It's no secret that teams around the NBA—specifically, those without a prayer of making the playoffs, much less contending for the Larry O'Brien Trophy—are trying to do everything but win.
Because losing, as it happens, can open up paths to long-term success. Like the other major American professional sports, basketball rewards its biggest losers with plum draft picks. This affords the worst teams the best opportunity to snag the top talent of tomorrow, even (or, rather, especially) if it means putting out a mediocre product today.
In the parlance of our times, this strategy is referred to as "tanking." And, with what's expected to be a loaded pool of talent stepping into the 2014 NBA draft, tanking has become all the rage.
Which shouldn't come as any surprise. After all, one superstar can make all the difference.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics all made major moves this past summer to strip-mine their rosters and drop like stones down the league standings. Chances are, they'll be joined in this apparent race to the bottom by the Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic, among others.
As if there were any doubt that tanking is an actual thing, one anonymous general manager (via ESPN's Jeff Goodman) has confirmed that front-office executives are indeed pursuing purposeful putridity this season.
If you value earnest competition, as outgoing commissioner David Stern and current deputy Adam Silver certainly do, you can't be too pleased to hear anyone lending credence to this notion, however obvious its existence may be to hoops heads everywhere.
What, then, can Stern, Silver and their colleagues at the league office in New York City do to curb teams' enthusiasm for tanking?
Quite a bit, actually.