NBA

NBA Opens Investigation Into Mavericks’ Move To Sit Players

Apr 8, 2023, 3:27 PM

AP – The NBA wants to know why the Dallas Mavericks held out several key players in their next-to-last game of the season, even while the team still had a mathematical chance of making the play-in tournament.

NBA officials opened an investigation Saturday into the Mavericks’ decision-making surrounding Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls, in which Dallas sat Kyrie Irving for the entire game and Luka Doncic for most of the contest. The Mavericks blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and lost, getting eliminated from postseason consideration.

That outcome also could help ensure that Dallas has a top-10 draft pick this summer — and with it, potentially a 4.5% chance of winning the lottery and getting the opportunity to select French phenom Victor Wembanyama.

“The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks’ roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night’s Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions,” league spokesman Mike Bass said.

Potential penalties are unclear, though Commissioner Adam Silver made clear before the season began that the league wouldn’t tolerate any obvious attempts at tanking.

“I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially through our lottery that they could get (Wembanyama), so they should all still compete very hard next season,” Silver said in October.

RELATED: Who Should Jazz Fans Root For To Close Regular Season?

Dallas coach Jason Kidd said before the game that the decision to sit players was made by “the organization,” and referenced it being made by his bosses — owner Mark Cuban and general manager Nico Harrison — after the game as well.

Dallas had Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Josh Green and Christian Wood all out for Friday’s win-or-else game, and it limited Doncic to about one quarter of play before pulling him for the remainder of the contest. Doncic played briefly on a night that paid tribute to his native Slovenia, with the Mavericks handing out souvenir Slovenia-themed scarves to the first 3,500 fans in attendance. He came out less than a minute into the second quarter.

The Mavs cited right foot injury recovery for Irving, right hamstring injury recovery for Kleber, left ankle soreness for Hardaway and rest for both Wood and Green. All five of those players — plus Doncic — played Wednesday in Dallas’ win over Sacramento.

“The organization, they made this decision,” Kidd said before Friday’s game, later adding, “we have to go by that.”

Postgame, Kidd added: “This is maybe a step back, but hopefully it leads to going forward. … These are decisions that are made from my bosses and we’ve got to follow them and we trust that Cuban and Nico are going to put the pieces together to put us in a position to win a championship. And that’s just starting the process today.”

This isn’t the first time the Mavericks have caught the NBA’s eye when it comes to tanking.

The NBA fined Cuban $600,000 in February 2018 for comments about tanking during a podcast with Basketball Hall of Fame player Julius Erving, which Commissioner Adam Silver called “public statements detrimental to the NBA.” The Mavericks were well on their way to what became a 24-58 season when Cuban spoke to Erving and discussed tanking.

Later, Cuban acknowledged to The Associated Press that he “earned” the fine. “I got excited talking to Dr. J and said something I shouldn’t have,” he told the AP at the time.

Dallas, in fairness, was in an uphill spot for the last play-in berth in the West anyway entering Friday, and beating the Bulls would have extended postseason hopes but would not have guaranteed anything. It 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 1 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 — which is important. 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.

The NBA 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.

That loss was part of a freefall by the Mavericks, who were fourth in the West in mid-February and figured to become a title contender after trading for Irving to play alongside Doncic in a suddenly starry backcourt.

But the Mavericks have gone 7-17 in their last 24 games, with only Sunday’s now-meaningless finale against San Antonio remaining.

NBA

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson celebrates an in-season tournament win highlights...

Chandler Holt

Jazz Notes Player Highlights: Utah’s Other Veterans In 2023-24 Season

Although Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton stole the show for Utah, some other Jazz veterans played key roles in the 2023-24 season.

3 days ago

Bronny James Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Reportedly Have Interest In Working Out, Drafting Bronny James

According to Yahoo Sports, the Utah Jazz have expressed interest in working out Bronny James and selecting him in the 2024 NBA Draft.

4 days ago

Quin-Snyder-Dejounte-Murray-Atlanta-Hawks...

Andrew Seligman, AP

Hawks Win NBA Lottery In Year Where There’s No Clear Choice For No. 1 Pick

The Hawks won the NBA draft lottery, landing the No. 1 pick and a potential cornerstone player in a year where there’s no clear-cut choice.

8 days ago

Glen Davis Boston Celtic NBA insurance...

Associated Press

Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis Sentenced To 40 Months For Defrauding NBA Insurance Plan

Glen Davis was sentenced to 40 months in a federal prison for his participation in a scheme that defrauded an insurance plan for NBA players.

11 days ago

Frank-Vogel-Phoenix-Suns-NBA...

Kellan Olson, Arizona Sports

Head Coach Frank Vogel Fired By Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Frank Vogel after one season, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

11 days ago

Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets...

TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

Nikola Jokić Wins Third Career NBA MVP Award

Nikola Jokic was announced Wednesday night as the NBA's Most Valuable Player — his third time winning the award in the past four seasons.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

NBA Opens Investigation Into Mavericks’ Move To Sit Players