Silver Denies 76ers Tanking, Backs Rebuild After Van Gundy Jab At MIT Sloan Conference
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday "not only defended" the 76ers but "praised the organization's strategy for attempting to build a championship contender," according to Jason Wolf of the Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL. Silver's comments came a day after ESPN Radio analyst and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference "slammed the Sixers' apparent willingness to field a non-competitive team and tank a season to improve its draft stock." Van Gundy said, "I don't care, Adam Silver can say there's no tanking or what's going on -- if you're putting that roster on the floor, you're doing everything you can possibly do to try to lose." But Silver on Saturday said, "I don't agree with Coach Van Gundy at all. I just came from the locker room, I just spoke to the coach. It's an insult to the entire league to suggest that these guys are going out on the floor and aren't doing their very best to win games. ... I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they're doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up. And so, if you look at what's happened here over the last several years, it's badly needed. Somebody needs a plan. Somebody needs a vision to win here. And I think that's what's happening." Silver added, "This is an organization that's rebuilding. I think these players are among the very best players in the world. I don't accept your premise that these aren't top-notch players. ... It's a zero-sum game in terms of wins and losses in the NBA. Not every team is going to be successful every year. What you ask for as fans is there be a strategy and a vision in place to win over time" (Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL, 3/2).
HURTING THE GAME: ESPN’s Bill Simmons said of the 76ers trading several players to contending teams for salary cap relief and draft picks, “If you are out of the race, don’t affect the race.” Simmons added, “We need a trade committee. We need somebody who can come in and be like, ‘No, actually for the spirit of the league, this stinks.’ And on top of it, it's one thing to tank for a draft pick, but they’ve destroyed basketball this season there (in Philadelphia). There’s no reason to watch it" (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 2/28).
THAT'S A RAP: ESPN.com's Dan Feldman noted former Raptors President Bryan Colangelo on Friday at the Sloan conference revealed he wanted the '11-12 Raptors team "to lose." Colangelo: "I tried to tank a couple years ago. And I didn't come out and say, 'Coach, you've got to lose games.' I never said that. I wanted to establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that. But I wanted to do it in the framework of playing the young players, and with that, comes losing. There's just no way to avoid that." Rockets GM Daryl Morey said of tanking, "It's bad right now. I think last year, at the end of the season, I counted like two-thirds of the teams weren't trying to win" (ESPN.com, 3/1).
TALK OF THE CONFERENCE: In Boston, Brendan McGuirk reported the Sloan conference overall "boasted 2,000 attendees, hailing from over 180 academic institutions, over 80 pro teams, and over 300 sports industry organizations." Basketball is where the conference "made its bones, and while baseball, football, soccer and hockey all have healthy presences, the NBA still most strongly flavors the event" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/1). Silver at the conference said the NBA is "not yet ready to have a team based in Europe." Silver: "I do not believe that Europe is prepared for an NBA team right now. It lacks the structure. A division of teams in Europe could work, but it does not currently meet the necessary requirements and this would also need the approval of the players" (AP, 3/2). In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa reported Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke on Friday at the conference "reiterated that if a numbers-based solution arises" for analyzing hockey performance, he "will write a substantial check to claim its ownership." Burke said, "If someone comes up with this analysis -- which I haven’t seen yet -- that makes us better predictors, we’ll buy it." But he added, "I think it's still an eyeballs business" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/2).