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Former Raptors GM Colangelo confesses to tanking

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Former Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo acknowledged Friday that he attempted to tank the 2011-12 season in an effort to help improve the team’s chances for a high draft pick.

Speaking as a panel member at an analytics conference where a system was discussed to replace NBA’s draft lottery, Colangelo indicated that the practice is fairly common but rarely discussed among executives.

“I like (the proposal) because there’s no assurances (of getting a good pick) when you do tank,” Colangelo said, according to USA Today. “Admittedly, I will say, I tried to tank a couple years ago.

“And I didn’t come out and say, ‘Coach (Dwane Casey), you’ve got to lose games.’ I never said that. I wanted to have him establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that, but I wanted to do it in the framework of playing and developing young players, and with that comes losing. There’s just no way to avoid that, but I never once said, ‘You’ve got to lose this game.'”

The Raptors finished 23-43 that season and ended up with the eighth pick in the draft, which they used to selected Terrence Ross.

“Just one less loss would have put us in a coin toss for Damian Lillard potentially (he was taken sixth by the Portland Trail Blazers), and that was a need that we had on our team that year, a point guard need,” Colangelo said.

“So it would have kind of taken us on a whole different route in this rebuilding process, and of course if we had lost a lot more games we would have had better odds to get (New Orleans Pelicans forward) Anthony Davis, the big prize that year. We’re looking at it, and it didn’t work out.

“There’s no assurances (in the lottery). I do like the certainty of the (proposed) process. I think there are some merits to obviously take it to the next extent, except I wish we could start it sooner because there really is some ugly basketball being played.”

Colangelo has since been replaced in Toronto by former Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri.

Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren, the architect of the new draft proposal under consideration by the NBA, said it has been changed slightly since published details in December. He said the lottery would remain for the top three teams.

“So the basic idea is we’re going to allocate all the picks in perpetuity,” Zarren said. “It would allow for more certainty in team decision-making. It’s fair. You’re not subject to vagaries of the lottery, moving up or down, and it eliminates the fan perception that teams should be losing. And I think those three are all significant benefits.”