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NBA commissioner Adam Silver says league can do more to address tanking

NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the All-Star festivities

NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the All-Star festivities in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 16, 2019. Credit: AP/Gerry Broome

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that his league is not doing enough to address tanking, which has been a problem for decades.

"I think the league can do more," Silver said at the Associated Press Sports Editors commissioners meetings in Manhattan. "Long-term, it's very corrosive to the league."

Tanking is when a team appears to give up on a season and tries to position itself for the future, with the end result being a potential high pick — and likely very talented player — in the league's draft. A team can turn its fortunes around by continuing to build a talented roster of young players through high picks in the draft. The NBA has no set guidelines or rules to prove whether a team is tanking.

The 14 teams that do not make the playoffs are entered into the draft lottery, which determines the order in which teams will select players.

The NBA has changed the draft lottery rules six times in its history. The league office and Board of Governors acknowledged that the perception of tanking was a problem and approved a new format for this year's lottery on May 14 in Chicago. Under the new format, the bottom three teams each have a 14-percent chance of getting the top overall pick. The Knicks, who finished with the league's worst record, can pick no lower than fifth. Under the old format, the worst team could pick no lower than fourth.

"The change in the odds for this season will not in any way be the last word on this subject," Silver said.

Before this season, the team with the worst record had a 25-percent chance of getting the first pick, while the second-worst team had a 19.9-percent chance and the third-worst had a 15.6-percent chance.

"I am increasingly concerned...that you're going to have fans rooting for their teams not to do well," Silver said.

New York Sports