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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Solving the NBA’s Tanking Problem

Tanking seems to be on everyone’s mind in the NBA these days. Like many sports problems, “tanking” is not singular but an amorphous cluster of problems all housed under one term. The term isn’t hard to define–it’s when a team has a strategic incentive to lose–but it lacks a precise scope. That makes it hard to settle on what exactly is included when different people use the term. Tanking involves teams actively competing to lose games, usually to better their draft position. So sure, we include The Process in Philadelphia. But do we also include Donald Sterling’s original version? For over a decade, he lived high on the proverbial hog supplied by league revenue sharing and high draft picks while displaying next to no commitment to being competitive (or a decent human being for that matter). Do we also include playoff teams who throw late season games to dictate a more favorable playoff match up?

People talking about tanking will include some of these scenarios but not others. Add to that, even where people agree on the boundaries of tanking they often disagree on the extent to which it is a problem for anyone outside a disgruntled team’s fan base (ahem). I’ll make a case for where I think tanking is a problem for the league; one that warrants an intervention. I offer one that basically involves redistributing draft lottery odds. I think it is simple and reasonably effective at removing most incentives for throwing games.

 

Where One Team’s Process Becomes the League’s Problem

My general axiom is that the NBA ought to shy away from dictating team-level strategy, certainly without clear evidence that established rules or the general dictates of competition are being subverted. Even under those circumstances, league interventions should begin with subtlety and build from there.

So, why does tanking violate that axiom? It creates two problems worthy of intervention: the welfare dependency problem and the “agency problem” problem.

The Welfare Dependency Problem. A major problem involved in tanking is in an odd way quite subtle. It can undermine the goodwill needed to run what is effectively a self-regulating cartel. Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a great illustration. For years he operated as a fairly open NBA “welfare cheat,” hoarding the goodies that necessarily go out to bad teams, like a disproportionate share of league revenue and high draft picks. At some point he changed his tactics, but memories are long. When he was recorded making bigoted remarks it became a pretext for owners to exile him, but the reason they united against him is that he’d destroyed so much goodwill through decades of douchebaggery. I don’t think it is controversial to suggest that a different owner might have survived the ordeal. Good riddance to Donald Sterling and all, but the perverse incentives that drove his behavior remain unaddressed. Unlike most single mothers who have received AFDC or TANF, businesses often conform to the stereotype of welfare dependency. This is a critical problem. A 32-team league must subsidize bad teams to a degree to keep up the baseline level of product quality. The question is, what’s the right amount before goodwill is eroded?

The Agency Problem. This is a fairly narrow problem that garners a lot of attention every March, as teams inevitably compete to lose games for more favorable draft lottery odds. It’s not a good look for the TV partners or the paying customer. But it also puts into play some nasty dueling incentives for a given team. Even those that have decided to “play the kids” for developmental purposes must confront disincentives to winning (and thus development) for minuscule improvements in draft odds. The problem here is that teams know that the difference between being in a position to draft Tim Duncan instead of Keith Van Horn is easily significant enough to compete for even microscopically better odds.

 

Reforming the Draft Lottery to Resolve Welfare Dependency and the Agency Problem

Sports subsidies are meant to be a hand up in tough times, but they cannot be a way of life. (This is the only time you’ll EVER hear me mimic a conservative Southern politician.) So here’s what I’d do.

1. Split the lottery into Tier 1 & Tier 2 teams, each with fixed odds of winning. Right now, the lottery over-rewards teams for what is effectively random noise in their respective records. A 2-3 game difference should not warrant mathematically different odds of drafting franchise-altering talent. So I would split lottery teams into two tiers. Tier 1 would consist of the league’s five worst non-playoff records with fixed odds of winning the lottery at, say 10%. Tier 2 would include the remaining non-playoff teams with fixed odds at 5%. Will teams fight to get into Tier 1? Perhaps. But I’d also arm the commissioner with the power to expand Tier 1 to six or seven teams and lower odds to 8% to deter throwing games. He could announce his decision at the lottery, giving strong incentives not to throw games in a race to the bottom. Again, I don’t mind a team saying, “We’re going to develop the kids,” but at tip-off I want as few structural disincentives to winning that night as possible.

2. No team can draft in Tier 1 for more than four consecutive seasons. I don’t believe teams should get to tank in perpetuity, regardless of whether decision-makers are committed to grifting or committed to game theory. Sam Hinkie’s version of The Process is based on game theory that says if you are allowed to bet double or nothing until you win that’s what you should do, and you should do it indefinitely. There is little argument against the strategy. The more relevant question for the NBA is why it would structure talent acquisition as this kind of game? I don’t think it should.

To be clear, I would NOT bar a team from winning the draft lottery for four consecutive seasons if the ping pong balls fell their way. Any team can win, even with low odds. But, after a third draft in Tier 1 a team would draft in Tier 2 in the fourth year unless they made the playoffs.

52 comments on “Solving the NBA’s Tanking Problem

  1. Nick C.

    If the games were not referred so as to give the best players the best whistles, there might actually be a chance of a top team getting knocked off. Instead they get the double advantage. As it stands the seventh and eighth seeds are hopeless causes. I don’t follow hockey enough, but in baseball and football teams are not actively trying to miss the playoffs. That’s because in those sports teams other than the anointed few actually have a shot.

  2. Accidentank 2017

    I think it’s necessary for the NBA to attack the tanking problem. The problem with the NBA is it doesn’t hold enough teams accountable and too many executives are still in the Stone Age due to the aesthetics of basketball that lead to ignorance when it comes to statistics. The Kings and Wolves shouldn’t be allowed to piss away lottery picks for a decade. The NBA actually needs to do quality assurance checks of the organizations in order to make sure every organization has a certain baseline level of competence. Owning an NBA franchise should be like owning a restaurant chain in that the people in the corporate offices make sure a certain standard is being held. Employee surveys, fan base surveys, and exit interviews for management with the commissioner should all be implemented for consecutive bottom 10 teams in the league.

  3. thenamestsam

    I don’t think tanking is a problem.

    I agree that there’s no real problem, although I do think there’s a perception problem there for the league. While there have always been bad teams, it’s only in the last few years that the discussion of “tanking” has reached critical mass. I think a lot of it has to do with Hinkie making it much more of an explicit strategy than it had been before. Now that word gets bandied around with every single bad team and consequently there’s the impression that it’s a widespread phenomenon of teams trying to lose, when really most of these teams just suck.

    I must have heard the word “tanking” 10,000 times this season and yet outside of the Laker shenanigans down the stretch (and they closed the season winning 5 of 6) and the Suns resting Bledsoe a couple times there was not a lot of real tanking to speak of this season. If you look at the top of the draft order you’ll see a lot more suck than tank. The Nets aren’t tanking (no draft pick). Philly had injury issues but was surprisingly scrappy most of the year. Orlando, Minnesota, Sacramento and the Knicks (super team!) were all talking playoffs before the season. New Orleans made a big trade at the deadline to try to make it. Dallas was mostly fighting for the playoffs all year until a late season collapse. Tanking wasn’t a problem this year to be honest, but it’s still discussed constantly and it makes the league look bad to casual fans who think a lot of teams are out here trying to lose all year when it simply isn’t the case.

  4. Frank

    When you have fans actively hoping their teams lose, and coaches obviously not playing their best players in order to avoid the possibility of winning, then it’s a problem. It’s a problem.

  5. 2FOR18

    People respond to incentives. If you make it more beneficial to be on welfare than to work a shitty job, people will tend to choose welfare.
    If you make it more beneficial to lose than to win, people who run teams will tank. So you not only have to take away any incentive to tank, you have to also give shitty teams an incentive to win every game.
    Solution that will end tanking: all non playoff teams go into a lottery, with the number of each team’s wins determining the amount of ping pong balls they get.

  6. thenoblefacehumper

    I’ve come around to the idea that something should be done. Not necessarily because I think teams are actively trying to lose, which I still think is pretty rare, but because 30% or so of fan bases were openly rooting for their favorite teams to lose by the end of this season. That’s simply not good for the NBA product.

    The current system puts too many teams in a situation where losses are obviously better than wins. Once a team is removed from playoff contention, barring unique situations involving traded draft picks and the like, losses are clearly preferable.

    The tiered system David proposes could probably combat this somewhat effectively, while Frank’s idea (I think he was the one who proposed it anyway) of actually incentivizing wins at a certain point would probably do so the best.

  7. GoldClub

    So, combining a couple of these suggestions comes up with the optimal solution.

    1) At the end of the year there is a coin flip. Depending on the outcome of the coin flip the non-playoff teams are grouped into two tiers (of 7), or three tiers (5, 5, 4) [could also add a fourth tier (4,3,4,3) and a fifth tier (all 14 teams in one group)]. The randomness makes it hard to game which tier you are trying to fall into but does over time help redistribute talent to the struggling teams.
    2) Tier 1 goes to worst set of teams, Tier 2 to the next worst, Tier 3 (if applicable) to the best lottery records.
    3) If only 2 tiers 75% of ping pong balls are allocated to the Tier 1 and 25% to Tier 2
    4) If 3 tiers: 50% to Tier 1, 35% to Tier 2 and 15% to Tier 3.
    5) Within a tier ping pong balls are allocated based on games won (not lost) providing the incentive to win not lose.

  8. stratomatic

    When you have fans actively hoping their teams lose, and coaches obviously not playing their best players in order to avoid the possibility of winning, then it’s a problem. It’s a problem.

    +1

    Not to mention some potential playoff teams having an unfair advantage over others down the stretch when some teams are playing teams that are battling for a playoff spot or positioning and others are playing a team that is tanking.

  9. Accidentank 2017

    Tanking on a whole isn’t a problem IMO. The problem is that tanking is a flail for a lot of incompetent franchises, like our Knicks, the Timberwolves, or the Magic. At least the Kings got Buddy Hield and 2 top 10 picks this year. Los Angeles is bad but they’re clearly bad with purpose. Boston tanked and look at where they’re at now. When teams with leadership groups that know what they’re doing tank, it’s usually a watchable product throughout because you have youngsters to root for and watch grow until they’re good. In New York we tank with 30 year olds on max contracts. That’s the stuff that needs to be eliminated from the league.

  10. bobneptune

    An off topic question…. is the mlb package the best way to get the mostYankee games legally in south Florida?

  11. heavencent35

    Sounds weird but like the reverse taxation, let’s just give the top pick to the NBA champion. Then the rest is by seeding. The lowest seed will pick the 30. Reward the winners and punish the losers. Let’s do that.

  12. thenoblefacehumper

    An off topic question…. is the mlb package the best way to get the mostYankee games legally in south Florida?

    Fox Sports Go now carries YES if you have a TV provider you can sign in with. I’ve been using it in Miami and it works pretty well.

  13. geo

    a nice 7 game win streak sure does help to tune out all the knicks dysfunction…not sure i can recall another manager better than joe with a bullpen…so glad to be rid of most of the high profile (low production) superstars on the team…

  14. chrisk06811

    -Combined winning % of the 14 teams that missed the playoffs: 38.5%. Over the last 10 games: 37%.
    -Combined winning % of the bottom 7 teams: 33%. Over the last 10 games: 33%.

    Only Philly did a total tank in the last 10 games, and that was more injuries than anything else.

    I dont’ really see huge evidence of tanking. The team we all love had the most to gain, and went 4-6 in the last 10 games.

    You could argue Chi got lucky, with 2 blowouts over the Nets (who sat everyone) and Orlando (who played everyone)

  15. Brian Cronin

    Not saying your basic point is not correct, Chris, but wouldn’t you have to compare their winning percentages for the first 72 games and THEN compare the last 10? The way that you’re doing it, the last ten are being double-counted.

  16. JK47

    Seems pretty easy.

    Make the top five picks ping-pong ball picks instead of the top three. Flatten out the odds a bit so the truly worst teams don’t have such an advantage when it comes to lotto balls.

  17. DRed

    Once a team is eliminated from the playoffs there’s no incentive for that team to win games. So why should they go all out? A smart team would limit whatever vets they have and start playing kids and dudes from the d-league the minute it was clear they weren’t going to the playoffs.

  18. Nick C.

    @ 18 even if there was no draft wouldn’t it make sense to play the kids once the team is eliminated from playoff contention? To go all Woodson and play Melo 38 mpg, which I believe was happening one season is inane.

  19. chrisk06811

    Brian; it doesn’t make much difference.

    Non playoff teams, first 72 games: 38.5% winning %. Last 10 games: 37.1%.
    Bottom 7 teams, first 72 games: 33%. Last 10 games: 33%
    If you take Philly out, the bottom 7 teams actually played better in the last 10 games (mostly due to the Nets)

  20. GoNyGoNyGo

    Tanking sucks. So does “We’re resting 5 of our rotation players” crap. They are 2 separate cases.

    To stop the tanking, the solution is simple. Stop with the lottery. Give the #1 pick to the team that had the BEST record but didn’t make the playoffs. The worst team gets their pick just before the playoff teams.

    Note that this makes the team want to win, but there’s zero incentive for the players. In their case, they should get a dollar bonus for finishing better than last.

  21. Frank

    @20 – most of that is driven by the Lakers and the Nets.
    The Nets had nothing to play for, so they played well.
    The Lakers won in spite of Walton actively trying to extra-tank. So while the result was not losing, it’s not because there wasn’t institutional backing of tanking.

    To be clear – a lot of the bad record pre-game 72 was driven by the Lakers and Nets sucking, so it looks extra “good” when they actually play well.

    In addition, the very worst teams in the league played each other A LOT — if I remember correctly, the 76ers, Nets, and Magic played each other 2x each over the last 10 games of the season. Someone has to win those games, so that automatically exaggerates win totals (over those games the collective winning % will be 50%, rather than what they would have been if they had by chance been playing another team).

  22. Frank

    by the way this all just goes to show that I still think my method is best.

    Make wins count for lottery ping pong balls at the end of the year when most teams know if they’re in the playoff hunt or not. The currently “tanking” teams will then play all out to get a better pick.

    Keep the system where the worst teams still get better picks – so for most of the year count the losses as a “positive” for lottery balls. the very worst teams will still generally have a better chance at a better pick.

    introduce uncertainty by making the switchover random from ping pong balls for losses to ping pong balls for wins so that teams can’t game it.

  23. Frank O.

    Hard to care. Tanking makes it even harder to care.
    The NBA is too diluted. Probably too many teams. The talent drop off is severe.
    The league has a coaching problem as well. Lots of recycling of unsuccessful coaches.
    No trade clauses should simply not be allowed.

  24. djphan

    there isn’t going to be a solution to this… it’s a difficult problem… you have the nets tanking games for a 2nd rd pick fer chrissakes….

    i think the best solution is taking the record at some point after the ASB but before the end of the season used solely for lottery purposes… but you also run the risk of team’s tanking well ahead of that date also and further undermining the regular season…

  25. the don nelson era

    It’ll never happen but the most interesting thing I can think of is a winner’s purse and a loser’s purse for every game. It’s divvied up between franchise and roster accordingly, and losses hit you where you feel it.

    Teams would be incentivized to win, players would be disincentivized to play selfishly. It’d be beautiful. Impossible, but beautiful.

  26. Hugo Busto

    another idea I stumbled on

    Just imagine 3 different lottery scenario,

    -one rewarding the worst teams
    -one rewarding the team that just missed the play-offs (because those teams also deserve and need a top prospect)
    -one with equal odds for every lottery team

    At the end of the season do a lottery to determine which lottery rule is applied this year.

    Have fun tanking when you don’t know if it increase your 1st or 14th pick odds

  27. GoNyGoNyGo

    @26 – your “purse” idea has merits. The problem is that a $5,000 check means something to someone Chasson Randle, what does it mean to Carmelo Anthony?

  28. the don nelson era

    @28, it would require seriously altering the economic structure of the league so it’s an impossibility.

    But where players now sign for X% of the cap space a team has, they would instead be signing for X% of the purse. Melo’s contract now states he gets 30% of the cap. Instead, he gets 30% of the purse while a minimum player like Randle gets 1%, or whatever it would be. Melo in particular would be the sort of player exposed by such an arrangement. You have to think the brand suffers when you look at the career earnings list and he’s, like, 80th instead of whichever 5th or whatever place he occupies on the scorer’s list.

  29. Z-man

    I’m mostly with DRed. The tanking problem has been blown out of proportion. Clearly the two goals of a) eliminating tanking and b) increasing competitive balance by having the worse teams draft before the better teams, are definitely in conflict. But as it stands, the worst team has only a 25% chance of drafting first and is probably picking a freshman who might be nothing special, maybe even a bust. Tanking makes very little difference.

    To me, the real problem is the lack of competitive balance in the league, of which tanking is but a minor symptom. The reality is that good teams tend to stay good and bad teams tend to stay bad. The league allows teams to grossly mismanage their affairs and to put themselves in a position where even tanking won’t help. What team has moved up substantially in the standings over the last few mainly as a result of tanking? If you look at playoff teams over the last 6 years, especially the contenders, it’s generally the same teams over and over again.

    The CBA just doesn’t promote competitive balance. Teams like the Knicks and Nets get stuck with lousy guaranteed long term contracts and are both bad and capped out. There’s really no short-term reset button. I mean, how far away are the Knicks, Nets, Magic, Suns, Wolves, Kings, Pelicans and Lakers from being contenders? What are the odds that any of them win a championship in the next five years? Is there any other team sport where making progress over that long of a time span is so daunting?

    Outside of the Pats, the NBA is the most predictable of the four major sports. That’s really the problem. I mean, look at the NFL, where draft order is strictly based on record and there’s so much less bitching and moaning about tanking, even though it clearly happens and is impactful.

    On the other hand, you have teams like the Cavs coasting through the regular season because they know they will probably go to the ECFs. That to me is even worse than tanking.

  30. Z-man

    The best thing for the NBA would be to contract by enough teams so that every team was certain to have 10 quality rotation players. Make it so that nearly every team in the league is at most a player or two away from contending. Then have amnesty provisions every couple of years and eliminate the trading of draft picks, or that all first round picks that are traded are automatically lottery-protected. Don’t allow players to be traded until they have played at least a year for the team that drafted them.

    Some other changes I’d like to see:

    Make the court 6 feet wider and move the 3-pt line out 3 feet.
    Make the illegal screen a violation rather than a foul.
    Make purposely rolling the ball a violation.
    Eliminate calling a timeout when on the floor in a scramble or falling out of bounds.
    Allow teams to choose to shoot one FT and then inbound the ball rather than shoot two free throws (to eliminate intentional fouls.

  31. geo

    so, does this make phil look more douchey or less…

    i have to imagine though this is going to want to make melo stay in new york even more.

  32. GoNyGoNyGo

    @30 – You are correct. One of the big problems is the inability to get bad contracts off the books.

    For example, if the Knicks wanted to cut Noah now, they are screwed. The only money that should be considered for the cap is contracts for active players. This doesn’t mean that Dolan gets off the hook for a useless player like Noah. He gets paid, but that salary should come off the cap. That solves a lot of the problem with that.

    @32 – On your ideas:
    1) Contract – I vote NO.
    2) Make the court 6 feet wider and move the 3-pt line out 3 feet. – I vote Yes.
    Make the illegal screen a violation rather than a foul. – I vote Yes.
    Make purposely rolling the ball a violation. – I vote No (it’s only seconds).
    Eliminate calling a timeout when on the floor in a scramble or falling out of bounds. – I vote an emphatic Yes.
    Allow teams to choose to shoot one FT and then inbound the ball rather than shoot two free throws (to eliminate intentional fouls. – I vote no. Instead, I would like to see it revert back to the 1970’s 3 shots to make 2 when a team is over the limit. That eliminates the hack-a-whomever.

  33. Z-man

    Thanks for the thoughtful responses, GNYGNYG.

    I didn’t like the 3 to make 2 b/c it slows the game down.

  34. Philmelo

    Phil’s a genius. This entire feud between him and Melo is all a smokescreen to cover over the latter’s divorce drama. Philmelo continues! 5th dimensional thinking prevails! By the end of summer Melo will be in LA!

  35. latke

    Tanking fix is simple: eliminate the max individual salary. The only reason tanking is so important is because the max individual salary makes the very best players even more valuable than they really are. If you only get a discount on the player during his rookie contract, he’s still just producing about as much as he’s paid to produce once his rookie contract is up, and the rookie contract isn’t that great a value when few NBA players are particularly productive before age 21.

    Yeah, there are problems with this in terms of messing up continuity and giving small market teams fewer advantages, but you can make other adjustments… Hell, make all bird rights players’ contracts count for like 5% less against the cap. Maybe make there one designated player slot where the player counts for 10% less than his salary so there’s still a little advantage to having stars, keeping the playoffs more populated with stars. Then, teams still get an advantage by drafting well (the 5% discount) but it’s not outrageously and insurmountably huge. Like Lebron makes like $20-$30m less per year than he’d get with no individual max salary.

    In the end, teams will always go through stages when they’re developing young players and losing a lot and stages when they are trying to compete. But this will make it a lot more feasible for a team to achieve greatness without a superstar, thus reducing their dependency on picking at the top of the draft.

  36. Hugo Busto

    What exactly is wrong with the current CBA? I mean its PHIL’s fault for giving shitty contract to Joakim, he doesn’t deserve a bailout.

    The thing with the NBA is that every year there are only like ~8 teams capable of winning a championship

    ” you have teams like the Cavs coasting through the regular season because they know they will probably go to the ECFs”

    Lebron averaged insane minutes this year, I don’t think that is considered coasting

  37. geo

    yo ras…just finished watching he full first season of legion…man, that is some good shit…love the music, acting, most of the dialogue, wardrobe /set design; and, the cinematography is just incredible… that’s is some serious quality boob tube action…

    have to admit though – right around chapter 5 – the prevailing thought that stayed in my head – wow, if they can make the astral plane and the shadow king interesting and scary – i really hope they give us nathaniel essex…i don’t think he’s made an appearance yet in any of the films…

  38. Donnie Walsh

    As somebodyyhat proposed the tier system here a few days ago, I like this article a lot (it makes even more sense when you present it than when I did:)

  39. Philmelo

    yo ras…just finished watching he full first season of legion…man, that is some good shit…love the music, acting, most of the dialogue, wardrobe /set design; and, the cinematography is just incredible… that’s is some serious quality boob tube action…

    They are challenging Daredevil and Jessica Jones for best superhero TV show on right now.

    have to admit though – right around chapter 5 – the prevailing thought that stayed in my head – wow, if they can make the astral plane and the shadow king interesting and scary
    I want to save Sinister for the movies since he’s the biggest X-Men villain that hasn’t been introduced to the universe yet.

    Shadow King was a perfect choice since he’s a really cerebral villain that doesn’t pose an actual physical threat whose powers can be used in a variety of ways. I would have loved to see an X-Men film where they fought him in their dreams.

    i really hope they give us nathaniel essex…i don’t think he’s made an appearance yet in any of the films…

    I kind of want to save him for the movies. He’s the biggest X-Men villain they haven’t introduced yet.

  40. MSA

    The easiest way to end any form of tanking is ending the draft AND the rookie scale contract.

    Why should they get paid any less than a veteran?

    Let teams try to fit rookie salaries under their cap situation. If the competitive balance is really a problem, maybe let the non-playoff teams have some sort of advantage like the opportunity to negotiate first, for example.

  41. Accidentank 2017

    Melo and LaLa aren’t getting divorced. It’s an amicable separation they’re doing right now with no plans for a divorce. Likely it’s over the Knicks situation where Melo decided its best for his wife and child to stay in New York while he gets out of a toxic situation with the Knicks and Phil Jackson. It works for us, yes, but I really hope he and his wife stay together. I hate seeing divorces.

  42. GoNyGoNyGo

    @Geo and Philmelo – Based on your discussions I am starting Legion. Daredevil & Jessica Jones were awesome.

  43. Grocer

    That wouldn’t be a horrible way to organize the draft, but one issue:

    But I’d also arm the commissioner with the power to expand Tier 1 to six or seven teams and lower odds to 8% to deter throwing games.

    The commissioner should not have that kind of arbitrary power. Even the appearance of favoritism on the part of the commissioner is bad, building a system that guarantees it every year is a really bad idea.

    I’m mostly with DRed though, I don’t think there’s a tanking problem. The bad teams just suck. There’s still plenty of good basketball going on. If a front office sits some guys for a few weeks at the end of the season it’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t bother me that it creates perverse incentives. Basketball is complicated, there’s no reason we should expect the simplicity of a constant win at all costs strategy. Likewise, when you’re eliminated from the playoffs or have clinched your spot teams should reduce minutes for your most valuable players. The injury risk is too great compared to what you get. Be like the Spurs, they’re doing it right.

    The league does have a problem with the appearance of tanking, which is mostly the fault of The Process getting in people’s heads. But the league has already shown that if you deliberately lose for multiple seasons to game the system it will step in a force a regime change in your front office. I’m sure that Silver is having a chat with any owners who are considering hiring Hinkie.

    I’d be open to some fines for teams that appear to deliberately throw games but not much more than that. But the NBA has to reward teams for being bad. There are always going to be badly managed teams, or ones that suck due to injury or busts ect. The draft is the only real tool the league has to spread talent around the league. They can’t force teams to be better at basketball, but they can try to spread the ‘stars’ around the league and that…

  44. Grocer

    @Geo and Philmelo – Based on your discussions I am starting Legion.

    He’s got the quickness and vision to be a great PG, but I question his effect on the locker room. Seems like a headcase.

  45. KnickfaninNJ

    On the subject of Melo’s separation being “amicable”, that only means they are not fighting publicly and have agreed on the terms of the separation without a major fight. It doesn’t at all mean unstressful. It seems like a helluva year for the Knicks in many ways.

  46. KnickfaninNJ

    On the subject of solving the tanking problem, I think changing to different ping pong balls or different timing any of the other solutions discussed will just create different opportunities for tanking, not solve the problem. And I am not sure there really is a problem either about tanking. I think we have to let bad teams get better picks so as to give them a chance and hope. And it works sometimes. Look at Cleveland and Minnesota for example. That’s good for the league.

    But, if you really want to address tanking, maybe you could make all GM contracts subject to mandatory review by the league with possible complete cancellation by the league if a team loses too many games at the end of two or three seasons in a row. That way tanking too much risks the GM’s his job, but lousy teams still get good shots at draft picks and have hope to improve.

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