– Gotta be honest with ya– Mark Cuban’s a smart guy, but tanking doesn’t work. Who are the good teams in the league right now? Houston never tanked. Spurs never tanked. Celtics never tanked. Raptors never tanked. You notice that? Philly tanked. Phoenix tanked. Where are they? Like, this tanking thing– I don’t buy it.
You know what you win in the NBA? You win titles with veteran stars. And veteran stars don’t want to enter rebuilds and losing cultures. Tanking equals losing.
We think of the Boston Celtics as a rebuild, but they were never willing to be awful. And think about all the draft picks they have had since Danny Ainge arrived. I think it’s like 23. Even– and this is the best rebuild in basketball. This is– when we look at the rebuilding years in the last five or six in the NBA, Boston– well, that’s the gold standard. Boston is how you do it.
Right now, today, if everybody was healthy on that roster and you had 10 seconds to go in a playoff game, the first guy you’d give the ball to is Kyrie Irving– veteran. Second guy you’d give it to if he was healthy would be Gordon Hayward– veteran. And third guy would be Al Horford. You would give it to Al Horford before Jaylen Brown with 10 seconds left, and before 19-year-old Jayson Tatum.
Here’s three things that don’t work in sports, and all these GMs and executives keep doing the same thing and making the same mistakes– spending big money on wide receivers in the NFL– it doesn’t work– giving a Major League Baseball star a 10-year $200 million contract– it doesn’t work– and tanking in the NBA.
Maybe it used to work when you’d get a Tim Duncan. Maybe it used to work when you’d get a Patrick Ewing, who was 23, developed, emotionally ready. But Dallas tanked last year, got a great rookie, and they’re still awful. Like, when are we going to figure out that the Minnesota Timberwolves hit two grand slams– Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They finally got good when they signed a guy that had been around the league for a while– Jimmy Butler.
Mark Cuban’s a smart guy, but if you look around the landscape of the NBA, the teams that stars want to go to didn’t tank. Golden State didn’t tank. They were bad. They didn’t tank. Houston never tanked. Spurs never tanked. Boston never tanked. Raptors never tanked. I think it’s one of those– it’s mythology. I think tanking used to perhaps work. It doesn’t anymore.
What star veteran player wants to join a losing basketball culture? Now, I’m not saying just because you’re losing– the Lakers are losing. They don’t have a losing basketball culture. The Clippers do. But veteran stars do not want to join shipwrecks. And, right now, Dallas is a shipwreck. To me, that’s the number one reason they can never sign free agents, because their legacy is lightning in a bottle, one Dirk title. But, by and large, average to below average. That’s not the kind of forces superstars in the NBA are joining.