Philadelphia is one of several that are going bad to get good. Call it the Oklahoma City method, call it tanking, call it “winless for Wiggins,” call it whatever you like — the fact is this is one of the deepest drafts in a decade next summer and teams will be finding ways to lose games and increase their lottery odds. Philadelphia made a smart call, not wanting to be a stagnant .500 team with Jrue Holiday, so they traded him to New Orleans for the potential of Nerlens Noel, who will miss at least a chunk of the season as he recovers from knee surgery. Philly has stockpiled picks and young players, but that will mean losses this season. And a high lottery pick. How does David Stern feel about this? Not thrilled he said at the Beyond Sports Summit last week when asked about Philly and the “winless for Wiggins” movement (as reported at Liberty Ballers and Philly.com).
“That is so… small,” said Stern. “I hope they have a great season and don’t have the chance for the No. 1 pick.”
That’s the right thing to say. And Stern is right that even if you have the worst record in the league you have a 25 percent chance at the top pick — and 75 percent chance you don’t. Teams that have tanked in the past haven’t seen it work (Boston in 2007, for example). But in a draft with multiple potential franchise players, teams will take their chances.
The second half of this season tanking and what (if anything) the league should do about it will become a topic — one that will fall on Commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver’s lap when he takes over Feb. 1. You’re going to hear a lot more about it. And saying it is small is not going to be enough for some fans, the problem is the answers are not simple nor is there a perfect solution. Have fun in the commissioner’s chair, Adam.