Silver: NBA “Paying Particular Attention” To Tanking In 2022/23

Commissioner Adam Silver says the NBA is keeping a close eye on tanking this season while conceding that he understands why teams might want a better shot at landing a generational prospect like Victor Wembanyama, reports ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.

We put teams on notice,” Silver said. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”

Silver made the comments in a Q&A session with Suns employees after apologizing multiple times on behalf of the league in the wake of Robert Sarver‘s workplace misconduct. Sarver is now in the process of selling the team after facing public backlash from team sponsors and others around the NBA.

According to Holmes, Silver said tanking was a “serious issue” and the NBA has had “hundreds of meetings” to address the issue. While the bottom three teams in the standings will each only have a 14% chance each of landing the top pick after the NBA flattened the lottery odds in 2019 to disincentive intentionally losing, that might not matter for the upcoming season, and Silver acknowledged that tanking will likely occur in 2022/23.

It’s something we have to watch for,” Silver said. “A draft is, in principle, a good system. But I get it, especially when there is a sense that a once-in-a-generation player is coming along, like we have this year.”

Silver didn’t mention the French center by name, sources present told Holmes, but stated that the league will tweak the draft as necessary.

Teams are smarter, they are creative, and they respond — we move, they move — so we’re always looking to see whether there’s yet a better system,” Silver added.

The commissioner said the league has considered a relegation system to address tanking, which would involve demoting the bottom two teams in the standings and promoting a couple of G League teams, similar to European soccer leagues, but said it would be “destabilizing,” per Holmes.

It would so disrupt our business model,” Silver told employees. “And even if you took two teams up from the G League, they wouldn’t be equipped to compete in the NBA.”

Addressing a question about expansion, Silver said the NBA won’t seriously consider it until it negotiates a new media rights deal in 2025, but noted that there are several cities that are strong candidates.

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