THE BALL – Losing on purpose? NBA investigates ‘convenience’ of savings in Mavericks (NBA)

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The NBA will investigate the Dallas Mavericks for resting several key players last Friday against the Chicago Bulls. The body is suspicious of the intention of losing to secure the 10th place in the 2023 Draft.

In the last game, the team played without Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, for example, and was defeated by the Chicago Bulls, leaving them with no chance of going to the play-offs, as they were in 12th place in the Western Conference.

“The NBA has opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the team’s lineup and game decisions made by the Dallas Mavericks during the Chicago Bulls game, including the motives behind those actions,” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass, in a statement.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said resting most of the ‘regulars’ was an “organizational decision”, attributing the choice to owner Mark Cuban and general manager Nico Harrison.

The team’s bulletin rested Kyrie Irving (recovering from a right foot injury), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle pain), Josh Green (rest), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury) and Christian Wood (rest). Luka Doncic played the first 12 minutes.

League rules include measures against so-called ‘tanking’, which say an owner cannot “purposely try to lose or control the marker”.

The Mavericks weren’t the only ones to rest their best players on Friday, as several play-off clubs rested their stars to avoid the risk of injury, but the NBA suspects the Dallas team deliberately tried to protect the position in the next NBA draft.

On the other hand, this is not new for the Mavs and owner Mark Cuban, who in 2018 was sentenced to a fine of 600 thousand euros for admitting that the team had lost on purpose.

In the 2017/2018 season, the franchise was eliminated and, in the next draft, managed to select Trae Young with the fifth overall pick. Young was then traded to the Atlanta Hawks, who selected Doncic as their third pick, sending the Slovenian to the Mavericks.

This year, the team owes a protected 10th overall pick to the New York Knicks as final payment for the trade of Kristaps Porzingis in 2019. But with the elimination in the regular season they will not have to give it up.