NBA owner reportedly berated coach for beating good team, not tanking
As long as the NBA keeps its draft system the way it currently is, tanking will always be a huge issue across the league, particularly late in the season. For at least one team owner, tanking was an absolute must down the stretch.
In the latest edition of his podcast with Bobby Marks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about how rampant tanking was across the league during the final weeks of the regular season. According to Woj, one NBA owner went off on his head coach after his team beat a quality opponent on the road.
“There were teams literally signing G League players, intentionally bringing up guys they knew could not play in the NBA because they were determined to lose games,” Wojnarowski said. “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 and going, ‘What are you doing?’”
There is a lot of speculation about which team he was referring to, but two possibilities are the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies, who finished with the second-worst record in the league and just a game ahead of the Phoenix Suns, beat the Timberwolves in Minnesota on March 26. Atlanta beat the Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics — all playoff teams — on the road over the final three weeks of the season.
One high-profile owner has already been fined for talking about his intentions to tank, and his team seemed committed to doing just that down the stretch. The bottom line is there is no incentive to win games when you’re out of the playoff picture and the draft is so important. Unless the NBA changes the draft format, teams will always find ways to tank.