Barkley’s Solution to Tanking: Give Every Lottery Team One Ping Pong Ball
Charles Barkley says he has a solution for tanking in the NBA.
Don’t reward teams who tank.
Give every team in the lottery one ping pong ball, instead of rewarding teams based on who has the worst record.
“My suggestion — the NBA is too stupid to listen to me — I said just give teams one ball,” Barkley said Tuesday on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show. “Don’t give teams extra ping polls by the more they lose. I think only twice in the 20 years has the team with the worst record and the most balls got the No. 1 pick. Only twice in like 25 years [it’s actually four times in the last 29 years]. So don’t give teams extra balls because they’re losing games. Just give every team in the lottery one ball. That would be the easiest way to handle it.”
Earlier this year, an NBA executive told SNY.tv that as many as six NBA franchises were tanking this year.
In a year in which the NBA Draft is expected to feature freshmen sensations Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Tyler Ennis and Noah Vonleh, the NBA exec said bad or inexperienced GMs were selling tanking as a strategy for the future.
“When you sell losing as success you can’t be indicted for failing,” the exec said.
Former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo admitted recently that he tried to tank the 2011-12 season, and said he would be in a favor of a system that reduced the incentive for teams to tank.
“I like (the proposal) because there’s no assurances (of getting a good pick) when you do tank,” Colangelo said, according to USA Today. “Admittedly, I will say, I tried to tank a couple years ago.
“And I didn’t ‘come out and say, ‘Coach (Dwane Casey), you’ve got to lose games.’ I never said that. I wanted to have him establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that, but I wanted to do it in the framework of playing and developing young players, and with that comes losing. There’s just no way to avoid that, but I never once said, ‘You’ve got to lose this game.’ ”
While Colangelo’s admission may seem shocking, Barkley says it’s nothing new in the NBA.
“Well, teams have always tanked,” he said on Mike & Mike. “The Miami Heat did it a couple years ago when they cleared all their space and put a bad team out there to get LeBron [James], Dwyane [Wade] and Chris Bosh. Nobody complained. Same thing with the Knicks. They did the same thing when they were going for LeBron so teams have always tanked. I don’t understand why people are all of a sudden making a big deal out of it.
“Nobody complained when Pat Riley did it. But now all of sudden…”
Barkley said for teams like the Sixers (15-45) it is the best way to rebuild.
“I like what the Sixers are doing,” he said. “They weren’t going to win. I think resting [Nerlens] Noel is going to be a huge boost for them going forward so they’re going to get two lottery picks next year with the guy who’s probably going to be the Rookie of the Year [Michael Carter-Williams] instead of paying a bunch of overpaid guys with a sorry team [like the Detroit Pistons].
“I want a young team with a bright future. I want cap space and draft picks. That’s what has happened in the NBA.”
The Knicks, whom Barkley has famously beat up on for years, have none of that right now.
They have the fifth-worst record in the NBA yet don’t have a pick in this loaded draft. And they have no cap space until the summer of 2015 when Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire come off the books.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.