Tanking in the NBA is a reality because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) & Draft Lottery.

It’s normal to hear of franchises trying to tank from the top-down, but rare to hear of players doing it. Brian Shaw, Head Coach of the Denver Nuggets, has publicly gone on record accusing his players of trying to lose purposely. It’s difficult to question intentions, but it brings up a bigger issue: Is tanking an effective strategy?

With the current salary cap, it’s leveled the playing field for big and small market teams. Although well-intentioned, the results have been less than convincing. The race for the #1 pick is almost as intriguing as the chase for the NBA Title. You’re either fighting for the top or bottom spot, everything in between is lost in mediocrity. What is happening with the Nuggets is becoming a reasonable strategy for NBA teams.

Casual fans believe equality is good for professional sports, but it’s not. Every sport needs a Goliath from the New York Yankees in baseball to Tiger Woods in golf. With the current salary cap in the NBA, it prevents teams from being good for long stretches of time. The talent level in the NBA has risen in recent years, but at the cost of disparity.

Superstars have a choice: take max money and cripple their team’s chances of recruiting other stars or take less money and hope other stars will join you. It worked in Miami when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh compromised to win two titles. Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan took less this season to keep themselves surrounded by talent. While Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are accused for holding their team hostage for cashing in.

The NBA needs to significantly raise the salary cap because franchises are getting richer with new TV deals, yet the players aren’t benefiting from them. Money can be an advantage, but rarely does the team with the highest salary win every year. Big markets have a huge advantage in the corporate world, so why shouldn’t it be the same for sports?

If Adam Silver wants to improve the NBA and eliminate tanking, he should fix the lottery, but more importantly increase the salary cap based on increasing revenue from TV deals.

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Author, blogger, speaker & die-hard Lakers fan

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