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Mark Cuban: ‘It’s an absolute’ Eastern Conference teams are tanking

Mar 27, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reacts at the end of the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers during their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas Reuters

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver keeps insisting teams don’t tank, but that gets really hard this time of year.

Have you seen the 76ers play? Plus, more and more teams will start tanking as they’re eliminated from playoff contention. Rarely do teams begin the season tanking, but once the postseason is out of the picture, increasing lottery odds becomes more tolerable. Players will miss games with minor injuries. Coaches will use experimental lineups with young players.

If it hasn’t completely already, Silver’s message will fall on deaf ears.

It definitely doesn’t help when an owner directly contradicts him, either.

Appearing on Pardon the Interruption yesterday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked about Eastern Conference teams tanking at 14:05. Cuban:

Oh, yeah. There’s no suggestion. It’s an absolute.

The Eastern Conference’s five worst teams: Bucks, 76ers, Magic, Celtics and Pistons.

In the last month, those five teams have gone 4-47 when not playing each other or a couple Western Conference tanking candidates, the Jazz and Kings.

Prior, those five teams went 53-166 against other opponents.

When those teams go from winning 24 percent of games to 8 percent, that says something – that Cuban, not Silver, is right.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Love or Hate Cubes, you know what his stance is and in this case, like the NFL comments, I agree. As a fan of one of these tanking teams, it’s more about talent on the roster than effort on the floor.

    Hump is playing like he’s in the playoffs every night, Sully still cares, these guys look pissed when they lose which is nice.

    • casualcommenter - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Yep. Players generally play hard on the court for two reasons.

      First, they’re usually competitive guys. Second, their ability to land a big contract in the future depends on them putting up good numbers, even if they’re on a “tanking” team.

      So when fans criticize teams for tanking, it’s not that players are intentionally missing shots or throwing the ball out of bounds in games. Instead, tanking is when teams at the GM level make a strategic decision to try to lose games, so teams begin trading away their decent but older players for future draft picks. They also begin resting key players for routine injuries like “knee tendinitis” for weeks rather than days. They make it nearly impossible for the players on the court to win, even if they’re trying their best.

      • sportsfan18 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        All true, good points…

        And yet, they are STILL tanking…

    • zerole00 - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      The players have never tanked, the team tanks by design.

      In any case, I think it’s pretty unfair to lump the Kings into the tanking group. They’re barely one year out from cutting the cord from their incompetent former owners.

    • nickjackalson - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:53 AM

      And don´t forget, he would still have players use PEDs, to help em tank more efficiently

    • ssmcgb - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      I understand there are teams that tank. But there is a huge difference between tanking and just sucking. To say the bucks are tanking is unbelievable. The bucks have sucked all yr long! They started the yr off going like 1-20 or somthin like that, they have the worst record in the nba not cuz there tanking cuz they suck and are really the worst team in the league. What did they win 10 games this yr! Why do they suck? Cuz they got nobody! And dont nobody wanna come to milwaukee to play wit nobody! A good free agent signing for the bucks would be just a bench warmer on a good team. There is no parity in the nba, thats why teams like the bucks in small markets will probly never do anything but be bottom feeders. There is no way they can compete with good teams, when they have no players! its like there a weak college school in the nba, got no chance. This coming from diehard bucks fan too. Bucks suck but i still will always support them and my city. I still blame george karl for fn bucks team up for yrs and yrs by trading ray ray away, bucks still trying rebound from that. But doesnt help when u do absolutely nothin wit yrs of draft picks either

  2. shuttaman1990 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    He’s mad because the mavs are not in the playoffs right now in the west, and would easily be in the playoffs in the east with their reccord.
    Lakers all day.

    • stephenlin - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Shuttaman1990, as a Lakers fan, I want nothing to do with your opinions. The Mavs are on the bubble for the eighth seed spot, and have a decent striking chance of making the playoffs at the end of the season. I came here to say I give them props for fighting hard this season (just as our Lakers have). It’s great to see somebody like Dirk still playing well.

      • romestar82 - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        there goes Shuttaman again!SMH Shut-it-MAn

      • irvfin3 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        stephenlin respect from a lakers fan though i despise the lakers i have respect for you guys and sad to see that jim buss has done. hopefully you guys bounce back soon.

      • shuttaman1990 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        Ok, good for you brother. The Mavs are fighting for that last spot in a ultra competitive Western Conference. Like I said his comment steams from being mad that the eastern conference is playing like total dog poo where his team easily could have been the 3rd seed there. This is my observation, you don’t have to agree with it, no one is forcing a gun to your head.

        For the mavs well screw em, I don’t care about giving props because they aren’t my team and I’m still salty about that sweep, and hopefully the lakers can get that pay back soon enough. Just like you don’t have to agree with me, I don’t have to be politically correct like you are right now kissing their butt.
        Oh yeah that chip they won that year, well the Heat lost that chip, that chip win was a god damn fluke.

        Lakers all day.

      • bendover09 - Mar 27, 2014 at 5:52 PM

        The Mavs right now have a chance either to be 5 through 9. Looks like someone is just speaking out of his ass since his Lakers are in a “tankin” phase. Kobie is pulling the peyton manning card. Bailing on a bad situation

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      Don’t let ’em get to you Shutta, they all jealous. lol

      Lakers all day

  3. tigers182 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    It’s also a league that openly embraces it’s big market teams to thrive. The Bucks have no shot at landing LeBron James in free agency. New York, LA, Miami will always be first in line to sign the top free agents, so the only way a third of the teams in the league are able to compete is getting a top draft pick, and hope to win with them before they leave for a big market team.

    • tfilarski - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      don’t really consider miami a “big market”.

      • tigers182 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        It’s a destination city that most people would prefer to live in than almost any other NBA city.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:36 PM

        No $tate income tax. Sunny beaches. Rockin’ nightlife. Billionaire owner.
        It’s big-market enough.

  4. cowboysfaninbuffalove - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    I wish the nuggets would start tanking. There the best of the lottery teams. I want to see them lose more and draft Doug ie McBuckets

  5. eagles512 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Who cares? If a team thinks tanking helps them get better, then tank.

    • jcmeyer10 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      I think the whole point is, the system rewards tanking, so to say teams aren’t tanking is asinine. I love my Celtics but I know what’s going on here.

      • tfoz5150 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        All league’s reward tanking (the Colts for Luck, the Penguins for Lemieux.). At least the NBA has a lottery system. Since 1990, only 3 teams with the worst record got the #1 pick.

      • sixerstrong - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        The odd part is that I have more love for this Sixers squad than I have for any of the other recent teams. They play extremely hard every night, and everyone loves rooting for an underdog. Most of these guys would have never had an opportunity like this in their entire careers, and guys like Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson may actually get a roster spot somewhere.

        Also, I think this puts to bed the idea that even the best college team could beat an NBA team (aside from an “any given Sunday” situation). Most of the guys on this team are only a couple years away from being the most elite college players in the country and they can barely keep up with established veterans.

  6. goldrush49ers - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    Everyone knows he’s talking about the San Antonio Spurs. Have you seen them recently? They are totally tanking it for a better draft pick.

  7. therealhtj - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Make the entire lottery a 1 team, 1 ping-pong ball system for all 14 picks and that’ll stop tanking in a hurry. There you have it. Problem solved.

    • zerole00 - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      That solves the problem of tanking, it does NOTHING to address competitive balance. In your flawed little world, outside of luck, teams that bad will just stay in a perpetual state of badness.

    • bhunter1995 - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      The system might not be perfect but it maintains a balance between good and bad teams, it forces rebuilds when good teams get old allowing the teams that were worse (and who were getting good picks) to come to the top. The only way to counteract that process is a great management group that can get players through free agents and trades.

      There was only one idea proposed in contention to the current draft system.

      The wheel idea that some GMs proposed is insane, a pre determined rotation of picks that gives teams high picks followed by low picks, that would crush young teams, imagine they give the Heat a top five pick? Yeah very fair. The system we currently have might encourage tanking but generally speaking tanking teams are already terrible to begin with, this is as fair as its gonna get so deal with it.

  8. pharohislife - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Well the 4 wins for those 5 teams combined this month VS the 53 wins for them combined last month mostly falls on the Pistons, cause us other 4 teams Bucks, Magic, 76ers and my Celtics have been losing and losing bad waaaaay before this month, the Pistons had been winning a respectable amount of games all season and now decide to hop on the tank train with us, we don’t want them more competition for those lotto balls, it’s almost like the battle for the 1 seed between the Pacers and Heat in reverse it’s gonna be a battle till the end.

  9. djshnooks - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Just like the Sabres in the NHL, coaches and players are playing to win.

    Tanking comes from the front office…and if it’s the best way to build your team, oh well.

    Not every team can buy a team of all-stars like Mark Cuban…he needs to learn to worry about his own team, and his own league…which is nothing to the NFL, and it will never even come close to the NFL.

    • bendover09 - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Since when has Cuban had a team of allstars?

      I’ll say it again,

      Dirk NBA rings without another star player – 1

      Kobe NBA rings without another star player – 0


      • kinggw - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        When he had Dirk, Marion, Kidd, and Caron Butler. The Mavs also had Tyson Chandler who later became an all star and Jason Terry who was an excellent player for them.

      • xonxrocket - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:42 AM

        You consider Pau Gasol a star with his 4x all star appearances?

        Then you should consider Shawn Mario a star as well with his 4x all star appearances.

      • xonxrocket - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:48 AM

        You consider Pau Gasol a star with his 4x all star appearances?

        Then you should consider Shawn Marion a star as well with his 4x all star appearances.

      • unxpexted1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        During Kobe’s last two championships he never had another all star companion. They may have been one before or after, but weren’t all stars during those runs. Shawn Marion was an all star as well.

      • granadafan - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Jason Kidd is a Hall of Famer

  10. campcouch - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Cuban forgets that the “Western Powers” were all bad at some point. Even his beloved Mavs were sad sacks prior to his arrival. OKC/Sea were bad,or has he forgotten that’s how they drafted KD,Portland was in the same boat quite a few times,they even thought of blowing the current team up before this season,Golden State,bad until two seasons ago,the Clippers,terrible until CP3 showed up,Phx wasn’t even considered a viable team until this season,Houston even with Yao Ming and TMac were middling and weren’t even considered a division contender until Howard arrived. So he flubbed the ball himself when he tried to get LeBron,D Williams or Howard there and wound up with OJ Mayo the Monte Ellis as consolation prizes. So bad teams will happen in both conferences,and the East still leads the West in titles 37-29…probably will be 38-29 after this season.

  11. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    But they’re not tanking. Silver said so. They’re rebuilding.

    This place really needs a sarcasm font.

  12. slimrjs - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Yes Mark, the Celtics are tanking going 3-7 last 10 beating playoff teams like (Miami and Brooklyn) please concentrate on getting your Mavs in the playoffs or your team will be battling us for the #1 pick in the draft

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