Adam Silver

Report: Silver Says NBA Has Thought About Demoting Teams to Solve Tanking Issue

NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly told Phoenix Suns employees he has thought of solutions for the league’s “serious” tanking problem.

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly revealed he has some possible solutions for the league’s ongoing tanking issue in recent comments to Phoenix Suns employees.

While calling the circumstance a “serious issue” during a question-and-answer session in the Suns' arena this week, he said he understands why teams would want to in order to land a “once-in-a-generation player.” Silver also took the opportunity to apologize to the Suns’ employees for workplace misconduct under owner Robert Shaver.

Silver addressed a solution the league could enforce to ensure the worst-performing teams are incentivized to win. He said that would require relegation, demoting the worst one or two teams to the G League while boosting the best couple of teams from the G League to the NBA.

He went on to say that relegation would be “destabilizing” to the NBA and “disrupt our business model” but “even if you took two teams up from the G League, they wouldn't be equipped to compete in the NBA."

This season, tanking will be an even greater issue as teams are eyeing 7-foot-4 rising French superstar Victor Wembanyama, who is projected to be the 2023 draft’s top prospect.

"We put teams on notice," Silver told employees. "We're going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year."

To date, the NBA has monitored tanking by tweaking draft lottery odds by giving the three worst regular-season record teams a 14% chance of winning the lottery as opposed to 25% for the worst record, 19.9% for the second-worst record and 15.6% for the third-worst team. Even with this adjustment, Silver says tanking remains an issue. 

Silver addressed what the NBA would be like if more teams were added, which is "potential dilution of talent.”

"None of us can remember going into a season where there was a perception of so much competition, but, still, the goal is to have 30 competitive teams, not 20, or whatever it is, so think we do pay attention to the dilution factor," he told employees.

While the league has the strength and ability to add teams to new cities, Silver said the league is doing well overall. 

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