If there’s a debate on anything from bottled water to the quality of play in college basketball, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has an opinion on it. Taking on the perceived tanking problem around the NBA, Cuban shared a rather interesting idea on how to solve it with radio show host Colin Cowherd and his plan could potentially make sense.
This is how it would work. Turn the NBA draft into a recruiting system based on staggered payouts depending on where a team finishes the season. The worst teams in the NBA could offer the largest contract to players, while the best teams in the Association would be able to offer only the bare minimum.
Unlike any other sport, success and/or failure can be impacted by the presence of a single player in basketball. This disables competition for those squads that are unable to contend for a playoff spot in a given year. With a specific prospect — say Tim Duncan in 1997 — able to make all the difference, teams tend to go into “tanking mode” when it becomes clear they have the possibility of acquiring the top pick. We’ve seen this to an extent with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers tanking this year. Even more so, the Philadelphia 76ers had pulled off tanking in previous seasons.
Cuban’s plan addresses this big time.
“You make all the rookies free agents and you give each team — depending on where they are slotted — different amounts of money. So the teams with the three worst records get “X” amount of dollars. The next three records get “X” minus dollars and so on down the line,” Cuban said. “What that does is it makes sure that even if you’ve tanked, you have a quality organization you have to have the ability to convince whoever you think one of the top-three picks should be, to come to your organization.”
Cuban didn’t specifically indicate what teams he’s talking about. Instead, it was just a general idea about not rewarding poorly run organizations for tanking.
The outspoken Mavericks owner continued:
“If I have the No. 25 pick but I can convince that No. 1-ranked guy in college basketball to come play for the Mavs for this money, then I get one shot to do that, and I get that free agent, and he comes to me. This way, teams can’t just turn into bad organizations and be rewarded. You have some balance.”
As of right now, Philadelphia boasts the third-best odds to nab the first pick, which will likely be Duke’s Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns. If the Sixers do acquire a top-six pick in June’s draft, it will represent the third consecutive year that the team has picked in the top six.
Under Cuban’s plan, the Golden State Warriors would be able to convince Okafor or Towns to join the best team in the Association over the Sixers, Knicks and Timberwolves of the world. While those three teams would stand a much better chance than Golden State of acquiring that top pick, said prospect might choose to give up some cash in order to join a better organization.
There are obvious holes in this plan, but it sure beats the heck out of ping-pong balls deciding where teams picks. It could also end the tanking problem.