The NBA is investigating the Dallas Mavericks for sitting several key players in their next-to-last game of the season, which still had a mathematical chance of making the play-in tournament.
NBA officials opened an investigation into the Mavericks’ decision-making surrounding Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls.
Potential penalties are unclear, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver made clear before the season began that the league wouldn’t tolerate any obvious attempts at tanking.
Dallas had Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber, Josh Green, and Christian Wood all out for Friday’s game, and it limited Luka Doncic to about one quarter of play before pulling him for the remainder of the contest.
The Mavericks cited injuries and rest as reasons for sitting their players.
The Mavs needed to win Friday and Sunday and hope that Oklahoma City would lose to Memphis on Sunday – just to get the No 10 spot and still need two more road wins in play-in games to make it to a round one series against Denver.
Not making the play-in tournament helps Dallas’ chances of claiming no worse than the No 10 pick in this summer’s draft.
If the Mavs’ pick is between No 1 and No 10, Dallas keeps it. If it is No 11 or deeper in the draft, it conveys to New York as part of the compensation agreed to in the Kristaps Porzingis trade in 2019.
This isn’t the first time the Mavericks have caught the NBA’s eye when it comes to tanking. The NBA fined owner Mark Cuban $600,000 in February 2018 for comments about tanking during a podcast with Hall of Fame player Julius Erving.
The investigation comes just days after the league denied a protest by the Mavericks over a confusing sequence that led to an uncontested basket for Golden State in a two-point win by the Warriors in a game last month.