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Bryan Colangelo admits to tanking when he was GM of the Raptors

Feb 28, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT

Raptors general manager Colangelo takes questions during the team's media day before the upcoming NBA basketball season in Toronto Reuters

BOSTON — Former Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo appeared as part of the basketball analytics panel at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday, and as part of a discussion about revamping the draft lottery system, shared an story about how he tried to “tank” in one of his final seasons in Toronto, albeit unsuccessfully.

“I like it because there’s no assurances when you do tank,” Colangelo said, responding to a question about the implementation of a “wheel” system where future draft picks would be largely pre-determined, therefore eliminating any incentive for teams finishing at the bottom of the standings.

“Admittedly, I will say, I tried to tank a couple years ago,” Colangelo said. “And I didn’t ‘come out and say, ‘Coach, you’ve got to lose games.’ I never said that. I wanted to have him establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that, but I wanted to do it in the framework of playing and developing young players, and with that comes losing. There’s just no way to avoid that, but I never once said, ‘You’ve got to lose this game.’ ”

Colangelo explained how tanking didn’t exactly work out in 2011-12, because had his team won just one additional game, they would have been in the running for Damian Lillard with the sixth pick instead of selecting eighth, where the team ultimately drafted Terrence Ross. Of course, had they lost even more, Colangelo pointed out, they would have had a better chance at landing Anthony Davis — meaning that trying to solidify one’s fate in this area can be more maddening than it is satisfying.

“There’s no assurances,” Colangelo said. “I do like the certainty of the (new, proposed) process. I think there are some merits to obviously take it to the next step, except I wish we could start it sooner because there really is some ugly basketball being played.”

We’ve always said that tanking is something that never happens on the level of players and coaches, but rather is executed at the front office level in terms of the roster that ends up being assembled and made available to the coaching staff. Colangelo admitted as much.

  1. sumkat - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:22 PM


    so basically he’s saying that he used mock drafts, and if he had won 1 more game, he would of been in a slot to choose Lillard? If the needed to win another game to be in that spot, that means the Raptors passed on him, correct?

    So tanking doesn’t work because he can’t draft?

  2. csilojohnson - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    right up there with diving.
    sad reality in pro sports.
    dollar dollar bills yall

  3. tfoz5150 - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Everbody does it…Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, even the Toronto Raptors

  4. sportsnut101 - Mar 1, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    Change the system so simple

  5. slclions - Mar 1, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    does failing at failing make him a winner???

  6. 00maltliquor - Mar 1, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    FINE HIM STER……uh….

  7. getlow81 - Mar 1, 2014 at 2:53 AM

    Because we needed Bryan Colangelo to admit that he tanked for us to know teams tank? I guess you’re can tell the Bucks are really trying hard this year with their signing of OJ Mayo in the offseason along with Zaza Pachulia.

  8. 1historian - Mar 1, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    It’s like being in a full elevator at the top of a 100 story building and someone cuts one, or maybe a few people do so, and no one has the guts to admit it.

    Sorry – that just popped into my head and I just HAD to share it.

    Have a nice day.

  9. Mark - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Being a poor GM and trying to tank are two different things, but I guess it’s easier to admit you tried to lose than the fact you were awful at your job.

  10. m4a188 - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    He couldn’t even tank properly, this guy is all smoke and mirrors. Nash made him and without him he is nothing.

  11. stephenolszewski - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I’m absolutely stunned an NBA team would tank to get the #1 pick…..

  12. drewsylvania - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    When the league decides to stop being corrupt, I’ll start watching.

  13. RavenzGunnerz - Mar 1, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Make it a 5yrs record avg. Ditch the lottery. If you want to take 5yrs of awfulness, then be my guest.

  14. program33 - Mar 1, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    It’s not personal. just business. What a world.

  15. ProBasketballPundit - Mar 1, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    WHAT!? Adam Silver was wrong?

  16. bhunter1995 - Mar 2, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    The wheel is a bad idea, teams don’t usually try to tank unless they already suck. I can only think of one blatant example which is when the Spurs sat Robinson for an entire season to get Tim Duncan. Other then that the “tanking” teans are pretty bad already. As for the wheel, it would make the next few years a strange time in the NBA. Imagine the Miami Heat get the first pick in 2016, yeah pretty bad for everyone who isn’t a Heat fan and the Bucks who made an honorable attempt at being competitive for the last decade get the 28th pick, yeah very fair. Tanking teams are already bad and changin the system will just make the terrible teams slightly better as they will try and retain the somewhat talented players they would normally dump.

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