The NBA fined the Dallas Mavericks $750,000 for what it describes as “conduct detrimental to the league” for the Mavericks decision to rest its starters and key rotation players against the Chicago Bulls last week.
Dallas decided to sit Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Josh Green, and Christian Wood against the Bulls, with Luka Doncic only playing one quarter because the home game was a promo night for Slovenia, with many Slovenian fans in attendance to see Luka.
The Mavericks were technically alive for post-season play at that moment, but only by the loosest definition of the term — the Mavericks had to beat the Bulls Friday, then the Spurs on Sunday while also needing the Oklahoma City Thunder to beat a Memphis Grizzlies team that had locked up the two seed and therefore would be resting all its key players. It was a pipe dream at best, which was proven when the Thunder’s backups beat the Grizzlies backups in a blowout on Sunday.
“The Dallas Mavericks’ decision to restrict key players from fully participating in an elimination game last Friday against Chicago undermined the integrity of our sport,” Joe Dumars, NBA executive vice president, said in a statement released Friday. “The Mavericks’ actions failed our fans and our league.”
Still, it’s hard to blame the NBA here. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd basically admitted to the tank in his pregame press conference on Friday. Kidd mentioned it was a decision from management to sit all the Mavericks key players, something he described as an opportunity to take a step back to take one forward in the future.
“We want to have the opportunity to find a way to get in. We were going to play until told otherwise,” Kidd told reporters before the Bulls game. “And today is the day that we’ve been told that we’re going to do something different.”
It also doesn’t help that the Mavericks were in this exact situation in 2018 — explicitly tanking with a leader of the organization openly admitting to tanking. In 2018 it was Mark Cuban talking about the Mavericks decision to tank in a podcast. This is likely why the fine has been increased this time.
The Mavericks aren’t the only team that has tanked this season, but the NBA has made its point abundantly clear: you can tank, just don’t talk about it.