NBA must stamp out tanking problem, says Pistons coach

LOS ANGELES • Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy believes the National Basketball Association (NBA) risks being tarnished by teams setting out to lose deliberately in order to boost their chances of building a stronger roster through the draft.

As the Pistons missed out on the play-offs for a second year running after finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference, he took aim at Philadelphia, who finished third.

The 76ers enjoyed a 52-win regular season just two years after posting 10 wins against 72 defeats in the 2015-2016 season.

Van Gundy said the strategy of the 76ers and other teams who have been accused of "tanking" this season were a threat to the integrity of the league.

The 76ers began "The Process" - or rebuilding their franchise - in 2013. The reconstruction period saw them obtain eight first-round picks, including six lottery picks and four top-three picks, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

Van Gundy told the Chicago Tribune: "We have about 10 teams that have gone out of their way to try to ensure they have a better chance to lose... Even in Philly's years, I don't think the players and coaches (were) out there tanking. It's who they decide to put on the court and build (the) roster. But when you have a third of the league trying to lose games, I don't think that's good for our product at all.

"Philadelphia is good and everyone is praising 'The Process'... but 'The Process' is based on being as bad as you can be, historically bad for as long as you can. If that's 'The Process' and the accepted way to build a team in the NBA, then something needs to change."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly sent a memo to the league's 30 clubs in February, warning them that any side suspected of throwing games would receive the "harshest response possible".

Teams at the foot of the NBA are often suspected of tanking in order to improve their chances of being given a favourable pick in the following season's draft.

Several teams have come under suspicion this season, in what is the last year before the NBA reforms its rules over how draft picks are allocated.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'NBA must stamp out tanking problem, says Pistons coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe