NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that tanking to increase chances for a better position in the NBA Draft is of increasing concern to the league, according to an article published by ESPN. Writer Baxter Holmes quoted Silver as he addressed members of the Phoenix Suns organization in multiple meetings on league and franchise-specific topics.
“We put teams on notice,” Silver told employees. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”
The article said Silver discussed the concept of “relegation” from international soccer. Relegation demotes the bottom-performing teams from the highest league to a lower one, promoting the top teams from the lower league in their stead. In this case, the switch would presumably happen between the NBA and the G-League. This would lead to all sorts of issues. Silver mentioned the business model—obvious when you consider trading the New York Knicks for a team in Albuquerque, New Mexico—but G-League franchises also contain players under contract with NBA squads. Theoretically you could have a team competing with its own players, else the G-League team would be gutted before it ever hit the Association as players were withdrawn to avoid the scenario.
Continuing on the subject of tanking:
“It’s something we have to watch for,” Silver said. “A draft is, in principle, a good system. But I get it, especially when there is a sense that a once-in-a-generation player is coming along, like we have this year.” Silver didn’t mention Wembanyama by name, sources present said, but added that the league will adjust as necessary.
“Teams are smarter, they are creative, and they respond — we move, they move — so we’re always looking to see whether there’s yet a better system,” Silver told employees.
Tanking is of particular concern this year, as French 7-footer Victor Wembanyama, a once-in-a-generation talent, is expected to be the prize for the franchise earning the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Silver also addressed NBA expansion and the turmoil engulfing the Suns following sanctions against team owner Robert Sarver.