Cuban on tanking: "If nobody was doing it, then I would probably do it."
Following the recent "The 76ers are tanking so bad we have to reform this thing, now who is with me? 28 of you? Great, we shou... What the hell?" vote down, Mark Cuban, the owner of Dallas Mavericks and probably one of the most basketball-savvy owners in the league, had the following to say in a Q&A with Dallas Morning News:
"I don't see it as a good strategy. I don't feel comfortable with it. I think there's other ways to do it. Now, if nobody was doing it, then I would probably do it. But when six, seven or eight teams are doing it, I think it's a horrible strategy. If lots of teams are trying to race to the bottom to get the best draft pick, I'm not taking that strategy."
"I want as many teams as possible to tank. I got no problem with it, but overall I don't think it's great for the league."
This is not the first time Mark Cuban explained his concerns about the similarities in rebuilding patterns in the league. In his 3000+ word essay addressing his decisions following the championship they won, he had this to say:
"What I do know, at least what I think i have learned from my experiences in business is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do . Not easier. Harder. It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path.
The last NBA season taught us two things: 1. Even if you try to put a contender together, you might end up sucking hard (see: Bucks, Cavaliers). 2. Even if you are the worst team on paper in NBA, you might end up picking 3rd. (see: 76ers) My point is definitely not to rehash all this "pro-tanking v. anti-tanking" debate that we suffered in the beginning of last season, but to understand why Cuban's approach makes sense.
Here's the gist of it: Once you have a Superstar that is here to stay, Nowitzki in this case, and once you have a proven coach that can make anything work to an extent (I really, really respect Jim Carrey Rick Carlisle), you do not have to tank. Mavericks were the only team that scared the Spurs last season, and they have remained a Playoff team for years, always profitable and almost always exciting. Rebuilding through tanking when there are multiple teams doing so means you have to get lucky in lottery, in sucking hardest, in drafting the right player, in keeping them come negotiation time etc. Oh, and you should make sure you don't piss the other teams off too.
Again, this is in no way a post to praise or criticize tanking, it simply is here to reflect on what Cuban says. Now, it will take us a few years before we know how participation in the 2013-2014 NBA Eastern Crapference will pay the tankers, but as long as you have an exciting team to root with a superstar (is Rondo that guy?) and a proven coach (big fan of Stevens), good times will come no matter what. In the end, only one team wins the championship, and there are many unknowns along the path, so a clear goal and well-thought strategy is all you need. Good times await the Celtics, and sooner than we think.
Enjoy this season, because by the end of it, the Celtics will have clear answers to these hanging questions, and then we will move on for good.