dude

        I was off. They got the Duncan pick the year Nique lead the team in scoring, and won the title in Duncans second year, the shortened lockout year.

    • hiflew

      The Spurs didn’t tank. David Robinson was their main focus on offense and he got hurt and missed the entire year. Robinson on the Spurs was a lot like LeBron on the Cavs. If you take him off, you turn a really good team into a really bad team instantly.

  1. xabial

    Tell that to the 76ers’ “Trust the Process.”

    They turned tanking into an art form.

    And it worked. Hinkie’s a genius… What’s he up to these days? Why didn’t Hinkie get hired GM, instead of Brand?

    • hiflew

      What exactly did “the Process” do that another way of building couldn’t do? Besides, turning 5 consecutive top 6 picks into 2 good players is not exactly art. Not to mention the fact that they haven’t really won anything yet.

      • Black Ace57

        The Process was about taking as many shots as you can to build assets and get a superstar. That means drafting as high as possible for as long as possible while constantly trading for assets and making your assets better. It also allows you to screw up in the draft at some picks. It is the difference between the Sixers being good despite drafting Okafor, Noel, and Fultz. Just look at how it would be a lot better for Minnesota to have tanked longer.

        There are other ways of building up a team, but statistically The Process gives you the best odds possible of succeeding.

        • hiflew

          Minnesota picked in the top 5 for around 12 years in a row. Exactly how much longer did they need to wait?

        • D$!LLKU$H-og

          Phoenix has drafted in the lottery for like ever. Fails on almost all of them except for 14th overall Devin Booker which was the one time they didn’t tank. Even with Ayton they’re still headed for a top 3 or 4 pick.

          • JustDoYourJob

            Well, you have to draft astutely. Bender was a fool move. Chriss was a reach. Jackson seemed to be a reasonable pick but Phoenix didn’t see his weakness.

      • Z-A

        Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history. Last time I checked, he doesn’t make every shot. Shooters Shoot. Sixers tanked just enough to get as many shots at landing as many elite players as they could. They didn’t know exactly what they had in Embiid until Noel and Jah’s trade value were at rock bottom due to injuries and ineffectiveness.

        And it was hard to imagine at the time that Fultz would be wearing Depends.

        They strung it out as long as they could, eventually once you get 2 high quality players you have to shift into winning and putting pieces around them.

        You could say the Suns have been in tank mode too. They got lucky with Booker later in the lottery. Ayton looks good. But whiffed on Bender, Chriss (draft day trade), Jackson, Len.

    • Black Ace57

      Adam Silver forced the Sixers to bring in Jerry Colangelo to sabotage Hinkie. Hinkie is blacklisted from the NBA because he didn’t kiss Adam Silver’s butt and actually admitted he was tanking.

  2. ChiSoxCity

    Adam Silver, teams tank because free agency is broken in the NBA. You have a handful of players colluding to create super teams and manipulate competition. Fix free agency and teams won’t have to tank to be competitive.

    • JD396

      What the exact solution is, I frankly don’t know. But I’m glad at least ONE major sport commissioner gets that the teams and the players both need a firm smack in the face sometimes.

  3. wellyou'rewrong

    We wont know unless you let them. Just let teams do what they think is best. I’m sure they’ll learn quickly.

  4. hiflew

    I think the best solution for tanking might be relegation. Expand the G League to 32 teams. Use 30 as minor league teams for each NBA franchise and use the other 2 for promotion/relegation purposes. Top 2 G league franchises in attendance get promoted, remaining 30 get assigned as an affiliate. Bottom 2 NBA franchises in wins get relegated as non-affiliated G League franchises. All players under contract to relegated teams can be allocated through a draft to 2 new franchises each season. That’ll stop intentional tanking.

    When the problem of tanking starts getting solved, expand the NBA by 2 teams and you already have ready made fan bases for the 2 new teams.

    It’s definitely outside the box thinking and not without potential problems, but I don’t think there is a perfect solution to this situation.

  5. Danthemilwfan

    I disagree. Tanking happens in every league. Nba just is the only league that one great player changes everything. Some teams tank for a year or two and become a great team and some continually tank/suck. Those teams that always suck don’t ruin the league. They make great teams get work in and get confident

    • ChiSoxCity

      The NBA isn’t what it used to be. The game used to be played above the rim, with a more physical style of play. Today’s NBA has adopted euro style and rules: no physicality, guys flopping on very little contact, repetitive pick-n-roll, 3-pt shots and layups, ridiculously high scoring games, etc. How anyone can watch 2-3 hours of that, I don’t know. I can’t do it anymore.

  6. southbeachbully

    I’m getting tired of players, agents and others dogging teams for what they call “tanking”. The NBA is unique in that most teams are going to have no more than 2 picks in a draft and unlike the NFL or MLB the draft isn’t very deep. In the NFL you have 6 rounds. In MLB you have up to 60 plus can find amazing talent thru international amateur free agency. Add it to the fact that most NBA stars want to sign in all of 6-8 cities then what alternative do teams have to try and add impactful talent they can afford to build around in a 4 year window? What sense would it make for the Cavs to hand out big money contract to 3rd tier quality players who are ONLY there for the money? What would a Paul Milsap kind of player earning $30 mil do for the Cavaliers? Make them a 35-40 win team? No. They have to HOPE for a top 1-3 pick and HOPE that pick turns into a star and HOPE they can make some trades or sign a veteran star to try and compete before that drafted player walks. Change the system. Even then, there are just too many small market teams that simply aren’t as desirable as the Miami, LA, Boston, etc.

    • JustDoYourJob

      Surprisingly, despite the massive amounts of picks in MLB drafts, those talent dispersions are not deep.

  7. southbeachbully

    Anthony Davis took that max contract KNOWING he had no intent to compete. If you really look at it, while the Pelican’s don’t have a LBJ level player they do have some nice young pieces in Mirotic, Holiday and Randle. They had three 20 pg starters.

    I know it wasn’t going to happen but I thought the best place for LBJ to go last year would’ve been to New Orleans.

    Can you imagine …

    Rondo/Holiday/LBJ/and two of Davis/Randle/Cousins if they were able to keep him?

    If LBJ wanted to guarantee 2 other stars then that team would’ve been perfect.

    • D$!LLKU$H-og

      New Orleans would have had to open up a ton of cap space for that but I thought that too. That team would’ve been sick and the Davis/Cousins combo would’ve given the dubs a run. I know Silver actually loves those trade demands btw. Biggest story of super bowl week was AD and Lakers.

  8. JayeT

    Well here’s an idea commissioner: discourage against Super teams as well. It’s easy to tell you who’s coming out of both sides of the league before the season even starts. For the others there is nothing left to play for. You want to discourage against tanking….you have much bigger problems.

  9. C-Daddy

    Look at the current best teams in the league: the Warriors, Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Nuggets, and 76ers. Of those teams, only the 76ers tanked. The others built great teams through shrewd drafting, smart trades, etc. The Raptors, for example, are currently 43-16 and don’t have a single lottery pick on their team.

    • ChiSoxCity

      Wrong. The Bucks and Celtics tanked for years to in order to draft enough talent to contend. It’s debatable if either team is good enough to beat GS. Even with too many teams in a watered down league, you still need 3 stars to win a championship. Nobody has that except GS.

      • JustDoYourJob

        Wrong. The Bucks didn’t tank. They were bad. Boston doesn’t tank and as much as I don’t like Danny Ainge or the Celtics, I love how he always has a wealth of draft picks and then intelligently uses them.

  10. JustDoYourJob

    Let fans and media vote on if s team is tanking. If guilty, you go to the back of the draft round to pick.

    Kidding. But you have to punish transgressors.

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