Should NBA teams be allowed to rest their starters? What if they’re at the bottom of the pile and they don’t have anything to play for?
As far as the NBA is concerned, no they cannot. That’s what the league told the Chicago Bulls this week, invoking new player rest rules to warn the Bulls over their healthy scratch of Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday.
The Bulls, are sitting at the bottom of the league right now and remain dead last in the power rankings. They aren’t going anywhere, and they don’t have the talent on roster to turn things around anytime soon. It doesn’t make sense for the Bulls to even try, especially when other teams (like the Dallas Mavericks, for example) have openly spoken about tanking in order to position themselves better in the NBA Draft Lottery.
So, the Bulls may have received a warning from the NBA, but they also received support from a surprising source, Detroit Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy.
Van Gundy defended the Bulls against the big, bad NBA before defeating them 99-83.
“I mean, the big teams have tried to build their organizations that way, and now you’re going to step in and tell other teams they can’t?” said Van Gundy. “Look, I admire what [NBA Commissioner Adam Silver] is trying to do, but I just don’t think he’s going to be able to control it. There have been some proposals that would eliminate all incentive to lose games. But so far the league hasn’t wanted to go that way. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m just saying that until you do that, you’re going to have this issue.”
So, how do we fix things? Who knows. Van Gundy wouldn’t really say. And things may only get worse coming up in 2019 when the lottery changes come into effect. Moving forward, the three teams with the worst record in the league will all have the same odds at landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. In other words, TANK! DO IT!
Any team that sucks on any given season can earn a shot at the top pick. Teams 25-30 should all go for it. You aren’t going to move up around this point in the season, so why not try to move down?
Think about how much a No. 1 pick can do for your franchise. Hell, look at what the Philadelphia 76ers have been able to do. All of a sudden, the Sixers are in the top ten after tanking for a number of years. Sam Hinkie’s strategy wasn’t exactly the fans’ favorite (it sucks watching your team lose year after year, even if it’s for a “good cause”), but it seems to have worked out in the end, as Philly has positioned themselves to land some top free agents this offseason and even court LeBron James to come and compete for a championship.
Now, imagine if all the teams at the bottom had the opportunity to do what they did and have similar odds of it succeeding.
“I don’t think that does a whole lot,” said Van Gundy. “There’s still incentive…maybe a little bit less but not much. Look, the [lottery] system was set up to help the teams at the bottom. The Philly situation has brought it to light. It has worked—if you’re willing to lose to that level. So now other teams are adopting it.”
Will the new rules prevent tanking? Or will it only increase it? That’s the fun!