One of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA is that teams will occasionally “tank” a season by losing as many games as possible to try and secure a better pick in the next draft. One anonymous general manager has now
confirmed to ESPN the Magazine that his team has decided to tank this seasonand their plan began during the off-season.
“Our team isn’t good enough to win and we know it. So this season we want to develop and evaluate our young players, let them learn from their mistakes — and get us in position to grab a great player. The best way for us to do that is to lose a lot of games. This draft is loaded. There are potential All-Stars at the top, maybe even franchise changers.”
This is an astounding thing for a general manager to admit even anonymously. The last thing most fans or players want to hear is that the team is intentionally trying to lose games even if it is better for the team in the long run.
But this admission is even more curious because the GM gave enough hints for readers to figure out which team he works for or at least to narrow the field.
What we know:
- It is not a big market team: “You need superstars to compete in this league, and the playing field for those guys is tilted toward a few big-market teams…It’s tough for us to compete with that.”
- This team traded away older players: “We obviously traded away some of our veteran guys who gave us a better chance of winning right now for future draft picks and young players.”
- The team may have more than one owner: “The owners didn’t want to tread water any more than I did. They’d rather go down to the bottom with the hope of coming up, so they signed off on it.”
- It is not the 76ers: “Look at the 76ers. Since the draft in June, I don’t think they’ve signed a player or made a trade to add a legitimate player.”
Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com produced a list of potential general managers that may fit the description.
One of the teams leading the speculation is the Phoenix Suns, who traded two of their top four scorers from a year ago (Jared Dudley, Luis Scola) and now have four first-round picks.
It will be curious to see how players react if they believe the GM and owners want them to lose on purpose so that they can go draft better players.
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