NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league is monitoring tanking, a ‘serious issue’

With French phenom Victor Wembanyama waiting in the wings as a top 2023 draft prospect, it’s no surprise that NBA commissioner Adam Silver might be focused on a plan to combat tanking this season.

According to a report from ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Silver recently called the strategy a “serious issue" that has sparked "hundreds" of meetings while discussing the topic with Phoenix Suns employees.

A Suns employee reportedly sparked the discussion, one that will likely continue as the league covets Wembanyama — a 7-foot-3 “franchise-changing, generational talent,” according to Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek.

While some franchises have been speculated to do less than everything possible to win in order to secure top draft picks, the NBA is cracking down this season, according to Silver.

"We put teams on notice," he reportedly said. "We're going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year."

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 18: Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver is seen at the Champions Ring Night Ceremony before NBA game between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers at the Chase Center on October 18, 2022 in San Francisco, California, United States. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not taking tanking lightly this season (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images).

A possible solution

In European soccer, teams can drop from their current league to an inferior one when they finish the season ranked at the bottom, resulting in relegation. Silver reportedly told the Suns employees that the league has thought about adopting the concept as a potential solution to incentivize poorly performing teams to compete.

This model would involve sending one or two teams to the G league and calling up a team or two. Ultimately, the league is not in favor of the potentially “destabilizing” idea.

"It would so disrupt our business model," Silver reportedly said. "And even if you took two teams up from the G League, they wouldn't be equipped to compete in the NBA."

The NBA has already been working to reduce tanking. It flattened draft lottery odds after 2018, which made it so the teams with the three worst regular-season records each have an equal 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. Before that, the top seed had a 25 percent of winning the lottery, the second seed had a 19.9 percent and the third seed had a 15.6 percent.

A lack of competitive product will always be a threat to the league’s bottom line. We can expect some action, as Silver is aware that franchises will continue to scheme.

"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," he reportedly said.

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