“When six teams are racing to the bottom, you don’t want to race for the bottom,” Cuban said. “When teams aren’t racing to the bottom, which is more like this year, then you play your heart out and you win as many games as you can. Your young guys learn how to play to win, and you’re still going to have a chance at a good pick if things don’t work for you.”
The league has never hidden its distaste for tanking, and sources around the NBA say Silver grew more irritated after the Sixers lost their first 18 games last fall and Okafor was involved in multiple off-court incidents. Ultimately, those sources say, it is likely that a combination of all those factors led to Jerry Colangelo’s hiring.
Does the current NBA draft lottery system hand out consolation prizes for poor records? Or does the system simply help rebuilding teams to ensure league parity? Does an NBA team’s draft fortune rely on a pingpong ball bouncing its way? Or have those franchises set their respective teams up for failure to maximize their odds at a coveted draft pick? “We have to do something to stop the incentive for teams to tank,” said one NBA owner, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue. “You shouldn’t be rewarded for stripping your team down.”
The Sixers could have 16 draft picks in the next five years, while fielding a team that went a combined 47-195 in the previous three seasons. Last month, Sam Hinkie resigned as Sixers general manager and president of basketball operations amid mounting criticism of his approach. “Everybody has rigged the system. It wasn’t new what Philadelphia was doing,” said one Eastern Conference general manager. “It’s just that Sam was so brazen about how he went about it. He acted like he reinvented the wheel.”
Similar questions emerged amid a proposal Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said has “zero chance” of becoming a reality. “All draft eligibles are free agents,” Cuban wrote in an email. “They can sign with whatever team they want. However, the amount of dollars slotted for that team would be allocated proportionately by record. Worst record gets the most dollars to spend on a rookie. Best record the least.”