Tanking Rumors

The 76ers spent four years throwing games, but the Process netted them Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Now, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke on his weekend podcast about teams “determined to lose,” with GMs calling up players they knew weren’t NBA-quality and owners lambasting coaches for winning. “I know of an instance of an owner berating — really berating — his coach here in the last several weeks of the season for going in and beating a pretty good team on the road, going, ‘What are you doing?’” the NBA insider reported.
It wasn’t just the fans — owners were saying the same thing, too. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had front office insider Bobby Marks on his podcast and told this story (at around the 30-minute mark, hat tip NBA Reddit). “I never heard more talk from front office executives frustration with coaches who were winning games they didn’t want them to win. And owners, I know of an instance of an owner berating, really berating his coach here in the last several weeks of the season for going in and beating a pretty good team on the road, going ‘what are you doing?’ And think about that, that should not be going on.”
Adam Silver: Putting aside tanking—I’ll say the word, which to me, suggests players or coaches are intentionally losing games, and I think if I, as the commissioner, ever thought that was actually what was happening on the floor, of course we’d step in—but then there is legitimate rebuilding. You see it in lots of businesses, where an organization says, ‘We need to bring in new talent. It’s gonna take time to develop and train them.’ […] I’m not about to penalize a team for trading away a veteran to get draft picks because that’s how the league works. Finding and calibrating this is not an exact science, but we’ll even have to spend more time focused on it if sports betting becomes legal.