NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed possible solutions to tanking in recent comments to Phoenix Suns employees, noting that he understands why teams would do this when a “player who only plays once in a generation” is about to Entry into the league stands, according to sources who were present.
Silver called it a “serious issue” that has sparked “hundreds” of meetings, and Silver’s comments came during a question-and-answer session at the Suns’ arena this week, where Silver also spoke multiple times on behalf of the league office at a large group of Suns employees apologized for workplace misconduct under the team’s majority owner, Robert Sarver.
During the session, a staffer asked Silver about tanking, a topic widely expected to dominate the conversation in the league, with 7ft 4 French phenom Victor Wembanyama – a potential franchise-changing prospect – as the Number 1 forecast is Pick in draft 2023.
“We’ve notified the teams,” Silver told employees. “We will pay special attention to the topic this year.”
Referring to a concept in European football, Silver told staff that the league had been considering relegation as a possible solution to ensure the worst-performing teams were given an incentive to compete. But the commissioner then said the relegation would “destabilize” the NBA.
In such a scenario, Silver told staffers, relegation would essentially mean demoting the worst team or two to the G League while also promoting the best team or two from the G League to the NBA.
“It would be so disruptive to our business model,” Silver told employees. “And even if you picked up two teams from the G League, they wouldn’t be equipped to compete in the NBA.”
To reduce tanking, the NBA flattened the odds for draft lotteries in 2019, so now the teams with the three worst records in the regular season each have a 14% chance of winning the lottery. (Before that, the team with the worst record had a 25% chance, the second worst team had a 19.9% chance, and the third worst team had a 15.6% chance.)
Still, Silver told staff refueling remains an issue this season.
“That’s something we have to watch out for,” Silver said. “A draft is a good system in principle. But I get it, especially when there’s a sense of a unique player emerging like we’re having this year.” Silver didn’t mention Wembanyama by name, sources said, but added that the league will adjust as necessary.
“Teams are smarter, they’re creative, and they’re responsive — we move, they move — so we’re always looking to see if there’s a better system out there,” Silver told staff.
Silver also addressed a question he shared with Suns staff about league expansion. The league will take a closer look at the league once it completes the forthcoming television rights negotiations. (The NBA’s current TV rights package, a nine-year deal with ESPN and Turner Sports, is expected to expire after the 2024-25 season.)
“In order to evaluate all the new teams coming in, we need to know where we stand from a media point of view; this is obviously our most significant revenue stream overall,” Silver told employees.
But Silver also discussed the “potential dilution of talent” — that is, adding more teams would weaken the overall product.
“None of us can remember going into a season where that much competition was perceived, but the goal is still to have 30 competitive teams, not 20 or whatever, so we think we’re paying attention the dilution factor,” he told employees.
Still, Silver said the league is doing well overall and there’s no shortage of strong candidates for new teams in new cities, although he didn’t name specific cities. Las Vegas and Seattle are considered potential candidates for new NBA teams should the league expand.
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34854066/adam-silver-says-nba-monitoring-serious-tanking-issue-sources-say Adam Silver says NBA monitoring ‘serious’ tanking issue, sources say