Ross Castaldo, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 21, 2015
With the NBA trade deadline approaching, contending teams are now looking to add the final pieces for the playoff push. On the other hand, the less fortunate teams are looking to gather assets to help build for their future. In other words, they are tanking.
Tanking is a new trend in basketball that is used by non-contending teams in the NBA. The front offices of NBA teams attempt to rebuild their franchise faster by setting up their teams to lose. As the team’s record worsens, their odds for a higher draft pick increases. A top pick can often change a franchise’s record quickly.
As a basketball decision, it makes sense to tank. If you are a mediocre team stuck in the middle of the conference, it is difficult to bring in talent necessary to bring your team to the next level. Tanking has many benefits for struggling teams. They can trade and release players and lower the team’s overall salary. Teams often trade their assets for draft picks, and with a losing record, they often can add a few young players who can bring a breath of fresh air to a team.
In basketball, perspective tanking makes sense, but is it fair for the fans? NBA tickets are known to be the second most expensive ticket in professional sports. Is it fair for the fans to spend money on lousy teams that are built to lose? The Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks have ticket prices that average more than $100 per seat. Both of these teams play to near full houses and yet are embracing tanking this season. The Knicks own the league’s worst record up to this point, while the Lakers aren’t doing much better owning the second worst record in their conference and the fourth worst record league wide.
While the front office of these franchises are promising a speedy rebuild by sacrificing the season, it’s disheartening for fans to try to support the team they follow if they are not actively trying to win. Along with the Knicks, who have the league’s worst record and the Lakers who have won 16 titles in the past, more teams have joined the tanking effort. The Knicks recently traded two of their impact players, Iman Shumpert and J.R Smith, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for no more than a future second round pick. This move did nothing for the Knicks except shed unwanted salary and aid their tanking efforts and the likelihood of landing a top three pick.
The Boston Celtics, basketball’s most successful franchise, has recently joined the tanking movement. The Celtics had a better year than expected, hovering around the middle of the pack with a ligament chance at the playoffs. With the fear of finishing in the middle of the pack with a lousy pick, the Celtics decided to blow the team up, shipping team captain and 4 time all-star Rajon Rondo to Dallas for Jae Crowder, a future first round pick and two players who were traded later. Shortly after, the team dealt leading scorer and fan favorite Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for a future first round pick. By removing the two top players, it was clear that the Celtics are hoping to bottom out and get a high draft pick to jump-start their rebuilding efforts.
Tanking makes sense in all basketball terms. But for the fan that wants to see their team try to strive for success every year, tanking is a hard thing to stomach. The NBA needs to address tanking and find a way to have all the teams fight for the playoffs and give the fans a great game to watch.