The Dallas Mavericks will select ninth in this NBA Draft next month, a spot where they should be able to land a quality rotation player (at the least, many scouts think there are hidden gems down the board in this class).
They got to ninth by tanking, rather than making a push for the playoffs. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had admitted this before but confirmed it on the Dan Patrick show on Wednesday. You can see the clip above, but here is the money quote:
“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything we could to lose games,” Cuban said, referring to roster moves.
That meant moving veterans — trading Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, for example — and playing their young guys heavy minutes. They lost nine of their last 11 games with a lineup heavy on Seth Curry, Nerlens Noel, Harrison Barnes, and Yogi Ferrell.
Which shouldn’t be a shock, here is what Cuban said back in March:
“We obviously haven’t played well enough to be in the playoffs right now, but we’re playing a lot better… Look, if I wasn’t realistic about the value of a draft pick, we would have kept D-Will, we would have kept Andrew. We would be playing an older lineup, but now we’re playing our young guys.
“That supposedly is the definition of tanking: You play your youngest players to give them experience without the expectation you’re going to win. In our case, we’re playing our youngest players, but we’re playing them with the expectation that they’re going to win. I think that’s the best type of experience.”
Cuban is being up front about what most NBA teams do. Few teams ever go all in for the full season tank (ala Sixers for a couple of years, although it has worked out for them as their roster gets stacked), most teams go into the season with optimism, but when that wears off they change plans. Maybe that happens around Christmas, maybe not until the All-Star break, but teams decide “let’s get our young guys experience and lose some games to help our draft stock.”
The only difference here, Cuban is just being honest about it.
I’d be shocked if the league tried to fine him or anything for this. What he often says about officiating boils the blood more at the league office far more than this.