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No one likes to talk about tanking, even though we all know it happens everywhere practically all the time. There’s an art to it, something the Dallas Mavericks overlooked or weren’t aware of, and now they’re paying the price.
The price is a cool three-quarters of a million dollars.
The Mavericks raised eyebrows when they benched several key players in an elimination game against the Chicago Bulls earlier this month.
It was one of the more clear-cut instances of a team tanking, and the league handled it accordingly with a $750,000 for “conduct detrimental to the league.”
It’s possible to tank, but you have to have some degree of plausible deniability. Benching your best players just a month and change after making a blockbuster deal that didn’t pan out is not the time to start tanking.
The Mavericks had their eyes on the postseason, and if anything maybe gaining a spot or two in the standing with the addition of Kyrie Irving. When Kyrie did to the Mavericks what he has done to so many other teams before them — wrecked them from the inside out — they should’ve just cut their losses and shifted focus to next season.
Nope. Instead, they tried a Hail Mary tank, which seldom works.
The Mavericks Got Greedy And Broke The Unwritten Rules Of Tanking
In a way, that’s precisely what they did, but they got greedy. Perfect tanking is accomplished through lots of little decisions, not one big, grandiose one. Perhaps they thought the NBA’s epidemic of players sitting out games would provide them some cover but alas, it did not.
They forgot that to take those pre-playoff maintenance days, you have to make the playoffs first.
Mention a “rebuild” then hold a firesale at the deadline. That’s how you successfully tank. It’s hard — if not impossible — to tank in any sport after being a chest-thumping buyer at the trade deadline, then trying to throw in the towel when things fall apart.
To tank properly, that decision has to be made long before the trade deadline. That’s where the Mavericks went wrong YouThe later you wait to tank, the more drastic, i.e. obvious the tanking actions must become.
Now, Dallas is paying for their tanking errors. Although, Mark Cuban can probably scrounge up $750K if he checks between the couch cushions or in his jeans pockets.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle