Unfortunately, tanking has been a major issue for the NBA in recent seasons.
Teams that are out of playoff contention have been incentivized to lose, benefitting from the current lottery system. Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks was recently fined for admitting that his team was tanking. In the past, the Philadelphia 76ers were very open about their losing ways while “trusting the process”.
The NBA changed the lottery system to slightly prevent the benefits of tanking which will first take effect in the summer of 2019. But, there’s no guarantee that the new rules will completely solve the issue.
Therefore, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has had to think outside the box.
Since the league currently crowns one champion at the end of a long playoff run, Silver has been exploring a radical idea and it might actually come to fruition very soon.
“I continue to covet other leagues, especially when I look at international soccer, where there’s more things to play for than just one championship trophy. So back in the league office, we’ve looked at mid-season tournaments, we’ve looked at playoff play-in tournaments. I would just say we’re still studying it. I’m balancing it against tradition,” he recently told David Locke of the Locked On NBA podcast.
Right now, the NBA is in the process of gathering information on the subject.
“I think in terms of other tournaments, we’re gonna study things,” Silver added. “We’re especially looking at other things around how teams move into the playoffs. Maybe that’s also a way to deal with the rebuilding issue that’s become so prominent in the league now. Nothing to announce yet.”
Since roughly a third of the league’s teams have no reason to win at the moment due to their status at the bottom of the standings, creating a mid-season tournament or even some kind of end-of-year tournament for non-playoff teams could invite more franchises to make an effort to win.
Creating a tournament mid-way through the year would also crown another champion during the season, something that has been a staple of European soccer. Although that would be a radical change from what NBA fans have been accustomed to, it could be a way to incentivize teams to win early on and could certainly increase interest from fans.
Listen HERE to the first episode of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring former Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin.
Although it’s still early in the brainstorming process, it’s clear that Silver is committed to delivering the best product possible to NBA fans around the globe.